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Thought for the Day: Evil is a Prerequisite to Appreciate Good

The fun thing about physicists is that they are smart and quirky.  I had a friend in grad school who (tongue in cheek) rejected the whole photon thing in preference for darkons.  Darkons, you see (or, rather, don't see) are responsible for preventing you from being able to see.  Your eyes can destroy darkons, but only so fast; something like your liver and alcohol.  Edison may have thought he invented the light buld, but (according to this "theory") he actually created the darkon absorber.  Window shades are darkon emitters, so when you unroll them the room gets darker.  We all had a good time with this "theory", that was really a joke... or was it?

The prophet Yeshayahu (45:7) says (and we say every morning in shacharis), "yotzer ohr u'vorei choshech" -- He creates [out of other stuff] light and He creates [fresh; from nothing] darkness.  So, in fact, darkness is not simply the absence of light, it is a creation all its own.  Now here's where things get weird.  R' Dessler notes that a "b'ria" (created from nothing) represents a more basic/fundamental component of the universe that "y'tzira" (created from something).  We can think of the b'ria components as things such as protons, neutrons, and electrons (quarks, leptons, and gluons to us uebergeeks).  The y'tzira components are things such as wood, metal, plastic, etc.  So darkness is a precursor to light.  In fact, I would like to propose, it is actually a prerequisite.  You need darkness to appreciate light.

Now let's take one more step.  The end of that pasuk (part of which we paraphrase in t'fila) is: oseh shalom u'vorei ra; ani HaShem oseh kol ele -- He makes peace and creates evil; I am HaShem who makes all this.  Not only does HaShem create evil, but it is actually a very fundamental component of the universe.  Evil is at the b'ria/creation from nothing level of existence; part of the stuff out of which everything else is made.  Why?

Obviously that "why" opens up to a huge and deep topic.  We can, though, get a perspective that is both true and (deceptively) simple.  We are in this world to perfect ourselves, thereby coming closer to HaShem (actually, the ein sof, but that's for another time).  To be able to come closer, you have to start at some distance.  HaShem is the ultimate good, so moving away from that ultimate good is nothing but... evil.  HaShem created evil so allow us a small distance from Him, to allow us to choose to decrease that distance, thus perfecting ourselves and earning the ultimate reward -- d'veikus ba'Shem.  In other words, the creation of evil is the ultimate kindness.

And you thought calculus was complicated.

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