Do We Have Free Choice

By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui


The question goes like this. If G-d is everywhere and everything is predestined, do people have any choice and/or influence in the end results?

The answer to this question can become a lengthy thesis, which isn’t the function of this article. So, I will make it short, and to the point.

G-d made this beautiful world. Just look around. The colors, the trees, the birds, the flowers, the squirrels, and let’s not forget the lizards. Every day there are billions and trillions of elements in this orchestra we call the universe, playing for us a most stunning and dazzling piece of music. Every single day, just as the sun rises in the east.

In your body alone, there are trillions of cells, all working in conjunction with each other to perfectly produce your heartbeat, and your breath. All of this, quite obviously doesn’t just fall into place.

If a symphony orchestra with 80 or 100 players needs a maestro to coordinate the musicians, otherwise there’s a good chance the group will not be in sync with each other, how much more so, the zillions of elements that work in harmony with each other to the micro mini degree in our universe, could never operate without the wisdom of a great and wise conductor. To think otherwise, is outright foolishness.

The Bible says, when G-d created the world, He made it, in an evolved and mature ready to use fashion. Adam, on his first day, was a 20 year old adult and, the great redwood trees, already had all their rings in them. It was a “prepared table”, set, and waiting for people to enjoy.

The universe and all that’s in it, is the creation of G-d, all the time. G-d however wanted ( for a reason that we will discuss some other time) that people should have a small little role in perfecting and completing the universe, so He left important, but yet very insignificant in size and quantity, areas that us humans can participate in taking a role, with G-d, in making it just right.

G-d knows what he wants, and He always gets His way. He instructed us to do, and not to do, certain activities which he told us in the Bible, in order, to bring about this perfection that he intended for the world.

The Talmud tells us, “Everything is in the hands of G-d except for the fear of G-d.” This means, that everything that happens in the world and in life is predestined. It will happen, one way or the other. The only area in which we humans have total control and we are held responsible for, are our choices which convey and make evident our fear of G-d. Our choices demonstrate to G-d, our moral standing regarding our fulfillment of the mission, G-d created each one of us. By the choices we make, G-d knows whether to use us to bring about a good, or bad occurrence, which was already in G-ds mind to happen.

In our daily prayers we ask,”…so that we shall not labor in vain…” From the words of this prayer that was arranged by our great sages we see, that a person may make an effort to do good and will be rewarded for this, however he may not be lucky that his good intentions will come about, because it wasn’t G-ds will at that moment. A person can choose to pull the trigger, and with that has demonstrated his wicked murderous character, and the person shot will not lose his life, because he wasn’t yet destined to leave this world.

Maimonides says, that although G-d runs the show down to the smallest particle of the world, we must say, that in the area of moral choices – the choice alone, is always entirely ours. Otherwise, reward and punishment which is a cornerstone of the Bible would not be possible and the Bible is clear, “see I give you this day, the good and the bad, life and death, and I give you the strength to choose, life.”


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