First, I would like to describe a little bit of my background. I'm not Jewish, and I'm not a Christian. Currently, I'm in a debate with some Christian members in a Christian forum with our mother language about Original Sin (OS), where I said that OS is not logical, or, if they say it's logical, then (I say) it's coming from a weak background.

I've read two similar questions, here and here, but to be honest - I don't find a satisfying answer there.

I found in Google inormation about Yetzer ha-Ra', and my conclusion is that it is "a desire to do bad things". (I hope my conclusion about Yetzer ha-Ra' is correct).

I would like to know if there is a similarity in Judaism with the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. From the forum, what I found based from answers is something like this:

  1. Before Adam eats the fruit, Adam doesn't have the inclination to do bad things or to break the Law.

  2. After Adam eats the fruit, Adam now has that inclination to do bad things. The evidence is:

a. Adam now knows that he is naked
b. Adam hides after he hears God is coming
c. Instead of admitting his wrong act, he throws the fault to Eve.

  1. Adam's future babies will be born sinners. The evidence:
    It is known that there is an event where a toddler hits his younger brother - although that toddler has already been told "Don't hit anyone.'

It is because of those 3 points above that I say that OS "has a weak background" - and I haven't touched on the reference to it in the writings of Paul yet.

A sentence from here say :

One of the medieval commentators explains that previous to the first sin, the Yetzer ha-Ra' (= the snake) was external to the person. After the first sin, the Yetzer ha-Ra' was internalized.

Assuming the quote above is correct in the point of view of Judaism, my question is :

  1. How is the situation of Adam between before and after Yetzer ha-Ra' became internal in him?

  2. After Adam eats the fruit,

a. is the Yetzer ha-Ra' like a "virus" by which all Adam's future babies will be "infected" once they are born (where the evidence of the "infection" is their first wrong act) ? or

b. Adam's future generation must do wrong first, and then it gets "infected" by it?

I realize that maybe I will need to edit some of my questions if the quote above is not correct from the point of view of Judaism.

Thank you.

PS: Because I'm not from an English-speaking country, I'm sorry if my English is difficult to be understood.

  • 1
    Your English is great. +1 for the good question. :D Welcome to Mi Yodeya.
    – ezra
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 21:03
  • 2
    These are all excellent questions, but this seems to be really broad. Maybe you should separate these into separate questions?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 22:33
  • @DonielF, I've edited the question by removing question number 3 and 4. Please suggest me if it is still too broad. Thank you for your suggestion.
    – karma
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 3:06
  • No problem. I think it’s fine now - to me, question 2 just elaborates on question 1.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 3:08
  • IMHO this site is not designed to argue whether a Jewish concept is similar to a non-Jewish one. The question is of course interesting. May I suggest that you reword it to ask for a clarification of what is the Yetzer ha-Ra' in Judaism and then make your own deductions? Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 18:43

2 Answers 2


The online Jewish Encyclopedia ('Original Sin') states:

Man is responsible for sin because he is endowed with free will ("beḥirah"); yet he is by nature frail, and the tendency of the mind is to evil: "For the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gen. viii. 21; Yoma 20a; Sanh. 105a). Therefore God in His mercy allowed man to repent and be forgiven. Jewish theologians are divided in regard to the cause of this so-called "original sin"; some teach that it was due to Adam's yielding to temptation in eating of the forbidden fruit and has been inherited by his descendants; the majority, however, do not hold Adam responsible for the sins of mankind.

The Roman Catholic Church, which teaches the doctrine of original sin, commands infants (male and female) to be baptized right after birth to nullify the penalty of exclusion from Paradise and the tree of life decreed upon Adam and Eve and their descendants.1 Judaism does not have this doctrine and rite. It has circumcision (for males only), and this rite is not connected with the sin of Adam and Eve. 'Although a few of the Rabbis occasionally lament Eve's share in the poisoning of the human race by the Serpent, even they declare that the antidote to such poison has been found at Sinai' (R' Joseph H. Hertz, former Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, in The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, page 196).

Jewish Encyclopedia ('Yetzer Ha-Ra'') defines yetzer ha-ra' this way: 'Evil inclination or impulse, popularly identified with the lusts of the flesh. The idea is derived from Gen. viii. 21: "the imagination of the heart of man is evil from his youth.' . . . It would appear that the Yeẓer Ṭov comes with reflection, and at the age of bar miẓwah or confirmation, because it is said to be thirteen years [older] than the Yeẓer ha-Ra', which is an inborn impulse (Ecclesiastes Rabbah ix. 14). " (Italics mine.)

The Christian concept of original sin is different. The online Catholic Encyclopedia ('Original Sin') states: 'Original sin may be taken to mean: (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam. From the earliest times the latter sense of the word was more common, . . .' In the section entitled 'Nature of Original Sin,' it is admitted: 'This is a difficult point and many systems have been invented to explain it.' The concept derives from Paul's Letter to the Romans 5:10-21, a very challenging and profound passage, which, however, does not argue for the nearly universal practice of the rite of infant baptism in Christianity.

1 See the online 2007 article 'The Catholic Church buries limbo after centuries' for the recent voiding of the centuries-old teaching that infants who die without being baptized do not go to Heaven and are denied the vision of God there, but are rather sent to a place called limbo, imagined to be not a place of fire as Purgatory and Hell are conceived to be.

  • "Christianity, which has the doctrine of original sin, commands infants (male and female) to be baptized right after birth" Not all of Christianity. Baptists oppose infant baptism. Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 21:37
  • @Accumulation You are correct. I will revise that. I appreciate your feedback. If the answer then meets your approval, I would welcome an upvote by your clicking the symbol which points upward on the left at the top. Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 21:58

You asked, "if there is a similarity in Judaism with the Christian's point of view of Original Sin." You went on to also quote "medieval commentators", suggesting to me that a quote from the Talmud/Gemara would be acceptable.

Therefore, without suggesting that the following is a main view, the answer is yes, there is / was, "a similarity in Judaism with the Christian's point of view of Original Sin" - ... that ALL are sinners ...:


Rabbi Eliezer said to him: Akiva, have I failed to fulfill any portion of the entire Torah? Rabbi Akiva said to him, you taught us, our teacher: “For there is not a righteous man upon earth who does good and sins not”.

  • 1
    I don't think that says that all are sinners from birth. It says that all are sinners, but doesn't connect it to a state of humanity after the original sin
    – b a
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 11:10
  • @ba if, as you agree, "all are sinners", then when, at what point in time, did that become a reality, if not from birth or not from conception?
    – ninamag
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 11:34
  • @ninameg - Infants cannot sin/do wrong before 'the age of reason,' that is, the time when they can talk and think. In Christianity, that is considered to be seven years old. Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 11:41
  • @CliffordDurousseau "Infants cannot sin/do wrong before 'the age of reason,' that is, the time when they can talk and think." - Please provide a rabbinic support for this.
    – ninamag
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 11:47
  • 1
    @ninamag Never mind that. School-age children obviously aren't just born or just conceived, so this passage demonstrates that the central point you're trying to make is incorrect. Whether the age during which they're "free of sin" extends until bar mitzvah, or ends at some earlier point, is a separate issue.
    – Meir
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 14:35

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