Re: Reward and Punishment - Is It Justified??

Matthew W Pickut (
Mon, 10 Feb 1997 01:31:26 PST

In Torah Forum V3 #23 Bernard Laufer <> wrote:
> Let's assume that we have an evil individual that we shall call E,
> and a good individual that we shall call G.
> 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.
> Likewise, Hashem can say to G when he passes away that he dosn't
> deserve any reward in the World to Come for his good deeds because he
> was bestowed a superior soul, and if he was given a soul identical to
> E then he would not have become a good person.
> Hence, in view of the above predicament, one may ask if Reward and
> Punishment Is Really Justified.

Bernard Laufer's question at first caused me to pause because of the
assumptions that Mr. Laufer makes. Mr. Laufer seems to makes two
assumptions about the nature of souls:
1. That when our maker gives us a soul that it is of a
qualitative status. i.e. a evil soul or a good soul.
2. That this qualitative state of our soul at birth is static
throughout life and cannot be changed.
I point out these assumptions because if the assumptions are
incorrect the question is incorrect and is a like asking: What color
is the number 7? or How much does blue weigh?
My query in response is: What are the opinions of scholars as to
the veracity of these assumptions? Is it possible that the souls that
are given to us by our maker are the same at birth and that it is the
free will of man and how the maker relates to man after his birth that
determines the qualitative state of the soul at judgment? I myself do
not know enough to answer these questions and ask humbly for the list's
opinions and for the words of our scholars.

Matthew Pickut