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Us and G-d

Us and G-d

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Question:

Dear Rabbi Moss

My name is Yael and I am 9 years old. I have a question for you. Why does G‑d set us challenges if he knows our future? And if we do the wrong thing how can he be mad with us?

From Yael

Answer:

Dear Yael,

That is a fantastic question. You must have a very deep mind, because this is the question that all the great minds ask. I will try to give you an answer.

Do you know the song, "G‑d is here, G‑d is there, G‑d is truly everywhere"? If G‑d is truly everywhere, then I have a problem — where are you? And where am I? How can you be there if G‑d is also there? If someone is sitting in a chair, I can't also sit there! If a room is full of people, I can't fill it with more people! So if the world is full of G‑d (because He is everywhere) where are we?!

The answer: G‑d can do anything. He can be everywhere and let us be here too. So really He is everywhere — even the place that I'm in. But He makes it seem to me like He isn't there so I can exist.

The exact same thing applies to my choices. How can I choose if G‑d already decided? If G‑d knows what I will choose, then there's no room for my choice?

The answer: G‑d can do anything. He can know what I will do and let me decide too. He can know but make it seem to me like He doesn't know, so I am free to choose.

So why are we rewarded or punished if G‑d knew anyway what we would do? Because we don't feel that G‑d knew. We feel that we chose freely. And we are right. Just like we exist freely, because G‑d hides Himself from us, so we choose freely because G‑d keeps his knowledge to Himself.

If we would feel that G‑d knows what we will choose, we wouldn't be able to choose anymore. And if we could feel that G‑d is here, we wouldn't feel that we were separate from Him. That's what will happen when Moshiach (the Messiah) comes — we will realise that we are really part of G‑d. And we won't have free choice anymore. That's why we have to do a lot of good now — while we still have the choice!

Think about it, and we can talk about it more if you want.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Chanoch Chayim london, UK February 10, 2011

what about total surrender to G-d??? What then happens when one pray to G-d for all that He has written in Heaven manifest on earth like in movies where one is only playing their part awaiting Heavenly Oscars at the point of total surrender like the times of the in the Moshiac as you have stated above. Reply

Tanya sofia, Bulgaria April 15, 2009

So, obviously, we pretend to be free and the events are pre-planned..
So what about the free choice? So the destiny is definded..
So it comes to the point that we choose not specific choice, but one of the few, which G-d knows already anyway.. :(( Reply

Anonymous April 14, 2009

free will from the answer it seems that our free choice is not really ours because G-D already decided, and His decision is what our choice is going to be, it's only that we don't feel what G-D decided (and thats our free choice). True G-D can do anything and he can decide for us and let us choose at the same time, but if His decision compels our choice, then how can He punish us for it, if it wasn't really ours. In other words how can G-D punish someone for something He forced him to do, just becuase the person felt that he made the choice himself?! Reply

sue U.K. April 6, 2009

FREE WILL To be given a choice is necesary to BECOME someone who can KNOW someone.My idea of G-d is a loving person who would give me His life and only return to Him if I chose to. Reply

abby berman April 5, 2009

amazing! love the question and the answer. thank you Rabbi Reply

Randy April 5, 2009

Not quite correct Rabbi Moss,

I have to disagree with part of your statement in the "Question of the Week" post from Chabad.org titled "Us and G-d".

You state;
"That's what will happen when Moshiach (the Messiah) comes -- we will realize that we are really part of G-d. And we won't have free choice anymore. That's why we have to do a lot of good now -- while we still have the choice!"

Now I am not a rabbi or even very well trained in rabbinic thought. But I am able to read the prophets. And this statement you make seams in clear contradiction to the prophecies of Zachariah in the 14th chapter.

Perhaps this time frame described by Zachariah is after the time of Moshiach when G-d will reign hear on earth, which would allow for your statement to be correct. But then under the reign of the ultimate King, He does not exert complete authority?

Zachariah clearly states that the people of the nations will have the ability to choose whether to come to Jerusalem or not for Succot.

Should they choose not to, of course G-d will withhold rain from their land, but still they have the choice.

Now it may, I suppose that it is possible the Jews will not have free will/choice at that time but it seams clear to me that the rest of mankind will.

What disturbs me the most about your statement is that it was made to a child. You had answered his question and there was no reason to introduce something to him that will only bring confusion to him as he reads Tanach.

Just my half shekel worth Reply

Norm S. Kissimmee, Fl April 3, 2009

kev's dliemma There was a recent essay(blog/) that asked "Can G-d make a stone too heavy for him to lift." Yes and no. G-d exists outside of our laws of physics. He created these laws for OUR EXISTENCE, not his. Otherwise, how else do miracles (that which is outside physical laws) happen, such as the red sea. After Moschiach, maybe we will have a better understanding of G-d. But untill then we can only comprehend that which G-d allows. I keep saying "why aks why "- To learn! Reply

K.B. Canada April 3, 2009

The Wise Child asks many questions ... 'That's what will happen when Moshiach (the Messiah) comes -- we will realize that we are really part of G-d. And we won't have free choice anymore. That's why we have to do a lot of good now -- while we still have the choice!"

i think in a nutshell you have annunciated all the reasons that a spiritual education is, in so many ways ... the most important.

Even with the most expensive liberal education this world can offer, we still have alot of post-modern 'malaise' :depression, listlessness: doubt; anger and their offspring, ... in short, all things born of Cain.

yes, truly, maybe its possible to admit that we're on loan to this world; from a godly source ... we're born and we refind ourselves .... as His children.

have a blessed Pesach. Reply

David T.O., ON April 3, 2009

We have free choice and G-d does not know what we will choose.

if G-d felt like it, G-d could cancel our free will,

but usually G-d lets us choose.

if G-d is perfect then he could make himself not know something.

when we say G-d controls everything, it means that G-d "can" control everything but G-d lets us borrow some of the control as long as we use it properly. Reply

Inge Reisinger April 2, 2009

Dear Rabbi Moss and all who are writing for Chabad,

First you gave a wonderful answer to this child, the best what can be understand in that age and all answers I read show me how you are struggling for understanding G-d and thats already a good way. Reply

Evan Richardson, Texas,USA April 2, 2009

Amazing This was very interesting. I learned some amazing things! Reply

Chaya Long Sacramento, CA April 2, 2009

Choices If we didn't have choices in this life, how would be grow? Where would be the challenge to do good. Or failing to do good, how would be able to choose to repent?
No, we need choices. The fact that G-d knows what our choices will be, does not negate the fact that He allows us to choose. His knowing has no effect on our freedom to choose. He gave us that freedom (and maybe hopes that we will use that freedom for good?) Reply

Mutel Chaim April 2, 2009

Us and G-d What a great answer to a very complex questioin. BTW, it should be We and G-d, for correct grammar. Reply

danny london April 2, 2009

not everything G-D cannot learn, he cannot die, he cannot be born, and he cannot stop being G-D. G-D can do anything that doesnt stop him from being G-D Reply

sue lincoln, uk April 2, 2009

having a choice I think there must be a self because although G-d knows what we will do we do not until we have chosen for ourself, we can choose because G-d has hidden Himself. Everyone has to try and be right but its hard work until you choose to give up trying and admit the I is not right. Reply

John Gould Palm Springs, CA April 1, 2009

Kev's Comment Rabbi Moss,
I have my own thoughts about Kev's comment, but am not a rabbi. However, any conversation concerning torah, or g-d, is a conversation that brings us hopefully closer towards our purpose in life, which is to serve and more greatly understand g-d.
Kev,
g-d is beyond rational and beyond being able to fully define. g-d created everything including the laws of physics. g-d could have turned lots wife into a pillar of salt, but he chose not to because he was sending a message when he made her into a pillar of salt. Salt is common, plain; and by turning back (returning), she became common, plain, evil again. Some say the salt represent the recrystalization of something into what it was before: when you go back, you become what you once were.
the supernatural can do anything.
The great thing about understanding the laws of gravity/physics is by learning these laws, we come closer to understanding g-d. Physics is a science used to understand how g-d works, like biology. Hmmm. Reply

Joann Chicago , Il April 1, 2009

That's why we have to do a lot of good now -- while we still have the choice!

This is an excellent and true statement for us all. Reply

Al April 1, 2009

Us and G-d If G-d already knows what we will do and knows the future, then why does G-d what us to go through all these motions? Reply

Anonymous March 30, 2009

question on the answer why would we want moshiach to come if that means that we wouldnt have free choice? and dont many commentaries say that we would have choice-- just in how we did good things, albeit not in whether we do them? Reply

sue lincoln, england March 30, 2009

free will Dear Rabbi Moss
You say that G-d is everywhere but hides Himself so we can exist, does that mean if we choose not to exist that G-d can reveal Himself. Reply

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