Jews: a few questions for you…?
The first question I have is regarding the idea of an inclination to evil. I had begun to comprehend from reading several posts on this website that Jews don’t believe man has a natural inclination towards evil similar to that which Christians describe man as having. However, I was reading the following article:
And I noted that there was a mention not only of ‘evil entering the world through Adam’ but also a particular mention of something called ‘the Evil Inclination’. Is this website not presenting Orthodox Jewish teaching or do you actually believe these things? Please can you explain this…
I was also trying to do some reading around Yom Kippur and I noticed frequent mention of something called ‘Kapparah’. This was specifically linked to atonement of man’s sins against God and not related to his sins against another man. I know that this is not always regarded as orthodox or practiced by all Jews but I could not see where it originated. I was intrigued to notice that Jews might practice a ritual of sin transference when I so often hear here that Jews don’t believe in such things. I was particularly intrigued by the prayer that accompanied the scapegoat bird:
This is my substitute, my vicarious offering, my atonement; this cock [or hen] shall meet death, but I shall find a long and pleasant life of peace.
Could you please explain this further and most particularly how it fits in with Jewish custom in certain places and where the practice originated? I have done a bit of research but could not find anything concrete. Thanks – here’s a link to 1 of the places where I found this practice talk abouted:
Also, I was wondering what your thoughts were on why God instituted a series of various sacrificial animal offerings and asked for the spilling of blood which formed a part of various ceremonies and was certainly included among the things listed for making atonement (Passover, Yom Kippur, etc). If, as I so often hear many of you say, forgiveness of sins is available apart from blood by recognition, repentance, restitution, remorse and confession then why have blood at all in relation to sin and guilt sacrifices? What is the purpose? I could see why offerings and tithes might include animals but sin and guilt sacrifices? Why, if there is a different and all encompassing other way that would avoid the shedding of animal blood? Also, on the subject of blood, why does a covenant need to be sealed by its shedding as Moses was commanded when the law was first given?
None of this is intended to try and ‘catch you out’. Indeed, you can check with certain Jews here (such as Kosherninja) that I am legitimate in my questions and tying to comprehend more about the richness of your faith and ceremonies. As such I would really appreciate respectful answers that aren’t argumentative but seek to inform someone who truly is interested in your faith and practices.
Many thanks in advance for your helpful answers on these topics.
Thanks to those of you who have answered thus far (except science is my religion… not really much of an answer more a rant).
I am still wanting to know more about the blood sacrifice aspect. Please do not answer this in a ‘counter Christian way’ but assume that I have no knowledge of any religion when you answer it. Imagine I am a five year old who has asked the question and you are trying to explain it to me (although obviously my intellectual capacity somewhat exceeds that of a five year old so you do not have to keep it too simple or avoid theology completely)
Also, and this is just a question, if we were all created good (God saw His creation and proclaimed it to be good) then why this evil inclination? Do you believe Adam had this too or is such an inclination only present since the fall? If a person is born with it then could this be the same a what a Christian means when they say we’re all slaves to the evil nature needing to be freed from it and our strivings against it?
Michelle – sorry, just noticed my unhelpful wording regarding the blood issue. I know Passover has nothing to do with sin and it is my comprehending that orthodox Christian teaching agrees with this as well. We might consider it an antitype of the ‘passover’ when God judges the world but we don’t comprehend that it related to personal sin only to marking those whom God has chosen to be spared. That Jesus might be described as the ‘Passover/sacrificial lamb’ should not be confused for thinking that Christians believe Passover has anything to do with atonement.
I also acknowledge that many blood sacrifices are pertaining to offerings and I can comprehend why this might be so. My question was your thoughts regarding its use for atonement of sins. I had thought I might get an answer that it was a Mitzvoh commanded by God that might perhaps have reasons and might not – I was merely wondering if Jewish thought had come up with any such reasons.
Thanks for your helpful comments though
I also feel obliged to correct what seems to be a miscomprehending of orthodox Christian teaching. The Devil is not so different from the Jewish Satan.
Romans seven very clearly shows that Christians also believe ‘own worst enemy’ and that sin comes from within. Those who see a devil behind every doily are not holding an orthodox doctrine.
The difference is that while I comprehend Satan only accuses in Jewish thought, Christians also believe that he tempts as well – not that he causes evil, only that he can tempt us to it. There is more obviously and I know there are differences but I thought I’d clear this 1 up so we do not need to continue talking about it.
Kosherninja: My point wasn’t so much about ‘yetzer ra’s existence per se, more why does it feel easier to do the wrong thing? Why are we attracted to it and why is our natural inclination to be selfish rather than selfless? Obviously I know there is a Christian doctrine which tells us why (that distinguishes between freedom of will – i.e., ability to set our whole being, desires and will either towards God or towards ourselves – and freedom of agency – i.e., our freedom to choose our decisions) but that is not what I’m interested in – I’m interested in the thoughts of Rabbis about why human experience is that ‘yetzer ra’ is so much easier and more attractive than its counterpart (at least on some occasions). Why did God make doing evil so much easier than doing good?
Is there teaching in Jewish thought about why we cannot ever truly set our will toward God, why we cannot ever truly seek Him and desire to follow Him with all that we’re and have?
Cher, thanks for your helpful additions and the link – which I agree clearly demonstrates that Blood sacrifice is not REQUIRED for God to forgive the sin of mankind – it was there for the unintentional sins only.
However, I still am not clear (and perhaps never will be) why God would institute such a practice in the first place. If charity could atone for unintentional sin then why not have this in Leviticus Four 5? It just makes no sense to me at the moment why the (admittedly imperfect and poor) system of sacrifices was needed…
Perhaps I worry about this too much and I should overlook this section and replace the sin animal offerings with charity? If the temple were reinstated today would this be your temptation or would you rush to present sin offerings again? I’m just curious, that’s all…
Kosherninja – thanks for your additions and links – I think I might just do that (ask a Rabbi that is)… You’re right, it might be an enjoyable experience!
As to your point about expending effort to do evil – that is so true… But still, why is it easier to do what I think is good and right rather than fully accept what God said is good and right and do that?
Anyway, I am becoming more and more convinced that radical Christian evangelicals do Christ’s name more harm than good… And some of the radical teachings that emerge out of balance from the whole of our canon are frightening!
If we really did start out with the Jewish faith as our basis for Christianity then surely we should at least find some consistencies on most parts – save the divinity of Christ of course… ;o)
Blessings to you!