Anything about JUDAISM
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queen Posted - 06 October 2000 3:12
If hashem's decided already what your choice will be, then there's really no such thing as free choice because hashem knows what you're gonna choose anyway. If you're given a choice and the decision's already made for you, then it's not your choice!
MODERATOR Posted - 08 October 2000 22:39
G-d doesn't make the decision for you, He merely looks into the future and sees what decision you will make by your own choice. If yuo had a time machine and went into the future and saw what people will be doing tomorrow, you now know what they will decide but it doesn't mean that you forced them to choose that way.
FEIVEL Posted - 11 October 2000 20:12

I just saw someone speak, and the way he explained it was:

You all must remember that HASHEM YISBORACH created time, so ot him, everything that happens happened, will happen, and is happening, now. A little deep, but basically since hashem exists both in and out of our space-time continuum at will (little quantum physics for ya!) he knows what going to happen, or, rather, what's happening.

hope this helps...


queen Posted - 11 October 2000 20:13
but hashem still decides if you're gonna do it or not - it is His decision. Also Hashem gives us the yetzer horah and decides when it will make us do bad and good. It influences us and that persuades our choice! If not for Hashem we wouldn't make those decisions also if not for hashem we would have a choice of decisions
MODERATOR Posted - 11 October 2000 21:28
No. Hashem does not make the decision. Hashem does not interfere at all with any decisions to do Mitzvos or Avieros. "Hakol bidei shamayim chutz miyiras shamayim" - "Everything is in Hashem's hands except fear of hashem". Hashem allows you to make those decisions.

And the Yetzer Horah NEVER makes you do an aveirah. All the Yetzer Horah does is TEMPT you to do an aveirah whether you listen to him is YOUR choice. Hashem ALLOWS YOU, and you alone, to decide whether oyu will listen to the Yetzer Horah or the Yetzer Tov.

queen Posted - 12 October 2000 19:28
You actually still don't have free choice because if you do bad, you're punished - is that free choice. It's basically you have to do good otherwise you'll suffer the consequences! That's not free will!!!!!
MODERATOR Posted - 12 October 2000 19:32
You mean, qwert, that there is only one WISE choice, and you are correct. But free will doesn't mean that whatever you want to be the wise choice, should be. Rather, it means that it is your choice whether to do what is smart or not smart.
HZ Posted - 13 October 2000 19:20
This question has eluded me for some time now. "Ain Od M'livado." So free will must ultimatelay eminate from Hashem. But we are given dominion over it. Hashem leads us how we want to go, but how do we want to do anything?
MODERATOR Posted - 16 October 2000 22:14

Your question is dealt with at length in sefer called Tagmulei HaNefesh by R. Hillel of Verona, a student of Rabbeinu Yonah. here, though, we'll stick to the "pashtus" as much as possible.

The question is not only if "ain od milvado". There is a law of physics called causation, which means that everything that happens, happens for a reason. (Every effect has a cause.) Therefore, if you get out of bed in the morning, there must have been a cause of that action. There was, of course, namely, your decision to get up.

But what caused the decision? There had to be something that CAUSED you to WANT to get out of bed, and so forth. And if every decision has a cause then free will is impossible, because free will means the ability to choose without a cause, but rather just because you decided it.

In other words, if you had 2 people, with the exact same lives, the exact same biology, the exact same environment and experiences -- the exact same set of causes, could they ever make different decisions?

The answer is no, since if everything happens because of a particular cause then identical causes must create identical effects.

yet bechirah means two people in an identical situation with identical causes can choose two different effects (choices), simply because that is the power of their free will. This is impossible according to the laws of physics.

Every decision a person makes, according to science, must have a cause. Meaning, there must be a cause that he chose A instead of B. Choice cannot come freely. There must be a REASON why a particular choice was made. Or a reason for WANTING to choose A over B. EVERYTHING must have a reason. And in a world where everything must have a reason, nothing happens "freely", including your choices.

But we know that Hashem is the Cause of Causes, First Cause. The He does things simply because He wants, without any prior cause. Hashem is not bound to the laws of causation.

That's why, in order for us to have Bechirah, Hashem had to take a part of Himself and put it into us. The Seforno explains that "b'talmainu", the "image of G-d" means Free Will.

Free will is a miracle, since free will can't really exist. And the way Hashem brough about this miracle was, He gave us a little piece of Himself ("cheek eloka mima'al") that enables us, within the boundaries of mitzvos and aveiros, to choose our course freely and without prior causes, just like He can choose.

Outside of the realm of Mitzvos and Aveiros, there is no free will.

You are correct that according to the principle of ain od milvado there can be no free will. Since everything in the world is merely an expression of the Will of G-d, no will can exist independent of His. It's like if you imagine, in your mind, a little world with little people in it. Obviously they cannot make any decisions independent of you, and certainly they cannot do anything against your will. That's how the world exists in relation to Hashem, kav'yochol. We're all expressions of His will. So bechirah cannot exist.

But it does, because Hashem put al ittlep iece of Himself into those humans that He created as expression of His will, so that in each of those phantasms, there is a little sliver of reality, of Hashem Himself.

And that's where bechirah comes from. It's true that ain od milvado, but part of the "milvado", part of Hashem, is our Neshomos, and that is what enables us to think and choose freely, as if we really existed on our own. Our Neshomos, as "chelek elokah mima'al, in a sense, do exist on their own.

An interesting but inescapable conclusion of all this is that an atheist cannot believe in free will. Since everything in the world has a prior cause, that would include his choices, his desires, and the reasons for his desires. To the atheist, it would be impossible for two people with the exact same set of causes - heredity, environment, etc. - to make two different choices. Which means, his choices are not "his", but the result of his "causes."

Ask a psychologist, or any scientist who understands this law of physics how it is possible for free will to exist. They will not have an answer. Without the concept of "tzelem elokim", without us sharing the "nature" of Hashem, the Prime Cause of everything, our ability to choose cannot exist.

binah613 Posted - 16 October 2000 22:41
For anyone that is interested in really getting into this stuff(bechira..etc) on a pretty deep level, read the book "Fine Lines of Faith" Rabbi Eliezer's AWSOME!!
HZ Posted - 17 October 2000 9:06
Moderator and binah613, thank you for the names of the sefarim.

My question isn't in emunah. It's in how it works. I spent much thought along those lines.

Given "Hashem gave of Himself" to Adam Harishon and all, but, Hashem is totally unchanging (Ain Sof).

Like the Kuzari explains, Man's free will is like nature, it's a secondary cause, as opposed to a miracle, which is a direct cause of Hashem. Now, in actuality secondary causes are really direct causes from Hashem because He is all that exists. So, knowing that our free will is a secondary cause doesn't ultimately answer the question.

Now, Hashem gave us a piece of Himself. He is still the Ain Sof. And all these "pieces" are really part of the whole, since, as we see in the Shaar HaYichud, nothing truly infinite can be broken-up (and there can only be one true Infinity). Thus, the "pieces" are no different from Hashem.

Also Hashem's will is different from our own. He is "michadaish bituvo bichal yom tamid maasai biraishis." But is perfect unity and unchanging.

MODERATOR Posted - 17 October 2000 9:20

Even though Hashem gave us a piece of Himself and that piece is unchanging, when that piece is combined with a body to make a human being it has its own sentience, and THAT is the miracle. A plain Neshoma has no bechira. The soul causes the Bechirah, which is a miracle, but it is not the Bechirah itself.

When the Kuzari says that bechirah is a secondary cause, he does not mean it is not a miracle. The fact that a secondary cause can exist, in and of itself, is a miracle. the Kuzari was explaining WHAT Bechirah is, not HOW it can be.

If your question is how Hashem can be "divided" into finite pieces if infinity cannot be divided into finite pieces, that is the position of Menashe ben Yisroel in Nishmas Chaim, who because of that, denies the entire "chelek elokah mima'al" concept.

But the concept is true regardless, as it is stated in the Zohar and countless other sources. The answer to Menashe ben Yisroel's question is that a Neshoma does not mean that Hashem divided Himself. The Neshoma Elyona, as opposed to the lower souls, is not "inside" a person, but rather "above" him, touching him, and eminates from Hashem.

If your question is how a neshoma can "change", that is, become corrupted and lowered through a person's actions if Hashem cannot change or become lowered, the answer is that the Neshoma does NOT change in that way.

The Neshoma Elyonah, the part of your neshoma that is chelek eloka mima'al, is not "part" of the person, but rather eminated from hashem, remains "above" the person, touching him. This unsevered ray eminating from Hashem, kav'yochol, is not effected by a person's actions - a person's sins cannot polute the Neshoma elyonah - but rather it detaches itself from the sinner immediately prior to the commission of the sin. In contrast, when a person does Mitzvos he merits a greater connection to Hashem - more Neshoma - so that the souls of the Tzadik and the Rasha are (among other differences) quantitatively different.

But the nature of the souls themselves are never effected. The soul itself never goes against the will of Hashem.

Edited by - admindealing on 10/17/2000 2:27:38 PM

HZ Posted - 18 October 2000 5:32
Moderator, thank you again for your answers.

Actually, I wasn't questioning any of those things. I don't disagree with what you say and I have no problems understanding them. I was just using these sources to explain my thought pattern.

My question is still unanswered. I know free will is a miracle and I know it works. I also know that Hashem makes it work. I would like to know (to the extent possible) how it works.

To better understand my position, let me pose the old question: Can Hashem create a rock He can't lift? Such a rock cannot exist, since it would have to have some sort of existence of its own in order for Hashem to not have complete dominion over it. Nothing exists besides Hashem, the Ain Sof.
(This answer was clarified to me by a Rav.)

Hashem always has complete constant dominion over our free will, and, according to the Rambam and others, overrides our will (at least somewhat) on (rare) occasions.

This is analogous to land in Eretz Yisrael. Hashem gives us ownership rights of the land, but retains the ultimate ownership: At Yovel it goes back to its Shaivet. This rule cannot be overridden by any Shtar, marriage, agreement, Beis Din, or whatever. )

If you think about it, my question really boils down to this:

a) There is no existence besides Hashem and everything is a manifestation of His will (including our free will that is a secondary cause). (This is absolutely true beyond any doubt.)

b) Free will by definition seems to mean that we make (at least some)choices (at least partially) on our own. (This is my understanding.)

"b" Seems to conflict with "a."

MODERATOR Posted - 18 October 2000 6:18

Everything in this world is an expression of the will of G-d.

But G-d put a piece of Himself, kav'yochol, inside each of us and gave it its own sentience. That was a miracle.

That little peice of G-d that He gave us is the ability to choose right from wrong.

It's true that G-d could NOT have just provided His creations with this ability on their own, since, as you said, everything is only an expression of His will, and nothing in the world can have intrinsic existence except Him. Therefore, nobody except Him can have the ability to act independently, since an expression of my will cannot act independently of my will.

But G-d got around that problem. The ability that we have to choose on our own comes not from us, but from Him. Bechirah was not created as part of man on the 6th day - if that were the case you would be correct, Hashem cannot create a mechanism that can act indeopendently of Himself - but instead was "grafted" onto His creation - Adam - from Himself.

The mechanism, therefore, that allows us to choose right from wrong is not something that was created as part of this world, but rather something that existed prior to the world, something that is part of Hashem Himself, that He has miraculously allowed us utilize.

Bechirah is NOT a manifestation of G-d's will any more than G-d Himself is a manifestation of G-d's will, since Bechirah is a "chelek elokah mi'maal". The miracle of Bechirah is that a human can have appended to him something that is really a part of Hashem.

So the difference between the independently heavy rock and the independently selective human being, is that you want the heviness of the rock to be a creation, which cannot be, but the ability to choose of the human being is not a creation but part of Hashem Himself.

So now perhaps you will ask, can Hashem likewise "graft" part of His own power onto the rock such that He would be unable to lift it, since in this case the heaviness of the rock, too, is not a creation?

The answer is no, because G-d cannot, even though His own self, limit Himself in any way. He cannot kill Himself, cannot corpify Himself, cannot weaken Himself. This is because being all-powerful does not include the ability to be weak. Being weak is not considered a form of "power". G-d cannot create something beyond the limits of His power becaue there are no limits to His power, and that, Hashem cannot change.

So therefore, whereas Hashem CAN graft His own power onto a human giving Him free will, He cannot graft His own power onto a rock giving it the ability to limit Him.

Human Bechirah does not limit Hashem the way a too-heavy rock would, since Hashem has total over-riding control over the Bechirah. It's like a rock so heavy that Hashem CHOOSES not to lift it.

So Hashem would NOT be able to create human beings with Bechirah that He would not be ABLE to control if He would so choose.

The comparable question ot the rock would be: Can G-d create people too stiff-necked for Him to control?

To that, the answer is "no."

In short: There cannot exist within the boundaries of creation, the ability to choose independently. However, that ability does exist beyond creation, i.e. in Hashem Himself. That ability, since it can exist within albeit beyonf creation, can be miraculously appended to a creature enabling the creature to utilize the supernatural ability.

But the ability to overpower G-d does not exist even beyond creation. It does not exist even within G-d. Therefore it cannot be appended to any being, human OR G-d.

Does this answer your question?

Edited by - admindealing on 10/19/2000 1:28:41 AM

HZ Posted - 20 October 2000 2:08

I never quite thought of it that way. Your answer removes the "independantness" of our bechira - something which cannot exist.

This may the answer I was looking for. I will B"N give it some thought.

If there is a m'kor for what you are saying, could you please let me know. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR Posted - 20 October 2000 2:27
Well, the fact that a Neshoma is a part of Hashem ("cheleck elokah mima'al") is of course from the Zohar, on "vayipach b'apav": "man denafach midilei kanafach".

The fact that a Neshoma is therefore untouchable by humans, that it leaves a person before he does an aveirah, that it is not really part of a person but "above" him, is all in the Arizal.

The fact that the Neshoma is the source of Bechirah is a Seforno on the posuk btzelem elokim asah...

The fact that Hashem cannot create a rock too heavy for him to life is a Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim 3:15.

Everything else just flows logically from there.

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