Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart
Section 3, Chapter 7
We’ll need to take a couple of other things into consideration before we tie
in what we’d said above to what’s to follow, though . As Ramchal makes
the point here, just because something is less than perfect doesn’t imply
that it’s ipso facto wrongful or bad; for “something could be lacking (in
one factor or other) and thus be imperfect and not categorically good, and
yet not be bad” .
Even the angels are less-than-perfect beings as lofty as they are, since by
definition no one other than G-d Almighty Himself is perfect . They
differ from each other by degrees, with some higher than others to a kind of
subtle and uncanny degree we can’t fathom. Yet none of them are out-and-out
wrongful or bad despite their relative blemished state. We’re taught, for
example, that they never experience jealousy or hate, that they haven’t a
yetzer harah, and that they never become ill or die -- which is to say that
they never exhibit human failings or susceptibilities, and yet they’re not
Then consider humankind. We’re less perfect than the angels, to be sure, and
more disposed to moral and physical weakness; and some of us are indeed
wrongful and even thoroughly wicked. Lesser earthly beings than us certainly
have their blemishes and vulnerabilities, let alone their intellectual and
spiritual restrictions, and they’re also capable of doing great harm. And
then there are certain out-and-out toxic non-material entities like Angels
of Destruction, Demons, Spirits of “The Other Side”  and the like that
are exemplars of pure evil.
The important thing to realize for our purposes is that wrong and evil are
products of a long downward spiral of imperfections, one after the other in
succession. That’s to say that the more imperfection there is allowed to
spiral down into the world step by step, the more wrong and evil there will
be in the world .
Understand, though, that there were no such things as imperfections or wrong
before G-d fashioned the system of cause-and-effect and the like that define
reality as we know it . After all, G-d’s realm is utterly and gloriously
beyond all that.
Once G-d consciously and purposefully set that system in place, though, it
became possible for wrong and evil to exist, by virtue of the fact that
non-perfection came to be possible. All is as it stands now as a consequence
for the meanwhile, with all its ignominious imperfections .
 That is, we’ll soon be tying in the issues of wrongfulness and
injustice, and man being a composite of body and soul with G-d’s hiddeneness
 He’ll make another point about this truism below, but many a student of
Jewish Thought and of Mussar, and very many sincere souls who are driven to
drawing close to G-d would do well to take this lesson to heart. That is,
just because an individual is flawed doesn’t mean he’s tainted throughout.
Each and every one of us is multifarious and incongruous; and most of us are
simultaneously shameful and laudable depending on the angle from which we’re
For, taken too closely, a picture will invariably show wrinkles and
splotches, taken too widely it will invariably show too few pocks and
stitches. But taken head on at a just-so distance to allow for natural light
and color, each portrait taken will be of a person outright whom the
observer will love or not. Have mercy upon the poor photographer who must
factor in so much, and the poor subject at hand who must smile in the hopes
of looking good -- or at least good enough.
 Ramchal discusses the topic of angels (both the benevolent sort spoken
of here, and the malevolent ones cited below below) in a number of his
works: see Ginzei Ramchal pp. 27, 33, 35, 41, 131-132, 153, 277; Messilat
Yesharim Ch. 6; Adir Bamarom pp. 111, 195, 260; and Derech Hashem 1:5:2,9,
 Evil emanates from “The Other Side” -- the “side” of reality that is
“other” than G-dly and holy.
 That is, once “Pandora’s Box” which is chock full of all sorts of
imperfections in a long row is opened, pure wrongfulness and evil will
eventually manifest in the end. It’s analogous to a drinking habit: drink
less-than-moderately again and again and you’ll eventually binge; drink
moderately or not at all and you never will.
 See 1:15:1-2, 1:18:1-2, and 2:3:1-2 for discussions about certain
systems that G-d has put into place in the world as it stands now.
 See R’ Friedlander’s notes 217-218 for Kabbalistic references, as well
as R’ Goldblatt’s notes 4, 10-11 and his notes 45-47 on p. 482 of his
edition. And see R’ Shriki’s note 74 (where he refers to ¶132 below, among
other places elsewhere).
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason
Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various
locations on the Web.