Antidote to the Seven Deadly Sins (Vayishlach)

Many of the insights of the saint stem from their experience as sinners. –Eric Hoffer

It seems that the concept of seven deadly sins already existed in Jewish sources and may predate the version popularized by Christian theologians. The Jewish version, according to some opinions, differs minutely from the more popular one and can be listed as follows (based on the Vilna Gaon on his commentary on Tractate Berachot 4b):

  1. Gluttony
  2. Envy
  3. Pride
  4. Stinginess
  5. Lust
  6. Hatred
  7. Sloth

The Bat Ayin on Genesis 33.:3 references that Jacob struggles with “seven evil traits.” The way he overcame them were by the “seven holy traits.” The “seven holy traits” may be more familiar to some and have been popularized by the listing of the “lower” seven Kabbalistic “Sefirot.” A loose translation of them would be:

  1. Kindness
  2. Strength
  3. Splendor
  4. Victory
  5. Glory
  6. Foundation
  7. Kingship

The Bat Ayin suggests that somehow Jacob’s evil twin brother Esau was the embodiment of the seven evil traits and that Jacob was able to subdue those evil traits within himself via his conflict with his brother. The idea is hinted at in the verse which states that “He himself [Jacob] went on ahead and bowed low to the ground seven times until he was near his brother.”

The Bat Ayin explains that ironically, Jacob was able to rise above these evil traits by abjection. By humbling himself, by realizing all the reasons he should be contrite and humble, it allowed him to quash and nullify the evil traits within himself and thus give rise and power to the seven holy traits which cancelled and supplanted the evil ones.

May we beware of all evil traits within ourselves and look to supplant them with holy ones.

Shabbat Shalom,



To – whose podcasts I’ve recently discovered and found to be outstanding, deep and thought provoking.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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