400.30 THE REMOVAL OF EVIL (p.96)

hard cover page 96

To destroy evil would, at the least, destroy good.

In Jewish tradition, omnipotent God is constrained from destroying evil, for by doing so He might well destroy good. He cannot imprison evil, for by doing so He might well imprison good. God can, however, in some respects and through mortal proxies, attempt to outmaneuver evil, to trap evil into acting towards the neutral or even towards the good. Optimally, evil is outmaneuvered or bested by man.

The relationship of good and evil is illustrated in the Talmud.

A powerfully suggestive myth on the nature and forms of evil is recorded in the Talmud, which tells of the capture of the Evil Tempter. The captors sought to kill it but were warned that with its destruction, the entire world would fall apart. They imprisoned it nonetheless. Three days later they looked throughout the land for a fresh egg and could not find one, for when the sexual drive is extirpated, no eggs are available; where the libido is destroyed, civilization is ended. Those who held the Evil Tempter captive were themselves held fast in the vise of a dilemma. If they killed the Tempter, the world would be unable to endure; if they let it loose, evil would be free to roam the land. The captors begged for half-mercy, asking that the Tempter should live but not tempt. To this request the divine echo responded, “They do not grant halves in heaven.” The myth reminds man that evil is often mixed with good.365

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365 Schulweis’s paraphrase of T. B. Yoma 6911 in Evil and The Morality of God, p. 137.

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