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BECHIRAH-----how can it be?

queen Posted - 11 October 2000 15:13

But hashem still decides if you're gonna do it or not - it is His decision.

Also Hashem gives us the yetzer horah and decides when it will make us do bad and good. It influences us and that persuades our choice! If not for Hashem we wouldn't make those decisions also if not for hashem we would have a choice of decisions

MODERATOR Posted - 11 October 2000 16:28

No. Hashem does not make the decision. Hashem does not interfere at all with any decisions to do Mitzvos or Avieros. "Hakol bidei shamayim chutz miyiras shamayim" - "Everything is in Hashem's hands except fear of hashem". Hashem allows you to make those decisions.

And the Yetzer Horah NEVER makes you do an aveirah. All the Yetzer Horah does is TEMPT you to do an aveirah whether you listen to him is YOUR choice. Hashem ALLOWS YOU, and you alone, to decide whether you will listen to the Yetzer Horah or the Yetzer Tov.

queen Posted - 12 October 2000 14:28

You actually still don't have free choice because if you do bad, you're punished - is that free choice. It's basically you have to do good otherwise you'll suffer the consequences! That's not free will!!!!!

MODERATOR Posted - 12 October 2000 14:32

You mean, qwert, that there is only one WISE choice, and you are correct. But free will doesn't mean that whatever you want to be the wise choice, should be. Rather, it means that it is your choice whether to do what is smart or not smart.

HZ Posted - 13 October 2000 14:20

This question has eluded me for some time now. "Ain Od M'livado." So free will must ultimately emanate from Hashem. But we are given dominion over it. Hashem leads us how we want to go, but how do we want to do anything?

MODERATOR Posted - 16 October 2000 17:14


Your question is dealt with at length in sefer called Tagmulei HaNefesh by R. Hillel of Verona, a student of Rabbeinu Yonah. here, though, we'll stick to the "pashtus" as much as possible.

The question is not only if "ain od milvado". There is a law of physics called causation, which means that everything that happens, happens for a reason. (Every effect has a cause.) Therefore, if you get out of bed in the morning, there must have been a cause of that action. There was, of course, namely, your decision to get up.

But what caused the decision? There had to be something that CAUSED you to WANT to get out of bed, and so forth. And if every decision has a cause then free will is impossible, because free will means the ability to choose without a cause, but rather just because you decided it.

In other words, if you had 2 people, with the exact same lives, the exact same biology, the exact same environment and experiences -- the exact same set of causes, could they ever make different decisions?

The answer is no, since if everything happens because of a particular cause then identical causes must create identical effects.

yet bechirah means two people in an identical situation with identical causes can choose two different effects (choices), simply because that is the power of their free will. This is impossible according to the laws of physics.

Every decision a person makes, according to science, must have a cause. Meaning, there must be a cause that he chose A instead of B. Choice cannot come freely. There must be a REASON why a particular choice was made. Or a reason for WANTING to choose A over B. EVERYTHING must have a reason. And in a world where everything must have a reason, nothing happens "freely", including your choices.

But we know that Hashem is the Cause of Causes, First Cause. The He does things simply because He wants, without any prior cause. Hashem is not bound to the laws of causation.

That's why, in order for us to have Bechirah, Hashem had to take a part of Himself and put it into us. The Seforno explains that "b'talmainu", the "image of G-d" means Free Will.

Free will is a miracle, since free will can't really exist. And the way Hashem brought about this miracle was, He gave us a little piece of Himself ("cheek eloka mima'al") that enables us, within the boundaries of mitzvos and aveiros, to choose our course freely and without prior causes, just like He can choose.

Outside of the realm of Mitzvos and Aveiros, there is no free will.

You are correct that according to the principle of ain od milvado there can be no free will. Since everything in the world is merely an expression of the Will of G-d, no will can exist independent of His. It's like if you imagine, in your mind, a little world with little people in it. Obviously they cannot make any decisions independent of you, and certainly they cannot do anything against your will. That's how the world exists in relation to Hashem, kav'yochol. We're all expressions of His will. So bechirah cannot exist.

But it does, because Hashem put a little piece of Himself into those humans that He created as expression of His will, so that in each of those phantasms, there is a little sliver of reality, of Hashem Himself.

And that's where bechirah comes from. It's true that ain od milvado, but part of the "milvado", part of Hashem, is our Neshomos, and that is what enables us to think and choose freely, as if we really existed on our own. Our Neshomos, as "chelek elokah mima'al, in a sense, do exist on their own.

An interesting but inescapable conclusion of all this is that an atheist cannot believe in free will.

Since everything in the world has a prior cause, that would include his choices, his desires, and the reasons for his desires. To the atheist, it would be impossible for two people with the exact same set of causes - heredity, environment, etc. - to make two different choices. Which means, his choices are not "his", but the result of his "causes."

Ask a psychologist, or any scientist who understands this law of physics how it is possible for free will to exist. They will not have an answer. Without the concept of "tzelem elokim", without us sharing the "nature" of Hashem, the Prime Cause of everything, our ability to choose cannot exist.

Posted - 17 October 2000 4:06

Moderator and binah613, thank you for the names of the sefarim.

My question isn't in emunah. It's in how it works. I spent much thought along those lines.

Given "Hashem gave of Himself" to Adam Harishon and all, but, Hashem is totally unchanging (Ain Sof).

Like the Kuzari explains, Man's free will is like nature, it's a secondary cause, as opposed to a miracle, which is a direct cause of Hashem. Now, in actuality secondary causes are really direct causes from Hashem because He is all that exists. So, knowing that our free will is a secondary cause doesn't ultimately answer the question.

Now, Hashem gave us a piece of Himself. He is still the Ain Sof. And all these "pieces" are really part of the whole, since, as we see in the Shaar HaYichud, nothing truly infinite can be broken-up (and there can only be one true Infinity). Thus, the "pieces" are no different from Hashem.

Also Hashem's will is different from our own. He is "michadaish bituvo bichal yom tamid maasai biraishis." But is perfect unity and unchanging.

MODERATOR Posted - 17 October 2000 4:20


Even though Hashem gave us a piece of Himself and that piece is unchanging, when that piece is combined with a body to make a human being it has its own sentience, and THAT is the miracle. A plain Neshoma has no bechira. The soul causes the Bechirah, which is a miracle, but it is not the Bechirah itself.

When the Kuzari says that bechirah is a secondary cause, he does not mean it is not a miracle. The fact that a secondary cause can exist, in and of itself, is a miracle. the Kuzari was explaining WHAT Bechirah is, not HOW it can be.

If your question is how Hashem can be "divided" into finite pieces if infinity cannot be divided into finite pieces, that is the position of Menashe ben Yisroel in Nishmas Chaim, who because of that, denies the entire "chelek elokah mima'al" concept.

But the concept is true regardless, as it is stated in the Zohar and countless other sources. The answer to Menashe ben Yisroel's question is that a Neshoma does not mean that Hashem divided Himself. The Neshoma Elyona, as opposed to the lower souls, is not "inside" a person, but rather "above" him, touching him, and emanates from Hashem.

If your question is how a neshoma can "change", that is, become corrupted and lowered through a person's actions if Hashem cannot change or become lowered, the answer is that the Neshoma does NOT change in that way.

The Neshoma Elyonah, the part of your neshoma that is chelek eloka mima'al, is not "part" of the person, but rather emanated from hashem, remains "above" the person, touching him. This unsevered ray emanating from Hashem, kav'yochol, is not affected by a person's actions - a person's sins cannot pollute the Neshoma elyonah - but rather it detaches itself from the sinner immediately prior to the commission of the sin. In contrast, when a person does Mitzvos he merits a greater connection to Hashem - more Neshoma - so that the souls of the Tzadik and the Rasha are (among other differences) quantitatively different.

But the nature of the souls themselves are never affected. The soul itself never goes against the will of Hashem.

HZ Posted - 18 October 2000 0:32

Moderator, thank you again for your answers.

Actually, I wasn't questioning any of those things. I don't disagree with what you say and I have no problems understanding them. I was just using these sources to explain my thought pattern.

My question is still unanswered. I know free will is a miracle and I know it works. I also know that Hashem makes it work. I would like to know (to the extent possible) how it works.

To better understand my position, let me pose the old question: Can Hashem create a rock He can't lift? Such a rock cannot exist, since it would have to have some sort of existence of its own in order for Hashem to not have complete dominion over it. Nothing exists besides Hashem, the Ain Sof.
(This answer was clarified to me by a Rav.)

Hashem always has complete constant dominion over our free will, and, according to the Rambam and others, overrides our will (at least somewhat) on (rare) occasions.

This is analogous to land in Eretz Yisrael. Hashem gives us ownership rights of the land, but retains the ultimate ownership: At Yovel it goes back to its Shaivet. This rule cannot be overridden by any Shtar, marriage, agreement, Beis Din, or whatever. )

If you think about it, my question really boils down to this:

a) There is no existence besides Hashem and everything is a manifestation of His will (including our free will that is a secondary cause). (This is absolutely true beyond any doubt.)

b) Free will by definition seems to mean that we make (at least some)choices (at least partially) on our own. (This is my understanding.)

"b" Seems to conflict with "a."

MODERATOR Posted - 18 October 2000 1:18


Everything in this world is an expression of the will of G-d.

But G-d put a piece of Himself, kav'yochol, inside each of us and gave it its own sentience. That was a miracle.

That little piece of G-d that He gave us is the ability to choose right from wrong.

It's true that G-d could NOT have just provided His creations with this ability on their own, since, as you said, everything is only an expression of His will, and nothing in the world can have intrinsic existence except Him. Therefore, nobody except Him can have the ability to act independently, since an expression of my will cannot act independently of my will.

But G-d got around that problem. The ability that we have to choose on our own comes not from us, but from Him. Bechirah was not created as part of man on the 6th day - if that were the case you would be correct, Hashem cannot create a mechanism that can act independently of Himself - but instead was "grafted" onto His creation - Adam - from Himself.

The mechanism, therefore, that allows us to choose right from wrong is not something that was created as part of this world, but rather something that existed prior to the world, something that is part of Hashem Himself, that He has miraculously allowed us utilize.

Bechirah is NOT a manifestation of G-d's will any more than G-d Himself is a manifestation of G-d's will, since Bechirah is a "chelek elokah mi'maal". The miracle of Bechirah is that a human can have appended to him something that is really a part of Hashem.

So the difference between the independently heavy rock and the independently selective human being, is that you want the heaviness of the rock to be a creation, which cannot be, but the ability to choose of the human being is not a creation but part of Hashem Himself.

So now perhaps you will ask, can Hashem likewise "graft" part of His own power onto the rock such that He would be unable to lift it, since in this case the heaviness of the rock, too, is not a creation?

The answer is no, because G-d cannot, even though His own self, limit Himself in any way. He cannot kill Himself, cannot corpify Himself, cannot weaken Himself.

This is because being all-powerful does not include the ability to be weak. Being weak is not considered a form of "power". G-d cannot create something beyond the limits of His power because there are no limits to His power, and that, Hashem cannot change.

So therefore, whereas Hashem CAN graft His own power onto a human giving Him free will, He cannot graft His own power onto a rock giving it the ability to limit Him.

Human Bechirah does not limit Hashem the way a too-heavy rock would, since Hashem has total over-riding control over the Bechirah. It's like a rock so heavy that Hashem CHOOSES not to lift it.

So Hashem would NOT be able to create human beings with Bechirah that He would not be ABLE to control if He would so choose.

The comparable question to the rock would be: Can G-d create people too stiff-necked for Him to control?

To that, the answer is "no."

In short: There cannot exist within the boundaries of creation, the ability to choose independently. However, that ability does exist beyond creation, i.e. in Hashem Himself. That ability, since it can exist within albeit beyond creation, can be miraculously appended to a creature enabling the creature to utilize the supernatural ability.

But the ability to overpower G-d does not exist even beyond creation. It does not exist even within G-d. Therefore it cannot be appended to any being, human OR G-d.

Does this answer your question?

HZ Posted - 19 October 2000 21:08


I never quite thought of it that way. Your answer removes the "independantness" of our bechira - something which cannot exist.

This may the answer I was looking for. I will B"N give it some thought.

If there is a m'kor for what you are saying, could you please let me know. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR Posted - 19 October 2000 21:27

Well, the fact that a Neshoma is a part of Hashem ("cheleck elokah mima'al") is of course from the Zohar, on "vayipach b'apav": "man denafach midilei kanafach".

The fact that a Neshoma is therefore untouchable by humans, that it leaves a person before he does an aveirah, that it is not really part of a person but "above" him, is all in the Arizal.

The fact that the Neshoma is the source of Bechirah is a Seforno on the posuk btzelem elokim asah...

The fact that Hashem cannot create a rock too heavy for him to life is a Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim 3:15.

Everything else just flows logically from there.

HZ Posted - 23 October 2000 5:36


Again, thank you for input. I thought about it over Yom Tov. If your logical deduction is correct, it still doesn't ultimately answer my question. Your answer merely moves a persons independence from free will to a different place. Now you have to explain how one "chooses."

I put much thought into these matters. It's logical that free will exists, but I feel this conversation is not answering my question. Again, thank you for your input.

MODERATOR Posted - 23 October 2000 5:46

You have 2 questions:

(1) How can Bechirah exist if nothing independent can exist outside of Hashem

(2) How can Bechirah exist if everything has to have a pre-existing cause and therefore there has to be cause to our choices ,which means they are not free.

There are two different answers to these questions:

(1) Our Bechirah is part of Hashem, not independent, and

(2) Bechirah is indeed a miracle, in that it is an effect without a prior cause, but, because of #1 above, this miracle is within the realm of Hashem's prerogative to perform.

I don't see what question is left unanswered.

HZ Posted - 25 October 2000 1:01

If something truly exists without a prior cause, than it is its own prime cause. That is impossible; Hashem is the only Prime Cause. So it cannot truly be a prime cause, but must exist within the realm of Hashem.

MODERATOR Posted - 25 October 2000 1:05

It says nowhere that Hashem cannot miraculously allow others to be "first causes" also. He can allow people to do lots of things that according to the laws of nature they cannot. That's what a miracle is.

Since these others will not be able to choose except by Hashem's will they are not really "first causes" in the sense that He is; He can choose for no reason except that He is Him. We can choose because Hashem allows us to.

The only problem would be something existing outside of Hashem, which of course cannot be done. But that problem is solved since the ability to choose is "on loan" from Hashem in the form of Chelek Elokah Mi'maal.

HZ Posted - 26 October 2000 17:22

Thank you very much for your effort. I am just looking for more of an understanding. Since I feel this conversation should end for now, I will not, B"N, be posting for a while.

HZ Posted - 17 December 2000 23:03

Just a note on my not understanding how free-will works:

I saw a Chovos Halevavos this Matzoi Shabbos and it seems he says that we cannot fully understand how free-will works when Hashem controls all and that we should be satisfied with this knowledge. I had pretty much already reached this conclusion.

lubavgirl Posted - 02 January 2001 17:57

just because god knows what you are going to chose, that doesn’t affect our decision, its like he has a telescope that can see into our future, or you can look at it that god knows you so well that he knows what you will chose to do- I mean have you ever been able to predict the out-come of a situation, know what your best friend will chose? well god is like that, the friend that knows you so well that he’s able to know what you will chose to do.

lubavgirl Posted - 07 January 2001 20:16

I have another point to add that may clear things up- god is beyond time, to him the past present and the future are all the same so him knowing what we will do is b/c he has seen it, and is still seeing it, but that also applies to things that we have done years in the past, the time doesn’t make a difference, he is there then/now, so he knows- but that doesn’t in any way shape or form affect our decision

Admonit Posted - 26 February 2004 7:25


I don’t understand - what am I missing abt the question- if Hashem knows what we will choose....

ok , so the answer is that He doesn’t exist within time, obviously, so the whole q. isn’t really an issue for me.

So why does the Rambam call this q "deeper than the sea" etc.....what is he referring to???????????????????? what is shver?

I must be missing a very big boat to this sea because I don’t even find it to be a question! thank you

MODERATOR Posted - 26 February 2004 9:06

lubav and admonit,

While that answer is mentioned in seforim, (a) it has serious difficulties associated with it - even the Raavad, who mentions it, describes it not as a real answer but as "a bit of an answer", meaning, he agrees that it has problems. And (b) the Rambam's answer is much simpler. So, admonit, if you’re going to "eliminate the question" rather than provide and answer, it is actually the Rambam’s response that does that, and not the response that you mention.

The problem is, if the only reason that Hashem knows the future is because from His perspective the future "already happened", then His knowledge of the future would be limited to only the future that actually will happen.

But Hashem would not be able to know what will happen in a future "what if" scenario that will not actually take place.

For example, we know that everything Hashem does is "gam zu l'tovah". So if Hashem let's say wants to decide whether someone should break his arm, He will consider: If he breaks his arm, such-and-such will happen; if he does not break his arm, then scenario B will happen, and so forth.

Yet only one of those scenarios is actually going to be the future. And so, if Hashem only knows the future because it is to Him like the past is to us, because time isn’t a constraint, then while we understand how Hashem knew what will happen, how can Hashem know what would have happened in different circumstances, since that scenario never existed, neither in past, present, or future?

From the fact that Hashem knows not only what will happen, but also what would have happened, it is clear that Hashem's knowledge of the future is not only because He can see the future like we see the present, but also, He is able to accurately know what will happen not because He sees it in the future. And therefore, He knows what we will choose NOT only because He "sees" us choosing it in the future, but through some other means as well.

There is another objection to this answer as well, leveled by the Ohr Someach, but it is actually related to the above. He says, if to Hashem the future is like the past, and it "already" happened, then why would Hashem send a Navi to tell the people to do Teshuva if He already "sees" that they will not do Teshuva? Or, worse still, from His perspective, that they "already have not" done Teshuva? Obviously, says the Ohr Someach, if a Navi is sent to tell people to do Teshuva, that means they still may do Teshuva, yet Hashem "knows" that they will not????

So the answer doesn’t really work.

israel-phile gal Posted - 27 February 2004 7:50

Whoa. never even thought of it like wait, how do we answer that now- w/ the Rambam’s answer???

was2frum Posted - 04 March 2004 8:52

I believe that the question is more as follows, and I never really did get a satisfying answer for it: Gods knowing/thinking/feeling something creates the "mitzious"/state of being, therefore if He knows that I will do xyz, that creates a case where for all intents and purposes, that was done already {"be'asarah ma'amaros nivra ha'olam" it only needs a ma'mar}. Now the question is harder, if God knows that I will do, the world is now in a state where that WILL be done, if so you apparently have no bechira?????

MODERATOR Posted - 04 March 2004 9:12

I don’t understand. The "reason" G-d knows is because you will do it. Since your choice is the cause and the knowledge is the effect, then the knowledge doesn’t cause the choice.

HZ Posted - 04 March 2004 13:25

Time is one of the creations of Hashem. It has nothing to do with cause and effect. You choose and Hashem knows what you will chose. What difference does it make that He knows before you choose?

MODERATOR Posted - 04 March 2004 13:28


Im not sure what Q you’re addressing but it sounds to me like you are submitting the same answer that Admonit did, which the Raavad calls a partial answer.
See my post of Posted - 26 February 2004 9:06 for what the problem with that answer is.

HZ Posted - 05 March 2004 9:26

I was referring to the way was2frum phrased the question. I had read Admonits post, but had forgotten and should have been more clear. I wasn't saying He only knows the future because it is as if it already happened for Him.

Just that time has nothing to do with cause and effect. So the fact that He knows what you will do (even if it is) based on the fact that you will do it does not make you do it. You will make your decision then. It may be a bit tough to figure out. You know, this question has never bothered me.

MODERATOR Posted - 05 March 2004 9:38

The same problem exists in your answer. The cause and effect have nothing to do with time - your choice is the cause and G-d's "knowledge" is the effect. Because you chose, therefore G-d knows your choice.

But the problem is when you never did choose in reality, but you would have chose had you gotten the chance. Does G-d know what you would have chosen? Obviously yes. But if that is so, then there must be a mechanism that G-d uses to "know" things besides the fact that He is above time. Because even if you remove time form the picture, the Q is how can G-d know what you "would have done"? Clearly, then, G-d knows you so well that He knows what you would do under any circumstance. This is more than just "seeing the future", since there is no future to see in this case.

But if that is so, then G-d has to be able to know what you would do under any circumstance based on the current facts, since there are no future facts to enable His knowledge. But if what you would do is already determined by current conditions, then you are locked in to that choice way before you make it.

That means no bechirah.

The answer - and this is what the Rambam means - is that the mechanism by which G-d is aware of things is not "knowledge"; its not even "awareness." The answer is, no, G-d does not "know" our choices - the term "know" does not apply to G-d at all. I will explain this at length in the next post iy"h, but first, you need some background. Go into the "G-d" section on the site and check out the material there. You need to read the part about G-d being Causeless and kulo pushut. Once you get that down pat, we can understand this.

HZ Posted - 05 March 2004 13:42

Last night I realized my post might be taken that way.

I didn't say Hashem knows because you choose. Hashem doesn't need a mechanism to know things. It's not that He is above time. It's that time doesn't really exist. Only He does.

What you choose is determined by your free will. So you are never forced to choose.

I think I understand this (somewhat) already. I've spent years on this type of stuff. The only thing I don't understand is how free will works (which makes sense cause it's "free" will). The Chovos Halevavos basically says you won't figure it out.

But Hashem knowing what you will choose? Maybe you think I have a question, but I don't.

Jehb Posted - 17 May 2004 9:11

I think that hashem can see what decision we are going to make by the kind of person we are. Like if your mum knew that you really like chocolate and she asked you if you wanted a chocolate or a lolly she'd know you'd chose the chocolate over the lolly. I think that that is how hashem knows what our decisions are going to be.

MODERATOR Posted - 17 June 2004 13:50

That doesn’t work. Because if our choices are locked in because of our personalities, that negates bechirah. If on the other hand we can choose to do something different than "they type of person we are", or, if you prefer to say we can choose to be whatever type of person we want, then Hashem would not be able to tell what we would choose based on the type of person we currently are.

helpmefindgod Posted - 27 December 2005 3:51

Firstly- why is everyone talking bout god seeing in the past, present and future? isn’t god "beyond time?"

Also, if he does see it as if it already happened, then were just like a movie he’s watching. why are we here?

MODERATOR Posted - 27 December 2005 4:49

“ why is everyone talking bout god seeing in the past, present and future? isn’t god "beyond time?"

That’s what seeing the future means. This is the way Chazal express it - "Hakol tzfui, v'harashus nesuna" - "everything is seen but free will is still granted".

“also, if he does see it as if it already happened, then were just like a movie he’s watching. why are we here?”

Because f we wouldn’t be here to do those things, there would be no future for Hashem to know.

dustbin Posted - 01 January 2006 18:03

We learnt at school that if you watch a movie, and the car turns left, then you rewind before the car has turned you know the car will turn left but you have no effect on the decision of the person inside the car

MODERATOR Posted - 01 January 2006 18:17

I once explained why that answer doesn’t work.

That answer correctly assumes that Hashem seeing the future events does not mean that Hashem caused those events. Rather, the person making the choice caused the event, and Hashem merely "sees" it before it happens. Kinda like a crystal ball -- the fact that you can see what will happen in the future does not mean that the people doing the things you see have no bechirah.

That’s good. The problem is, according to this answer, would Hashem be able to know different "what if" scenarios, most of which that will never take place?

For example, if Hashem wants to decide whether someone should break his arm r"l. He decides -- if scenario (a) happens, then the future will be such and such; if on the other hand, scenario )b_ happens, the future will be different; if scenario (c) happens, then future will have a third form.

Yet only one of those scenarios is going to actually be the future. Meaning, only one of those futures will actually happen. Only one of those futures will be in that crystal ball, because granted that Hashem can see thins before they happen by looking into the future and "observing" it the way we observe the past, but if Hashem looks into the future to see the other 2 scenarios they will not be there! Since they will never happen, not even in the future.

But from the fact that Hashem can indeed know different scenarios even though only one will actually take place, it is clear that Hashem knows what will happen even without looking into the future. If so, then the events of future choices are available even without taking into consideration what the future will be.

if so, then future choices are already determined even in the present. That’s a contradiction to Bechirah.

The answer, as the Rambam explains, is that although we have proves that if someone has knowledge of the future in the present (even if the future never happens) that indeed would be a contradiction to Bechirah. But Hashem's awareness of the future has nothing to do with "knowledge". Hashem does not have "knowledge" --- even though he is not ignorant of anything. The way that Hashem knows things is not within our comprehension, but we do know for sure that the tool Hashem uses is not what we call "knowledge" in any way whatsoever -- hashem is above any such attributes (please see the Hashem forum for detailed explanation of this). And therefore, from the fact that knowledge of the future precludes free will, we cannot assume that Hashem's awareness of the future also precludes free will, since Hashem's awareness is not through "knowledge".

skop Posted - 21 May 2006 21:41

“The answer - and this is what the Rambam means - is that the mechanism by which G-d is aware of things is not "knowledge"; its not even "awareness." The answer is, no, G-d does not "know" our choices - the term "know" does not apply to G-d at all. I will explain this at length in the next post”

So this is the whole answer? That we cannot comprehend the way that hashem "knows"(as we would say) things?

MODERATOR Posted - 21 May 2006 21:44

Its more. The questions is that knowledge of a future even contradicts free will in that event. The answer is that G-d has no knowledge of future events. Knowledge is an attribute and we know for a fact that G-d doesn’t have any of those.

G-d is still not ignorant of future events. He does not need knowledge. But since it is not knowledge that G-d uses, there is no contradiction to Bechirah.

mo Posted - 22 May 2006 10:53

**G-d is still not ignorant of future events. He does not need knowledge. But since it is not knowledge that G-d uses, there is no contradiction to Bechirah.**

It's a kind of game of words. Call it "knowledge" or another name - the contradiction is still in place.

MODERATOR Posted - 23 May 2006 12:27

It's not an issue of semantics at all. It's not that we don’t refer to Hashem's awareness as "knowledge"; its that Hashem has no knowledge at all. Knowledge is an attribute. Like strength or emotions, or body parts. G-d has none of those.

And just as it's not a "weakness" or limitation for G-d not to have a nose, it is also no weakness or limitation for Him not to have knowledge -- both a nose and knowledge are only advantages for those who need them. Hashem needs no nose, and He needs no knowledge.

Why this is so -- that Hashem needs no knowledge, is because we can prove easily (see the G-d forum) that Hashem is Perfect, and that means perfectly simple with no attributes. We also know that Perfect means no ignorance. So on one hand G-d is not ignorant of anything but He does not need stuff like knowledge - He does not need any tools, any attributes, anything at all. Perfection means not needing anything. Even knowledge.

So why is G-d not ignorant? Why does He not need knowledge?

Because our experiences in this world are limited to things subject to time and space - and composed of attributes - we cannot comprehend an entity like Hashem Who is not subject to time and space - and has no attributes. The same way a blind man cannot comprehend of light.

But just as a blind man can prove on paper that light exists, as do different colors, we too can prove that Hashem's simplicity exists, and that He is not subject to things like knowledge or strength or time or space.

We can also prove on paper that He cannot be ignorant, since ignorance is an imperfection and G-d must be perfect.

So what this means is, G-d is not ignorant, but he is not bound by the limitations of "knowledge", and any effects of having knowledge doesn’t to apply at all to Him.

So now, while it is true that knowledge of a future event would seem lock that event in place such that it could not change subsequent to the possession of the knowledge -- what does that have to do with Hashem? This is what the Rambam is saying -- that whatever problems result from knowing something in the future totally does not apply to Hashem. its not that we don’t know "how" Hashem "knows" the future -- its that we know for a fact, way before this question about Yediah and Bechirah was asked, that Hashem does not "know" things at all. It would be avodah zorah to believe hashem knows things. It's like saying Hashem is strong, or Hashem is angry, or Hashem is big or little.

So now we cant even begin to ask the question -- If Hashem knows the future, isn't the future then fixed?

Now obviously we have no idea why or how Hashem can not be in need of knowledge and still not be subject to ignorance - but that has nothing to do with Yediah and Bechirah. That is the result of Hashem being Kulo Pushut, which is just a provable reality. And similarly and we have no idea how and why Hashem can not be in need of strength yet still not be subject to weakness, etc. But the fact that we cannot comprehend something does not negate the fact that we can prove it is true. We know for a fact that there are so many things out there that exist that we cannot comprehend - such as the end of space or quantum non-locality, and stuff like blue and red, to a blind man. We are fully aware that our minds cannot comprehend even real and measurable things if they are outside the realm of our experiences.

So asking the question about Yediah and Bechirah is really just another way of asking to understand how Hashem does not need strength yet is not subject to weakness, and does not need knowledge yet is not subject to ignorance. And that is just another way of asking to comprehend how something can be Kulo Poshut.

And that, we cannot comprehend but (a) we can prove it is a fact, and (b) we knew from the beginning that we could not comprehend it, since it is one of those thins beyond the realm of our experiences.

So the Rambam, when he discusses the question is just clarifying what the question really is: another way of trying to comprehend how something can be Kulo Poshut, and so the Rambam says, because we know that we cannot comprehend that, and also we know that it is true, this question about yediah and Bechirah does not start.

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