Monday, April 07, 2008

God's Plan and Free Will

We like to say Hashem has a plan, He doesn’t give us more than we can handle, it’s in His hands and it’s all for the best. But how often are these sentiments repeated merely to make ourselves feel better? How much hashgacha does God really have over each event in our individual lives? At best, it is a major philosophical debate. Is He really choosing each occurrence, leading up to a final culmination of the fate He has in store for each of us? Rambam would say no. And we have no way to know for sure.

And even assuming that He is guiding each step of our lives, how much room is there for us to mess it up? We have free will, don’t we? Doesn’t that mean that despite Hashem’s best laid plans, we have the ability to make mistakes and ruin it all? What if, presented with that golden opportunity, we turn it down? We are human, we are flawed, we cannot always see what the correct choice is, so we stumble along, doing out best. But what if we are wrong? What if that chance is lost?

7 comments:

Ezzie said...

Oldest question in the book.

What if, presented with that golden opportunity, we turn it down? We are human, we are flawed, we cannot always see what the correct choice is, so we stumble along, doing out best. But what if we are wrong? What if that chance is lost?

Then new chances and opportunities will appear, and thanks to the lessons learned, we will not pass them up.

Ezzie said...

Oldest question in the book.

Upon reading my comment, I see that it can be read two ways. The comment was not meant to demean the question whatsoever; the point was that the dilemma is old and one we all struggle with to different degrees about different issues.

Erachet said...

I don't think that there is ever ONLY ONE RIGHT CHOICE for us to make. I think that the events which happen to us are catered to the results of the choices we make so that if you pass over one thing that would have been a great choice for you, you'll head down a new path where there will be equally great choices to make further down the line. Does any of this make sense? I hope so. My philosophizing sometimes gets lost when I try to explain it.

Basically, I don't believe that one choice a person decides will make or break their life. If you miss out on one thing, you'll have the opportunity for something else that you might have missed out on had you chosen the first thing. You know? It's all part of our growth and learning and the paths that we walk. We're always moving forward and the scenery around us is always changing.

Briefly said...

This might partially answer your question:
As we know, G-D is infinite {even saying so is limiting HIM}. G-D is not limited to time and place; the past, present, and futur is all the same to G-D.
In short, since there is no "tomorrow" for G-D, He already knows what we will choose. For G-D, not being limited by time, we did the act alreay, made the decision.

Northern Light said...

Regrets are inevitable. Especially as we have greater time behind us for hindsight. But regretting the past belittles the good we DO have; every day on this planet brings so many blessings, if we only allow ourselves to appreciate them. And then, we just have to muddle through and trust that "gam zu la tova"--this, too, is for the best.

Sometimes I really sense that God's chuckling.

SJ said...

Briefly - Your comment addresses the question of how it is possible both for man to have free will and for God to know what will happen in the future. However, it does not remove the dilemma of man's ability to choose incorrectly. If, at the moment of decision, man truly has the ability to choose either option, then it must be that God does not interefere with that decision--and if man chooses unwisely, so be it.

G said...

Who says life is a zero-sum game?