Question: Do Jews believe in the doctrine of original sin?
Answer: Jews do not believe in the doctrine of original sin. This is a Christian belief based on Paul’s statement, “Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). The doctrine was fully developed by the church father, Augustine of Hippo (354-430).
According to this doctrine, hereditary sinfulness is inescapably transmitted to human beings by their parents, starting with Adam and Eve. It is alleged that only acceptance of Jesus as savior from sin can redeem a person from sin. All those who do not accept Jesus as their savior from sin are condemned to eternal suffering in hell.
Whether man is a sinner by nature or not is immaterial. Judaism teaches the biblical way to repentance and reconciliation with God. Sincere repentance in which the sinner pledges to rectify his sinful ways and lead a righteous life is one means that is open at all times to all of humanity (Jonah 3:5-10, Daniel 4:27). God counsels Cain, “Why are you annoyed, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do good [that is, change your ways], will it not be lifted up [that is, you will be forgiven]. But if you do not do good, sin rests at the door; and it desires you, but you may rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7). God informs Cain that repentance and subsequent forgiveness are always open to him. The remedy for sin is clear. Biblically, God’s loving-kindness depends on right conduct and extends to all humanity.