Rabbis Without Borders
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Judaism and Free Will
A traditional perspective.
From the beginning of biblical time, man has struggled to break his binding ties in order to become free, independent, and fully human.
Modern thinkers have addressed the free will problem by questioning the authority of science, acknowledging the limits of freedom, and asserting the transcendent importance of choice.
According to some Hasidic thinkers, human free will is an illusion; God causes all human actions.
Jewish tradition assumes that our actions are significant.
The idea that God controls the world, determining the trajectory and details of its history, is strong in Judaism and is one of the theological issues that contributes to the Jewish problem of free will.
In the Middle Ages, Jewish thinkers struggled to reconcile God's knowledge of the future with human choice.
Biblical and rabbinic sources stress both divine determinism and human freedom.
The Bible records several problematic instances of God hardening human hearts, seemingly stripping them of free will.
According to some thinkers, God only watches over people in a general way; according to others, divine providence extends to the minute details of life.
Can we choose our way?
Responses to Jewish Free Will Problem. Jewish Free Will. Jewish Choice and Determinism. Jewish Ideas and Beliefs.