Judaism View on Good and Evil
Just like some religions point out, Judaism also do maintain that there is good and evil in the world. However, the adherents have certain beliefs and teachings on good and evil that differ with the stance of other religious groups. In Judaism, it is not seen as there is conflict between good and evil. According to Jews, God created both good and evil according to the Bible in Isaiah 45:7. Judaism describes evil as not fulfilling God’s will.
The teachings of Judaism point out that God created the universe because God wanted to go good to human kind. However, He does not want to just give away that good as a present, instead, God wants people to appreciate it. So God decided that people would have to first work fir it, and receive the ultimate goodness that is issued as a reward for the work.
On the other hand, Jews are also taught that God created an angel called Satan, whose job is to tempt us to do evil. If we ignore the evil inclination that is prompted by Satan, we are able to move closer to God, and become more holy. In doing this, we merit the reward of the ultimate goodness. God also gave us Commandments, and Satan tempts us in order to stray from keeping these Commandments. By emerging as victorious through ignoring these temptations and fulfilling the Commandments of God, we become more spiritual and our souls become more powerful than us.
In Judaism, God has granted mankind the glorious opportunity to attain holiness and ultimate good. So, it should not be viewed as there is an ultimate struggle of good versus evil. Within every person, there are many struggles. Even though man always wants to do the right thing, his desires are more on evil. Each person has got the freedom to choose to either do the right thing or evil. It is completely up to every person to either do right or wrong, but bearing in mind that there is always a reward.
According to Jewish philosopher, Maimonides (1135-1204), the good inclination (yetzer ha tov) has become identified with the rational self that is capable of positive moral choice. The evil inclination (yetzer ha ra) on the other hand, is sometimes identified with the ‘lower’ passions. The only way through which the evil inclination can be tamed is Torah study and obedience. This places man at the center of a cosmic drama, between the need to do good and avoid evil.
In Judaism, evil is opposition to God. Yet without it, humans would not be able to get the opportunity to grow in goodness. Mankind has to develop righteous character in order to overcome temptation. The teaching of Yeshua (Jesus) understands human nature as needing a total transformation that is initiated through belief in and obedience to the Messiah. Evil is perpetrated by Satan under God’s command. Satan is permitted by God to tempt us, because by fighting against evil, we are working towards the ultimate goodness, and that is what God requires of mankind.
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