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Satan, demons, devils and angels


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Adar 29, 5777
I have recently read that germs can be counted as demons but I think that it cannot be true because germs are biological microorganisms. Just as angels are considered spiritual beings so demons should be considered strictly spiritual beings. If angels and demons are beings with no free will, then what will happen to demons upon the resurrection of the dead? Let me explain: satan and demons have not rebelled against G-d but can be commanded by G-d to tempt, punish mankind as the story of Job shows us. If they were created for this purpose what will happen to them when it the world to come our willpower will be aligned with G-d’s willpower and though we will still have the power to choose wrong or right, we will in fact always choose right. What will then Satan do? What will become of him? Will he be destroyed?
Demons, devils, angels (the Hebrew literally means: messenger), and satan (the Hebrew literally means: stumbling-block), like all creatures except man, have no free will, are not autonomous, and accordingly don’t have mitzvot, nor reward or punishment, heaven or hell or resurrection. They are simply “messengers” sent by God to do certain tasks, and just follow their “program”. They are sometimes seen and sometimes not, but definitely don’t have “wings” or pitchforks like in the Christian drawings, and in general are not central nor secondary or even tertiary in Judaism (just about the only people who ever ask about them are those who were raised among Christians)! “Satan” is another name for the “evil inclination” inside each one of us (Bava Batra 16a), and his role in Job is symbolic and literary (many posit that the entire Book of Job is an allegory, ibid, 15a). Accordingly, germs can also be considered “messengers” programmed to serve a certain purpose.
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