In Deuteronomy 4:35 "Hashem, He is G-d, there is nothing else beside Him". This makes sense since He is the first cause of everything, thus He includes everything.

Now, assuming God is absolutely good, then where does evil come from?

If it comes from Him, then does this mean He also contains evil? by evil, I mean things like cruelty, hatred, things which are the opposite of His attributes described in the torah. I assume these have some sort of tangible existence.

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    He is the first cause of everything, thus He includes everything How does being the first cause imply including everything? What does it even mean to include everything? Sounds like some flavour of pantheism, or panentheism...
    – mevaqesh
    Jan 2, 2017 at 19:25
  • Part of the hashkafa is that in the universe, the existence of an item implies its opposite. This is different from Hashem "having" a trait Jan 2, 2017 at 19:38
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    The verse in question seems to mean that there is no other God, cf. Ibn Ezra Deut. (4:38), or it teaches creation ex nihilo (R. Hirsch Deut. 6, Malbim Exod. 18:8); not that there is no other thing.
    – mevaqesh
    Jan 2, 2017 at 19:39
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    Possibly relevant is the Bereishis Rabbah on Bereishis 1:31 - וירא אלקים את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד, טוב זו יצר טוב, טוב מאד זו יצר הרע. I've always understood that to mean that since the Yetzer Hara is ultimately to help you grow, even he is considered "very good."
    – DonielF
    Jan 2, 2017 at 20:04
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    Yeshayahu 45:7 says HaShem created good and evil Aug 14, 2019 at 23:47

3 Answers 3


See More Nevuchim, III, 10.

Evil and darkness are only lack of goodness and light respectively. Rambam explained that for such "things", the verb "ברא" may be used in Tora, as a verse in Yesha'ya says "creates darkness,... creates evil" . But the verb "עשה", to make is found only for actual creation.

The last words of the chapter, (from the Ibn Tibon's Hebrew translation) are:

אמיתת פעולת השם כולו טוב מאחר שהוא מציאות. וזכור מה שאמרתי לך בזה הפרק והבינהו ויתבאר לך כל מה שאמרוהו הנביאים והחכמים שהטוב כולו מפעולת השם בעצם ולשון בראשית רבה "אין דבר רע יורד מלמעלה".‏

English translation (Friedlander 1904):

He creates evil only in so far as He produces the corporeal element such as it actually is: it is always connected with negatives, and is on that account the source of all destruction and all evil. Those beings that do not possess this corporeal element are not subject to destruction or evil: consequently the true work of God is all good, since it is existence. The book which enlightened the darkness of the world says therefore, "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. i. 31). Even the existence of this corporeal element, low as it in reality is, because it is the source of death and all evils, is likewise good for the permanence of the Universe and the continuation of the order of things, so that one thing departs and the other succeeds. Rabbi Meir therefore explains the words "and behold it was very good" (tob me’od); that even death was good in accordance with what we have observed in this chapter. Remember what I said in this chapter, consider it, and you will understand all that the prophets and our Sages remarked about the perfect goodness of all the direct works of God. In Bereshit Rabba (chap. i.) the same idea is expressed thus: "No evil comes down from above."

In conclusion, according to Maimonides, because G-d's work is good, and there is no positive existence independently from G-d work, evil per se is not a part of existence, but evil is a lack of existence perhaps may one say without intellectual discipline that evil is 'a lack of "presence of G-d"' and a bit more rigorously 'a lack of perception of existence of G-d'.

The Ramchal in Derech Hashem part I, chapter 5, paragraph 8, addresses precisely the issue of this passage of the More Nevuchim. The language is different.

וצריך שתדע כי הנה אע"פ שבאמת סבת כל עניני הטוב בכל מקום שהם, פירוש - בין בכחות בין בתולדותיהם, הנה היא הארת פניו ית' כמ"ש, וסבת הרע בכל מקום שהוא, העלם הארתו, אמנם לטוב יתואר האדון ב"ה בשם סבה ממש לכללו ולפרטיו, אך לרע לא נתארהו ית"ש סבה ממש, כי אמנם "אין הקב"ה מיחד שמו על הרעה", אלא העלם אורו והסתר פניו יחשב לשורש לו, כי זהו סבתו באמת, וזה על צד העדר הטוב.

אבל לפרטי עניניו במציאותם, הנה האדון ב"ה שהוא כל יכול ואין לחפצו מניעה ולא ליכולתו גבול כלל, ברא שרש ומקור פרטי, מכוון בו התכלית הזה של הוצאת פרטי עניני הרע, כפי מה ששיערה החכמה העליונה היותו מצטרך למצב הנרצה באדם ובעולם. והוא מה שאמר הכתוב, יוצר אור ובורא חשך עושה שלום ובורא רע. וענין השורש הזה הוא כלל כחות שונים, ישתלשלו מהם עניני החסרון והרעות כלם בכל בחינותיהם, בין מה שנוגע לנפש בין מה שנוגע לגוף, בכל פרטיהם למחלקותם, ועוד נדבר מזה בחלק הב' בס"ד

Here you can read the English translation

The two statements in bold, the first is equivalent to the words of the Rambam above cited, the second, addresses the way in which the "absence of G-d" is orchestrated, as an integral component of the creation. {if I was mekubal, the word Tsimtsum was a part of the explanation, and address the discussion around the concept of tsimtsum but I am not}

The second part of the Ramchal explanation addresses the subjective point of view of the evil existence. the fact that the presence of G-d is hidden in, so to speak, our perceptible world. The existence of the world from an objective point of view is not clear and is discussed in deep masterworks of Kabbalah. I am embarrassed to address this issue so succinctly.

As @sabbahillel mentioned Sifre chasidut they use often the verse "זה כנגד זה ברא אלוקים" and the concept "עולמות התמורה" concerning the presence of an evil which seems equivalent to the good.

  • The Avudraham says pretty much the first paragraph in his commentary on the opening of the first blessing for Shema, which uses a modified version of that verse. Jan 8, 2017 at 21:04
  • @Micha Berger thanks I will read it. I love the Abudarham
    – kouty
    Jan 8, 2017 at 21:20
  • I -1ed the answer (not your effort though!). 1"evil is 'a lack of "presence of G-d"'" - are you serious? is it somewhere outside G-d? 2. Just like the Zimzum comes "from G-d", then evil comes from G-d, you can't get away. 3. Now how about the evil manifestations - Eysov, Amolek etc? were they real?
    – Al Berko
    Mar 16, 2019 at 19:47
  • It's not from the tsimtsum point of view. It's from the bottom up point of view language @Al Berko
    – kouty
    Mar 16, 2019 at 21:05
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    The rule is that g-d want to influence by goodness. Lack of goodness is that g-d is so to speak far. I'm generally try to be serious
    – kouty
    Mar 16, 2019 at 21:08

As you said in your question, all things are within Him, the First Cause.

Isaiah writes it explicitly in 45:7 (Chabad translations):

"Who forms light and creates darkness, Who makes peace and creates evil, I am HaShem, Who makes all these."

Also, later on in Deuteronomy the Song in Chapter 32, Verse 39:

"See now that it is I! I am the One, and there is no god like Me! I cause death and grant life. I strike, but I heal, and no one can rescue from My hand!"

...followed by some violent imagery and promises of vengeance for those who harm His people.

As the commercial used to say "It's in there!" Good thing you used the word "assuming" in your question - He's not ONLY absolute good. There's plenty of cruelty and hatred for His enemies--"and Esau I hated" explicitly stated in Malachi, for example.

  • seems like you are reinforcing my question. i dont see how this answers it? thanks
    – ray
    Jan 7, 2017 at 20:06
  • @ray - Well, you answered it yourself, in your second sentence. I was just noting Tanakh sources that reinforced that--and that answers both your questions. You asked where evil comes from, and if it's part of everything in HaShem, and Isaiah answers it. You asked if hatred, etc was also included, despite all the positive attributes, and the Song and Malachi answered that part.
    – Gary
    Jan 7, 2017 at 20:53

Since antiquity, Philosophers have toiled to answer the question of why good people suffer. I read the novel "Creation" by Gore Vidal but did not find any satisfying answer by the two philosophers, Confucius or the Buddha. Though well-intended, there are, to them, two possibilities. Either (1) G-d is not all-good or all-powerful or (2) karma dictates that people should suffer as explained in reincarnation.[1] Both explanations are not satisfactory. I take a third approach. As Rambam pointed out, there are three things that cause suffering. I think Maimonides answered this well.

Since G-d is good, He doe not emit evil. Evil is the result of three things, (1) people harm themselves when stepping in front of a red light or (2) people harm others as when one nation decides to dominate over another and (3) natural law, although good for the world at a whole as when a hurricane cleans the earth may harm people residing near the proximity.

[1] Genetics, disease, drugs and diet can all effect an embryo, and are scientifically proven. Reincarnation is not proven. Why imagine a reason, when science provides an explanation?

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