September 6, 2016
Do Jews believe that Adam (and Eve's) "sin" in the Garden of Eden constitutes "Original Sin" and their punishment the "Fall of Man?" In this 45 minute presentation, I cover some vital Jewish concepts. First, I clarify one of the great confusions that results in "lost in English translation" in all of Bible studies. This confusion is that the Hebrew word "cheit," translated into English as "sin" in English translations of the Torah, is NOT the same concept as the word "sin" that appears in Paul's writings (particularly the Epistle to the Romans) in the Christian New Testament, where his concept of sin comes from the Hebrew phrase "yetser ha-ra." To put the matter bluntly, Paul was arguing that our evil inclination defines us as humans, and only an act of God's saving grace (though a rebirth in Christ) could change our fallen state. For Jews, however, "sin" is something other than a state of our humanity or even human will, and reading Torah texts through Paul's eyes produces massive error, apples and oranges. On the other hand, Judaism does have a lot to say about "yetser ha-ra," our selfish will, namely that while it drives us in many ways, it can easily be balanced by selfless instincts when channeled into mitzvot, or holiness, where it provides the PASSION in its moderation and channeling in marriage, in business, in education, and in merriment.