Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

If a person is able to make choices in this world, and especially if a person is able to disbelieve that there is a Divine order of any type, how does it make sense for a person's soul to be punished for his sins?

Look at it another way: the person's human intellect is granted free choice. His soul, therefore, has little influence on his physical body's actions. If a person sins in this world, it's almost as if the soul is hijacked by the body and cannot control its own fate. How, then, can the soul of the person be punished in the World to Come for sins committed in this world?

share|improve this question
is your question basically, how can man be punishes if G-d gave him the choice to sin? – Mefaresh Aug 25 '14 at 17:28
Everyone has a choise to sin or do a mitzvah but it take a lot of effort. – Dovid Benizri Aug 25 '14 at 17:31
@naf no, my question is as stated above. – Seth J Aug 25 '14 at 18:21
@dovid that's nice. – Seth J Aug 25 '14 at 18:21
Where do you get this idea of a soul "having little influence"? – Yishai Aug 25 '14 at 20:32

This sounds similar to Antoninus's question to Rebbi on the bottom of Sanhedrin 91a. 'The body and the spirit can each get out of punishment. The body will say the soul sinned! From the moment he left me I lay here still as a stone in the grave. The soul will say the body sinned! From the moment I left him I have flown around like a bird. Rebbi answered, let me give you a parable. A king had a beautiful garden of fresh sprouting fruit and placed two watchmen to guard it. One could not walk and one could not see. The cripple said to the blind man 'I see beautiful fresh sprouts in the garden. Place me on your shoulders and we will eat them'. Days later the king returned and demanded to know where his fruits were. The cripple defended himself by saying 'can I walk to get them?' The blind man said 'do I have eyes to see?'. So the king took took the cripple and placed him on the blind man and judged them together. So too Hashem will bring the nishama and throw it into the body and judge them together. As it says in psalms 50 'He calls to the heavens above and to the earth to judgement with him. Calling to the heavens above is the soul, and to the earth to judgement is the body. End quote.

share|improve this answer
I think your quote addresses a much better question than the one asked, but I don't think the original question got as far as this - it seems he was assuming the soul doesn't have any faculties for which you could hold it accountable. – yEz Aug 26 '14 at 3:23
@ yez thats true. I was going to address that but my thumbs started to hurt:) But we definitely see the leading role of the sole. Whether or not it is swayed by animalistic desires is inconsequential. The sole makes the final decision and deserves punishment. – user6591 Aug 26 '14 at 3:29
You should learn to use your other fingers also when you type! +1 anyways, as I think an answer to the question is included in your point, as you say. – yEz Aug 26 '14 at 3:31
You know that old adage about the room full of monkeys with typewriters? Well it wouldn't work with smartphones till they get true opposable thumbs. – user6591 Aug 26 '14 at 3:41

the person's human intellect is granted free choice. His soul, therefore, has little influence on his physical body's actions.

The question seems to assume that the soul is an outside force, whereas the intellect is the actual self.

Rabbi Bentzion Shaifer defines "The 'I' who is talking to you" as a combination of the animal soul, and the G-dly soul.

This is why a person can simultaneously desire to sin, and desire not to sin. The animal soul provides the drive for the pleasure of doing the sin, and the G-dly soul provides the drive for wanting to do the right thing, and serve G-d properly.

If the animal soul wins out on a given trial, it was still the essential human being - the "I" - who chose to sin. As such, a person can deserve punishment for sinning. Of course, G-d doesn't want to punish us:

Cast away from yourselves all your transgressions whereby you have transgressed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit, and why should you die, O house of Israel! For I do not desire the death of him who dies, says the Lord G-d: so turn away and live!" (Ezekiel 18:31-32)

I'll see if I can find a shorter source, but this concept is explained very well here

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.