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    Are we all sinners?

    In our rational moments we criticise the Yom Kippur confessions: Ashamnu, bagadnu, gazalnu, “We admit our guilt; we have sinned, we have transgressed, we have gone astray…” Is it really true?

    Classical Christianity made a doctrine of the thought of sin. It said that because Adam sinned, we are all sinners; it says sinfulness comes with the genes, sins are inherent in human nature, and the only way out is theological.

    This doctrine says that man sins because he is a sinner; Judaism says that man has no predisposition to sin though he sometimes goes wrong and does the wrong thing. Some Jewish thinkers go as far as to claim that doing good is a person’s true nature.

    The Torah says, “If a person sins…” There is an “if” about it. Anyone can make a mistake and if they (who? The kohen gadol! The Sanhedrin! The king! The ordinary person!) go wrong, nothing forces them. They and not their genes are responsible, and they and not their theology can find the solution.

    The solution in fact is like a religious form of the three Rs – remorse for the wrong, recognition of the sin, and resolution not to sin again.

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