“Salvation” in the Torah



I am someone who grew up Christian, but as I have worked through the last two years of seminary, I have realized how one-sided the Christian faith is. Currently, I am in a class that is teaching grace in the Old Testament. My question is, how did ancient Jews attain salvation? Did salvation and grace exist?

Thank you,




  1. Salvation – known as Teshuvah in Hebrew – is the bedrock of Jewish theology. God’s infinite love for His creations is another foundational concept in Judaism. It is from Judaism that Christianity incorporated those beliefs into its own dogma.

    Ever since mankind was created the ability to atone has existed. The Midrash relates that Adam heard from Cain that God had accepted his repentance for the death of Abel (Bereshit Rabbah 22-28). The Talmud in Tractate Eruvin 18 states that as a result of this, Adam also repented for the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge and fasted for 130 years and separated from his wife.

    This potential to do Teshuvah is extant today as it has been throughout the ages. The Temple, with its services and sacrifices, served as a means to focus the penitent’s attention on his/her sins. The Midrash Tanchuma (Tzav 17) states that prayers are a replacement for the sacrifices. The Talmud in Tracate Menachot 110 states that one who studies the Laws of the Sacrifices is considered as if he actually offered them up. The Rokeach, Rabbi Elazar M’Germeiza, states that the learning of Torah outweighs all the sacrifices.

    The very first ingredient that any one needs to be able to change is strength of conviction. If a person was not leading a Torah lifestyle, the Torah does not expect him to miraculously start keeping all the Commandments. The most important step is the recognition of the fact that the Torah is true.

    The Rambam, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, writes in the Mishna Torah that there are three stages involved in repentance and returning to a more spiritual life. They are:
    1. Regret
    2. Confessing the sin to God in prayer
    3. Commitment not to repeat it in future

    These stages are the main battle in a person’s personal belief. If a person is cognizant of the fact that this world is merely a temporary station before we move on to the World to Come, it becomes considerably easier to accept the dictates of the Torah and live by them.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team