Concepts in Judaism

Who Needs the Satan? Why Did G-d Make Him? (Part 4)

In the 1st part of our series we discussed the need for a more sophisticated understanding of whom and what the Satan is and that he can only function to do G-d’s bidding and doesn’t work against G-d so to speak. In the 2nd part we discussed the names the Satan has according to the roles he must carry out. In the 3rd part we discussed what sin does and that the punishment is to purify and eradicate the sin and the damage it caused. We will elaborate on that in our fourth and final part of this series.

Rabbi Chaim from Volozhin in his book Nefesh HaChaim explains that purgatory isn’t a punishment and not retribution rather the sin itself punishes the person. All a person’s actions are recorded and a person gets punished by the evil powers his own deeds created when sinning.

In Gate 1 chapter 12 of the Nefesh HaChaim it says: “And the punishment of purgatory is that the sin itself is the punishment as it is written: “His sins will capture the wicked one and with the ropes of his sin he will be bound, (Proverbs, 5) or your evil will torture you” (Jeremiah 2) which show that punishment isn’t vengeance just that the sins will pursue evil and the sin itself is the punishment. For since the time of creation G-d established that the order of all the worlds are dependent on the awakenings that occur from man’s good and bad deeds all his actions are automatically recorded each one its source and he must receive his judgment from the impure spirits he strengthened with his deeds according to the harm he wrought and in this manner he will repair the harm to all the worlds and to his own soul or (he can repair these) through repentance that reaches to its roots on high.”

In Gate 2 chapter 8 of the Nefesh HaChaim it says: “Anyone who says G-d is one who needlessly gives in will find his live given in” which is a wondrous saying we explained in gate 1 chapter 12.  We will explain more in detail here that this is not G-d forbid revenge just that it is the nature of man that if he eats a harmful food it will cause him harm and if it’s poisonous it may kill him and he did it to himself. So too with the sins of a sinful soul G-d forbid, since G-d established this nature according to his will and established that the deeds of man good or bad G-d forbid are like food and sustenance to the higher worlds. There is no giving in relevant here; he must empty out the impurities that he himself amplified with his deeds in the upper worlds…”

From this we can understand that the Satan isn’t a specific creation but a part of the makeup of our soul, he is the evil inclination that tempts us to sin and he is also the punishments that come as a result of those sins. In other words we create our own Satan!

Since the Satan is a job with a purpose in creation, therefore in the Garden of Eden there is no place for his existence: “… What does the verse, ‘evil doesn’t dwell with You’ mean? This teaches us that King David said this to G-d, ‘Master of the world, let evil not live in Your dwelling. There is no evil but the Satan and evil inclination as the verse says, The inclination of man is evil from his youth, and just as the evil inclination is not in G-d’s dwelling so too Israel will have it that the Satan, the evil inclination and the Angel of Death will not be in Israel’s dwellings. When will this be? In the next world.” (Letters of Rabbi Akiva)

But there is hope for this world too! For with the final redemption there will no longer be an evil inclination and no longer any need for pain to purify as the prophets say: “Don’t do evil or destruction on all of My holy mountain for the land will be full of knowing G-d as the waters cover the sea”, Isaiah 11, 9). Therefore our sages said that the Satan will be slaughtered at the time of the redemption and this means that his purpose for existence will have ended, (Sukkah 52a):

“In the future G-d will slaughter the evil inclination before the righteous and the evil. The righteous will perceive it to be a great mountain and the wicked will perceive it a small thread. They will both cry. The righteous will cry saying how did we manage to conquer such a huge mountain? And the wicked will cry, how is it that we couldn’t conquer this little string?”

May it be G-d’s will that we merit the redemption and cry the tears of the righteous when we perceive that great mountain we managed to conquer!

For the previous parts of the series click on the links below:
Who Needs the Satan- Part 1 
or click on link:

Who Needs the Satan- Part 2 
or click on link:

Who Needs the Satan- Part 3

or click on link:



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