Pleasure from good or bad deeds: is it from the same place?

Question: Does the pleasure that evil people get from the evil they perpetrate come from the same place as the pleasure that a kind person gets from being kind?

I’m sure you will agree that a ripe red apple is sweet.
By extension, cinnamon is a sweet-smelling spice.
If you have ever listened to classical music, you may have heard works from the great composers that have sweet melodies.
There have surely been people whom you’ve met, adults or children, who aroused in you sweet emotions.
In terms of understanding and knowledge of G-d’s laws in the Torah, King David wrote in Psalms 19:10-11, “…the judgments of the L-rd are true, altogether just. They are to be desired more than gold, yea more than much fine gold, and are sweeter than honey and drippings of honeycombs.”

Consider the following:

Is the sweetness of an apple the same thing as the sweetness of understanding G-d’s laws? No
Or the same as any of the other levels of sweetness that I mentioned? No

Do the sweetness of an apple and the sweetness of understanding G-d’s laws, and all those other types of sweetness ultimately have the same source in the flow of creative power that G-d imparts into all the levels of the spiritual and physical realms?
Yes. They are rooted in manifestations within the creation of G-d’s unlimited power of Kindness, as it combines with His creation of our human abilities of taste, smell, hearing, emotion, and intellect.

Now, if a person would concoct a poison and mix it with a lot of honey, how would it taste? Sweet
Where does the sweet taste of the honey originate from? G-d’s unlimited power of Kindness.
But a person through his free choice has the ability to turn the sweet taste of honey, and G-d’s power of Kindness that is enclothed in it, into an instrument for evil.
That doesn’t change the ultimate spiritual source that the taste of the honey came from. But a human being is granted the choice to use it for a not-good purpose.

Or to put it another way: “Guns don’t murder people. People murder people.”
The same iron ore can be processed to make the sharp blade of a terrorist’s knife, or the sharp blade a surgeon’s scalpel to make a life-saving operation.
By extension, as King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Rashi explains this to mean: “Torah scholars [who engage in debate] sharpen each other in [understanding of] Torah law.”)

Getting back to the exact point of your question, which was this: Does the pleasure that evil people get from the evil they perpetrate come from the same place as the pleasure that a kind person gets from being kind?
The answer is: ultimately, yes.

This is explicit in the Hebrew Bible, as Jeremiah write in Lamentations 3:38-39 (Artscroll translation): “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that evil and good emanate? Why should a living man complain? A man for his sins.”
Rashi explains: “And if you attempt to say that ‘This evil did not come to me from His hand; it is happenstance that it has befallen me,’ this is not so. For both evil occurrences and good occurrences – who has commanded and they came to pass, unless the L-rd ordained? And by His command both evil and good come. But, ‘Why should a living man complain? A man for his sins.’ ”

Compare II Samuel 16:10, where King David said about Shimei son of Gera, “He is cursing [me, and deriving pleasure from it] because G-d has said to him, ‘Curse David’.”

The meaning is explained by the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman. He writes in Likkutei Amarim: “This is what is alluded to in the verse (Proverbs 16:4), ‘The L-rd has made everything for His sake; also the wicked unto the day of evil.’ This means that the wicked man shall repent from his evil. [The necessary repentance includes to repent for choosing to allow his G’d-given sense of pleasure to be aroused by doing evil.]  He will thereby turn his evil into [spiritual] ‘day’ and light above [in the spiritual realms, which brings pleasure to G-d]…”

P.S. From the tenor of your question, I think that you would really enjoy and benefit from our book Seven Gates of Righteous Knowledge, by Rabbi Moshe Weiner. It is written for Noahides and all Gentiles. On this page of our web site, you’ll find links to either order the book or read it and download it for free as a PDF file: