The Fall of Adam in the Jewish Perception 1

A Comparative Analysis on, “The Original Sin”

By: Hanif Mohamed

Some of the most heated debates in the religious circles centers around man’s supposed need for a Savior, the assumption that God needs a mediator between man and Himself, and maybe the most contested debate of all deals with the concept of the original sin (the idea that all men are inherent sinners because of Adam’s sin). All of these debates stem from this “original sin ideology”. I can’t begin to understand why this irrational idea would have such a great following. This idea states that when Adam and Eve disobeyed God they caused all humans to be damned, and none of us were there to partake in the act of disobedience.

Their argument is that because Adam is the father of the human race we inherit his sin. If my father robs a bank will I inherit the title of bank robber, would any rational person hold me responsible for my father’s actions? No! And if anyone did say that I was responsible it would be said of this person, “he is unjust”. Now, it should go without saying that we can never equate anybody or anything with God, but by accepting this ideology we are saying that humans are more just than God. (God Forbid).

For God to hold all humans liable for Adam’s sin is unjust. How can this be when God says that he is Adl,(1) the Just? Is it that God is unjust or is people’s perception of God unjust? There are three Monotheistic beliefs in this world and we all agree that Adam was the first man created by God. We all agree that Adam did commit an unadvised act. We also agree that act caused Adam to be placed outside the Garden of Eden and his easy life came to an end. We all agree that Adam was punished but what that punishment entailed is not agreed upon. Was it known to God that Adam was going to commit this act? Or was God surprised?

Did the crime merit the punishment that some say was meted out? The way that we view the events of the Garden of Eden give a direct insight on the way that God is viewed in each faith. Each view will call into question Gods attributes of being Al Alim,(2) the All Knowing; Al Gafur,(3) The Forgiving; and Al Adl, the Just. We will review the events that took place in Eden from the Jewish, Christian and Islamic points of view and give what their perception of God is. 

The Jewish Perception 

To begin this discussion let’s get the Jewish perception on what God is. According to Our Jewish Brothers, belief in one God is a fundamental Jewish belief. The Schema, a central prayer, states "Hear, Israel: The Lord is God, The Lord is one." The idea of any other God is heretical for Jews. It follows that all prayer and praise can only be directed to God. In Judaism, God has no body, God is non-physical. Any mention of God's body is considered to be metaphorical. Any physical representation of God, such as the Golden Calf, is considered to be idolatry.

As God has no body, He has no gender. God is just and merciful. Thus, people can atone for their sins. Via prayer, repentance and giving (tzedakah), people can find their way back into God's favor. God is all knowing. He knows all man’s thoughts and deeds, in the past, present and future. God is all-powerful. The only thing outside of God's control is man's free will.(4)

Now that we have established the Jewish perspective of God, it is now time to analyze their view on the events that took place in the Garden of Eden. I must emphasize here that our Jewish brothers do not believe in “the original sin”. As a matter of fact Rabbi Tovia Singer has said, “The term “original sin” is unknown to the Jewish scriptures, and the church’s teachings on this doctrine are antithetical to the core principles of the Torah and its prophets”.(5) Being that the Jews don’t adhere to this doctrine I will only present certain verses that deal with the events that took place in the Garden of Eden. The first of verse is:

And God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, you must not eat thereof; for on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.”(6)

Continue in the next article: ( The Fall of Adam in the Jewish Perception 2 )

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1. Adl- Just – 1.acting with fairness and impartiality, 2. done, pursued, or given in accordance with what is morally right, 3. valid or reasonable. Adl (Islamic) is an attribute of Allah (God) meaning God is the most Just. According to Nasir Makaram Sharazi in Lessons about Allah, Prophet, Justice, Leadership and Resurrection page 220, “The meaning of God’s justice is not to remove the rights of a person nor give the rights of one to another nor to discriminate between people. He is Just in all senses of the word...” “Oppression, whether it be the taking away of a person’s rights or by giving the rights of one to another, or wastage and discrimination, does not exist in the pure Essence of God. He never punishes a person who does good. He never encourages a person who does evil, no one will be held responsible for the sins of another.“

2. Alim- All- Knowing- aware of things and able to act cleverly and judge shrewdly. having knowledge, information, or understanding. Alim (Islamic), Yasin Al-Jabouri in Allah, The Concept of God in Islam page 45, “When applied to the Almighty, is the One that Who is most Knowing: surely His knowledge encompasses everything in existence even before anything begins to exist. Nothing at all can escape His knowledge. He is the One, Whose knowledge is inclusive, be it apparent or hidden, minute or magnanimous. He knows its beginning and its end, what is above or underneath it, and what results there from.” It must be noted that God doesn’t acquire knowledge through trail and error it is apart of his essence.

3. Forgiving (Al-Gafur) - willing to forgive, especially in most circumstances.  Al-Gafur (Islamic) Al-Jabouri in Allah, The Concept of God in Islam page 38, Is God veiling of one’s sins, and His forgiveness by granting him His favor and mercy. The One Who has manifested what is beautiful and veiled what is ugly in the life of this world and Who does not inflict His penalty on him in the life hereafter. He is the One that forgives sins veils shortcomings wipes out the sin by accepting one’s repentance. He is the One Who forgives the sins though they may be great, and He veils them though they may be numerous.

4. Reference website

5. Reference website or The Book of Jewish Concepts, Philip Birnbaum, Hebrew Publishing Co. New York, 1964.

6. Gen. 2:16