Judaism and Free Will

two paths

The Free Will Problem in Judaism

The idea that God controls the world, determining the trajectory and details of its history, is quite prevalent in Judaism. It is a notion that raises some serious theological questions.

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Texts and Traditions

Divine Providence

Divine Providence

Is God involved in the minute details of our lives?

Hardened Hearts

God stripping human beings of their free will.

The Free Will Problem: Early Solutions

Biblical and rabbinic sources stress both divine determinism and human freedom.

Medieval Solutions

Reconciling God's knowledge of the future with human choice.

Free Will 101

For Judaism to make sense, humans must have free will.

Modern Insights

Modern Solutions

Modern Solutions

To an age-old problem.

Becoming Free

Insights from the philosopher Erich Fromm.

Psychological Determinism

Can we choose our way?

Psychotherapy and Teshuvah

Two processes rooted in the human ability to choose and to change.

Hasidism's Denial of Free Will

According to some Hasidic thinkers, human free will is an illusion; God causes all human actions.


Controversies

Early Solutions

Early Solutions

Biblical and rabbinic sources stress both divine determinism and human freedom.

Medieval Solutions

Reconciling God's knowledge of the future with human choice.

Books

Freedom and Moral Responsibility: General and Jewish Perspective

Freedom and Moral Responsibility: General and Jewish Perspective

Edited by Charles H. Manekin and Menachem M. Kellner

Quiz Yourself

How much do you know about the free will debate in Judaism?

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