a result, each individual is free, to one degree or the other, to choose his
own path in life. There would be no point in giving man a set of divine commandments
had he not been endowed with free will; reward and punishment are meaningless
in a world where there is no freedom of choice. We cannot expect a reward for
not casting ourselves into a fiery furnace. There is no justice in a legal code
that penalizes an offender for a deed he had no choice but to perform, or
rewards do-gooders who were forced to perform acts of kindness. Although they
benefit mankind, domestic animals are not awarded a portion in the world to
come because they are compelled by natural instinct, not a conscious decision
to do a kindness to their owners. In contrast, when a human being makes a
calculated decision to bring benefit to his fellow man, his act of kindness
earns him a portion in the eternal world to come.
capacity to earn one’s portion in the next world, rather than receiving it as
an outward gift, enhances the pleasure that man’s spirit derives from his
eternal reward. A degree of shame is attached to a hand out; compensation for
“an honest day’s work” – or, in our case – the effort of a lifetime – carries
with it no such stigma. Free will enables man to choose between good and evil,
mitzvah and aveirah, complying with G-d’s commandments or flaunting them, thus
a portion in the world to come enhanced by true feeling that he has earned his
just reward rather than receiving it as a hand-out.
free will is a supreme gift from the Creator to the greatest of His creatures.
Were man fully aware of the extent of this gift, he would reach his full
potential for good, far more quickly. Paradise
would not be a theoretical concept, but a living reality. Unfortunately, rather
than regarding this supreme gift as a tool which enables one to fulfill G-d’s
will, man often exploits it to go against His explicit instructions.
first of G-d’s creatures to be endowed with free will, Adam, did not withstand
the test, and sinned on the first day of his existence. Ever since, man has
continued to slide down the slopes of spiritual decline, one transgression
bringing another in its wake, so much so that the world has changed beyond
recognition, and mankind is more removed than ever from the goal that his
Creator set forth for him.
is important to keep in mind that Adam’s intention in partaking of the
forbidden fruit, was not to rebel, per say, against his Creator. Rather, his
act was motivated by the desire to enhance his mode of serving G-d. The fact of
the matter was that he was, thereby, surrendering the reins of his free will to
the Yetzer Hara, man’s impulse to evil. Ever since, the force of evil has
gained a foothold in the heart of man. Adam’s son, Kayin (Cain) was drawn after
this impulse to shed the innocent blood of his own brother.
man’s ongoing spiritual decline, there remains hope for him. G-d weaves man’s
actions, good or not good, into the fabric of history as He leads the world to
its full rectification. The time will come when G-d’s master-plan for the
universe will be achieved, and the entire world will return to the original,
pristine level of the original six days of creation, before Adam sinned. Just
as G-d keeps the earth spinning, uninterrupted, around the sun, so too does man
propel the ongoing unfolding of the human drama, interweaving man’s deeds -
good and otherwise - into the fabric of history, as the creation continues to
proceed toward the ultimate goal set for it, when the Creator first set it in
motion thousands of years ago.