“It is the function of the righteous, the saintly ones in the world, to recognize that the pure light is too strong for the world to endure. Yet it must somehow illuminate the world. Therefore it is necessary for there to be many veils to soften the light, and these veils are what we know as evil and its causes….we who possess a limited perception of the light, do not have the ability to see that all evil is but a veil needed in order to adjust the flow of light.”
-from Lights of Return (Orot HaTeshuva) by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook
Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook showed the above passage, taken from his father’s Lights of Return, to Rabbi Herbert Weiner, when the latter asked him about evil in the world.
How can we reconcile apparent evil with an all-powerful and all-good God?
This is one suggested answer.
Notice, as Rabbi Weiner points out in his fascinating 9 1/2 Mystics, that according to this understanding, evil is not really bad. Rather, what seems to be evil is really a veil which allows good into the world. It is an integral part of the divine plan, and it accomplishes a good thing.
It only seems bad from a limited human perspective.
What do you think of this?
I’ve often heard students of R. Soloveitchik say that their attraction to his teachings came from the fact that he considered evil real.
On the other hand, it’s very difficult to account for evil in the world when it comes from a good God. Kol Dodi Dofek, the Rav’s famous essay on the value of contemporary Zionism, emphasizes that we should react to evil and try and repair the damage from it. However, in his opinion, we should not focus on the “why” of evil, since it is beyond us. He therefore doesn’t really deal with the question that Rav Kook seeks to answer. This being the case, perhaps he would ultimately agree.
Related Posts: Does God Protect Us? The Boy Who Fell from the Tree