Thursday, June 23, 2005

Satan is in Heaven

Calm down, I am not a Satanist. In Hebrew, "Ha-SatAN" means "the adversary," "the destroyer," and is sometimes loosely translated as "the evil inclination." Another term commonly used for "Ha-Satan" is the Hebrew "yetzer harah," which literally means "the evil inclination." It must also be noted that humans have both a "yetzer harah" and a "yetzer hatov," the good inclination, and it is completely within our capabilities to lead with either one. For this analysis, I will simply use the word "Satan," the English word for "Ha-Satan."

Judaism and Christianity both believe that Satan exists and that his goal is to get us to partake in evil. The only difference between Judaism and Christianity with regards to Satan is that the former believes that his job is to tempt humanity, meaning that he has a role in the divine scheme of things, while the latter believes that he is an enemy of Hashem, acting against His will. I believe that the latter view is simply untrue as well as being spiritually unhealthy, and will attempt to show why.

First, Satan cannot be Hashem's enemy because Hashem made him with the intent of tempting us. Hashem has an angel for everything, and unless we believe that Hashem is the one that tempts us, belief in the existence of Satan makes sense. However, why Hashem would banish Satan from His Presence baffles me. First of all, if Hashem banished Satan, would Satan not cease to exist? Can it be said that there is anything outside of the realm of Hashem that has the ability to exist? If Hell is entirely outside of the realm of Hashem, is it really just a name for a place of non-existence? If Satan can be banished from Hashem but still exist, it says that he has the power of being independent from Hashem; he is as strong as or stronger than Hashem, which is impossible. It only makes sense that Satan is working for Hashem, as in Job. This also means that Satan is not evil in the sense that a person who does evil things is evil. Satan is, like all angels, a perfect receptacle for Hashem's will; he does what he does out of necessity and does not derive pleasure from it. Of course, our attitude towards him has to be "less than friendly" because his function is to harm us. This is the Jewish viewpoint of Satan.

But if Hell really exists, it must be a place that Hashem condones, because if He did not want it to be, then it would not. What this means is that there is some level of G-dliness there, even if it's just enough to maintain its existence. So if Hell is a real place, all who are there barely exist, they almost do not, which means that they have almost no power or strength, or life. Hell would be the place farthest from Hashem. Therefore, if we believe that Satan is the tempter of humanity, we must assume that he is in Heaven.

The Torah's view on Hell, or "Gehennom," is that only the genuinely wicked people go there for eternity. However, "genuinely wicked" is not a term that humanity can even begin to pretend to be able to determine, and therefore the judgment is left entirely up to Hashem, who happens to be merciful. It is doubtful that kicking your little brother in the tuchus (butt) qualifies you as "genuinely wicked," although you should probably go to your room for a while and think about what you did.

Second, it would also baffle me as to why Hashem would banish Satan but not strip him of his powers of temptation first. Is it really the act of an all-wise Hashem to kick Satan out but to continue to allow him to "do his thing?" Satan's job is indeed a necessary one if free will is to exist, but if he were unchecked by Hashem in his job as a tempter, he would wreak havoc on the Earth. What this means is that Satan has built-in limits on what he can do, he cannot make an individual act in a way other than the individual is willing to act. He cannot control us, he can only confuse us, and only if we let him. Of course, we can say that Satan is wreaking havoc on the Earth, but the extent of Satan's ability is our submission to our weaknesses. If Hashem saw Satan as an unnecessary nuisance, would He not just end his existence? Clearly Satan exists, which can only mean that Hashem Himself is allowing him to exist. And clearly Satan still tempts us, which means that he has not been defeated, which means that Meshiach (Messiah) has not come yet. For this reason, I do not agree with the Christian view that Jesus defeated sin, and therefore Satan. Satan is real and sin is real, and within practical limits, it is only as real as we let it be.

Third, the notion that Hashem has to defeat Satan also confuses me. I cannot imagine that the all-powerful Hashem has to put any amount of effort into defeating one of His creations. If Hashem wanted Satan to disappear, it would be done and over with. Again, it would not take Hashem a trial-by-error method to decide if He wants Satan to exist or not; the fact that He made him shows that he has an eternal purpose.

Fourth, do angels really have free will? Can an angel do something that Hashem has not allowed it to do, or can an angel avoid its responsibility? Free will is the only constant in the human story, something that angels do not possess. In Job, Satan asks Hashem for permission to do everything before he does it - he has no free will. Can the universe really function if Hashem grants His angels, His "employees," free will? What if an angel was feeling lazy one day, or overzealous, or scared? Would they not need a Torah of their own to keep them in check, a Torah that they could reject? Look at humanity, we have free will and look at what a situation we are in. I view angels as being programmed by Hashem to carry out a certain task; they can do nothing outside of that task, which also rules out rebellion against their Maker. But assuming that some kind of anomaly occurred and an angel was able to rebel against Hashem, I would imagine that He would just end his existence and make another one. Taking it a step farther, it is hard to believe that He would even have to resort to that; would He not just reprogram the angel to do what it is supposed to do? Assuming that angels can be reprogammed, it means that they do not have free will anyway (to resist being reprogrammed).

A Note about Satanism

Here is just a thought that I will explore in another post. In the light of all this, worshipping Satan would make absolutely no sense. If Satan is an angel designated to a task, to worship him would get one nowhere. He has no power of his own and he does not answer prayers, which is something that only Hashem does. Prayers to Satan would go completely ignored since answering them is not one of his abilities. Praying to Satan is like talking to a brick wall.

1 comment:

Dan Ayers said...

The fact is that Elohim did create Satan and since Satan is the great deceiver he must have some kind of free will available to him because he simply does not trust in Elohim. Also it is shown in the Bible many times that even though Elohim can do many things, like not allow people to sin against him, he allows it anyway. An example of this is when he allowed Saul to be King and regretted putting him in power. Elohim still allowed it, even though Elohim can obviously tell the future. Our situation is not to question why he does these things only to trust that he has his reasons and when we do that Elohim may reveal those to us. It is simply a sin to say that Satan works for Elohim. Sin is defined as missing the mark, which is missing the bull’s-eye of who God is. God does not tempt us! In the story of Job it does not say that Satan was Elohim’s servant, it says that Job was. Therefore, the story explains that Satan doing wrong against Job was not for Job’s benefit it was for Satan’s. Elohim was not about to explain the details as to why it was necessary for Job to go though all of his trials for Satan to learn a lesson of some kind, which he may have never learned though that experience anyway. The important thing to understand though is that Elohim was not tempting Job; it is a benefit that we see Job’s resolve to stick to his faith in Elohim no matter what happened. It also is a benefit to see that Elohim will not test us more than we can bare but in no way was Elohim commanding Satan. Elohim has to have his reasons for evil to exist but it does not mean that Elohim has anything to do with it. Satan must know that he will be defeated so he only wishes to take as many down with him as possible, trying to show to people what he wrongly believes that The Great One is not trustworthy but we know that we can completely trust in Elohim.

As far as hell goes Christians do not believe that Satan lives there yet, it is reserved for him, his angles and false profits. Right now until the end of time it is just a dark pit that some are waiting in until the end. Right now Satan is comfortable living right hear on earth with us. Earth is his home, where he resides and when the time comes Elohim will light the dark pit of hell for him as punishment for deceiving all the humans that are to join him. Many will be cast there to be destroyed, just as useless trash is thrown on a fire, eternal death but those who have a relationship with Elohim, those he can regard as his faithful servants will live close to him for eternity.

To say that only the generally wicked will go to hell is to assume that no one will go to Hell. Because who is generally wicked? Everyone has some sort of redeeming qualities and feels remorse for actions because Elohim gives us a conscience to know wrong from right. You can not even say that someone that does not even trust in God is generally wicked because they may give to the poor or be kind to their fellow man as they pray to false God’s. Therefore Elohim would not keep it secret as to what actions you would have to participate in to enter Hell. He loves us and would do all that he can to warn us and keep us from destruction. He made it clear to us through Moses what he will Judge us on, he gave us the Ten Commandments as our standard. If we should break any of them then he will judge us for every transgression against him. Why you make light of any of the commandments? By doing this you take away the power of them all. Why would you make “Do Not Lie” less important that “Do Not Murder?” We can see that one affects us more but Elohim can only take that breaking the least of his commands is still a transgression against him. He holds it with just as much weight and breaking it will lead to his Judgment against you and your eternal death. That is the very definition of law, breaking the law has consequences.

The Great One has not revealed to us how the universe works completely, but he has a purpose that in order for life to continue as we know it the spiritual battle must go on for a time, until he determines the end. We are proof that just because he creates something it does not mean it has to choose to trust and follow him. The difference between Angles and Humans is only as simple as they don’t need the Torah because they know the difference between right and wrong without Elohim needing to clarify it to them. Just as there was a right and wrong before the Torah there is a right and wrong for all regardless if it is written or not, we are just blessed that he has written it for us to know without a doubt.