Let My People Know

"In Judaism, good deeds are intrinsically connected with holiness and the Divine"

Rabbi Steinsaltz was asked, “What’s more important from a faith perspective, being saved or doing good works?”

He replied:

The question of whether being saved or doing good works is more important is a basic theological problem.

In fact, different religions – even factions within religions – have different, sometimes opposing answers.

So I can answer it only from the perspective of my own faith.
In Judaism, good deeds – whether they are directly in the line of worship or inter-personal good deeds – are intrinsically connected with holiness and the Divine.

On the other hand, being saved, as important and exalted as it may be, is still, in some way, an egoistic desire.

There are some differences between the desire to have great worth and the desire to live everlastingly in Paradise; still, in both cases, one is acting with his own well-being in mind, whether it be material or spiritual.
Even when there is promise for the saving of the soul by performing (or avoiding) certain deeds, or a generalized life of holiness, it is still a human desire.

To quote the prayer of one of our saints, he says to God: “I don’t want Your Paradise; I don’t want Your world-to-come. I want only You Yourself.”

And in life, doing it or reaching it is by doing the will of God–and allowing Him to deal with the far less important question – whether I myself am saved or not.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From “On Faith: A Conversation about Religion with Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn” http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/