I have a problem understanding the concept of G‑d knowing the future. If He knows that someone is going to choose good over evil or vice versa, then how does the human being's free will fit in the picture?


You are in good company. Many of the greatest Jewish philosophers had the same problem and discuss this issue at length.

You start by writing that you have a problem understanding one of G‑d's abilities. That's quite understandable. We humans are finite. G‑d is infinite. We are dealing with two completely different sorts of entities. When we attempt to make sense of G‑d's infinite reality by comparing Him to the way our very limited reality operates, we are likely to run into problems.

I will preface my words by stating that the answer I will give is only intended to "placate" the curious human mind with a response it can comprehend on its own terms. Obviously, the ultimate answer is totally beyond our comprehension — as the kabbalists were wont to say, "If I would know Him, I would be Him..."

In your question, you assume that G‑d knows the outcome of our decisions, and we are therefore forced to act based on that knowledge. But in truth, it can be the other way around too. We make the decisions, and therefore G‑d knows what we will do.

In our reality, this idea doesn't make sense. But in G‑d's reality, there is no past, present, and future. He is above time. He can therefore know in advance the outcome all of events in history, without having affected any of the human-made decisions which caused these outcomes.

Imagine the possibility of a time machine. Suppose you could travel into the future and see exactly what your friend was going to eat for lunch tomorrow afternoon. Would that impact his free choice? Would he now be forced to eat a certain food?

Free choice is one of G‑d's greatest gifts to mankind, and even G‑d's infinite knowledge does not interfere with this gift.

May we always use this gift wisely.

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar