Evil is one of those words that is extremely relative. It is used in this culture to describe everything from the obnoxious antics of a curious child to the murderous deeds of Hitler, Stalin, or Saddam Hussein. The Scriptures many times use evil as a contrast to good or righteous. The Hebrew word is ra' (רע), which, in its verbal root, means to break into pieces.

Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 24:19The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is thoroughly dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.

Sometimes this word is translated as wicked (Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 6:5) and was used in ancient times to describe anything that was contrary to the God of Israel. You will find in studying Hebrew that most words that speak of disobedience, in their various forms, all are etymologically related to the idea of breaking or scattering in their roots. On the contrary, most Hebrew words that speak of goodness and righteousness, all share a root of oneness, completeness and gathering together.

Shalom Alecheim!