Book of Job (Hiob / Book of Job (Iyov / Christian Missionaries / Church / Jewish Concepts / Middle Ages

Part 3: “Who or what is Satan ?” (Talmud Bava Batra & Joshua Trachtenberg)

To tell you the truth: I would have never dreamed about dealing with the “devil” or “satan”. Simply because these concepts don’t play a role in Judaism. Yes, we have the Yetzer HaRah (Evil Inclination) and Talmud Bava Batra 16a teaches:
Reish Lakish said: He (Satan) is the Prosecutor, who incites G – d’s wrath against those who sin. He is the Evil Inclination, which causes people to sin. – He is the Angel of Death, who executes sinners.
In the Book of Job (Sefer Iyov), Satan was among the Angels coming and standing before G – d. Then a discussion between G – d and Satan took place where G – d finally ended the discussion with the words:
“G – d telling Satan: Only do not lay your hand on him (Iyov)”. (see Sefer Iyov 1:12).
G – d’s statement indicates that Satan is a messenger of G – d, has no free will and is totally under G – d’s control. Or in other words, Satan carries out G – d’s will but is not an independent being besides G – d, as Christianity believes.
The reason why I am dealing with the subject is a question coming from a German Christian who follows the church doctrine of “Satan is an independent being besides G – d”. Until now, I have never really thought about the subject because, as I said, in Judaism satan stands for the Yetzer HaRah. The belief in an independent being besides G – d would be considered idol – worship ! It is only G – d ruling this world. He alone created everything existing and the entire universe and there is no one else with any kind of similar competitive powers. Furthermore, G – d didn’t create our world in a perfect state but it is rather up to humans to bring the world on the level of perfection.
How ?
Through Mitzvot, prayer and thus Tikunim (soul rectifications). Our task is to fight the Yetzer HaRah which resides in all of us. If we want to do a Mitzvah, this little voice inside of you keeps on telling you that we shouldn’t do this or that. “Ah, stay in bed a little longer and don’t pray.” Or “Why do this ? Life could be so much more convenient without keeping kosher”. What we should do is stand up and insist on carrying out Mitzvot.
However, the Yetzer HaRah is not a living being but this little creepy voice inside of us. Christianity, on the other hand, has developed rather weird concepts when it comes to the devil / satan. I read a lot about the subject and still haven’t finished. However, I can tell you one thing for sure: When I read all these weirdo Christian concepts, I am so glad and proud to be a Jew ! 🙂
I have to say that I still have to study Bava Batra 74 ff. on the Yetzer HaRah and Leviathan. This article will come a little later. What I finished is Bava Batra 15 and 16 where it teaches that satan is a messenger of G – d and depends on G – d’s will. Later on in Bava Batra, it will be explained how the Yetzer HaRah is associated to Leviathan and how it is going to disappear in the messianic era.
Very good explanations of satan are given here:
Jews for Judaism on Satan
Rabbi Tuvia Singer on Satan
There basically isn’t much more to add, as the rather strange sounding Christian concept of Satan doesn’t exist in Judaism.
I urge you to read THE DEVIL AND THE JEWS by Joshua Trachtenberg. I don’t think that the very early “Christians” who were actually Jews, were following such a weirdo belief in Satan. Joshua Trachtenberg writes that only in the Middle Ages, Christians started to see satan as a source of magic. Even more so, as those Christians who refused to believe in satan or the devil were considered of being a heretic. Jewish magic, on the other hand, was entirely free of satanic elements. Demons are almost exclusively evil forces to be fought off. Instead, Jewish medieval kabbalists relied on the good powers of G – d whereas angels and demons differentiated and personalized attributes of G – d.
I am going to publish a further article on satan. What Talmud Bava Batra 74 ff. has to say. There will be more coming up from Josha Trachtenberg, the Malbim as well as the Rambam. And then I will finish up the subject. Also because the Christian concept of satan is just crazy and I don’t want to waste my time with concepts which aren’t true. Otherwise I am going insane. 🙂

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