(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 22:07:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Sin in Judaism

<  <  ...There is a confusion between the Sahtahn and the Yetzer Hara (evil
inclination)...To us, since angels have no free will, it would be
impossible to have an angel "rebel" as Christians believe Satan did. Since
angels only do Hashem's (G-d's) bidding, they cannot "fall from grace".>  >

I have explained this in the past but perhaps a recap would be useful.

(a) The commentaries on Job Chapter 1 explicitly state (citing the Talmud)
that Satan, the Passion for evil, and the Angel of Death are all one and
the same.

(b) Since Satan is an angel serving G-d how can we explain the fact that
Satan entices us to sin (which is rebellion against G-d)? This is answered
by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in his commentary on Gen Chapter 4. To use
an analogy suppose I wanted to exercise. A request to climb a steep hill
might seem to me a DENIAL of my urge to exercise--after all I could
complain that it is not possible to climb the hill because of the
steepness. But on closer examination the opportunity to climb is superior
to being presented with an opportunity to walk since climbing will increase
my muscle capacity.

(c) In a similar manner says Rav Hirsch if I request to be religious,it
might appear a denial of my request if Satan tempts me to sin. But Satan's
tempting me to sin is an opportunity to increase my religious muscles in
new areas. For example I might only be eating Kosher in a Kosher home. If I
smell ham( and am tempted) and still eat Kosher then I have increased my
religiosity by being Kosher in a variety of environments.

(d) Rav Hirsch justifies his explanation with the famous agaddah--"Satan
tempts man to sin; then when he (man) gives in, Satan goes to heaven and
complains to G-d that man is listening to his temptations!!" In other
words, says Rav Hirsch, the purpose of temptation is to strengthen man's
religiosity by giving him the opportunity to say no.

In summary we believe that Satan is an Angel that serves G-d by tempting
man to sin and giving him the opportunity to say "no" thereby enriching
man's sphere of religiosity. Thus we oppose the doctrine that man must sin
or fail since Satan, the angel in charge of sinning, has as his goal the
strengthening of man's resistance to sin.

Hope this clarifies this difficult issue.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; Math Towson University;
Moderator Rashi Is Simple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/