Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

The concept of sin- originally posted March 18, 2008

I decided to post this here- I wrote it in a discussion with a non-Jewish friend in a forum. Once again, discussion and comments are welcome- missionising will be removed:

The Jewish concept of sin is pretty dramatically different to that of Christianity. The word for sin is “chait”. Chait has an alternative meaning- an archery target. So, how do the two meanings interrelate? Literally, sinning is seen like an arrow missing a target. We are given a blueprint in the Torah which paints the target for us- our behaviour determines where on the target the arrow will hit- the more we behave incorrectly, the further from the center it lands.

This ties in to the concept that everyone has a share in the world to come – except for the few that get punished with the punishment of Kares (spiritual excission). The Jews have the Torah to follow- the non-Jews the Seven Noachide commandments. The better we follow the blueprint, the closer to the center we get. Its practically impossible to get the very center down to the last molecule- but then its not necessary, we only have to land on the target to enter the world to come (in this analogy Kares is off the target). Some extend the analogy- they compare the seven levels of the world to come outside of the courtyard of God’s abode described in Masechta Chagigah to the rings on the target. (What is in the courtyard is unknown- at that point the Talmud says “Beyond this point we may not enquire” The Zohar or Sefer Yetsira may have more on this, but I haven’t studied either)) The laws we follow become stabilising influences on the arrow guiding its path. But here is where the Jew is more fortunate than the non-Jew- because the non-Jew only has seven potential stabilisers, hitting the center is much harder, requiring far more perfection on each one for it to do its job properly. Jews, have 613 potential stabilisers- meaning that even imperfect observance of the many facets will be effective in guiding the arrow closer to the center.

In the end, sin is seen as something that moves us off target, damages our status in the world to come by drawing us away from the centre, the direct presence of God.

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June 24, 2008 - Posted by | Other Torah |

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