What is Sin?

“Get back to where we once belonged.” – the Beatles

Not being G-d I cannot answer this question very completely. But my understanding is that there is “no free lunch” in the universe – everything has a price, we do not get something for nothing. One thing inevitably and always leads to another and leaves a footprint behind, changing the shape of things.

The sacrificial system was given to educate us to that fact. “Sin” (khet-חאט) in Hebrew is to miss the mark – literally to shoot in the wrong direction from the objective target, and so something else gets hit and damaged, or killed.

It is the direction our world is travelling. It is somewhat illustrated in Spielberg’s wonderful “Back to the Future” plot, where an earlier event has created an alternative world, which may only be recovered by getting back and correcting that event by Doc’s Time Machine. But getting back is something that is beyond our own personal power, and we are in need of divine assistance to do so.

The divine act of our forgiveness includes the paying off of that debt for the lunches we have eaten without thought of their cost, which is paid by the Messiah in His atoning death two thousand years ago- being the ultimate sacrifice that all previous sacrifices point to- the ultimate Yom Kippur atonement, one who voluntarily gives His life for another to set him free for a second chance, and a direct re-connecting with the Creator that was separated by sin, who then guides us back in the right direction.

I think the Biblical injunctions and prophecies might be more like a friendly warning sign on the trail saying, ‘Don’t go this way, friend, for there’s a nasty swamp out there with malarial mosquitoes and hungry alligators, but go that way which is clear travelling to goodness.’ It is a sign worth heeding.

Again, not being G-d who is the only real Judge, I cannot say, but I think the choice is ours (I certainly count on the Grace of G-d). At the Passover, which is central to all of Judaism, it was the obedience of those who actually put the blood of the lamb (the lamb being the Passover) on their doorposts that the destroyer would pass over.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (Leviticus 17:11).

It is a life for a life, a lunch for a lunch in a universe where there is no free lunch, and it seems we cannot for very long break the immutable laws of the universe with impunity.

We as Jews know just how much and how long we have suffered as a people, and I think it might be wise for us who have been given the Torah and the Prophets to seek to understand some of the whys behind that.

Previous articleFive Ways Suffering Brings Life
Next article[VIDEO] The Stripped Whole Podcast – The Great Masquerade
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.