How do you say that G‑d wants us to do the mitzvot? Doesn't that imply a lacking of some sort on His part? Isn't He supposed to be perfect?


This is an important question. Problem is, we are here, so G‑d must want us here. So what happened that made Him want us here?

This is similar to a classic question asked by the kabbalist R' Yuda Chayit of R' Yosef of Castilla. He wrote, "When the world was created, what was it that changed in His will that He should create it then and not at another time? It seems like a change, heaven forefend. And if you will say that He had it in mind from before, then what prevented Him from doing it then?

R' Yosef responded at length, but the meat of it is in these words:

"You asked that since G‑d does not change, as it is written, 'I am G‑d, I do not change,' if so how was there a change in His will to create the world at the time it was created and not earlier? . . . This is not really a question. Since G‑d created the world willfully and not out of necessity, therefore there is no way to ask for a reason why. There is no reason to [this] will.

"When you provide a reason that a person wants one thing more than another, you can then ask, so what is the reason for this choice? You are looking for a cause to his will. If so, when you ask what G‑d's reason is, you are looking for a cause that precedes Him and arouses Him to want this... But there is nothing that came before Him, so nothing causes Him to will."

What R' Yosef is saying is that G‑d's will is different from our will. Since His will is the beginning of all things, we cannot say that anything causes Him to will, since that would be placing something prior to His will. Ergo, there is no reason, since a reason is also a cause.

G‑d wants because He decided to want—not because He needs anything, or is lonely, or bored. Nothing forces His hand. Everything starts there, with Him just deciding, "I want a world that feels otherness from me, and there I will be found." In that initial will lies all His Torah and the mitzvot that we do. It is beginning of all things and their core.

It is G‑d's free will—and so we fulfill it with ours.

G‑d's free choice that we should keep Shabbat and not eat pork is reflected in our free choice to keep Shabbat and not eat pork. We are, so to speak, empowered to play out G‑d's own free will.

Then there are things in which we have no free choice. Like who will be our parents, the cycle of the seasons and the laws of physics. This also reflects G‑d's choice: These choices came after His initial choice in Torah and mitzvot. Therefore, all was already determined by the Torah. The sun must rise in the morning, since the Torah contains a mitzvah of saying the Shema at the time of sunrise. There must be pigs, since there is a mitzvah of not eating them.

Since these choices were predetermined (by the choices of Torah), in our lives, they are also predetermined. This is the explanation of Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch in several of his discourses.

More on this in an article on our site: How Does G‑d Decide What's Right and What's Wrong? More on Free Will in Am I just a Figment of Someone's Imagination? and The Paradox of Free Choice: Six Questions.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for