Did Jesus believe in Original Sin?

Q. I know that Christians and Jews share many religious beliefs and are very close to each other in spiritual brotherhood. But Christians basically believe that they are created sinful and unclean and, therefore, need a Redeemer, Jesus, to take the sins of believers on Himself so that they may come to God’s Kingdom when they pass over. Since Jews do not have this Redeemer, how do they become pure enough to enter God’s Kingdom? I realize there is the Law, but human beings, being who and what they are, cannot keep these laws sufficiently to reach purity and freedom from sin. Christians also believe that they are able to receive the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit directs their lives and brings them to true belief in God through Christ. How does Judaism look at the Holy Spirit and is the Holy Spirit considered to be active in bringing Jews to true belief? I can answer this question myself, from a Christian point of view, but that would be a one sided answer. I would very much appreciate learning what Judaism teaches in this matter. Thank you very much.

Answer: You are correct in assuming that most Christians believe in Original Sin, to a greater or lesser degree. As to whether Jesus himself really believed in Original Sin or not, I have serious doubts. In one of the Gospels, we read about how Jesus’ disciples once asked Jesus, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’” (John 1:1). However, Jesus gives one of the most profound rabbinical answers imaginable, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” (John 9:2-3).

As a Jew reading the Gospel narrative, it seems to me that Jesus explicitly disapproved of any idea that man suffers from an inherited sin. By extension, every human fault we are born with serves a spiritual purpose so that we may glorify the Creator despite our natural shortcomings. Nowhere does Jesus ever speak of anything resembling the idea of a prenatal sin. Continue reading “Did Jesus believe in Original Sin?”

Can a woman serve as a Mohel?

Q. One of my congregants asked me a wonderful question. In Orthodox Judaism can a woman perform Brit Milah (ritual circumcision)?

I wrote back,

“ You have asked a great question! There is a controversy in tractate Avodah Zarah 27a regarding this very issue between Daru bar Papa who cites in the name of Rav and Rabbi Yochanan. Here is the substance of the argument. Daru b. Papa held that only someone who is obligated to observe the precept of circumcision can act as Mohel for others, whereas R. Yochanan felt that a woman can act as a Mohelet as indicated in the story of Tziporah (see Exodus 4:24‑26 for details). You could say she was a Moyhel of a goy’ol (pardon the pun!).”

In practical terms, R. Yosef Caro, the Halacha follows R. Yochanan and a woman may act as Mohelet (Yoreh Deah 264:1) but Maimonides adds one stipulation: this only applies in the event that a male Mohel is not available (MT, Hilchot Milah 2:1). However, Rema cites authorities who differ on this matter. Continue reading “Can a woman serve as a Mohel?”