The Sin, what and why
By Chaim Lazer
Many people think of a mitzvah as a good deed and hence a sin as a bad deed. The concept of sin as we know was taught to us when we were children and subsequently have a intellectual conception that has not been updated for quite a few years. In reality the subject of sin (and what it does) requires a bit of clarification.
Sin and what it does is deeper than just a bad deed. A 'bad deed' can be summarized as some one who 'messes up' or causes damage or pain to others or even himself. But as sin may also do this, still it goes much deeper than that.
Let us give an example of a person who works in an office: The boss tells him to file his work in a specific manner. If the worker decides to just throw the work in the filing system with no regard to the rules of the boss then the worker can expect several reactions.
First the boss will be angry with him. Secondly, he has made the work flow slow down or come to a halt because of his actions. Even more, it could be that because of this action he will not get a raise, or even worse, he might just get fired! Let us now analyze this analogy in light of sin.
When a person willfully sins, (for if he does not do it on purpose, the action and results are not considered as severe as when it is done willfully) he causes G-d to be angry with him. G-d has put every one on this earth for a reason, just like the boss hires each worker for a specific task and reason. Just like when a worker who does not work properly causes problems in the output of the business, so too, a person who sins causes problems in this world (as shall be described later).
G-d, who has created every person with a purpose and a specific task, desires to help the person do his job, but the person must be willing to do that which is assigned to his particular portion in this world. When a person rebels against G-d, he also rebels against the world. He causes the functioning of the world to sink down into the depth of depravity; G-d removes His presence from the world and this allows evil to take over the world.
Like a person who is fired from his job must seek sustenance from another source. If the person is incapable of working he may just turn to crime of some sort to generate an income. Instead of making a living by benefiting the world, he makes a living by stealing from the world. Man was put in the world to build up the world not to not to tear it down. Sinning is the act of tearing down and destroying the world.
Now the severity of the sin depends of two factors: one is the level of the soul and the second is the intentions of the deed. Since each person was created for a purpose, each person has a special soul. Some souls are very lofty and spiritual, while others are very simple and earthly. People with lofty souls normally are very sensitive to the spiritual, while those who are earthly individuals have lowly souls – this does not mean that they are bound to sin, but it means that they have more difficulty in feeling the divine.
The second factor is the intent of the action. Some people sin because although they know it is wrong still they get carried away with their desire for the forbidden action or object. This is like people who are over weight and know that they must reduce but still they have a craving for chocolate that they can not overcome. Then there are those people who do not know that doing such an act is a sin; they are not well educated and therefore they do not know what actions constitute a sin. Conversely there are those who know fully well that such an action is a sin, but they want to to do the act since they do not care if they separate themselves from G-d. This is the worst case and their punishment is quite severe, since they rebel against the authority of G-d. Their punishment generally comes in the next world.
When a sin is an outcome of action that reflects a willing to rebel against G-d, G-d in turn withdraws his desire to be with the person. When this happens, the person is left to mingle with the evil doers in this world. Some sinners prosper in this world; some fail. When sinners prosper, it gives an impetus to others to sin since they see a benefit is such actions.
If a person were to realize that although he may benefit in some physical manner through a sin, he is causing a self inflicted damage to his own welfare and being both in this world and in the next. In the end, where ever it may be, he will pay dearly for sinning.
On the other hand, he who runs from sin, in spite of looking 'silly' in the eyes of others, will receive a reward from his efforts. Just like G-d punishes those who transgress, He rewards those who flee from evil. Let us be from those who separate themselves from evil and choose the path of good; good as defined by G-d's Torah.
from the March 2010 Edition of the Jewish Magazine