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How do the concepts of free will and divine providence coincide?

by Rabbi Aaron Moss

  

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That is a fantastic question.

Do you know the song, "G-d is here, G-d is there, G-d is truly everywhere"? If G-d is truly everywhere, then I have a problem -- where are you? And where am I? How can you be there if G-d is also there? If someone is sitting in a chair, I can't also sit there! If a room is full of people, I can't fill it with more people! So if the world is full of G-d (because He is everywhere) where are we?!

The answer: G-d can do anything. He can be everywhere and let us be here too. So really He is everywhere -- even the place that I'm in. But He makes it seem to me like He isn't there so I can exist.

The exact same thing applies to my choices. How can I choose if G-d already decided? If G-d knows what I will choose, then there's no room for my choice?

The answer: G-d can do anything. He can know what I will do and let me decide too. He can know but make it seem to me like He doesn't know, so I am free to choose.

So why are we rewarded or punished if G-d knew anyway what we would do? Because we don't feel that G-d knew. We feel that we chose freely. And we are right. Just like we exist freely, because G-d hides Himself from us, so we choose freely because G-d keeps his knowledge to Himself.


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