Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Eight Chapters

Chapter Eight (Part 5)

The fact that other than our fear of it, "everything (else) is in the hands of Heaven" does indeed bolster Rambam's argument for our free will. But let's first explain just what the fear of Heaven is all about.

First off, at a certain point in his writings Rambam proclaimed that fearing G-d "leads to wisdom" and that it's "even more precious than it", which is a phenomenally significant statement on his part, considering how much he valued wisdom.

But as to how we can cultivate this important trait, he disclosed elsewhere that we come to learn how to fear G-d by "fulfilling His mitzvot", which is to say by subjugating ourselves to His will and wishes. In fact, the Torah itself links the fear of G-d to the performance of mitzvot, as well as to free will, when it says in G-d's name, "O, that there was such a heart in them always! That they would fear Me (on their own) and observe all My mitzvot" (Deuteronomy 5:26).

But Rambam gets more specific about it somewhere else. He belittles the sort of simple, better said, primitive sort of fear of G-d that the less- sophisticated of us (whom he calls "ignoramuses") sometimes exhibit: the sort of emotion that leads them to be observant in order to avoid calamity or Divine retribution, or to dwell in Heaven after they pass on. He contends that doing that belittles the worship of G-d.

The sort of fear of Heaven he advocates at yet another point is the one a person comes to when he or she "contemplates the great wonders of G-d's handiworks and creations, and sees that they are the product of a (degree of) wisdom that is boundless and limitless", and he or she comes to "feel a great sense of awe and trepidation", and to realize "that he is a very humble and insignificant creation with barely a grain of intelligence compared to G-d". That's to say that Rambam encourages us to look upon things with G-d's profound being in mind, and to stand dumbfounded in His presence.

The point, though, is that this is in our hands alone; G-d doesn't grant us it. We're expected to foster it on our own.

So, what our sages were referring to when they said that "everything is in the hands of Heaven but the fear of Heaven" is the fact that there are indeed certain things that a person has no control over -- like "being tall or short, whether it will rain or be dry, whether the air will be foul or pure, and other such common occurrences" -- but not his or her own actions. For we have utmost control of the latter, which is Rambam's whole point.

As such, we're expected to take responsibility for all of our actions, and to strive for spiritual excellence.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON KEDOSHIM AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

In Hillel's Footsteps
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

“Letter to my Son Akiva”
Jon Erlbaum - 5773

Motherhood & Shabbos Pie
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

ArtScroll

Of Demons and Goats
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

Do it Because I am Holy
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Honorable Mentshen
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Too Familiar
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Encouraging His Children to Climb
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Love Your Neighbor
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Children of the King
Shlomo Katz - 5762

"Peripheral Events" May be the Focus of Divine Providence
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

Stamped a Sinner
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5757

> Don't Take Revenge...
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

The Fundamental Rule
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Lag B'Omer
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Different Strokes for Different Folks
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 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