Re: Reward and Punishment Is It Justified??

Micha Berger (aishdas@aishdas.org)
Fri, 7 Feb 1997 12:24:28 -0500 (EST)

In v3n23, Dov Laufer poses:
: E dies and he says to Hashem (G-d) that he doesn't deserve any
: punishment in the World to Come for his evil deeds because He gave
: him an inferior soul, and if he was given a soul identical to G then
: he would not have become an evil person.

This is assuming that we are judged by what we did in life on some
absolute scale.

But what if judgement were based not on /being/ good, but on /striving/
to be good. Then, the person born less able, or into a home with a
poor upbringing, or a "tinoq shenishba" (a child taken captive and raised
by criminals), would not be judged on the same scale as someone more
fortunate. Expectations are lower.

This dovetails well with the idea of heaven as R Aryeh Kaplan zt"l taught
it. All souls go to the same "place", the World to Come. "Heaven" and
"Hell", which in Hebrew are actually called by names that refer to
other locations -- Gan Eden (Garden of Pleasantness) primarily means
the place Adam and Eve started out in, and Gehennom, or Gei ben Hinnom
(Vale of Son of Hinom) is a valley outside of Biblical Jerusalem where
children were sacrificed to Molech. In other words, they are descriptive
terms, not place names.

In this model, the amount of pleasantness, ie heaven, one experiences
in the WtC is a function of how much your personal definition of
"eden" matches what is in the WtC. Similarly, the "fires" of hell are
those of shame and guilt. R Kaplan discusses this in greater depth in
the first volume of his Collected Writings.

Either way, it means that another way of viewing final judgement is that
it is a natural consequence of what we made of ourselves in life. Further,
heaven wouldn't be a consequence of being good, but of learning to enjoy it.

Which again takes us back to the idea that people aren't judged on
an absolute scale of how much good they did.

Micha Berger 201 916-0287 Help free Ron Arad, held by Syria 3709 days!
micha@aishdas.org (16-Oct-86 - 7-Feb-97)
http://aishdas.org -- Orthodox Judaism: Torah, Avodah, Chessed