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Satan occupies a prominent place in Christianity, which generally regards him as a rebellious angel and the source of evil who will meet his ultimate demise in battle at the End of Days.Jewish sources on the whole don’t dwell as much on the satanic, but the concept is nonetheless explored in numerous texts.God permits Satan to take away Job’s wealth, kill his family and afflict him physically, none of which induces Job to rebel against God.The Book of Job is sometimes cited to support the claim that the Jewish view of Satan as an agent of God is different from the Christian view, which sees Satan as an autonomous force opposed to God.Indeed, kabbalistic texts offer a rich description not merely of Satan, but of an entire realm of evil populated by demons and spirits that exists in parallel to the realm of the holy.Satan is known in Kabbalah as Sama’el (rendered in some sources as the Great Demon), and the demonic realm generally as the Sitra Achra — literally “the other side.” The consort of Sama’el (who is mentioned in pre-kabbalistic Jewish literature as well) is Lilith, a mythic figure in Jewish tradition more commonly known as the rebellious first wife of Adam.
According to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, it was Satan that caused the Jewish people to despair of Moses returning from Mount Sinai by showing them an image of the prophet on his deathbed.
Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Poloniye, one of the chief disciples of Hasidism’s founder, the Baal Shem Tov, wrote in his Toldos Yaakov Yosef that God would eventually slaughter the angel of death during the messianic age — a belief that clearly echoes the Christian view of a final showdown between God and Satan at the End of Days.
Hasidic folk tales are replete with descriptions of demonic forces, among them a famous story in which the Baal Shem Tov defends a group of children from a werewolf.
Evil, in this reading, results from an excess of judgment.
Many of these ideas would later find expression in Jewish folk beliefs and in the works of the Hasidic masters.