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Predeterminism, fatalism and free will in midrash


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Shevat 26, 5778
The Chasid Yavetz in Masechtas Avos says that almost everybody stays with the Teva they were born with, they stay with. If someones born with good Middos they’ll stay with good Middos, and the person who’is born with bad Middos will stay with bad Middos. But almost everyone stays how they’re born. It says that even before Eisav was born, he was jumping to the Avodah Zarah. How could you say he’s going to the Mizrachi of Gehinom, if he was born bad, if we would be born bad, we would be the same way- where is the Yashrus? (Alshich in Shemos 22:24 The rich man is holding the poor man’s money because Hashem wouldn’t leave someone without money. It’s not Yashrus. It’s also not Yashrus that he was born with bad Middos even though he could change, but the Chasid Yavetz says it’s very hard if so it doesn’t make too much sense that Eisav should get more Gehinom than a regular person?
Please refer me to the exact source in the Yavetz on Avot, which I'd like to see inside, for according to what you say, it seems to directly contradict the Rambam in Shmoneh Prakim and Hilchot De'ot, which is the mainstream opinion, and achronim usually don't contradict the Rambam "head-on". As opposed to other religions, Judaism believes very strongly in free-will and against pre-determinism and fatalism. We believe a person may be born with certain characteristic “leanings”, but he has the G-dly free will to change and overcome that leaning and be who he wants to be (that's exactly midat hagvura in kabala)! Regarding Esav, as all midrashim, it’s difficult to take literally, and it’s not uncommon for a midrash to contradict a certain idea, in order to stress or strengthen the main point it wants to make, which in this case may be to stress the inherent difference between Jews and gentiles (commonly symbolized in midrashim as Ya'akov and Esav).
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