FREE WILL, FATE AND PROVIDENCE


1. Free will is necessary for responsibility: we are only responsible for actions freely chosen. Fate and providence seem to contradict free will and so we are not responsible for our actions.

2. Fate = a power which predetermines what will happen so that it cannot be avoided. Compare Oedipus. What is fated will happen no matter what we do.

a. fate (with respect to actions) does contradict freedom and responsibility

b. Torah rejects fate - everything could be changed by our actions - if Adam had not sinned, our whole world would not have existed; we could bring Moshiach at any time;

3. Providence implies that every physical event is the result of G-d's will. Since that includes the motions of our bodies, how can we be responsible for our actions?

&#a. providence leaves room for (some) non-physical events to not be caused by G-d's will; soul-events are non-physical; free will is a soul event which is not caused by G-d's will

b. actions involving the body are the result of two factors: the soul's free choice, and G-d's policy of causing the body to respond to that choice - given G-d's policy, the body's motion corresponds to the soul's choice, hence we are responsible for both

[4. Suppose A kills B - what did G-d want to happen? G-d's providence implies that if A kills B He must want murder?! The question is a mistake (compare: Did you stop beating your wife?). G-d wants both free will and no murder. A's decision to kill B means that G-d cannot have all He wants! He takes the least bad of two bad choices by allowing A to exercise his free will. (Compare any transgression: Does G-d want Reuven to eat the cheeseburger? G-d is against Reuven's choice to eat cheeseburgers, but given Reuven's free choice to eat, G-d does want him to eat!)]

5. Beware magic and superstition: our learning, prayer etc. not better than Jacob and Samuel.

a. family problems b. character c. career d. marriage

6. The concept of Bitachon

a. G-d can do anything

b. everything that happens is due to His will (in part as a response to our actions)

1. avoid pain due to "failure" and withdrawal due to fear of failure

2. failure = changed conditions of challenge - matza story


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