Day 42/50: “Free Choice” Is Not Black & White

Day 42/50: “Free Choice” Is Not Black & White

וַֽאֲשֶׁר֙ לֹ֣א צָדָ֔ה וְהָֽאֱלֹקים אִנָּ֣ה לְיָד֑וֹ

But one who did not stalk [him], but Hashem brought [it] about into his hand


Although we must always try our very best in the present moment, it is important to realize that we may not always have had free will in the past. This can prevent the guilt from dragging us into despair, which can be even more dangerous than the falls themselves. As the saying goes: “It’s not the one cookie you ate that broke the diet. It’s when you felt bad about that cookie and went on to finish the entire BOX!”

After the sin of the Egel, the Medrash says that Moshe said to Hashem, “If a father gave his son gold and sat him down on the doorstep of a beis zonos, ma ya’aseh haben velo yecheta? – What can the son do and not sin?” In other words, we find that there are times and situations when a person may not have full bechira

R’ Tzadok HaKoehn writes that although we all have free choice to do what Hashem expects of us over the course of our lifetime, in the process of our journey, however, there are many times when a person is considered an onus.

The Steipler too, in regards to a specific behavior that someone had difficulty controlling, writes: “He is not a Ba’al Bechira now in this area, and the only thing he can (and should) do, are tikkunim that will help him over time.

Rav Eliyahu Dessler’s phenomenal essay on bechira (Michtav MeEliyahu, Vol. 1, pp. 111-116) describes how the “nekudas habechirah – the point of free choice” is different for different people and in different situations. Hashem judges our past sins only according to the circumstances and the level of free will that we had at the time, and only He knows if we could have done better or not.

🌤️ Today I shall…

…do the best I can in each present moment, while recognizing that what happened in the past was not always in my hands and I won’t let it get me down!