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Free Will


Theme: Letting Go of Control

The big question that philosophers and free thinkers have always had is: Is our life predetermined? Or do we have free will? If you are born into a certain family that is dysfunctional you are doomed, so to speak, or do you have the ability to transcend? I quote Maimonides who says: “The most fundamental pillar in all Jewish thought is the idea that a human being has the free will to transcend their circumstances.” If you don’t have that, everything falls to the wayside. You can’t expect anything from anyone. They’ll say, “Well I was born into this home” or “I had this accident” or “I’m colorblind”. People have excuses for everything. There is no accountability and therefore no expectations. How did the standard get so low? Judaism has a higher standard: You were created in the divine image. Do we all have challenges? Absolutely. Some of us are born into poverty and some of us are born into wealth. Which is easier? It depends what you do. Some are born with no opportunities but they make the best of it. The dignity of a human being is: You can transcend your circumstances. There is no such thing as a pre-written script.

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William McKeen

Free Will:

It is subjected to the laws of cause and effect. The parameters of Free Will are established early in life through our culture, upbringing and environment. Dysfunctional childhood leads to bad choices. Trauma and bipolar disorders produces bad choices. Deficits in education and training contributes to bad choices. How can we assign Free Will with the responsibility for our actions if they are greatly influenced by by past events?

Rivka Leiner

Can exact sources be added to quotes? In addition to providing therapy, I teach limudei kodesh to adult learners and am a grad student and lecturer. Providing sources is imperative for me. Where is the above quote from Maimonides found?