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TRIAL OR CHALLENGE?
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BURDEN OR BOON?
Aharon Levy
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BURDEN OR BOON?
Aharon Levy
Because He desires to shower man with good, G-d endowed him with free will.

As 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.

 

The capacity to earn ones portion in the next world, rather than receiving it as an outward gift, enhances the pleasure that mans spirit derives from his eternal reward. A degree of shame is attached to a hand out; compensation for an honest days 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-ds 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.

 

Thus 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-ds will, man often exploits it to go against His explicit instructions.

 

The first of G-ds 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.

 

It is important to keep in mind that Adams 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, mans impulse to evil. Ever since, the force of evil has gained a foothold in the heart of man. Adams son, Kayin (Cain) was drawn after this impulse to shed the innocent blood of his own brother.

 

Despite mans ongoing spiritual decline, there remains hope for him. G-d weaves mans 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-ds 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 mans 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.


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