Originally posted on ‘Judaism is not Christianity minus Jesus’
No where does the Jewish bible state we have to be perfect or keep the mitzvot “perfectly.” G-d MADE us imperfect just as He created good and evil — so that we could choose the right path and learn. If we do not sin (if we were perfect) we would not grow — and G-d would not even have made us!
From a post quoting R’ Yisroel Blumenthal (in response to a missionary named Michael Brown):
The missionary assumption is that unless one attains absolute perfection (which he cannot), all is lost. Brown should read the verse again. It says,
“There is no RIGHTEOUS person..who never sins.”
The person who does a sin is still righteous!
One of the verses most devastating to Original Sin is Genesis 4:7, where G-d tells Cain that he can overcome temptation. Cain is envious of Abel because G-d accepts only Abel’s sacrifice. Cain is tempted to murder Abel. G-d says, “if you do not do good, sin crouches at the entrance. Its desire is for you, but you can rule over it.”
G-d’s majestic statement of man’s ability to overcome evil is brushed aside by Dr. Brown, and his answer is terrible: “But it is one thing to overcome a particular sin. It is another to be free from the grip of sin in general” (p. 193).
If Cain can free himself from this sin, why can’t he free himself from any sin? Also, what is meant by “the grip of sin in general”? If he means that no one is 51% righteous, this is manifestly not true. Must one be 70% righteous (or 80%, or 90%) to transcend “the grip.” Perhaps Dr. Brown believes that a 99% righteous person is under “the grip of sin”, but would he justify a teacher who failed a student with a 99 average?
This belief that absolute perfection is required is the real backbone of Original Sin, as Dr. Brown admits that people can do much good. What is the Scriptural proof that only perfection earns G-d’s favor? There is none whatsoever. It can be asserted only by a faulty reading of Deuteronomy 27:26. It says, “Cursed is one who does not uphold (yakeem) the words of this Torah to do them.”
Since no one fulfills Torah with total perfection, all are damned and require “salvation.” This missionary interpretation cannot make sense of the eleven curses (applied to eleven specific sins) that appear before this verse. If 27:26 sets a curse for any single violation of Torah, the eleven prior curses are totally superfluous (Samuel Levine).
Missionaries also make a subtle but devastating grammatical error. While y’kayaim means to fulfill, yakeem is a different construct meaning “cause to stand up”, “confirm”, “uphold”. This verse is not saying that unless one fulfills Torah flawlessly, he is cursed. One who does not accept the mitzvot, in whole or in part, fails to “uphold” the Torah, but the commission of a specific sin is not the subject here. This reading is faithful to the grammar and is totally consistent with Torah’s frequent injunctions to choose good and make amends for wrong behavior. The missionary viewpoint paints G-d as an anti-Semite who curses Israel with commandments they cannot obey (Samuel Levine).
At no point does Dr. Brown attempt to integrate the verses he cites with the many hundreds of verses that stress free will, the opportunity to do good and amend wrongs, and descriptions of righteous people who earned G-d’s favor. Let us cite only one of them: “It is not in heaven, to say ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and acquire it for us, and teach it to us, and we will do it?’ Nor is it across the sea, to say Who will cross the sea, and acquire it for us and teach it to us, and we will do it?’ For the matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it (Deuteronomy 30:11).”
Dr. Brown provides not a single verse to support Original Sin. There is also no support that one must be a perfect individual to earn G-d’s favor. Original Sin was unknown before Christianity, not because ancient Jews did not read carefully but because Original Sin is not in the Hebrew Bible at all.