Comparative Religious Studies/the devil

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Question
I was reading as well as watching in the yeshiva that there is no hell.  Does that mean that there is no devil?  Thank you for considering the question. ....J

Answer
Hi J

Thanks for your question.
We are convinced that the God of love, mercy and justice does not torture people. This is correct.

There are innumerable creatures (beings created by God) both terrestrial and celestial. In the Tanach (Isaiah chapter 14) we find a being mentioned who is generally considered to be Satan by the Christians. This being is called Lucifer in the text (in Hebrew: Heylel). Here is the question: Is this speaking of an individual being (as with the fallen angel Lucifer/Lucius) or something else. The rabbis typically view this section more contextually specific than Christians.

The great Jewish teacher Rashi explains in his commentary that the day star, referenced here, is the planet Venus and that the one who dared to lift himself up is King Nebuchadnezzar, who practiced astrology. This passage certainly fits him.

While I would not wish to disagree with Rashi and our other rabbinim, I think there is more to it than this (not that this is incorrect, I agree with them as well). In the Book of Job we see a being named (or called) Satan coming before the throne of HaShem to challenge Job's emunah (faith). In Hebrew the word satan means opponent or adversary and so the rabbis often teach that this challenger was in a sense "a satan" opposing the righteous Job, but not necessarily HaSatan (THE Satan) as in a specific being. Some (not all by any means) say Job was challenged by his own inner struggle between good and bad and not by any literal adversary (I disagree). Others take this a bit more literally (as do I).

Our understanding of Genesis is that God gave humanity an eternal choice to do good (yetzer tov) or evil (yetzer ra). Whatever temptation urges us towards evil is "a satan" and whatever urge draws us towards the good is "an angel" (malak). However we also know from Scripture that there are individual beings who are angels (Michael, Gabriel etc). This being the case, we believe there are also beings that are demons. If so, it stands to reason (and agrees with Scripture) that they have hierarchies as do the angels. In my opinion then, Lucifer/Lucius is doubtless among these creatures and quite real.

There remains a critical difference in our teachings however: While Lucifer exists, he is in no way the equal of nor opposite to God. ALL beings serve the Will of the One God. God allows rebellion because it provides the opportunity for people to choose yetzer tov and thus draw ever closer to Him. We need not fear Lucifer therefore. We have only to cling to Torah and we are safe.

Shalom,
~ Yochanan (John of AllFaith)

Comparative Religious Studies

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Shlomo Phillips

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Since 1969 I have sought insight into the nature of God and Truth. I am happy to share my insights with you.

To varying degrees I have worked and studied with many different groups including:

Jews (my religion) Noahides, Christians, Gaudiya Vaisnavism, Swami Muktinanda's Sidha Yoga Foundation, the Yoga Society (of Sri Ramamurti Mishra), Sikhism, various Pagan and neo-Pagan groups, Sunni Islam (Wahabi), Sufism, Taoism, various Buddhist sects (including the Dharmad Hatu of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche), diverse Hindu sects, many Christian denominations and movements, and have been involved with numerous other groups and movements too numerous to mention.

In this AllExperts category I can any questions about any religion you are interested in.

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Creator and author of AllFaith.com and other websites and blogs. I hold an MA in Religious Studies, ordinations and initiations into various religions.

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AllFaith.com johnofallfaith.xanga.com yeshivabethhashem.org felxidox.org

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Experience: A lifetime invested in seeking God. I am an ordained Independent Jewish rabbi. I hold an MA in Religious Studies from John F Kennedy University. I hold three Christian ordinations, a counseling ordination from the Interfaith Seminaries of Santa Cruz. I am a twice initiated Vaishnava bramana (Gopinath Gaudiya matha and ISKCON), have practical experience with many other branches Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Paganism (Wodenwic and other sects), Islam (Sunni, Shia and Sufi), Wicca (especially Welsh Traditionalist and Gardnarian) and various other traditions. I own and author AllFaith.com, YeshivaBethHaShem.org and other sites including my Facebook site.

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