Monday, May 7, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot 3:18-19

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
Chapter 3:18-19
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr

“He would also say: Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of God]; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to him that he was created in the image, as it is says, "For in the image of God, He made man" (Genesis 9:6). Beloved are Israel, for they are called children of God; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to them that they are called children of God, as it is stated: "You are children of the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 14:1). Beloved are Israel, for they were given a precious article; it is a sign of even greater love that it has been made known to them that they were given a precious article, as it is stated: "I have given you a good purchase; My Torah, do not forsake it" (Proverbs 4:2).

All is foreseen, and freedom of choice is granted. The world is judged with goodness, but in accordance with the amount of man's positive deeds.”

I would like to focus on this last sentence, verse 19.

This tells me that predestination and free will go hand in hand.

Logic, Linear time, 1+2=3 thinking; these are the traits of a finite created being such as ourselves. Things such as the concept of eternity and seeming paradoxes, contradictions and conundrums like predestination verses free will, throw our minds and an aviator’s death roll.

God on the other hand is an uncreated, Uncaused Cause. He is Infinite and above and beyond our constraints of time and logic. Only He can be everywhere and nowhere all at once.

Above all, if only one word could be used to define God it would be Holy. That is His main attribute, that is the essence of who He is. A Holy God cannot be in the presence of sin, which according to I John 3:4, is anything that is against His Torah. Evil and Predestination; willing His creation, made in His image to only be created for the purpose of being sent to hell which as the Brit Chadasha (New Testament) says was prepared for the devil and his angels. That would be like birthing twins and raising one and throwing the other into a furnace. And if we, as “evil” humans know how to give our children good gifts; bread instead of a stone, a fish instead of a snake (Matthew 7:7-12); how much more so is God good?

No, God didn’t create Evil, He just created the possibility (free will) for it to arise. The Rabbi’s and Sages of the Talmud and Tanya say even evil (sometimes called the klipah or sirta archa) though not apart of God, (yet allowed by God to come to be by agency of free will) does not transgress His will but works in conjunction with it to ultimately allow God’s perfect will to come about. It is our choice to allow that to be or not. For instance, if we are presented with a temptation we can succumb and fall which is out of His will, or we can resist and overcome and as a result become stronger and be closer to God.  Though He knows the beginning from the end, He gave us the gift of choice to accept or reject Him, His Torah and Messiah. We are “predestine” in the since that God knows, we have the free will because even though He knows we still have the choice to choose. God doesn’t want a bunch of pre-programmed robots serving Him. Do you think God predestine that Lucifer should fall? Did He want it to happen? I don’t think so. Obviously Satan’s fall, as ours, didn’t catch God off guard but He allowed it to happen all because of Free Will. I know, I know, many of you are already forming lines of circular logic to try to say what I am proposing is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. “I can’t have it both ways; it’s got to be one way of the other”. Is anything impossible for God? G-d forbid, by no means. Who are we to put Him in a neat defined box to satisfy our curiosity of the unknown and possibly the unknowable?

“Some people think there is a logical conflict between predestination and free will choice, but in reality there is no conflict, because predestination accounts for men's free will choices. Predestination says that the reason YHWH already knows who is and is not predestined to the adoption as sons is because He has already seen every decision each and every person will ever make...” –

I believe free will and predestination go hand in hand and work together much like Law and Grace. Two seemingly diametrically opposed views, yet they work in conjunction with each other, that for the most part both issues (Law and Grace – Predestination and Free Will) Modern Christians cannot seem to grasp as both existing and working together in unity. I think part of the problem is that many are looking at these issues from a Western Philosophical standpoint and not from a Hebraic Theological stand point. It is absurd to believe sin, which a Holy God abhors and cannot be near, is in His will. Yes, ADONAI knew mankind was going to fall, yet it wasn't His perfect will. It was His permissive will. He allowed this thing to happened, because even though HE knows all, He allows us to choose. I will not pretend I know everything on this matter, for something’s we will truly never know until we reach the World to Come. Because how can finite creation pretend to understand certain aspects of an Infinite God?

Just like Forrest Gump at his Mama’s grave told her something to the effect; “Lt. Dan believes in fate, Jenny thinks it’s all a matter of chance… I think it’s a little bit of both.”

In the words of Rebbe Nachman:

"There are certain questions which trouble many people, such as the problem of how free will can exist if G-d knows the future. It is necessary to realize that it is beyond the capacity of the human mind to understand these matters. The answers to such questions lie in the sphere of wisdom that is so transcendent that the human mind is unable to attain it. This wisdom can never enter the human mind. It encompasses the mind from outside. One who apprehends this wisdom would not be human at all, he would be an angel. It is precisely the fact that we do not understand these questions about free will that actually gives us the freedom we have. In time to come, when men's minds will expand and the secrets of free will and providence will be revealed, free will as such will disappear. Man's mind will emerge from its limits and he will become like and angel - with free will."

And as Forrest Gump said:

“That’s all I have to say about that.”

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr