Chapter 6ו׳
1 א

פְּסוּקִים הַרְבֵּה יֵשׁ בַּתּוֹרָה וּבְדִבְרֵי נְבִיאִים שֶׁהֵן נִרְאִין כְּסוֹתְרִין עִקָּר זֶה וְנִכְשָׁלִין בָּהֶן רֹב הָאָדָם וְיַעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתָּן מֵהֶן שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הוּא גּוֹזֵר עַל הָאָדָם לַעֲשׂוֹת רָעָה אוֹ טוֹבָה וְשֶׁאֵין לִבּוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם מָסוּר לוֹ לְהַטּוֹתוֹ לְכָל אֲשֶׁר יִרְצֶה. וַהֲרֵי אֲנִי מְבָאֵר עִקָּר גָּדוֹל שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ תֵּדַע פֵּרוּשׁ כָּל אוֹתָן הַפְּסוּקִים. בִּזְמַן שֶׁאָדָם אֶחָד אוֹ אַנְשֵׁי מְדִינָה חוֹטְאִים וְעוֹשֶׂה הַחוֹטֵא חֵטְא שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה מִדַּעְתּוֹ וּבִרְצוֹנוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוֹדַעְנוּ רָאוּי לְהִפָּרַע מִמֶּנּוּ וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יוֹדֵעַ אֵיךְ יִפָּרַע. יֵשׁ חֵטְא שֶׁהַדִּין נוֹתֵן שֶׁנִּפְרָעִים מִמֶּנּוּ עַל חֶטְאוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה בְּגוּפוֹ אוֹ בְּמָמוֹנוֹ אוֹ בְּבָנָיו הַקְּטַנִּים שֶׁבָּנָיו שֶׁל אָדָם הַקְּטַנִּים שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶם דַּעַת וְלֹא הִגִּיעוּ לִכְלַל מִצְוַת כְּקִנְיָנוֹ הֵן וּכְתִיב (דברים כד טז) "אִישׁ בְּחֶטְאוֹ יָמוּת" עַד שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה אִישׁ. וְיֵשׁ חֵטְא שֶׁהַדִּין נוֹתֵן שֶׁנִּפְרָעִין מִמֶּנּוּ לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא וְאֵין לָעוֹבֵר עָלָיו שׁוּם נֵזֶק בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. וְיֵשׁ חֵטְא שֶׁנִּפְרָעִין מִמֶּנּוּ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְלָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:

There are many verses in the Torah and in the texts of the prophets which appear to contradict this principle, and most people are stumbling thereby, and therefrom they suppose in their mind that the Holy One, blessed is He! predestines for man either to do evil or good, and that the heart of man is not his to bend it to his own will. Wherefor, behold, I am making clear a great principle, out which thou shalt know the explanation of all those verses. When an individual or a people of a state do sin, and the sinner transgressed consciously and of his own free will, as we have already made known in the preceding chapter, it is meet that retribution is visited upon him, and the Holy One, blessed is He! knoweth how to inflict the punishment. There is a category of sin for which justice demands that punishment should be visited upon the sinner in this world, on his body, or his property, or on his infant children, for the little children of man, who have not yet reached the age of intelligence nor attained the age when they are included among those who are obliged to observe the precepts, are considered man's own acquisition, even as it is written: "Every man shall be put to death for his own sin" (Deut. 24.16)—he suffers for his own sins when he reaches the age of man;1The punishment herein spoken of is retribution by the Judge of the whole earth, and not by tribunal of man; no tribunal has the power under the laws of the Torah to inflict the punishment of death upon infant children for the crime of a parent. G. and there is a category of sin for which justice demands that punishment should be visited upon the transgressors only in the World to Come, and the sinner suffers no harm whatever in this world; and there is still another category of sin for which punishment is inflicted upon the sinner both in this world and the World to Come.1

2 ב

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּזְמַן שֶׁלֹּא עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה אֲבָל אִם עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה הַתְּשׁוּבָה כִּתְרִיס לִפְנֵי הַפֻּרְעָנוּת. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁהָאָדָם חוֹטֵא מִדַּעְתּוֹ וּבִרְצוֹנוֹ כָּךְ הוּא עוֹשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה מִדַּעְתּוֹ וּבִרְצוֹנוֹ:

That is saying concerning a sinner as long as he did not repent; but if he did repent, repentance to him is then a coat of armor against punishment. And, to the same extent that man sins consciously and of his own free will, he should turn to repentance consciously and of his own free will.2Pirke Abot, 4.13. G.

3 ג

וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיֶּחְטָא אָדָם חֵטְא גָּדוֹל אוֹ חֲטָאִים רַבִּים עַד שֶׁיִּתֵּן הַדִּין לִפְנֵי דַּיַן הָאֱמֶת שֶׁיְּהֵא הַפֵּרָעוֹן מִזֶּה הַחוֹטֵא עַל חֲטָאִים אֵלּוּ שֶׁעָשָׂה בִּרְצוֹנוֹ וּמִדַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁמּוֹנְעִין מִמֶּנּוּ הַתְּשׁוּבָה וְאֵין מַנִּיחִין לוֹ רְשׁוּת לָשׁוּב מֵרִשְׁעוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּמוּת וְיֹאבַד בְּחֶטְאוֹ שֶׁעָשָׂה. הוּא שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אָמַר עַל יְדֵי יְשַׁעְיָהוּ (ישעיה ו י) "הַשְׁמֵן לֵב הָעָם הַזֶּה" וְגוֹ'. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (דה"ב לו טז) "וַיִּהְיוּ מַלְעִבִים בְּמַלְאֲכֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וּבוֹזִים דְּבָרָיו וּמִתַּעְתְּעִים בִּנְבִאָיו עַד עֲלוֹת חֲמַת ה' בְּעַמּוֹ עַד לְאֵין מַרְפֵּא". כְּלוֹמַר חָטְאוּ בִּרְצוֹנָם וְהִרְבּוּ לִפְשֹׁעַ עַד שֶׁנִּתְחַיְּבוּ לִמְנֹעַ מֵהֶן הַתְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁהִיא הַמַּרְפֵּא. לְפִיכָךְ כָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (שמות ד כא) "וַאֲנִי (אֲחַזֵּק) [אַקְשֶׁה] אֶת לֵב פַּרְעֹה". לְפִי שֶׁחָטָא מֵעַצְמוֹ תְּחִלָּה וְהֵרֵעַ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל הַגָּרִים בְּאַרְצוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות א י) "הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה לוֹ". נָתַן הַדִּין לִמְנֹעַ הַתְּשׁוּבָה מִמֶּנּוּ עַד שֶׁנִּפְרַע מִמֶּנּוּ. לְפִיכָךְ חִזֵּק הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת לִבּוֹ. וְלָמָּה הָיָה שׁוֹלֵחַ לוֹ בְּיַד משֶׁה וְאוֹמֵר שְׁלַח וַעֲשֵׂה תְּשׁוּבָה וּכְבָר אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵין אַתָּה מְשַׁלֵּחַ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות ט ל) "וְאַתָּה וַעֲבָדֶיךָ יָדַעְתִּי" וְגוֹ' (שמות ט טז) "וְאוּלָם בַּעֲבוּר זֹאת הֶעֱמַדְתִּיךָ". כְּדֵי לְהוֹדִיעַ לְבָאֵי הָעוֹלָם שֶׁבִּזְמַן שֶׁמּוֹנֵעַ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הַתְּשׁוּבָה לַחוֹטֵא אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לָשׁוּב אֶלָּא יָמוּת בְּרִשְׁעוֹ שֶׁעָשָׂה בִּתְחִלָּה בִּרְצוֹנוֹ. וְכֵן סִיחוֹן לְפִי עֲוֹנוֹת שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ נִתְחַיֵּב לְמָנְעוֹ מִן הַתְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ב ל) "כִּי הִקְשָׁה ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת רוּחוֹ וְאִמֵּץ אֶת לְבָבוֹ". וְכֵן הַכְּנַעֲנִים לְפִי תּוֹעֲבוֹתֵיהֶן מָנַע מֵהֶן הַתְּשׁוּבָה עַד שֶׁעָשׂוּ מִלְחָמָה עִם יִשְׂרָאֵל. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יהושע יא כ) "כִּי מֵאֵת ה' הָיְתָה לְחַזֵּק אֶת לִבָּם לִקְרַאת הַמִּלְחָמָה עִם יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמַעַן הַחֲרִימָם". וְכֵן יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּימֵי אֵלִיָּהוּ לְפִי שֶׁהִרְבּוּ לִפְשֹׁעַ מָנַע מֵאוֹתָן הַמַּרְבִּים לִפְשֹׁעַ תְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א יח לז) "וְאַתָּה הֲסִבֹּתָ אֶת לִבָּם אֲחֹרַנִּית" כְּלוֹמַר מָנַעְתָּ מֵהֶן הַתְּשׁוּבָה. נִמְצֵאתָ אוֹמֵר שֶׁלֹּא גָּזַר הָאֵל עַל פַּרְעֹה לְהָרַע לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. וְלֹא עַל סִיחוֹן לַחֲטֹא בְּאַרְצוֹ. וְלֹא עַל הַכְּנַעֲנִים לְהַתְעִיב. וְלֹא עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲבֹד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה. אֶלָּא כֻּלָּן חָטְאוּ מֵעַצְמָן וְכֻלָּן נִתְחַיְּבוּ לִמְנֹעַ מֵהֶן הַתְּשׁוּבָה:

And, it is possible that a man should commit either one grievous iniquity or a multitude of sins so that the Judge of Truth will decree against him that, whereas this sinner committed those sins of his own free will and consciously, repentance should be witheld from him altogether, and grant him no leave to repent, so that he might die and perish in the iniquity he committed. Even this is what the Holy One, blessed is He! said through Isaiah: "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their eyes heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they, seeing with their eyes, and hearing with their ears, and understanding with their heart will return and be healed" (Is. 6.10). It is, moreover, said: "But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people till there was no remedy". (II Chro. 36.16)—as if saying: "They sinned of their own free will and they have multiplied iniquities, until their guilt carried the punishment to withold repentance from them, which is the remedy". It is, therefore, written in the Torah; "And I will harden Pharaoh's heart" (Ex. 14.4), because at the beginning he sinned of his own free will, and meted out evil to Israel who sojourned in his land, even as it is said: "Come, let us deal wisely with them" (Ibid. 1.10). Thereat justice demanded to withold repentance from him, so that due punishment might be visited upon him. Wherefor, the Holy One, blessed is He! hardened his heart. If it be so, then why did He delegate Moses to him, charging him to let Israel go forth and turn to repentance seeing that the Holy One, blessed is He! long since told him thou wilt not let them go forth, saying: "But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the Lord God" (Ibid. 9.30), and again saying: "But in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee My power, and that My name be declared throughout all the earth"(Ibid. –16)? To demonstrate to the future generations whenever the Holy One, blessed is He! witholds repentance from a sinner he can not repent, but must die in the original evil which he perpetrated of his own free will. Sihon, too, by the measure of his iniquity became guilty of an offence which carried the punishment to have repentance witheld from him, even as it is said: "For the Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate" (Deut. 2.30). Likewise the Canaanites, according to their abominations, did He withold repentance from them so that they engaged Israel in battle, even as it is said: "For it was of the Lord, to harden their hearts, to come against Israel in battle, that they might be utterly destroyed" (Joshua, 11.20). Even so was with Israel in the days of Elijah, because of the multiplied iniquity repentance was witheld from the gross evildoers, for it is said: "For Thou didst turn their heart backward" (I. Kings, 18.37)—as if saying: "Thou didst withold repentance from them". Thus, as a consequence hereof, we must say: God's predestination prompted not Pharaoh to wrong Israel, nor Sihon to sin in his land, nor the Canaanites to be abominable, nor Israel to worship idolatry; for they all sinned of their own free will and accord, and, therefore, were they all guilty of an offence which carries along the punishment to withold repentance from them.

4 ד

וּכְעִנְיָן זֶה שׁוֹאֲלִין הַצַּדִּיקִים וְהַנְּבִיאִים בִּתְפִלָּתָם מֵאֵת ה' לְעָזְרָם עַל הָאֱמֶת. כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר דָּוִד (תהילים כז יא) "הוֹרֵנִי ה' דַּרְכֶּךָ". כְּלוֹמַר אַל יִמְנָעוּנִי חֲטָאַי דֶּרֶךְ הָאֱמֶת שֶׁמִּמֶּנָּה אֵדַע דַּרְכְּךָ וְיִחוּד שְׁמֶךָ. וְכֵן זֶה שֶׁאָמַר (תהילים נא יד) "וְרוּחַ נְדִיבָה תִסְמְכֵנִי" כְּלוֹמַר תַּנִּיחַ רוּחִי לַעֲשׂוֹת חֶפְצְךָ וְאַל יִגְרְמוּ לִי חֲטָאַי לְמָנְעֵנִי מִתְּשׁוּבָה אֶלָּא תִּהְיֶה הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדִי עַד שֶׁאֶחֱזֹר וְאָבִין וְאֵדַע דֶּרֶךְ הָאֱמֶת. וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זוֹ כָּל הַדּוֹמֶה לִפְסוּקִים אֵלּוּ:

Even on this very subject do the righteous and the prophets supplicate and pray that the Lord may help them to discover the truth. As David said: "Teach me Thy way, O Lord, that I may walk in Thy truth" (Ps. 86.11), as if saying: "let not my sins withold the way of truth, by which I may discover Thy way, and the Oneness of thy Name". Likewise, this Verse: "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and let a free spirit uphold me" (Ibid. 51.14), is as if saying: "Grant leave to my spirit to do Thy will, and let not my sins be a cause to withold repentance from me; but let the power be in my hand until I will turn, and understand and know the true way". And, in such way all other like verses are interpreted.

5 ה

וּמַהוּ זֶה שֶׁאָמַר דָּוִד (תהילים כה ח) "טוֹב וְיָשָׁר ה' עַל כֵּן יוֹרֶה חַטָּאִים בַּדָּרֶךְ" (תהילים כה ט) "יַדְרֵךְ עֲנָוִים" וְגוֹ'. זֶה שֶׁשָּׁלַח נְבִיאִים לָהֶם מוֹדִיעִים דַּרְכֵי ה' וּמַחְזִירִין אוֹתָן בִּתְשׁוּבָה. וְעוֹד שֶׁנָּתַן בָּהֶם כֹּחַ לִלְמֹד וּלְהָבִין. שֶׁמִּדָּה זוֹ בְּכָל אָדָם שֶׁכָּל זְמַן שֶׁהוּא נִמְשָׁךְ בְּדַרְכֵי הַחָכְמָה וְהַצֶּדֶק מִתְאַוֶּה לָהֶן וְרוֹדֵף אוֹתָם. וְהוּא מַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה בָּא לִטַּהֵר מְסַיְּעִין אוֹתוֹ כְּלוֹמַר יִמְצָא עַצְמוֹ נֶעֱזָר עַל הַדָּבָר. וַהֲלֹא כָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (בראשית טו יג) "וַעֲבָדוּם וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם", הֲרֵי גָּזַר עַל הַמִּצְרִיִּים לַעֲשׂוֹת רַע. וּכְתִיב (דברים לא טז) "וְקָם הָעָם הַזֶּה וְזָנָה אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵי נֵכַר הָאָרֶץ", הֲרֵי גָּזַר עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲבֹד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה. וְלָמָּה נִפְרַע מֵהֶן. לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא גָּזַר עַל אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי הַיָּדוּעַ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הוּא הַזּוֹנֶה אֶלָּא כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵאוֹתָן הַזּוֹנִים לַעֲבֹד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה אִלּוּ לֹא רָצָה לַעֲבֹד לֹא הָיָה עוֹבֵד. וְלֹא הוֹדִיעוֹ הַבּוֹרֵא אֶלָּא מִנְהָגוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם. הָא לְמָה זֶה דּוֹמֶה לְאוֹמֵר הָעָם הַזֶּה יִהְיֶה בָּהֶן צַדִּיקִים וּרְשָׁעִים. לֹא מִפְּנֵי זֶה יֹאמַר הָרָשָׁע כְּבָר נִגְזַר עָלָיו שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רָשָׁע מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוֹדִיעַ לְמשֶׁה שֶׁיִּהְיוּ רְשָׁעִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יא) "כִּי לֹא יֶחְדַּל אֶבְיוֹן מִקֶּרֶב הָאָרֶץ". וְכֵן הַמִּצְרִיִּים כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵאוֹתָן הַמְּצֵרִים וְהַמֵּרֵעִים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אִלּוּ לֹא רָצָה לְהָרַע לָהֶם הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ. שֶׁלֹּא גָּזַר עַל אִישׁ יָדוּעַ אֶלָּא הוֹדִיעוֹ שֶׁסּוֹף זַרְעוֹ עָתִיד לְהִשְׁתַּעְבֵּד בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם. וּכְבָר אָמַרְנוּ שֶׁאֵין כֹּחַ בָּאָדָם לֵידַע הֵיאַךְ יֵדַע הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא דְּבָרִים הָעֲתִידִין לִהְיוֹת:

But what is this that king David said: "Good and upright is the Lord; therefore doth he instruct sinners in the way. He guideth the humble in justice; and He teacheth the humble His way" (Ibid. 210.11)? This is a reference to the prophets who were sent to make the ways of God known, and to turn the people to repentance. Moreover, He endowed them with a power to study and understand, as it is the tendency of every man to pursue wisdom and righteousness as long as he is trained in the ways of wisdom. This is in harmony with what our Masters, of blessed memory! said: "He who comes to be cleansed receives aid"3Shabbat, 104a; Yoma, 38b. Minahot, 29a. G., as if saying: "He will find himself aided in the matter he strives after. Now, reverting back to the subject of predestination is it not written in the Torah: "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them" (Gen. 113), lo, here is a decree against the Egyptians to do evil? And it, moreover, written: "And this people will rise up, and go astray after the foreign gods of the land" (Deut. 31.16), lo, here is a decree against Israel to worship idolatry, then why visit retribution upon them? Because He did not decree that that particularly known person shall be the one to go astray. Forsooth, every individual of those who did go astray to worship idolatry, had he not done so to worship of his own free will, he would not have worshiped. And God made known no more than custom of the world. This is like to one who says: "Among this people will be righteous and wicked". Not because of this will the wicked one say that it had long since been decreed that he should be an evildoer, seeing that God made known to Moses that there will be wicked people among Israel. Or, this is like the subject of poverty, of which it is said: "For the poor shall never cease out of the land" (Ibid. 15.11). Llikewise the Egyptians, if each and every one of those who vexed and wronged Israel had no desire so to wrong them, he had it in his power to refrain from doing it; for, He did not decree against a particular man, but made known to Abraham that in the end his seed will be enslaved in a land which is not theirs. But we have already stated that it is not within the power to comprehend the foreknowledge of the Holy One, blessed is He!