Monday, April 27, 2009
Free-choice is not what is commonly defined, as being able to do whatever a person wants to, without any limitations or obstacles that would hinder one.
What one wants to do in this case, is to carry out some physical desire: Eating, drinking, success, travel, happiness, acquiring money, owning a house, running a company, etc.
But on a deeper level, this person does not, in actuality, choose freely. The reason being, that when a person has two choices in front of him, for example an apple or a banana, he will choose the fruit that he likes better. Or he may like the color, texture, smell, shape, etc., better.
It may also be a choice of utility, it serves his purposes better.
Or even if he does a seemingly charitable act, he may still be self-serving in that, he wants his name to be known, or he just feels good when he gives.
In other words, he did not make the choice freely, free of any reason. Something in his being, his nature, how he was programmed, determined the choice that he made; it forced the choice.
Therefore, the choice in reality was not made freely, it was predetermined. Since he is a physical being, and relates to physical objects, he can never go beyond himself. As the Gemmora says, someone who is tied up, cannot unite himself.
Bechirah Hofshish- true free-choice, relates to a totally different aspect of a person- their soul. Here the choice has no bearing what-so-ever on the physical attribute or outcome of a choice. He is choosing to connect with a different reality- G-d. And thereby reveals that reality.
Although a person always has the potential to choose freely, generally he makes choices based on his nature, and not based on his soul. Making the normal choice does not actualize free-choice.
The choice of self-preservation, fulfilling desires, choosing money over Torah values, etc., happens by default. Whereas, when one rises above human foibles, he then chooses freely, and attains an infinite level of living.
A person has true free-choice when his actions are based on Torah, as is brought in Halachah, Jewish law. Then his choice is totally free, beyond his limited being, and based solely on infinite, G-dly directives.
It then becomes irrelevant to him, if it is good or bad for him, if he gains or loses; the only thing important is, that he does G-d’s will.
1. For example, giving Tzedakah (charity). Giving Tzedakah can be done because of one of two reasons. The first being what people normally think of as charity. People give charity out of the goodness of their hearts.
But the problem is, that not everyone has the goodness in his heart. Some people will only give charity, when they are emotionally aroused. After viewing a tragedy that moves them to tears, then they will give charity. But if they are not moved, then they will not give.
Tzedakah is a totally different category. Tzedakah comes from the root, Tzedek, just. Which means to say, that Tzedakah is a Torah obligation; meaning that one has to give Tzedakah whether one feels like giving, or not. It goes beyond his feelings and mental calculations. G-d said to give, so we give.
In this manner a person opens up a side of themselves that goes much deeper than their understanding or feelings. The person then becomes a G-dly being.
One who does not realize, that a person has a deeper aspect to himself, could think that Halachah restricts a person from enjoying himself;
but when one realizes, that this deeper part of themselves, is their true being, and this is where true happiness lies, they will then achieve true freedom.
They will be free, from human foibles, desires and whims. They won’t be manipulated by fads and pleasures, which the world tries to sell them.
They will be beyond the shine and glitter of limited physicality. They will live in the world on their terms. They will then be able to elevate the world, instead of being lowered by it.
2. Another example of free-choice is Tefillah, prayer. What people normally think of as prayer, is really called requests. When one has some lacking or need, or they are in a tight situation, then they will pray to G-d to help them. But according to this, if one doesn’t need anything, they wouldn't have to pray.
But this is not the essence of Tefillah. Tefillah is a Torah obligation, and it doesn’t matter whether one needs something or not. Tefillah means to connect. So when one prays, one does so in order to connect with their Maker.
One needs to connect with their Maker three times a day, and then carry this G-dly energy back with them into the world, and elevate it.
3. Another example is Shabbos. Most people think that Shabbos is a day off, when they can do whatever they like. But Shabbos is not a day of rest, Shabbos is a day of doing; but not doing physical things, rather G-dly things.
When a person follows the guidelines of Halachah on Shabbos, they leave the confines of the limited physical realm and enter the infinite G-dly realm.
They then reconnect with their souls. Shabbos is day of doing: praying, learning Torah, being with family, eating Shabbos food, etc. It is not a day of resting from working, but rather a day of resting from physicality.
When a person puts on Tefillin he may not look better, black may not be his color, he may not feel better (but probably will), he is not getting paid, becoming famous, wealthy, wise, etc. For the Mitzvah transcends the limits of the creation, revealing its infinite aspect.
For example, black is the lack of color, since color is a limitation. It is only this color, and nothing else. He is doing the will of Hashem for no other reason, than it is the will of Hashem. In this manner he becomes G-dly, transcending the limits of the world.
The reward of a Mitzvah, is the Mitzvah itself. Not that it leads to a physical, limited reward; rather, being that it is G-dly, it is its own reward, that totally transcends a limited creation.