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Shabbat Parashat Devarim 5772

Ein Ayah: Preserving the Right Amount of Evil

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:113)

Gemara:  One who sees markolis (a certain type of idol worship), says: “Blessed is He Who deals patiently with those who violate His will.”


Ein Ayah: The attribute of patience [/tolerance] is usually crucial for a person who fears Hashem and excels at love for His great name. This is true even when he acts in this way in regard to treatment of those who do not follow Hashem’s ways, unless they rise up brazenly to push people off the right path. That is why we are commanded to maintain peaceful interaction even with evil people who worship idols.

However, this attribute is capable of lowering a person’s spirit of sanctity. It can give him the feeling that Hashem is acting in a biased manner by allowing evil people to flourish. This viewpoint can pollute one’s attitude and take away from his level in regard to the pure path of fear of Heaven.

Therefore, it is important that the tolerance one needs will not come with an approach of acceptance of falsehood and denial of basic beliefs. Rather the outlook must be that Divine Providence has a part in everything, as the pasuk says: “[Hashem] makes peace and creates evil” (Yeshaya 45:7). The main goal is certainly that people will return to true recognitions so that “the honor of Hashem will fill the Land” (see Bamidbar 14:21). It is proper that only through a comprehensive knowledge of Hashem will people reach their goals not only in the spiritual realm but even in the physical realm. Then, all good attributes will be strengthened, and peace will increase in the world. Pure and holy wisdom will increase the sanctity in the world.

The ways through which mankind can come to recognize the truth are many and complicated. Many routes to truth include roads that include evil and falsehood. The existence of evil can cause one to recognize good. Bad cultures, which hold on to heretical ideas and bad approaches to ethics, create confusion, which can ultimately cause mankind to realize how the way of Hashem is good and reliable and seek knowledge of Him. For this reason, Hashem has to allow bad characteristics and the ways of idolatry to come into existence and to survive. This is the patience that Hashem has for those who act against His essential will. This tolerance allows the existence of intrinsically evil things that serve a purpose in the ultimate triumph of good. Not only can people come to appreciate Hashem through righteous people, but they can do so even through evil people.

For this reason, it is fitting to bless Hashem “Who deals patiently with those who violate His will,” when seeing that idol worship does exist, due to Hashem’s goodness in allowing purity to come from the defiled. This clarifies the qualitatively true way of going about tolerance, along with a complete understanding of the great ways of Hashem, whose kindness fills the world. 

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