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    Me or my parents – Ki Tissa

    The Torah readings at this time of year are preoccupied with sin. Their concern is whether I should be punished for my own sins or whether my parents’ sins should have an effect on me.

    You can make a good case for either opinion. If it is I who do wrong, why should my parents be considered guilty? On the other hand, if they are the ones who committed a sin, why should I have to pay for it?

    Does Judaism believe in individual responsibility – or does it wrap me up with my parents and say the guilt is combined?

    The teaching of Judaism seems to waver between the two views. Often it happens in religion that two opposing doctrines have to live with one another: an example is the principle of free will, concerning which Rabbi Akiva says, “All is foreseen, yet freedom is given”.

    The truth in relation to sin is that if my parents do wrong, I cannot escape the effects… but I have the capacity to outweigh what my parents have done if I determine to improve on them, and they are able to outweigh what I do if they give me a good example.

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