Original Sin – Salvation through Faith in Jesus Vs Mitzvot as the Path back to the Garden

Arguably one of the most central doctrines of Christianity is the belief in what is called Original Sin. That is the belief that human beings are all born in sin and are sinful by nature. The reason for this goes back to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

After the first humans ate of the fruit they and all of their offspring would inherit this sinful state and this provides for the rationale to the problem that Jesus would serve as its only solution according to Christianity. Through accepting Jesus and undergoing baptism one can be cleansed of that sin.

Judaism has a different understanding of these events and their consequences. The commentaries on this story and what follows among the Sages is fascinating and in this article I will present how traditionally these events have been understood by different scholars.

Before Adam sinned he was in a higher spiritual state to us. Had he not sinned it would have been very easy for him to have attained perfection. After Adam sinned he and his descendants were born into a downgraded state. That is not to say that they were incapable of perfecting themselves in this downgraded state, only that now they would be at a disadvantage and it would be much harder than before the sin. God set a time limit for mankind to return to this perfected state, he divided it into two periods, one for roots followed by a period of branches.

The Ramchal (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto) in his classic work Derech Hashem (The Way of God) explains this in great detail:

“The human race initially had a chance to permanently regain its original state and rectify the spiritual damage that had been done. The proper procedure would have been for the roots and heads of Adam’s descendants to first elevate themselves to the rectified level. Once this was accomplished, both the roots and their branches would remain in this state forever, since the branches always follow the roots.

The time provided for generations to function as roots, however, was limited. During this period, the gate was open and the opportunity existed for any individual to properly prepare himself and permanently become a good and worthy root. He would then be prepared for a high degree of excellence, appropriate for man in his original state, rather than that of man in his fallen state.

Since the individual would perfect himself as a Root, he would attain this for his deserving descendants as well as for himself. They would all receive what he attained, and would therefore all be able to remain on the level and state attained by him as their root.

The period during which this was possible extended from the time of Adam until the Generation of Separation [when the Tower of Bavel was built]. During this period there never ceased to be some righteous people who preached the truth to the multitudes, warning them to correct themselves. These included such individuals as Chanoch, Mesushelach, Shem and Ever.

Mans measure was filled, however, in the Generation of Separation. God’s Attribute of Justice then decreed that the time when men could be considered roots should come to a close. Until this time, things could become a permanent part of these roots, depending on what had transpired previously. With the Generation of Separation, this period came to a close.

God then scrutinized all mankind, perceiving the levels that should be made permanent in that generation’s members according to their deeds. These things then become a permanent part of their nature in their aspect as roots. It was thus decreed they each should bear future generations, all possessing the qualities that were deemed appropriate for their root ancestor.

The descendents of each of these individuals were thus divided into permanent groupings, each with its own characteristics and limitations. They were destined to father future generations who would inherit these characteristics, just as members of any particular species inherit the characteristics of their forebears.

According to the Highest Judgement, it turned out that none of them deserved to rise above the degraded level to which Adam and his children had fallen as a result of their sin. [Not a single one had risen above it all.]

There was, however, one exception, and that was Avraham. He had succeeded in elevating himself, and as a result of his deeds was chosen by God. Avraham was therefore permanently made into a superior excellent Tree, conforming to man’s highest level. It was further provided that he would be able to produce branches [and father a nation] possessing his characteristics.”1

What followed from Abrahams time onwards was the period of branches, this is the same state that we are in today. We might think that according to the Ramchal, what the Christians claim of man being in a downgraded state that is not capable of returning to the original state is the case for all humanity but with the exception of the Jewish people. It is true that they do not have the advantage in terms of being born with the potential that is afforded to Abraham and his descendents as nations, but the doors are not closed to individuals. It may be harder for those people and involve a lot of effort and sacrifice but it is possible.

God did not completely close the doors on the nations of the world, the Torah offers two options for non-Jews, they can perfect themselves at their level through the seven laws that God gave to Noah, or they can convert to Judaism and take on the responsibility of keeping the 613 commandments that every Jew is obligated to observe. Before the rise of Christianity, such people existed, Judaism was becoming very popular in the Roman world, there were many non-Jews who were attracted to monotheism but did not wish to convert to Judaism because of the responsibility of the commandments and for males circumcision, so they became known as God fearers. There were other non-Jews who actually converted, including some of Judaism’s greatest sages. Rabbi Akiva was a descendant from converts and Onkelos was the nephew of the Roman emperor Titus.

Christianity has a concept of Gentiles being grafted in to the tree and attached to Israel as spiritual descendants of Avraham through accepting Jesus, like branches attached to the root (Romans 11:17). Christianity is very uncompromising in its position that there is no salvation outside of the cross and that man cannot perfect himself through deeds because he is sinful by nature. They therefore emphasise their faith rather than actions. It is certainly true that Christianity offers an easier option, for saying one has faith is not a big practical commitment. It is not demanding much from a person nor inconveniencing ones life, by comparison to the sacrifices one has to make in order to become a Torah observant Jew. This may make it sound appealing, but it has very little to do with what the Torah teaches.

Judaism does not claim that perfecting ourselves and restoring mankind to the state of Adam before the sin is easy. It is not supposed to be easy, and seeing all the evil and suffering in the world one might believe that such an effort by man is futile, man is inherently bad and cannot truly do good, evil will ultimately triumph. That is however not what the Torah says. Even immediately after the sin of Adam, we encounter his children, who were born in this lower state. Cain is about to kill Abel and God says to him:

“And the Lord said unto Cain: ‘Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted? And if thou doest not do well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Genesis 4:68)

We inherit the consequences of the Original sin but not the guilt

The message of the Torah is that we are in a fallen imperfect state. But where we part ways with Christianity is in how to rectify our situation and perfect ourselves and the world. A Christian might suggest that we inherited the sin of Adam and Eve, that it has not been atoned for until we accept Jesus. From a Jewish perspective we do not inherit the sins of others, we are born a blank slate. We do suffer the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve, such as women having to suffer pain through childbirth and man having to labour. But we are not as individuals held accountable for the original sin of Adam and Eve. (See Jeremiah 31:29-30, Ezekiel 18:2-4)

Man sins vs Man is sinful

Christianity describes man as sinful. The implication being that we are bad by our very nature and not truly capable of doing good, we will always be brought down by our sinful nature, which we cannot overcome. As we discussed earlier, Judaism believes to the contrary that man can overcome his Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) and become good. Judaism would not describe man as sinful, but rather that man sins. Human beings are not perfect, God created them knowing that man would sin.

Knowing that we would sin and make mistakes, He also created a means of rectifying and atoning for those sins. If there were a sacrificial system then that would involve bringing sacrifices for certain types of sins and as is the case today where there is no Temple, through Teshuvah (repentance).

Christianity believes that no one can be considered truly righteous because everyone is going to sin at some point or another. In Judaism one is not righteous because they claim they never sinned, even the righteous have sinned and do sin, what makes them righteous is that they realise they have sinned, reflect on their actions, and work on improving themselves and actively work on their spiritual and moral growth. Even when they are remarkable role models they continue to sin. This is quite apparent throughout the Torah, people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, King David and Solomon are revered in Judaism, but the Torah is not shy of pointing out their flaws and the mistakes that even they made. They were human beings, even though they were great, they too made mistakes and had their flaws.

Jewish commentaries on the Original sin

In contrast to Christianity, within Judaism there is not always one understanding of a given issue. There is a concept of Machloket (dispute), or more than one approach to something as well as understanding the text on a different level (PARDES). The commentaries on this are quite interesting and in some instances radically different to the most common understandings of the text. Below are but a few ideas in Jewish thought on this narrative.

Adam before the Sin

Before Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, it is said that they had no desire to do evil, their only inclination was to do good. The Ramban (Nachmanides,1194 – 1270) in his commentary on Genesis, states that before the sin Adam “did what was right naturally… like the heavenly bodies… whose actions involve neither love nor hate. It was the fruit of the tree which produced in him the will and desire to choose… good or evil…”2

According to Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki,1040-1105) “The Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) entered into him only when he ate of the tree and knew the difference between good and evil.”3

Man as we observe today is characterised by having free will. The problem arises of if Adam had no Yetzer Hara until after the sin, whether he had free will or not. Or more perplexing is how he came to sin if he had nothing within him that would have motivated him to do evil.

Rav Chaim of Volozhyn (1749 – 1821) explains this in his work Nefesh HaChaim:

“Before the sin, Adam was obviously free to go in any direction he wished – toward good or toward the opposite. This was, after all, the purpose of all creation; moreover, we see that he did, in fact sin. However, the desire for evil was not inside him. Internally, he was completely good… without any admixture of evil or any inclination towards it. The desire for evil stood apart from him, outside him; he was free to make it part of himself if he wished, just as a person is free to walk into fire. The incitement to sin had to come from outside him – from the “serpent.” This is very different from our present circumstances, where the yetzer which tempts a person to sin is within the person himself, and it seems to him that he himself wants to sin, not that someone outside him is persuading him.”4

The Yetzer Hara now being within us is the condition we are in today. Where the Yetzer Hara speaks to us in the first person. Saying for example “I want to eat that cake.” And it is our Yetzer Hatov (good inclination) that speaks to us in the second person, “You know you shouldn’t, you are trying to be healthy.” Before the sin, this was the opposite way around.

The Rambam (Maimonides) takes issue with the idea that before the sin Adam had less of an intellect or free will. He addresses this in the Guide for the Perplexed by explaining that before the sin it wasn’t that they were not able to know right from wrong, they did not conceive of things such as good and evil, they only knew to distinguish true from false. It was only after the sin that this distinction between the two entered their consciousness and caused confusion. He writes:

“…the intellect which was granted to man as the highest endowment, was bestowed on him before his disobedience. With reference to this gift the Bible states that “man was created in the form and likeness of God.” On account of this gift of intellect man was addressed by God, and received His commandments, as it is said: “And the Lord God Commanded Adam” (Genesis. ii. 16)-for no commandments are given to the brute creation or to those who are devoid of understanding. Through the intellect man distinguishes between the true and the false. This faculty Adam possessed perfectly and completely. The right and the wrong are terms employed in the science of apparent truths (morals), not in that of necessary truths, as, e.g, it is not correct to say, in reference to the proposition “the heavens are spherical,” it is “good” or to declare the assertion that “the earth is flat” to be “bad”; but we say of the one it is true, of the other it is false. Similarly our language expresses the idea of true and false by means of emet (truth) and shaker (falsehood), of the morally right and the morally wrong, by tov (good) and ra (evil). Thus it is the function of the intellect to discriminate between true and false – a distinction which is applicable to all objects of intellectual perception. When Adam was yet in a state of innocence, and was guided solely by reflection and reason – on account of which it is said: “Thou hast made him (man) little lower than the angels” (Psalm. viii.6) – he was not at all able to follow or to understand the principles of apparent truths; the most manifest impropriety, viz., to appear in a state of nudity, was nothing unbecoming according to his idea: he could not comprehend why it should be so. After man’s disobedience, however, when he began to give way to desires which had their source in his imagination and to the gratification of his bodily appetites, as it is said, “And the wife saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to the eyes” (Genesis iii.6), he was punished by the loss of part of that intellectual faculty which he previously possessed. He therefore transgressed a command with which he had been charged on the score of reason; and having obtained a knowledge of apparent truths, he was wholly absorbed in the study of what is proper and what improper. Then he fully understood the magnitude of the loss he had sustained, what he had forfeited, and in what situation he was thereby placed.”5

The Rambam’s insight sheds light on how before the sin they could possess both intellect and free will whilst at the same time have no inclination to do evil within them. But under such circumstances we are still left with the question of how they came to sin.

If Adam and Eve had not sinned then the purpose of creation would have been fulfilled then. All they had to do was not break this one commandment. This was, on his level the highest means of serving God. Adam however, felt that he wanted his service of God to be even greater. He reasoned that if he would lower his level and would permit the Yetzer Hara to enter him, and then he would defeat it by overcoming it, that would be an even greater honour to God than he was able to perform at his current level.

Many attribute the eating of the forbidden fruit as an act of rebellion by man against God. In Jewish tradition the motivation for the sin was not seen as act of rebellion. According to many of our sages Adam and Eve desired to serve God as best they could and the Snake tempted them by presenting the sin as necessary in order to perform an even greater good. In light of this, Adam and Eve made a mistake. Adam underestimated how difficult it would be to overcome the Yetzer Hara once it entered him.

In the Avot of Rebbi Nosson he says that “Adam did not want to say to Eve [the command not to eat the fruit of the tree] in the way it was told to him by God, rather this is what he said to her and he made a fence to his words more than what God said to him…”Do not eat from it and do not touch it, lest you will die,” He wanted to protect himself and Eve from even touching it.”6

From here, following what the Rambam said that they knew only of true and falsehood, Eve sees the Snake eating of the Tree, and sees that it does not die. She touches the tree and sees that she does not die from touching it. This teaches us something important about Judaism’s teachings with regards to rabbinic decrees enacted in order to safeguard from breaking Gods laws.

The Torah says not to add or subtract from Gods law (Deuteronomy 13:1). Adam made the mistake of not telling Eve that not touching it was a fence law and not a command from God. God in truth only told him not to eat it. There is scriptural authority for the Sages to enact fence laws (Leviticus, 18:30) but they are explicitly to be made known to be rabbinic in origin. The Rambam in the Mishneh Torah, in Hilchot Mamrim (The Laws of Rebels) he addresses those who would object to the fence law that the sages enacted prohibiting mixing fowl and dairy claiming that it is adding to the Torah:

“The Torah states [Exodus 23:19]: “Do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that the Torah forbade both the cooking and eating of milk and meat, whether the meat of a domesticated animal or the meat of a wild beast. The meat of fowl, by contrast, is permitted to be cooked in milk according to Scriptural Law. Now if a court will come and permit partaking of the meat of a wild animal [cooked] in milk, it is detracting [from the Torah]. And if it forbids the meat of fowl [cooked in milk] saying that this is included in “the kid” forbidden by the Scriptural Law, it is adding [to the Torah].

If, however, the court says: “The meat of vowel [cooked in milk] is permitted according to Scriptural Law. We, however are prohibiting it and publicising [the prohibition] as a decree, lest the matter lead to a disadvantage, [causing people to say]: ‘[Eating the meat of] fowl [cooked in milk] is permitted, because it is not explicitly [forbidden] by the Torah. Similarly, [the meat of] a wild animal [cooked in milk] is permitted, because it is also not explicitly [forbidden].’

“And another may come and say: ‘Even the meat of a domesticated animal [cooked in milk] is permitted with the exception of a goat.’ And another will come and say: ‘Even the meat of a goat is permitted [when cooked] in the milk of a cow or a sheep. For the verse mentions only “its mother,” i.e., an animal from the same species.’ And still another will come and say: ‘[Even the meat of a goat] is permitted [when cooked] in goats milk as long as the milk is not from the kid’s mother, for the verse says: “its mother.”‘ For these reasons, we will forbid all meat [cooked] in milk, even meat from fowl.”

[Such an approach] is not adding [to the Torah]. Instead, it is creating safeguards for the Torah. Similar concepts apply in all analogous situations.” 7

According to the Abarbanel, he has a different interpretation to Eve’s encounter with the Snake. In many interpretations, the Snake is considered to have literally spoken to Eve. The Abarbanel explains that Eve saw the Snake climbing up the Tree and eating of its fruit. But the dialogue that appears in the text is a conversation that took place in Eve’s mind where she places words into the Snakes mouth interpreting its actions. He writes:

“Why had Chavah [Eve] fabricated the prohibition against eating the fruit by saying that merely touching the Knowledge fruit or tree was explicitly verboten? Woman’s folly centred on a skewed perception of cerebral man as asexual. Projecting future frustration, she thought her husband would never desire her love and intimacy. Chavah’s own anxieties needlessly led her down over puritan paths.

All the while and in Chavah’s mind, the snake was doing gymnastics on the Knowledge Tree’s branches. The snake’s snacking songs suggested lip smacking succulence. Knowledge fruit juice teasingly coursed down its jowls. It was all too much for her to take. She imploded, but not before taking a swipe at her Maker. She imputed that ‘You will not die. Rather, Hashem (God) knows that the moment Knowledge fruit is tasted, human eyes will be enlightened. Man will be like the Almighty, knowing good and bad.’

What was Chavah thinking? She figured that if Hashem prohibited the fruit because it contained intrinsically noxious material, then why did the snake not reel from its ingestion? That being the case, its prohibition was not a protective commandment. Therefore it appeared that this exotic fruit was proscribed as a Divine will. Hashem arbitrarily, she pouted, wanted to deprive humanity of a good thing fearing meddling into Hashem’s domain, as it were.

A sip of the fruit’s juices, Chavah schemed, and Adam would no longer aspire to loveless, introspective solitude. He would not be averse to Chavah but his eyes would finally be open, wildly mesmerised and distracted by her remarkable beauty.

Chavah toyed with open rebellion and mustered the inner resolve to propose a Divine duel with her Maker. The full swoop aimed at the Almighty. She concluded that one taste of the fruit – and immortality would be achieved. Humankind would ascend the godly ladder and co-assume the Divine mantle, fully capable of reproducing offspring. Adam’s helpmate envisioned not a narrower world but instead a broader and grander one. Just as the Almighty created and fashioned a world filled with positive and negative aspects, as good and bad life would be their lot. Good in that they would procreate; bad insofar as rearing children presents challenging, hard work.

Convinced, ‘the woman saw that the tree was eminently edible.’ Chavah watched the Knowledge tree’s fruit being squandered on a lowly snake, thriving with vitality and so she vowed that it must be hers. The tree’s eye-appeal grabbed her. For Chavah, the fruit was her muse and it lifted her mind to orgastic galaxies where she philosophised and wrote high poetry. If the Almighty Himself called it The Tree of Knowledge, could there be any doubt that an ever greater understanding of good and evil would come with each bite?

And then she reached and tasted it for real. Chavah lost no time cajoling Adam to share her romantic, scandalous snack, thinking that the aphrodisiac was a dish needed to be shared by two. They crashed.

Note that the verse states ‘she took from its fruit.’ It does not say that she took from the tree bark or made a tea infusion from its leaves. Chavah wanted a real trip. If the tree possessed powers, she reasoned, the most concentrated fruit part of the tree would be all the more mind-blowing. To cover her back, Chavah even contrived a constructed legal argument. The fruit was kosher because only “the tree” was prohibited.”8

Adam was aware of the existence of the worlds below him, because he had been denied access to them by being forbidden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explains:

“These worlds had no attraction for him whatsoever, because on his level what God had forbidden had no reality. Nevertheless, he was faced with a test. There were two possible courses before him: (1) he could strive towards the highest point of his Gan ‘Eden level, in which he would approach with all his being closer and closer to Hashem. Pursuing this path, he would erase from his mind even the possibility of descending to the worlds of good and evil, or (2) he could turn his mind downwards and consider entering those worlds in order to achieve a greater revelation of Hashem – a revelation rising from the midst of greater obscurity. He could feel that he was only taking God’s work to its logical conclusion. God had created a world of very little obscurity, and by keeping his one mitzva in that world, he would reveal in some measure the glory of Hashem. Perhaps God had told him not to pursue the path of greater attainment only because He wanted to make things easier for him, but if he on his own accord wished to make things harder and so achieve more, God would approve.”9

Another insight into the psychological reasons for why Adam sinned – The purpose of creation was for God to bestow good onto His creation. The role of man was to serve as the recipient of that good, by having a connection to God. Adam thought that his task was minimal to the point that he felt as though he was getting all of it for free. This created a feeling of shame, that he did not earn or deserve it, as if he was receiving charity. But by lowering his level by sinning he would feel as though he worked for it, and overcame a challenge. He reasoned that if the purpose of creation was to overcome an obstacle in order to serve God, what could be greater than to overcome a bigger obstacle?

There are a few verses within the text itself that suggest that in spite of God’s disappointment in sinning, that he continued to love and care for Adam and Eve. According to R’ Bachya Ibn Paquda (1040):

“Not only did G-d Himself make them comfortable garments, He Himself clothed them to show that He still loved them, despite their sin.”

Building on this point, the former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks in his book The Great Partnership points out other aspects of this narrative which has been confused by the Original sin message that has pervaded peoples understanding of the story. He says how it is a story about relationships and the difference between human beings as individuals and as a species. Before Eve was created, God presented all the animals to Adam to name them. He named Eve, but he did not originally name her Eve, but Isha (woman) as he did the animals as a species. He only discovers the difference between being an individual and a species after the sin, when he learns he is mortal. Lord Sacks writes:

“But if Adam is an individual, so is the woman. And God has just said to the woman, ‘With pain you will give birth to children.’ Within the curse is a blessing. Humans may be mortal, but something of them survives their death, namely children. But children are born only when a man and a woman are joined in a bond of love. That is when Adam gives his wife the name Chavah, Eve, meaning the ‘mother of all life’. The point is not which name, but the fact that it is a name, not a noun. Species have nouns, individuals have names. The woman is now, for the man, not ‘woman’, but Eve. Adam has discovered personhood, uniqueness, individuality, and thus the difference between biology and anthropology. Animals form species, humans are individuals. Animals mate, humans relate. Animals reproduce, humans beget. Animals have sex, humans have love.

The rabbis said that Adam became the first penitent and was forgiven. God then shows kindness to the couple by making them garments of skin. The rabbis said that they were made of snakeskin, as if to say: The very thing that led you to sin (the serpent) will now protect you. Your physicality, which first caused you embarrassment, can be made holy when transmuted into love and sanctified by a bond of trust. Far from ending on a note of condemnation, it ends on a note of divine grace.

The story teaches us about language and love, and about the difference between biological reproduction – a property of the species – and the human family, which is always made up of individuals who are more and other than their similarities. Even clothing, which God endorses with his gift, signals that we are not naked and transparent to one another. There is a part of each of us that always remains hidden. In Hebrew the word Chavah, Eve, also has the meaning of ‘hidden’.

There are two subtle hints in the narrative that this is what the story is about. The first, often confused in translation, is that the text speaks throughout of ha-adam, ‘the man’, not adam, ‘Adam’. which is, like Eve, a proper name. ‘The man’ becomes Adam only when ‘the woman’ becomes Eve….

The story of the forbidden fruit and the Garden of Eden is less a story about sin, guilt and punishment and more about the essential connection between mortality, individuality and personhood….

It is also a parable about otherness. Adam’s poem about ‘bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh’ sounds beautiful, but it leads to moral failure because it fails to acknowledge the otherness of the other. Until Eve is Eve, not merely ‘woman’, the man does know who she is….

The turning point comes when the man gives Eve a proper name. Love is born when we recognise the integrity of otherness. That is the meaning of love between people. It is the meaning of love between us and God. Only when we make space for the human other do we make space for the divine Other.

God created the world to make space for the otherness that is us.” 10

Returning to the Garden 

In summary, the original plan was that God created Adam in order that he would perfect himself by not eating of the forbidden fruit. He had to do this for one day, until Shabbat. The purpose of creation could have been fulfilled there and then. But God desired that man would make this decision of his own free will. For the above discussed reasons, man opted for plan B, which was much harder than Adam anticipated. The objective still remains the same, for man/humanity to perfect him/itself. The difference is that this is now much harder.

The original sin of Adam and Eve lowered their and our spiritual level, in that we are today more distant from God. The means for how we achieve our perfection according to Judaism is as the Torah says in dozens of places through keeping the commandments that God gave us. For the Jews this is 613 commandments binding on them through the covenant made with the Jewish people through Moses at Mount Sinai. For the rest of the world, by observing the seven laws that God gave to Noah, when He made a separate covenant with all humanity after the flood.

By doing this, humanity will be able to return to the state of Adam before the sin again. This is the Messianic era. The only other time where humanity reached that level after the sin was the Israelites leaving Egypt, until they built the Golden calf. Here they blew it and brought themselves back to the lower post sin level again.

So we might ask what will prevent such a thing happening again in the Messianic era? The difference is that the Torah says that the Yetzer Hara will be destroyed. Both Judaism and Christianity would agree that the Yetzer Hara, or Christians would say the Devil/Satan, has a very strong grip on man, and is more forceful that the Yetzer HaTov. But the real difference is that the Torah says repeatedly that it can be conquered through keeping the commandments in the Torah, whereas Christianity asserts that the Torah cannot be kept and the only way man can overcome the efforts of Satan is through accepting Jesus.

The story of the original sin and how Jews and Christians interpret the narrative tells us a lot about how each religion views the nature of man as well as the relationship between man and God.


1. Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto (1997) Derech Hashem, Feldheim Publishers: Jerusalem pp.135-139

2. Ramban, Bereshit 2:9

3. Rashi, Bereshit 2:25

4. Rabbi Chaim of Volozyn, Nefesh HaChaim, 1:6

5. Maimonides, (1956) The Guide for the Perplexed, Dover: United States On Genesis Ch. III. pp.15

6. Avot of Rebbi Nosson, Chapter 1.

7. Maimonides, The Laws of Rebels, Chapter 2.

8. Zev Bar Eitan (2013) Abarbanel’s World of Torah, A Structured Interpretation, Bereshit: Theory of Moral Evolution, Renaissance Torah Press: Canada pp.48-50

9. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (2002) Strive for Truth, Part 5, Patriarchs of a Nation 1, Feldheim Publishers: Jerusalem pp.18

10. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (2011) The Great Partnership, Hodder and Stroughton: Great Britain pp.175-177

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