Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Eight Chapters

Chapter Eight (Part 3)

"No!" Rambam reiterates. No one compels anyone to do anything. "The truth of the matter," he says "is that you're free to do as you will", period. "If you want to do something, you can; and if you don't want to, you don't have to. There's nothing forcing you one way or the other". You and I are as free as birds – to be the sort of birds we want to be.

Now, on one side of the equation that seems to say that we're utterly unrestricted and we need answer to no one. We can do as we will and live the life we'd like to, thank you very much. But as anyone with an inner sense of right and wrong – to say nothing of a dream of spiritual excellence – would know, that can't be. Are we indeed given carte blanche? Isn't more expected of us, and aren't there rules?

Of course there are rules; and yes, there's a higher call. The point is that we're free to be the moral beings we'd like to be … or to not. We decide. And that's what "makes mitzvot compulsory", Rambam says. Because if we weren't free to choose, there'd be no point in our being charged with doing this or that on our own: it would have already been determined whether we'd do it or not from the first.

So, the very fact that we're impelled to follow a system underscores the freedom granted us, as only someone free can comply or not; the preordained haven't any options.

And so G-d said, "Behold, I have placed life and goodness, death and evil, before you today... therefore choose life"(Deuteronomy 30:15, 19), and thus offered us a choice that we're expected to follow through on, but which we may decide not to. The entire mitzvah system hinges upon this.

There seems to be a hitch, though. Our sages taught us that "Everything is in the hands of Heaven but the fear of Heaven"(Berachot 33A), which seems to deny much of free choice. Where does that fit in? We'll soon see.

Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and



View Complete List

A Beginning With No End
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

The Origin of Life
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

Do Torah!
Shlomo Katz - 5756

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Deja Vu All Over Again . . . Then Shabbat
Shlomo Katz - 5775

The Secrets of Creation
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

The Eternal Embrace
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

What Ends Must Have Begun!
Shlomo Katz - 5773

It's Never Too Late
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5766

Bereishis Tidbits
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

> Picking Up the Pieces
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

A Heavy Helping of Responsible-ness
Rabbi Label Lam - 5776

Chaos From The Beginning
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762


“Fonzie & the Happy Days of Rest”
Jon Erlbaum - 5769

Opposites Attract
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

Starting Over
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

It Was a Misunderstanding...
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information