Why do we suffer for the sin not committed by us, is it not contrary to Ezekiel 18? Can we ask for this sin to be forgiven? and how do we repent from something we have no access to?

  • 3
    The consequence of the action was a change in nature of humanity. It isn't about a punishment.
    – rosends
    Dec 23, 2021 at 23:04
  • 1
    To the extent that we cannot rectify something to which we have no access, the response to the sin of Adam is to create a new world. For example, Avraham created a new world through his acts of kindness and belief in Hashem. Creating a new world does not need to occur on a cosmic scale, however. Even by helping one child and creating a world in which that child can live, you can create a new world.
    – pcoz
    Dec 23, 2021 at 23:22
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    There are many mitzvos we do to recrify the sin of Adam Hareishon. When a person perfects his nature, he's doing that as well. Not a simple thing to rectify.
    – Shlomy
    Dec 24, 2021 at 3:57

3 Answers 3


I assume that you are discussing the "sin" of eating of the tree of knowledge of good/evil. I would also like to say I appreciate Rosend's comment because I believe it to be true, but maybe not in the way they would expect. The comment was:

"The consequence of the action was a change in nature of humanity. It isn't about a punishment."

Even though we as Jews are often taught by our tradition (and further reinforced by outside Christian traditions) that Adam did the "original sin" and therefore we are living in a punished/fallen world, it seems to me the Tanakh views things entirely differently.

We would EXPECT the Bible to say that Adam was kicked out of the garden for sinning. But it doesn't. What it does say is something much more confusing and religiously problematic.

Genesis 3:22

כב וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ, לָדַעַת, טוֹב וָרָע; וְעַתָּה פֶּן-יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ, וְלָקַח גַּם מֵעֵץ הַחַיִּים, וְאָכַל, וָחַי לְעֹלָם. 22 And the LORD God said: 'Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.'

So according to God, Adam was NOT kicked out because of sinning like we might have expected. Theologically this verse is very difficult, and I would prefer if it would say that man was kicked out for sinning, but it doesn't. Rather the verse is clear that Adam was kicked out because of the change in his humanity, and this change gave Adam some kind of potential that forced God to kick Adam out of the garden. Even more confusingly, God doesn't kick Adam out because of his potential in that moment. So for example, the verse doesn't say that God is kicking man out because of the singular event of eating from the tree. God is kicking mankind out because if Adam were to ALSO eat from the tree of life (which is not a sin), then things would potentially be catastrophic. The verse also hints that if the tree of life was not also in the garden, then Adam would never have been kicked out of the garden since there wouldn't have been a risk of him living forever.

I would argue that because we as humans now have the capacity to make moral judgments for ourselves, the potential harm we could do if we could also live for ever would be devastating. And this potential devastation is exactly what the verse is scared of. Imagine how much faster we could have had nuclear weapons if people didn't die every generation, imagine if knowledge didn't get lost because of the death or destruction of a particular culture in time.

Also when we go back to the punishments, I would argue that most of the punishments are really just a description of the future reality of living outside the garden. Adam had cursed the grounds of the garden and could no longer live there, and would be forced to farm outside the garden which is difficult.

Genesis 3:17-19

יז וּלְאָדָם אָמַר, כִּי-שָׁמַעְתָּ לְקוֹל אִשְׁתֶּךָ, וַתֹּאכַל מִן-הָעֵץ, אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִיךָ לֵאמֹר לֹא תֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ--אֲרוּרָה הָאֲדָמָה, בַּעֲבוּרֶךָ, בְּעִצָּבוֹן תֹּאכְלֶנָּה, כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ. 17 And unto Adam He said: 'Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying: Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. יח וְקוֹץ וְדַרְדַּר, תַּצְמִיחַ לָךְ; וְאָכַלְתָּ, אֶת-עֵשֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶה. 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. יט בְּזֵעַת אַפֶּיךָ, תֹּאכַל לֶחֶם, עַד שׁוּבְךָ אֶל-הָאֲדָמָה, כִּי מִמֶּנָּה לֻקָּחְתָּ: כִּי-עָפָר אַתָּה, וְאֶל-עָפָר תָּשׁוּב. 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.'

So I would argue that there is no forgiveness for Adam's sin because Adam's sin is not ongoing. God intervened in Adam's life directly to offset the choice that Adam made by eating the fruit of good/evil by kicking him out of the garden. The rest of us just happen to live life outside of the garden, which is not paradise.


Muslim here, you say:

Why do we suffer for the sin not committed by us

This is kind of similar belief to the Original Sin Christians have, but since I didn't read the Talmud [yet], I don't know how Judaism looks at Genesis, but I will not generalize it holding that as the main belief.

how do we repent from something we have no access to?

You actually answered it with Ezekiel, God didn't ask anyone to repent for Adam, and Christians have a different doctrine around sin atonement.

Secondly, you say God started life to make Adam suffer, but you didn't take attention to the very first verse:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning of God's creation of the heavens and the earth.

He prepared the earth before creating Adam, not the opposite, and after Adam ate from the tree:

Genesis 3

16 To the woman He said, "I shall surely increase your sorrow and your pregnancy; in pain you shall bear children. And to your husband will be your desire, and he will rule over you."

17 And to man He said, "Because you listened to your wife, and you ate from the tree from which I commanded you saying, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed be the ground for your sake; with toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life.

18 And it will cause thorns and thistles to grow for you, and you shall eat the herbs of the field.

19 With the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, for you were taken therefrom, for dust you are, and to dust you will return."

This is not a punishment for Adam, God didn't promise Adam to stay in Eden forever, He was introducing him to the life he will shortly approach, and yes there is suffering with it, but life is not for the easy folk, and Adam had to know that.

Genesis 12

2 And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing.

3 And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you.

From the progeny of Adam He chose Noah, from the progeny of Noah He chose Abraham, and from the progeny of Abraham He chose Israel.

This proves that the whole life on earth was a plan from God, and neither you nor me would have came to existence if He didn't let Adam out of Eden first, so you have no reason to take the blame for an event God willed:

Deuteronomy 30

16 Inasmuch as I command you this day to love the Lord, your God, to walk in His ways, and to observe His commandments, His statutes, and His ordinances, so that you will live and increase, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land to which you are coming to take possession of it.

17 But if your heart deviates and you do not listen, and you will be drawn astray, and you will prostrate yourself to other deities and serve them,

18 I declare to you this day, that you will surely perish.

What God taught Adam is not our lesson to take responsibility of, it's the Scripture in our hands that we will be asked about, neither Adam had a Torah nor you are in Eden, understand that and you will know what God actually wanted from you.

  • Wow, very impressive! +1 We're probably hitting the Messianic days!
    – Al Berko
    Dec 26, 2021 at 11:21
  • @AlBerko You mean the Moshiach? ... Muslims know that there's a Messiah figure [not Jesus] who will come to the Jews in the future, this is something we have no dispute about, although Christians might disagree with that.
    – Ahmed Ali
    Dec 26, 2021 at 20:18

I totally agree with what @rosends writes in his comment:

The consequence of the action was a change in nature of humanity. It isn't about a punishment

Sefer Yechezkel begins with the words (translation includes the commentary of Rashi there) (Yechezkel 1:1):

As I was in the midst of the exile

The sin was not simply eating from the Eitz Hadaat, but the sin has a deeper meaning. Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook writes in his work Shemonah Kevatzim (3:24) that when G-d asks Adam "Where are you?" (Bereishis 3:9), G-d meant "where are you, did you sin?" (see: this article written by Rabbi Zvi Alon from Torah Mitzion).

On this, Rav Kook explains that by doing this sin, Adam was alienated with himself/ from his own essence:

He turned to the consciousness of the serpent and lost himself.

So, Adam was not able anymore to answer a simple question: did you sin? Why did you sin?

Recognising a sin is prerequisite for doing teshuva, as the Rambam writes in his Hilchos Teshuva (chapter 1):

How does one confess: He states: "I implore You, G-d, I sinned, I transgressed, I committed iniquity before You by doing the following. Behold, I regret and am embarrassed for my deeds. I promise never to repeat this act again."

This very essence: confessing to G-d that you did a sin was lacking from Adam HaRishon because, as Rav Kook says "He turned to the concsciousness of the serpent and lost himself".

And this is, according to Rav Kook, why we still "feel" the effects of the sin of Adam HaRishon:

Thus does the world continue to sink, with the loss of the “I” of every [entity] – of the individual and of the whole.

The word Adam has in itself three names, three essences, three possibilites to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon. The name of Adam HaRishon is an acronym for three names in Judaism: Adam, David and Moshiach (see: Shenei Luchot HaBerit, Torah Shebikhtav, Toldot, Torah Ohr)

The Shelah explains:

You may ask how it is that Joseph is included in the list of patriarchs, and even contributed more than the other patriarchs combined? The answer is that Joseph was the moral equal of all the other patriarchs combined, seeing that all our literature describes him as יוסף הצדיק, Joseph the righteous. In that capacity he "illuminated the moon," the symbol of all that is feminine, more than any of the others. This is why he could contribute more years of life to David than all the others.


What our sages said about Adam giving 70 years of his life to David is also true. The whole point of granting life to David was to repair the damage done to G–d's universe by Adam, without which a Messianic age and all its benefits to mankind would not be needed. Adam's צלם אלוקים, divine image, needed to be restored first and foremost through the constructive lives of the patriarchs. We explained all this in our commentary on Parshat Chayey Sarah. The 70 years Adam donated to David were "illuminated," assumed a positive meaning through Jacob and Joseph having donated 70 years of their already meaningful lives. We have explained earlier that the "beauty" of Jacob was of the same quality as the beauty of Adam [before his sin, of course. Ed.]. Genesis 39,6 describes Joseph as: ויהי יוסף יפה תואר, he had handsome features for he evidently inherited these from his father, seeing Joseph is viewed as his father's replica. We have seen from Samuel I 16,12 that David's features are described in similar terms. Once the Messiah will arrive on earth, Adam will be rehabilitated completely, will be אד"ם, the first letters respectively of the incarnations in אדם דוד משיח.

According to Rav Kook, in order to rectify the sin of Adam HaRishon, the people must first recognise who they are, what they are doing wrong if they, G-d forbid, do a sin and then do teshuva. Our purpose is to fix ourselves, as the Midrash explains (Bereishis Rabbah 11:6):

He said to him: Anything created in the first six days, needs further actions, for example mustard seeds need sweetening, peas needs sweetening, wheat needs grinding, even humans need fixing.

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