Anything about JUDAISM
Anything about JUDAISM
profile | register | search


This is an archived site, for new discussion please see JewsWithQuestions.com
Forums | | Post Reply Send Topic To a Friend
Author Topic
onemore Posted - 05 September 2004 21:10
hi mod. i have so many questions cuz of this philosophy class. ill try to repeat one as best as i can.
if you're car didnt start, you'd take it to the mechanic right? what if he told you there was no explanation for why it wasnt starting? e/t should be working fine, but sorry, no can do.
would you just be fine with it? no! you'd say look harder! there must be a reason why it's not starting.
if so, then you believe that every event has a cause.
(this argument starting to sound familiar?...)
if you do not believe that e/ event has a cause (let's call this proposition A), then you believe that there are random events. Those are the only two choices.
so, if e/ event has a cause....what causes your arm to rise? you'd answer you wanted it to so you made it rise. (this presents a whole new problem...a non physical action-you thinking- caused a physical action? however i'm not so bothered by this cuz you can just say that you chose to do s/t, so Hashem caused the physical manifestation of your choice. is that how it works according to judaism?)
k back to the original problem tho. so once you answer " i wanted my arm to rise", i can ask, what made that happen? b/c every event has a cause. and once you answer that question (ex. my friend asked me to do her a favor and get the book off the shelf) i can ask and what caused that event to occur? and so on and so on. the point is, if every event has a cause, then all events have it's roots somewhere, as my teacher said, "to the time you were born or the big bang or whatever you want to call it. every occurence was predetermined from that time". this one kind of blew me away. i tried coming up with ways to satisfy this puzzle, but none could do a complete job. help!!

MODERATOR Posted - 05 September 2004 21:18
This was discussed. You are correct - the Law of Causation precludes free will, and that is what we mean when we say that Tzelem Elokim is what gives us free will. It means that in order to have free will oyu have to be able ot be a First Cause, nd only Hashem can be a first cause. But He gave us the ability to be a First Cause when it comes to 613 things. And it is the "part of Hashem" in us that allows the Bechirah. Check these out:

http://www.frumteens.com/topic.php?topic_id=158&forum_id=31&Topic_Title=If+Hashem+knows+what+we+will+choose+.+.+.&forum_title=Bechirah

Posted - 16 October 2000 17:14

Also:

http://www.frumteens.com/topic.php?whichpage=3&pagesize=15&forum_title=Bechirah&topic_title=&forum_id=31&topic_id=157

Admonit Posted - 13 November 2003 21:29
and MODERATOR Posted - 13 November 2003 22:10

onemore Posted - 06 September 2004 0:50
thanks mod. that cleared up a part of my question..

as i mentioned before, if it's not #1, that an event has a cause, it's #2, that it is a random event. so you're saying it's not number one, that Hashem is allowing us to have free will, uncaused by an prior event, a miracle.

well then, it must be nubmer two, that when we make a decision, it's random, not based on any prior prompting or compelling. so then, when i make a decision, it has nothing to do with all my past feelings and emotions or the things that happened in my life that would make me choose such. it's just a random event, and so i could have just as easily chosed otherwise. the choice was random, not based on "ME". this leads into so many problems. like how then are ppl responsible for their actions?

i'd really like to know your answer b/c this questioin and others have been bothering me and are poking holes in my emuna. on the one hand i want to just ignore them, but i know it's not the smart thing to do.
thanks mod

MODERATOR Posted - 06 September 2004 1:06
There is no such thing as a random even. Events that seem random have causes too. Imagine askign a computer to generate a random number. How can it do that? It needs to first "decide" what method to use to generate the number, but the method would determine the resultant number and then it wouldnt be random. What a computer will do, then, is to generate a number based on lets say the current time - it will take the amount of seconds that has passed in the current minute and that will be considered "random" for its purposes. Or somethgin else like that. But" random" numbers generated by a computer arent really random.

As far as your decisions are concerned, no, they are neither caused nor are they "random." A First Cause is not random. It is a decision because you WANT that decision. Based totally and completely on your own free will. The miracle of Bechirah is that it is comparable to Hashem's First Cause decisions - calculated, non-random decisions but not necessitated by anything. They are your own choices, because you want them and nothign MADE you want them, except your own decision.

That is indeed a miracle, and thats why the Rishonim say that Tzelem Elokim, the neshoma that is a part of Hashem Himself is the part of us that we need in order to have Bechirah.

onemore Posted - 06 September 2004 2:00
<It is a decision because you WANT that decision. Based totally and completely on your own free will. The miracle of Bechirah is that it is comparable to Hashem's First Cause decisions - calculated, non-random decisions but not necessitated by anything.>

if you WANT the decision, it's b/c of past occurences, your attitute towards the situation, your personality, etc. bottom line is that it something about YOU made you choose what you're choosing. If The First Cause/ our bechira is not random, then it IS necessitated by something (by definition).

I do not see a way of getting out of it (even with all the games you play with semantics. sorry bout the sarcasm but u never seem to hold it back).

in any case, is there an answer that u can offer that is totally different or combines the two (random and caused) or s/t???

thanks mod

onemore Posted - 06 September 2004 2:00
<There is no such thing as a random even. Events that seem random have causes too>

if u agree that there is no such thing as a random event, everything has a cause, then so do our choices. there is no in between. or are u saying there is?

onemore Posted - 06 September 2004 2:00
this is a sentence you wrote (mod) from the site u referred me to:

<Bechirah is a choice based not on any cause, but on itself. Thee is no such thing that something happens without a reason.>

am i missing something? cuz you seem to be contradicting yourself. first, bechira is based on itself, so it's a decision that is not affected by any of your past experiences? no! no one would claim that. we all feel that something about us, or our past, or s/t affects our decisions. second, u JUST said right after that that "Thee is no such thing that something happens without a reason"....
you're getting me really confused about what you think! please deal with the issues im raising specifically. thanks!


MODERATOR Posted - 06 September 2004 2:08
<<if you WANT the decision, it's b/c of past occurences, your attitute towards the situation, your personality,>>

You are assuming this, and this is your mistake. You are assuming that if you want something it is the effect of these causes. But the mioracle of Bechirah is that you can want something NOT because of all these reaosns but because you have the G-d-given ability to choose what you want as a First Cause, not necessitated by anything.

I did not claim that our experiences do not influence on our decisions. They do. But you can decide to overcome that influence. Temptation, for instance, can be rejected or followed.

Your error is that you are insisting that your decision has a cause, but Bechirah by definiton is a miracle that allows you to choose not based on a cause.

There is no such thing as a random event. No way around that. Everything hs a cause.

And yet there has to be a First Cause that caused everything. That First Cause is G-d.

You are assuming

onemore Posted - 06 September 2004 2:18
<You are assuming that if you want something it is the effect of these causes.>

this seems to be a novel idea to me. yes, im assuming that when i make a decision, it's because of my past or s/t. like let's say the way i was raised would cause me to choose A. e/t about my upbringing points to A. You are saying that when i "overcome" that and choose B, i am not compelled to choose B. But arent I? let's say B is the good right decision to make. If it is my conscience that is getting the better of me at the last moment before i choose, isnt it that something in me, the conscience or strength or determination, isnt that rooted inside of me? hence it was caused. or are you saying it is not rooted inside of me? you say my choice is independant, but it is not entirely independant.

do u agree? can u perhaps give me an example to support what you are saying?
thank you mod

MODERATOR Posted - 06 September 2004 2:24
Your conscience cannot "get the better of you". You decide whether to follow it or not. (And for the record, your conscience is just part of you - its not an outside thing.)

But the part of you that makes the decision is your Neshama - or more specifically, your Ruach. That is the "you". It is like an executive who has to decide who to buy from - each vendor presents their side, and the executive decides what to do. Nobody forced him. So too, your "consceince" presents its case, as does your physicality. You decide which of the many influences to follow.

But you are a first cause. You are not forced to choose either way. Lose that assumption; it si the source of your confusion.

MODERATOR Posted - 06 September 2004 2:26
<<If it is my conscience that is getting the better of me at the last moment before i choose, isnt it that something in me, the conscience or strength or determination, isnt that rooted inside of me? hence it was caused>>


Now oyu are confusing the cause and effect. The strength in you is not the cause and the decision the effect; the strength of the decision is what causes the detemrination and strength that allows you to overcome the temptation. The "you" is what triggerred the strength of determination.

onemore Posted - 06 September 2004 2:53
great mod. thanks.

but if the neshama/ ruach is the entity that makes the final decision, wouldnt everyone choose good?

MODERATOR Posted - 06 September 2004 3:01
The nusthell version of how this works is:

There are 3 parts to you.

1) The Neshama - which is always is drawn to good;

2) The Guf and its animating force, the nefesh - is always is drawn to physicality (unless conditoned by years of training to do otherwise, as is the case by Tzadikim);

3) The Ruach - is the "you" that has the decision whether to follow the Guf/Nefesh or the Neshama.

The Ruach is not the "part of hashem" that the seforim tak about - that is the Neshoma. The Nefesh is a simple, crude, animal-soul, that wants animal things. These two forces are tied together when a Neshoma comes don into a Guf, and their synthesis makes for a terrible and frustrating struggle. The Ruach is tied to each of them, in between, and the Ruach can pull any which way it so desires. The other two parts always pull one way. The Ruach has to decide who it wants to side with.

onemore Posted - 06 September 2004 9:46
im starting to get the pic a little but look what ignorance does to a person (ah, the sad story).
<The Ruach is not the "part of hashem" that the seforim tak about >

didnt u mention before that the part of hashem that was given to us is what has free will? if the ruach is making the final decision, then where's its free will?


MODERATOR Posted - 06 September 2004 10:03
Thats why the above is only the "nutshell" version.

What enables Bechirah in us is that, whereas animals are drawn only to gashmius and not ruchnius, and angels are drawn only to Ruchnius and not Gashmius, humans are drawn to both gashmius and ruchnius.

So when Hashem created Adam out of the "dirt of the land" he was in essence an animal; when He "blew into his nostrils the soul of life", he became a conflicted man, that is, a man made out of two opposite forces - gashmius and ruchnius.

This internal opposition is needed for Nechirah, but it is not the only thing that is needed.

In order to faciliate Bechirah, the two opposing forces have to be able to exist together in and as one entity. This is normally impossible, since Gasmus and Ruchnius do not mix, like oil and vinegar, or like apples and communism. They dont blend.

So Hashem created man with somethign called a Tzelem, which is part way between Gashmius and ruchnius (or s little of each, depends how you look at it), in order to link the neshama to the Guf.

Now the Neshama and the Guf, because they are both spiritually and physically linked ot the core "man" - the Ruach that we spoke about before, both contribute something to him. The Neshama provides the man with the ability to be a First Cause, and the Guf provdes the Ruach with somthing to make better, to change, to sanctify.

If the person take swhat the neshama gives him and uses it to sanctify the Guf, he and the Guf both become holy. If he takes what the neshama gives him and uses it to subjugate the neshama to the Guf's desires, then the neshama slowly atrophies and he becomes more and more like an animal. Worst case scenario, his neshama leaves him and he is left with only the animal parts of himself, at which point he loses his share in Olam habah.

So both are correct. The Ruach makes the decisions, but that ability is enabled because of the link it has to the neshama.

BrotherConcern Posted - 06 September 2004 19:05
What about goyim?

If they don't have a neshama, only a nefesh, what prompts them to do good, and what would draw a goy to giur?

Topic is 2 Pages Long:    1 2

Click Here To Close Thread, Administrators & Moderators Only.

Show All Forums | Post Reply