6 Shvat 5781 / Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bo
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Hashem or Free Will?    

Hashem or Free Will?

Free will on the one hand and Hashem’s involvement in every aspect of existence on the other - it can be tough to figure out where one ends and the other begins...


The Seven Pillars of Faith, Part 6

The sixth pillar of faith is action. This pillar is all about the complex interplay between free will on the one hand and the fact that God is involved in every aspect of existence on the other. It can be tough to figure out where one ends and the other begins. One purpose of the free will that God gives us is to test us.
Rabbi Breiter explains:
...if God wishes to grant someone the merit of a mitzva because they have found favor in His eyes through prayer, God will send the mitzva or the inspiration. Nevertheless, we are commanded to descend into the concealment – to take the initiative to act, as if it is up to us. 
1. Pray to God correctly to merit the opportunity to do a mitzva. Or to become spiritually inspired to do a mitzva.
2. If God thinks you have earned the merit (through prayer) of doing the mitzva, He will send the opportunity.
3. We should act as if it is up to us (not God) and make it happen to the best of our ability. 
The third step is confusing to me. This is where we must act without being able to see God’s hand in a situation (from beginning to end) and must take it upon ourselves to do the work for the Boss. The Boss creates the company and hires the workers – you and me – and presents us with the task. The Boss watches us every second. (Not to mention the fact that the Boss is making our lungs expand and our heart beat every moment we are alive. He’s a very involved Employer.) But because we can not comprehend the enormity of His existence and involvement in the world with our puny little minds, we must move forward without understanding. That’s an enormous leap of faith. We don’t know where we stop and He begins. On top of that, when it comes to action we don’t comprehend where our effort stops and His helping hand begins. And we really don’t know how we are doing in this world, how well we are passing the tests. We can guess, but that’s about it. It behooves us to be humble and to continually try, to not rest on laurels we aren’t even sure we have. There are plenty of seriously confused people in this world making terrible decisions, walking around thinking they are in great shape spiritually speaking when they are in fact in terrible shape.
Our Boss wants for us to reveal Him in this world through working to do the tasks He lays out for us in the Torah. Jews have their list, and we Gentiles have a part of their list, the Seven Universal Commandments. Our Boss uses this world to test us constantly. And if we merit the opportunity through proper prayer, by communicating correctly with our Boss, we can merit the opportunity to reveal the concealed Creator through our good works. All of this despite the fact that we can understand almost nothing in this world when it gets right down to it. We must grope through the dark and ask for His guidance. And we must work hard like Noach. 
Rabbi Breiter:
He takes delight when we recognize Him through the concealment itself and know that the concealment comes from Him. This way the upper worlds become united with the lower worlds, God’s knowledge of the fore-ordained with our free will, and God’s providence with the law of nature, in order to perfect the Crown of Kingship and to reveal that “Hashem is God”.
In His exploration of this pillar of faith, action, Rabbi Breiter helps us to better understand what exactly proper prayer is. It’s a good thing He does this because it’s the doorway we must first walk through to start down the right road, to do tshuva, one of the other pillars of faith. Rabbi explains that before we undertake any task, we need to ask God for help. That is the first action we must take. This also activates, hopefully, our awareness that any action we undertake is a test. It puts the Creator in the fore of our minds and reminds us of why we are here doing anything in the first place.

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  As always, very enjoyable reading
Anonymous,1/6/2010 9:51:45 PM

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