Torah.org 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 Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON TERUMAH:

View Complete List

Doing What We Must
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Feeling Inspired
Shlomo Katz - 5761

“The Love you Take”
Jon Erlbaum - 5770

> Hiddur Mitzvah: What a Beautiful Mitzvah!
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Bring G-d out of the "House of Worship"
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5757

Expressed Faith
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

ArtScroll

The First Building Campaign
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5775

Job Placement
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

Of Givers and Takers
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Are We Men, Or Are We Angels
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Sanctuaries Are Built
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

In Rich Concentration
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

You Shall Have A Dream
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

Transformation
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5776

Always Giving Charity with a Full Heart
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Symbols
Shlomo Katz - 5772



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information