His desire is only to bestow good. Even evil is a means through which He bestows good. In this way His oneness is clearly revealed.
The will of the Emanator, blessed be His Name, is only good, and therefore nothing will endure except His goodness. All that is initially evil does not arise from another domain that could endure against Him. In the end it will certainly be good, and then it will be revealed that there is no domain other than His.
This is the answer to the objection posed above: If the Supreme Will wanted to bring into being powers capable of setting limits to His power (as if such a thing were possible) - this would not be contrary to the Supreme Will, since He willed it so.
The will of the Emanator, blessed be His Name, is only good - We cannot say that the Supreme Will wanted other wills to exist having the power to limit Him in any way whatever. For the Supreme Will wants only good, and it would certainly not be good if His goodness could not reach His creatures. If you say that such is the nature of goodness - to benefit the righteous and punish the wicked, while "showing compassion for the wicked is cruel" - the Torah says the opposite: "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious" (Exodus 23:19) - "even though he may not be worthy" (Berachot 7a). It is also written that, "The sin of Israel will be sought but it will not exist, and the transgression of Judah will not be found" (Jeremiah 3:2). From here we see that it is God's will to benefit even the wicked.
If you argue that all this applies only after the long exile and punishment - this is precisely what proves the point. For if so, we see that the Supreme Will brings it about that eventually everyone benefits. From this we may infer that His will is only to benefit, quite literally. However, He has to deal with each one suitably according to his nature. It is necessary to punish the wicked in order to forgive them afterwards. If the intention was to reject the wicked, they should literally be destroyed instead of being punished in order to benefit them afterwards. The fact that they are punished to benefit them later is clear proof that His will is only for good. For the intended result of an action is the ultimate purpose that governs all parts of that action. In the end, all men, whether righteous or wicked, receive goodness. If so, the ultimate purpose is to bestow goodness on all. This proves that His will is only for good.
And therefore nothing will endure except His goodness - Seeing that His will is only to benefit, it must be that things will not continue endlessly in their present state. Granted, if He did not spurn the destruction of the wicked, we could have said that their punishment is not bad, but rather that, "Evil pursues sinners" (Proverbs 13:21) and their punishment is fair retribution, as discussed above. However, now that we have said this is not His way, but that he punishes the sinner in order to bring him to repent so as to benefit him, if so, the punishment itself is bad. As such, it cannot continue forever. It must come to an end so that the sinner may be released. Since the punishment is bad, it is against the Supreme Will. And just as it cannot continue forever in each individual case, so it cannot continue forever in the world as a whole, for it is against the Supreme Will.
Let me now demonstrate conclusively that evil must come to an end in the world as a whole. For the intended result of any action is the ultimate purpose that governs all parts of that action. Now the end result of the complete cycle through which all people pass, including even the wicked, is good. If so, good is the ultimate purpose of the complete cycle in all its parts. Thus we have proof that the ultimate purpose of the entire cycle is good. But it is the Supreme Will that brings about the entire cycle. Since the ultimate purpose of the cycle is good, the whole purpose of the Supreme Will must also be only good. Thus we have proof that the entire purpose of the Supreme Will is only good.
Now let us consider whether the punishment, which the wicked suffer before the end, is good or not. When something ends up being different from what it was in the beginning, its beginning and end are not in the same category. The end of the cycle through which the wicked pass is different from what it was at the beginning. For in the end they attain good, while before the end, they suffer punishment. If so, the beginning and end of the cycle are not in the same category. The end is good - and this was the original intention of the Will that brings about the entire cycle. However, the intermediate stage or means - the punishment, which comes before the end - is not in the same category as the end. If so, that which comes before the end is not good: it is not what was initially desired by the Will that brings about the cycle. If we object: Then why does it exist? The answer is that it is not possible to attain the end without it. If it were possible to attain the end without this means, it would not be fitting for this intermediary to exist.
We may conclude from all this that the punishment is bad, and it is the opposite of what is desired and intended by the Supreme Will. However, it exists as a necessary means through which His creatures attain the end goal. If it were possible to attain the end goal without this means, it would have been better, given that His will is for good. Just as inflicting punishment in individual cases is the opposite of His will - which is why it must eventually come to an end - so too we may infer that punishment in general in the running of the world is also against the Supreme Will, and must change in the end.
Since the Supreme Will planned that all the individual components of creation will attain good in the end, it must be His purpose to bring the entire world to attain only good in the end. Just as He created punishments sufficient to bring each individual to receive good in the end, so He has the power to create a kind of punishment, or whatever else it may be, for the entire world, that is evil at first but ends up being good. It is certainly true that His will is only for good, and this is what must endure forever. For His power is forever and only His Will holds sway. If the means to accomplish this end is through evil, this does not undermine His intention to benefit everyone, for evil is the means to evengood. On the contrary, His good purpose will eventually be revealed and the intended result will endure forever. For what comes out of the entire cycle on every side is only His essential goodness.
All that is initially evil does not arise from another domain that could endure against Him. Now that we understand that what He does must be good in the end, we must understand another truth. This is that there is certainly only one domain, contrary to the claim of the unbelievers that there are two domains. When we say that our God is one, it is necessary to understand two things. The first is that even though we see such a multitude of diverse phenomena in the universe and so many different and opposing causal chains, we know that even so, there is only One God, blessed be His Name, and only one Will. The second thing that follows from saying that God is one is that no other will can limit Him, even one brought into being by him. And it is certainly impossible that two powers or realms exist, one creating good and the other creating evil. HaShem our God, HaShem is One - with every kind of oneness and unity.
If at the present time it appears as if things come about through a power other than God, be it a power that He created or another "independent" power, it is not so. God alone in His intrinsic goodness brings everything about. We have already discussed how everything evil that now exists will not endure forever. In the end, everything will be good, and we will know and retroactively understand that there never was any other power or domain. For an independent power or domain must by definition endure forever. This is obvious, for any power is independent only to the extent that nothing else has power over it. An independent power or domain is one that exists in and of itself. Whatever does not endure cannot be said to be an independent power or domain. Once we understand this, we see that no will - not even one that He brought into being - can limit Him. On the contrary, the purpose of the entire cycle is to reveal His dominion afterwards and to perfect all things through His goodness. This is what we must believe with perfect faith.
The benefit of studying the wisdom of the Kabbalah is that we can come to know and understand this clearly. We have been commanded to do so: "And you shall know this day and bring it into your heart, that HaShem is God in the heavens above and on the earth below: there is none other" (Deuteronomy 4:39). And how will we understand this? When we understand how the entire cycle of the universe is governed from beginning to end, we will then see clearly how it is that everything comes only from God, blessed be His Name. The purpose of everything is that only His good desire to benefit will endure forever, and nothing else. The very things that today perplex us and cause the wicked to stumble into heresy, will in the end reveal this truth to us, showing us His true, unique oneness in all its ways.
From this discussion we may clarify two aspects of the evil that apparently exists in the world now. The first is that it does not emerge from another domain or power (God forbid) that could exist against Him. The second is that in the end it will be good. In the end it will certainly be good - for it cannot stand against His goodness, not even in the sense explained earlier whereby a will that He brought into being might limit Him. In the end, it will be good.
Moreover, it is precisely in this way that Eyn Sof makes known to us His true oneness. And then it will be revealed that there is no other domain but His. Had He simply given His creatures an immediate understanding of His perfection, they might recognize His complete perfection (inasmuch as He revealed it to them) and understand His great majesty and glory. But this would not have refuted the principle of the unbelievers in earlier generations that it is impossible to understand a thing except from its opposite. They argued that if we say there is one God who is the ultimate good, there must (God forbid) be another who is the ultimate evil. For if it were not so, there could be no knowledge of the ultimate good.
In order to refute this claim, God willed and created evil, as it is written, "making peace and creating evil" (Isaiah 45:7). In this way, the opposite is immediately manifest, and then it is possible to understand the side of good. Moreover, we will also know that even this evil was not an independent domain in its own right. Only the omnipotent God, blessed be His Name, has the power to bring about what appears to be His very opposite. And through this we will see His great perfection.
Evil is not an independent domain God forbid. It is something created by God in order for His creatures to see what is the opposite of good, so that they will not think that there is some other opposite. For the only opposite is that which is actually the opposite. And when they have seen the opposite, and have also seen that it is nothing but His creation, they will have clear knowledge of His perfection and oneness. Then the folly of the wicked and the unbelievers will be exposed. For in the created realms, it is indeed the case that one side can only be known through its opposite. But the way of the Creator is not the way of His creatures at all. For a creature cannot make the opposite of himself. But He made His opposite, and then He negates it - and His oneness is revealed to perfection!
BACK TO THE TOP OF THIS PAGE
138 OPENINGS OF WISDOM INDEX PAGE
by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5763 - 2003 All rights reserved