torah, bechira, choice

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  • #600899
    LuvMe
    Member

    does anyone here understand the concept of bechira? i totally dont get it. if Hashem knows everything that will happen, then we must not have bechira, because He knows what our choice will be. So really, if you think about it that way, then we dont get any bechira, we simply are put in this world with our script already written for us. but we must have bechira. AAAAARGH IM SO CONFUSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    #917811

    LuvMe, it’s not a simple question. Look at your words, “if you think about it that way,” – perhaps try to think about it as the whole picture..

    Perhaps you can think of it like as if you are on a very high building looking at to the road below. You’re watching the car come around the corner at top speed – and the teenage boy crossing the road at the same time.. You’re watching it happen, helpless to do anything about it..

    Of course G-d can do everything. But He does give us one thing: Choice. We CAN choose. We CAN do good OR bad. Regardless that He knows what we will become, we DO choose what we will become. Remember that!! The one thing He leaves us is the choices to become a better yid – or further away.

    May we all make the correct choices and become CLOSER to Him. And yes, pray very hard for help with this. That we can do too. Hope this helps somewhat…

    #917812

    Maybe even though Hashem knows everything that will happen b’tachlis hayediya, He is metzamtzem His yediyah in order that it not interfere with the bechirah that He wants us to have.

    So even though we don’t have bechirah, we have bechirah.

    Similar to this is that Hashem is everywhere and yet simultaneously, the world exists.

    That’s what I think anyway.

    #917813
    Sam2
    Participant

    The Rishonim and later philosophic Acharonim discuss this. There are many answers given, ranging from that we don’t have Bechirah at all to that Hashem doesn’t know (or chooses not to know) the future because He gave us Bechirah, so part of that was limiting His knowledge of the future.

    #917814
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    What’s so confusing about a Kasha?

    #917815
    cinderella
    Member

    (I wrote a whole long thing but it got deleted by mistake, sorry)

    It is very hard to understand. But if it makes you feel better, you aren’t really supposed to, you’re not God.

    #917817
    BaalSechel
    Participant

    You are asking one of the deepest questions that the Rishonim discuss. Basicly, the world exists on two dimensions. One is from our perspective, one is from His. In our perspective there is total bechira, with nothing dictating our choice.

    There is another dimension to existance, that transcends our understanding, in which we don’t really exist, we are merely expressions of His Unity. In that dimension, He knows our choices. However, just as we can’t fathom Him, we can’t relate to such a concept of existance,

    Rav Aryeh kaplan compares it to seeing the same thing from different lenses of eyeglasses.

    As I said ealier, the Rishonim (see Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva) say this is a most difficult concept to understand.

    Bottom line: to the extent that you exist the way you think you do, you have complete bechira. Use it wisely, and reap its rewards!

    #917818
    sam4321
    Participant

    The Rambam discusess this issue in hilchos tshuvah 5:5.

    #917819
    2scents
    Participant

    The Rambam also discusses this in moreh nevuchim.

    He writes a bit different then in hitches teshuva.

    However the way I get it, it is something the Humans cannot grasp. It’s like explaining to someone a color that they never saw. It’s a concept impossible for us to comprehend.

    #917820

    If I had a time machine, or in other words, was not limited by time, I would be able to go to the future and know what you did. However, in no way did I obstruct your choice. The complicated part is understanding how hashem is not constrained by time, which as mere mortals bound by nature is impossible to understand.

    #917821

    Sam2: How do these alleged Rishonim who say we don’t have choice explain reward and punishment.

    #917822
    yichusdik
    Participant

    My Rabbeim and Roshei Yeshiva never responded to this question saying there is no real choice and everything is predetermined. That would be an essentially pointless existence. HKBH has no need for robots, nor could the concept that the world was created for our pleasure in doing avodas haboreh, if we weren’t choosing to do so. Rather, one explanation which I found most understandable was that HKBH knows the outcome of every potential choice each of us makes – each alternate possible world that flows from each choice, but HKBH does not know which of those choices we will make until we do so. This fulfills the idea of omnipotence, in that all possible outcomes are known, but also allows for the critical element of bechira, because which of those potential outcomes will happen is not pre-known.

    #917823
    Sam2
    Participant

    Stam: Some contemporaries of Rav Saadiah Gaon (and I believe the Ralbag also references this opinion) held that every action is predetermined and the only thing that is up to human beings is our attitudes. A Tzaddik is someone who does Mitzvos willingly and with joy and only sins reluctantly, and a Rasha is the opposite. It takes the statement of the Gemara that “Hakol Bidei Shamayim Chutz Miyiras Shamayim” (“Everything is in Hashem’s hands except for Yiras Shamayim”) a little too literally, in my opinion (though it does fit the Lashon exceptionally well).

    PrincessEagle: That is Rav Saadiah Gaon’s shittah.

    #917824
    Sam2
    Participant

    Yichus: That is the idea that I would have said if I was entitled to an opinion and it makes the most sense to me. It’s how I’ve ansered this issue since I was 10. Unfortunately, none of the Acharonim or Rishonim say that though. (Though that’s not far from saying that Hashem just prevents Himself from knowing what our decisions will be.)

    #917825
    yitayningwut
    Participant

    Sam2 and yichusdik –

    How does it answer the question if at the end of the day he doesn’t know which one we will actually choose? That’s like saying I know tomorrow’s winning numbers because I know all the possibilities. But I still lemayseh don’t know tomorrow’s numbers, so there’s something deficient in my knowledge.

    I tend to assume the Rambam’s approach as frustrating as it can be.

    We understand that God doesn’t have hands and feet, yet the Torah talks about him as if he does. The Rambam says that this is because the Torah talks in ways we can understand. But in truth God is not a being whose existence is on the same dimension as ours, it’s a different quality and not possible for us to comprehend. Like describing color to a blind person or music to a deaf person. Impossible. So we tell the person – it’s amazing, like ice cream! Does music or color have anything to do with ice cream? No. But we have no way of describing it, so we talk the person’s language and speak in terms of things they enjoy. Same with God having hands and feet.

    But it isn’t just about hands and feet. It is about every single quality attributed to God. Love, anger, life and so on. Including the fact that he has knowledge. In truth, what we know as knowledge is not something which he has. His is qualitatively different then ours and in truth impossible for us to comprehend. Therefore the question cannot really get off the ground, because we don’t know the nature of his “knowledge.”

    It can even be said that he doesn’t really know the future. Because the word “know” in that sentence has a definition, and whatever he has does not fall into that definition.

    #917826
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    If you can stand yet one more post I have a simplified version I have used to explain it. There is an end point that will happen in the world but you have a choice about how you will be a part of it. For example, your friend wants a slurpee and you don’t feel like she deserves it. But Hashem wants her to have it. So you tell her no, and walk away. Then she goes to school and her teacher surprises the class with slurpees. And you lost your chance to do chessed because you chose not to, but she still got what she deserved.

    Also, if your mom knows you REALLY well, she can offer you two things and know EXACTLY what you will chose. But that will not affect your choice. The better she knows you, the more accurate she will be. And considering Hashem knows us so thouroughly, our paths become obvious to Him. But we still choose.

    The book I am reading now has a chapter on this and says that someone (I never remember who) says that bechira only exists at the point in which you are being tested. Picking a flavor ice cream is not bechira, but deciding whether or not to do something when your yetzer hora is fighting you is bechira.

    I know longer posts don’t always get read but I chose to try to be helpful anyway 🙂

    #917827
    2qwerty
    Participant

    From our point of view we have a choice but from Hashem’s point of view we dont.

    Example: You are about to do something and then all of a sudden (based on your previous experience or learning or emotions) you realize that you shouldn’t be doing it and you stop yourself.

    It took you time to come up with that decision not to do it. So you feel like you made a choice.

    But for Hashem it was instant at the very beginning when you got the original idea to do it Hashem already knew how you’ll feel about it and what memories it will trigger and based on that you wont end up doing this action.

    #917828
    Toi
    Participant

    machlokes Ramban and chovos halvavos.

    #917829
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    I don’t see this as an issue for me.

    StamYeshivaGy has the beginnings of an answer.

    Derech HaMelech also has part.

    Read some Stephen Hawking. It may help (or may not).

    Free your mind.

    #917830
    2scents
    Participant

    Free your mind from what? Torah?!

    #917831
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    Free your mind from what? Torah?!

    LOL & Chas V’Shalom

    Limitations.

    Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.

    What truth?

    There is no spoon.

    #917832
    2scents
    Participant

    dont get it, the Torah DOES limit us!

    We must believe only what the torah Tells us. this is limitations.

    However these limitations have been set by Hashem the Creator.

    #917833
    yitayningwut
    Participant

    gavra_at_work –

    I don’t like that answer. It only pushes the question away a bit further back. You will eventually have to concede that at some point the choice I made had not occurred yet, and if at that point God knew, then I could not have had freewill, and if he did not, then he wasn’t omniscient.

    #917834
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    gavra_at_work –

    I don’t like that answer. It only pushes the question away a bit further back.

    It is not an answer, it is a concept.

    You will eventually have to concede that at some point the choice I made had not occurred yet,

    True

    and if at that point God knew,

    Also true

    then I could not have had freewill,

    False

    and if he did not, then he wasn’t omniscient.

    Patently false.

    The Rambam (YT 2:15)

    ?? ????? ???? ???? ??????? ?????? ???? ???????, ???? ???? ?????? ????, ??? ???? ???? ????; ????? ???? ???? ???? ????, ??? ????–????? ???? ??????? ??.

    #917835
    yitayningwut
    Participant

    It is not an answer, it is a concept.

    Shkoyach. A concept you’re using to answer a question, no?

    I already elaborated on the Rambam’s opinion which I accept, and it is most definitely not this.

    “and if he did not, then he wasn’t omniscient.”

    Patently false.

    I fail to see how.

    #917836
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    Shkoyach. A concept you’re using to answer a question, no?

    Yes. It is the Rambam’s understanding of the Ribbono Shel Olam.

    I fail to see how.

    I know. But I will try to answer you with what seems to be a Stirah.

    BS”D

    1: The Ribbono Shel Olam is unmutable.

    2: The world continues to change.

    Same Rambam, one Halacha earlier:

    ?? ????? ????: ??? ?????, ???? ?????, ???? ???? ????–???? ???. ???? ??–??? ??? ??? ?????? ??? ????? ?????? ??? ??? ???? ??????, ?? ??????. ?????? ?????? “?? ????” (?????? ??,??; ?????? ??,??) ?”?? ????” (????? ? ?,??; ???? ????, ?????), ???? ?????? ?? ?’ ??? “?? ?'” (?????? ?,??; ???? ????, ????)–???? ????? ????? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ?????, ?? ???? ???????

    I will not claim that I understand, but I do understand the possibility. It is like mathematical or quantum physics. I may not be able to visualize it or even understand it in my brain, but I can understand the consequences of it being true.

    #917837
    MCP
    Member

    LuvMe – I always had the same question, and finally came to the same conclusion the 2Scents posted above. The only way to understand it is to accept that you can not understand it.

    #917838
    2scents
    Participant

    MCP,

    this is not my conclusion, I actually heard from Harav Avigdor Miller.

    He explained it in greater detail.

    #917839
    yitayningwut
    Participant

    gavra_at_work –

    I do not believe the Rambam had any of these explanations in mind. This seems clear from the countless times he says that we cannot possibly comprehend God’s essence. We can only truly speak of negative attributes, not positive ones. Not even the “possibility” of positive attributes.

    One of many examples:

    We must blame the philosophers in this respect more than any other persons, because they demonstrated that there is no plurality in God, and that He has no attribute that is not identical with His essence; His knowledge and His essence are one and the same thing; they likewise demonstrated, as we have shown, that our intellect and our knowledge are insufficient to comprehend the true idea of His essence. How then can they imagine that they comprehend His knowledge, which is identical with His essence; seeing that our incapacity to comprehend His essence prevents us from understanding the way how He knows objects? For His knowledge is not of the same kind as ours, but totally different from it and admitting of no analogy. And as there is an Essence of independent existence, which is, as the philosophers, call it, the Cause of the existence of all things, or, as we say, the Creator of everything that exists beside Him, so we also assume that this Essence knows everything, that nothing whatever of all that exists is hidden from it, and that the knowledge attributed to this essence has nothing in common with our knowledge, just as that essence is in no way like our essence. – Guide 3:20

    Italics are mine.

    By saying any explanation whatsoever, even if you admit that you cannot visualize it, you are acknowledging that there is an explanation for the coexistence of God’s knowledge and our free will, when in fact it is impossible to correctly say that God has what we call knowledge.

    By the way, the Rambam in the YaD is a short version of what he explains at length in the Guide.

    #917840
    LuvMe
    Member

    thanks all of you. it is clearer now, but i still dont get how Hashem (in tanach) can tell through a nuveih that someone will do bad, because if that person has bechira, then no one knows he’ll do bad until he does. someone explained to me that G-d isnt restrained by time, and sees everyone (past, present future) on the world at the same time (like Avraham Avinu,and all of us at the same time) so does that mean He sees us in all our different stages in life, and so then He can tell a nuveih to warn binei yisrael?

    #917841
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    yitayningwut: It is not a matter of comprehension (which is impossible), but a matter of consequences knowing what Hashem is not (which agreed may not be required. After all, Hashem is Hashem). I agree with you. But I do have an answer that fits the facts.

    #917842
    tahini
    Member

    For a clear simple explanation of the bechira point read Rabbi Dessler ” Strive for Truth”, brilliant and well explained.

    #917843
    Sam2
    Participant

    LuvMe: The Rishonim point out that (almost) all Nevuos are conditional. Meaning that if you don’t do Teshuvah or if you continue on the path you’re on, then these things will happen. He is not saying that they will sin, but if they will sin, then…

    #917844
    Chortkov
    Participant

    The Rishonim and later philosophic Acharonim discuss this. There are many answers given, ranging from that we don’t have Bechirah at all to that Hashem doesn’t know (or chooses not to know) the future because He gave us Bechirah, so part of that was limiting His knowledge of the future.

    Which ?????? say that the ????? ?? ???? doesn’t know the future? And what exactly is ????? and where does it come from?

    #917845
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Yekke, Reb Elazar Ashkenazi, in his Maasei Hashem. The Maharal complains bitterly about it in Derech Chaim.

    #917846
    thehock
    Member

    It seems to me that the problem is better defined as the inability of a human to fathom what it means to be lemaalah min hazman. If to Someone the future is just like the past, clearly He will know what my choice will have been. I don’t see how that limits my choice – in a practical sense, how do I experience that limitation?

    #917847
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Thehock, the existence of Lemaala Min Hazman itself is cause for the question, even without anyone knowing it. Once you understand that your current decision transcends now, you bump into the whole problem of your choice not really being now.

    #917848
    Chortkov
    Participant

    Where does ????? originate if even G-d doesn’t know the future, according to this R’ Elazar Ashkenazi?

    And what does it mean in Yigdal “???? ???? ??? ??????”?

    #917849
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Yekke, I don’t really want to promote something I don’t believe. Perhaps I shouldn’t even have mentioned it. You can find certain odd things in different Sefarim. Not necessarily is it a Mitzva to publicize them.

    The Sefer Maase Hashem is a deep, interesting Sefer on the Torah. The style is somewhat similar to that of the Abrabanel. He discusses many topics, in great depth. His Sefer on Keddushin is also unique and refreshing. The Maharal pointed out and complained about where he wrote that since Yedia contradicts Bechira, Hashem willingly put it out of His hands, so to speak. The Maharal says that it’s better to believe there is no Bechira than to believe that.

    Yes, the Mishna says Hakol Tzapoi Vehareshus Nesuna. Hashem told Moshe in advance that the Yidden will sin. Obviously, Reb Elazar Ashkenazi was well aware of this. Perhaps there is a difference between individual choices and the general direction of Klal Yisroel.

    There is also an interesting Tosafos in Nida 16b, the bottom Tosafos. He discusses Chizkia being foretold about Menashe being a Rasha.

    #917850
    Chortkov
    Participant

    What is the name of his Sefer on Kiddushin?

    #917851
    twisted
    Participant

    Yichis, but there are sources that seem to admit partial determinism. The bracha Hameichin Mitzzadei Gover is based on Mishlei 20;24 and the pasuk is more blunt than the bracha. One idea is that we are led to believe and we do believe that we are free agents, but we are in fact just plain agents.

    #917852
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    I forgot if it had a name. I think it is simply called by his own name, Chiddushei Rebbe Eliezer Ashkenazi. It wasn’t around forever. It is missing a certain part were he writes that he had to run away (or something like that).

    In his Maase Hashem, I saw yesterday that he has an interesting approach in the Rambam on the topic of seeing a Malach in a Chalom. He addresses the Ramban’s Kashos on the Rambam.

    He explains that the Chalom in these circumstances mean a state of blurriness, in which anything goes, so that the Navi shouldn’t be shocked when he hears a Malach speak. The same is by Bilam’s donkey. He wasn’t too shocked to answer because he was in this state.

    I liked this approach, especially since it answers the apparent Stira in the Rambam. On the hand, the widely-quoted Rambam says that Bilam’s donkey speaking was part of a dream. On the other hand, and not as widely-quoted, he writes that a Malach was needed to make the donkey speak. Also in the Pirush Mishnayos on Avos, where it says that the Pi Ha’ason was created Erev Shabbos, he explains that it was a Ness.

    #917853
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    He explains that the Chalom in these circumstances mean a state of blurriness, in which anything goes, so that the Navi shouldn’t be shocked when he hears a Malach speak.

    Hate to say it, but this sounds more like LSD than Nevuah.

    Yichis, but there are sources that seem to admit partial determinism. The bracha Hameichin Mitzzadei Gover is based on Mishlei 20;24 and the pasuk is more blunt than the bracha. One idea is that we are led to believe and we do believe that we are free agents, but we are in fact just plain agents.

    Predeterminism is different than “partial determinism”. After all, Hashem does decide before you are born whether your Neshama will be a Kohen or not. Genes are another example.

    #917854
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    I forgot to mention that the Stira in the Rambam is from the Maharam Al Ashkar, that I went through after it was mentioned here by Sam2.

    I hadn’t seen or heard of this Stira anywhere else. It is just proof that we don’t really fully undertand the Rambam, and we shouldn’t be touting the Rambam as a source for denying narratives in the Torah, at least until we get to the bottom of this.

    #917855
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    It does answer a question that was bothering me: What happened to all the other noblemen, didn’t they hear Bilam’s Donkey and think for a second that maybe what they were doing was not a good idea?

    If you understand the donkey’s speech as part of “Nevuah”, then perhaps the Sarei Moav/Midyan did not understand the speech!

    #917856
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Actually his point is that it physically did happen. Bilaam, and perhaps those present, were just conditioned to accept it as normal. He happens to learn that Bilaam only went with Shnei Ne’arav Imo since he was in such a hurry to get out. That was what the Malach told him off about. He listened, and went along with the rest of the guys.

    #917857
    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Bilaam, and perhaps those present, were just conditioned to accept it as normal.

    Actually, what it says is that when the donkey rubbed against one side it killed one servant and when it rubbed against the other it killed the remaining servant. He was next. That’s what the Malach was referring to when he said he would have killed him, too. So, I guess they had worse things to worry about than being shocked.

    #917858
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    He happens to learn that Bilaam only went with Shnei Ne’arav Imo since he was in such a hurry to get out.

    Difficult. The Torah does say (after the whole story) that Bilaam went with “Sarei Balak”, and that he left with the “Sarei Moav”.

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