Part 19: Chaptar 3
In our last few lessons we discussed the startling phenomenon that at times
decisions and actions based upon freewill may facilitate the exact opposite
of the desired results. This seems to indicate that man's destiny is not
determined by freewill. Yet there are many cases when our freewill does
achieve the desired results. Indeed, in many cases the results could not be
achieved without our conscious decisions and efforts. For example, you find
yourself in the middle of a busy street and a truck is closing in on you.
You make a quick decision to move and escape mortal danger. It goes without
saying that if not for your decision and action to escape danger the
likelihood of a tragic ending would be great. Furthermore, you could
rightfully claim that your decision and action to move created the
possibility for your safe escape from danger.
There is another category of events that are only partially influenced by
freewill. Events of this type are also influenced by forces beyond our
control and therefore it cannot be claimed that freewill is totally
responsible for the results. For example, you are a farmer and want to
plant a wheat field. You must make a decision to sew the field and then
carry out that decision. But you are still not going to get a wheat field
unless the forces of nature bring rain and other essential environmental
and agricultural conditions are met e.g. good soil and fertile seed. These
things are out of your control. It is the combination of your freewill and
forces beyond your control that will bring about the successful growth of
In summary, there are three categories of activities:
1. Actions based upon freewill that are the direct cause of the desired
2. Actions based upon freewill that do not produce the desired results due
to intervention of forces and events beyond our control ( the story of
Joseph and his brothers).
3. Actions based upon freewill that are only partially responsible for the
It is important to understand that events that belong to the last two
categories are not the result of random circumstance. Rather, they are
influenced and directed to be harmonious with G-d's will, despite any
apparent incongruence. Based on this introduction we can have a better
understanding of Elifaz's arguments with Job.
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Y. Schwartz and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of
Orchos Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem.