What is salvation in Judaism?

February 19, 2018

Salvation from Sin?

Salvation is through the Torah.  This is the importance of the Torah for a Jew.  A Jew has two issues to overcome: heritage (being born a Jew) and the belief that there is no sin nature in man and therefore, man can choose good on his/her own.  Jews do not see themselves as sinners by nature.  Their tradition and heritage convinces them that they do not have a need for a saviour.  They believe they can master the evil impulse and they can do that which pleases God through repentance.

Salvation by Repentance

Inasmuch as God created man with the evil impulse, by reason of which he is prone to sin, justice demanded that an antidote should likewise be provided for salvation.  If wickedness is a disease to which the human being is susceptible, it was necessary for him to have a medium of healing.  Such is to be found in repentance.

Why, however, was it necessary for the Torah to be given in this twofold form? An answer suggested to the question is:

The Holy One, blessed be He, gave Israel two Toroth, the written and the oral.  He gave them the Written Torah in which are six hundred and thirteen commandments in order to fill them with precepts whereby they could earn merit.  He gave them the Oral Torah whereby they could be distinguished from the other nations.  This was not given in writing, so that the Ishmaelites should not fabricate it as they have done the Written Torah and say that they were Israel’ (Num. R. 14:10). (emphasis added)

Clearly, the Jew believes that living according to the Torah’s 613 laws will earn them merit.

Note: Since, as the Bible declares, God delights not in the death of the wicked but that he turn from his evil way and live (Ezekiel 33:11), it follows that He is anxious for man to repent and facilitates his endeavour to do so.

The Rabbis declared that repentance was one of the seven things which were created by God before the world itself was formed. ‘Seven things were before the Universe came into being.  They are: Torah, repentance, Paradise, Gehinnom, the Throne of Glory, the Sanctuary, and the name of the Messiah’ (Pes. 54a).

Great is repentance for it reaches to the Throne of Glory.  Great is repentance, for it makes the Redemption (by the Messiah) to come near. Great is repentance, for it lengthens the years of a man’s life (Joma 86a et seq). 

There is nothing greater than repentance (Deut. R. 2:24). 

Better is one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world than the whole life of the World to Come (Aboth 4:22).

Neither sin-offering nor trespass-offering nor death nor the Day of Atonement can bring expiation without repentance (Tosifta Joma v. 9).

Whence is it derived that if one repents, it is imputed to him as if he had gone up to Jerusalem, built the Temple, erected an altar and offered upon it all the sacrifices enumerated in the Torah?  From the text, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit’ (Ps. 51:17) (Lev. R. 7:2).

 Man best qualifies himself in the vestibule for the pure, spiritual atmosphere of ‘the hall’ by devoting himself to the study and practice of the precepts revealed by God.  ‘He who has acquired for himself words of Torah has acquired for himself life in the World to Come’ (Aboth 2:8).

What was the message that John the Baptist preached?  Repentance!

Gentile Salvation

Salvation for the Gentile is through obedience to the Noahic covenant.

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