Monday, August 22, 2005

Question & Answer With Rabbi Lazer Brody - Part IV - Decisions

A Simple Jew asks:

The Melitzer Rebbe recently said that I "should know that Hashem decides everything, and we decide nothing."

How does this relate to the teaching in Pirkei Avos 3:19, "All is foreseen, but freedom of choice is given"?

How are we to apply the Melitzer Rebbe's advice in our daily life?

Rabbi Lazer Brody answers:

The Gemorra tells us (Nida 16b) of an angel named "Layla"; Layla brings every drop of human seed before Hashem, immediately before conception, and asks: "Hashem, what shall this person be - strong or weak, smart or stupid, rich or poor?" Later, the Gemorra seems to contradict itself when it says (ibid.), "Everything is preordained, except for the fear of G-d". The Gemorra concludes that there is no contradiction here, since Layla doesn't ask Hashem whether the person will be pious or evil - Hashem leaves that up to the person.

We have no choice about the raw materials, i.e. native traits, that Hashem grants each of us. We do have the choice how to utilize these materials. For example, a person may be granted a native IQ of 130, but waste these powers on idol pastimes and laziness. On the other hand, a person may be born with a below-average IQ of 90, but with diligence and desire, that individual can become a scholar. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev explains for example, that the wisdom of Torah stimulates and develops a child's brain, while the philosophies of the nations stifle brain power.

Since Hashem is the manufacturer of the human soul, the Torah is the soul's Operator's Manual. The more a person follows the Torah - i.e. making a choice for good, the happier and more successful that person will be. The opposite also holds true - a choice that transgresses Torah will be detrimental to the soul and to personal development. For example, every marital conflict can be traced to a deviation from prescribed Torah "midos", or proper character deportment.

In short, Hashem preordains whether we'll be a barber, baker, or candlestick maker, but we decide whether we'll be tzaddikim or reshoim. Despite our efforts, our income is predetermined. But, we have a literally limitless potential for spiritual gain.

Question & Answer - Part III can be found here.

Visit Rabbi Lazer Brody's website


At August 22, 2005 at 12:28:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, R' Brody is right on the mark.

Maybe he, or someone, can explain the following statement that I have heard quoted at various occasions and with various names applied to the quote (Chasam Sofer, Yismach Moshe, Satmar Rav, other Gedolei Hungary):

Once a father had place a Yarmulke on his infant child (under three years old).
The Rav (insert one of the names above) pushed the Yarmulke off the child's head and said:
"A child under three does not wear a yarmulke. As to those who claim that placing a Yarmulke on an infant helps him have Yiras Shomayim, I say that even this -Yiras Shomayim - is up to God, and the Yarmulke will not change what was preordained for him in Heaven."

But isn't Yiras Shomayim really a part of our bechira? Any ideas?

At August 22, 2005 at 12:34:00 PM EDT, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

"Hashem preordains whether we'll be a barber, baker, or candlestick maker"

Are you sure about this? I was always under the impression that our income is predetermined, but NOT our choice of profession.

A really wonderful blog, by the way. The posts are very inspiring and thought-provoking.

At August 22, 2005 at 3:45:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

in islam we believe that everything is predetermined.....however this does not mean that we have no free just means that although we have free will .....God knows the choices that we will make...

At August 23, 2005 at 6:14:00 AM EDT, Blogger Yehudi Yerushalmi said...

Excellent interview, and very good blog.

There are factors however that can be detrimental to income, such as aveirot relating to Arayot.

Also being carefull about the eyes and the Bris (Shomer Eynayim & Shomer Habrit) can have a positive influence on income.

See also the last Mishnah in Masechet Peah, relating to income.


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