Chapter 5ה׳
1 א

רְשׁוּת לְכָל אָדָם נְתוּנָה. אִם רָצָה לְהַטּוֹת עַצְמוֹ לְדֶרֶךְ טוֹבָה וְלִהְיוֹת צַדִּיק הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ. וְאִם רָצָה לְהַטּוֹת עַצְמוֹ לְדֶרֶךְ רָעָה וְלִהְיוֹת רָשָׁע הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ. הוּא שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (בראשית ג כב) "הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ לָדַעַת טוֹב וָרָע". כְּלוֹמַר הֵן מִין זֶה שֶׁל אָדָם הָיָה יָחִיד בָּעוֹלָם וְאֵין מִין שֵׁנִי דּוֹמֶה לוֹ בְּזֶה הָעִנְיָן שֶׁיְּהֵא הוּא מֵעַצְמוֹ בְּדַעְתּוֹ וּבְמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ יוֹדֵעַ הַטּוֹב וְהָרַע וְעוֹשֶׂה כָּל מַה שֶּׁהוּא חָפֵץ וְאֵין מִי שֶׁיְּעַכֵּב בְּיָדוֹ מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת הַטּוֹב אוֹ הָרַע. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁכֵּן הוּא פֶּן יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ:

Every man was endowed with a free will; if he desires to bend himself toward the good path and to be just it is within the power of his hand to reach out for it, and if he desires to bend himself to a bad path and to be wicked it is within the power of his hand to reach out for it. This is known from what it is written in the Torah, saying: "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil" (Gen. 3.22), that is as if saying: "Behold, this species, man, stands alone in the world, and there is no other kind like him, as regards this subject of being able of his own accord, by his reason and thought, to know the good and the evil, and to do whatever his inclination dictates him with none to stay his hand from either doing good or evil; and, being that he is so, 'Lest he put forth his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'" (Ibid.)1Abodah Zarah, 16b; Megillah, 25a. G.

2 ב

אַל יַעֲבֹר בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתְּךָ דָּבָר זֶה שֶׁאוֹמְרִים טִפְּשֵׁי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם וְרֹב גָּלְמֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא גּוֹזֵר עַל הָאָדָם מִתְּחִלַּת בְּרִיָּתוֹ לִהְיוֹת צַדִּיק אוֹ רָשָׁע. אֵין הַדָּבָר כֵּן אֶלָּא כָּל אָדָם רָאוּי לוֹ לִהְיוֹת צַדִּיק כְּמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ אוֹ רָשָׁע כְּיָרָבְעָם אוֹ חָכָם אוֹ סָכָל אוֹ רַחֲמָן אוֹ אַכְזָרִי אוֹ כִּילַי אוֹ שׁוּעַ וְכֵן שְׁאָר כָּל הַדֵּעוֹת. וְאֵין לוֹ מִי שֶׁיִּכְפֵּהוּ וְלֹא גּוֹזֵר עָלָיו וְלֹא מִי שֶׁמּוֹשְׁכוֹ לְאֶחָד מִשְּׁנֵי הַדְּרָכִים אֶלָּא הוּא מֵעַצְמוֹ וּמִדַּעְתּוֹ נוֹטֶה לְאֵי זוֹ דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. הוּא שֶׁיִּרְמְיָהוּ אָמַר (איכה ג לח) "מִפִּי עֶלְיוֹן לֹא תֵצֵא הָרָעוֹת וְהַטּוֹב". כְּלוֹמַר אֵין הַבּוֹרֵא גּוֹזֵר עַל הָאָדָם לִהְיוֹת טוֹב וְלֹא לִהְיוֹת רַע. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁכֵּן הוּא נִמְצָא זֶה הַחוֹטֵא הוּא הִפְסִיד אֶת עַצְמוֹ. וּלְפִיכָךְ רָאוּי לוֹ לִבְכּוֹת וּלְקוֹנֵן עַל חֲטָאָיו וְעַל מַה שֶּׁעָשָׂה לְנַפְשׁוֹ וּגְמָלָהּ רָעָה. הוּא שֶׁכָּתוּב אַחֲרָיו (איכה ג לט) "מַה יִּתְאוֹנֵן אָדָם חָי" וְגוֹ'. וְחָזַר וְאָמַר הוֹאִיל וּרְשׁוּתֵנוּ בְּיָדֵינוּ וּמִדַּעְתֵּנוּ עָשִׂינוּ כָּל הָרָעוֹת רָאוּי לָנוּ לַחֲזֹר בִּתְשׁוּבָה וְלַעֲזֹב רִשְׁעֵנוּ שֶׁהָרְשׁוּת עַתָּה בְּיָדֵינוּ. הוּא שֶׁכָּתוּב אַחֲרָיו (איכה ג מ) "נַחְפְּשָׂה דְרָכֵינוּ וְנַחְקֹרָה וְנָשׁוּבָה" וְגוֹ':

Permit not your thought to dwell upon that which ridiculous fools of other peoples and a majority of asinine individuals among the children of Israel say, that the Holy One, blessed is He! decrees at the very embryonic state of every man whether he should be just or wicked. The matter is not so. Every man is capable of being as just as Moses our Master or as wicked as Jeroboam, wise or incony, merciful or human, miser or philanthropist, and so in all other tendencies. There is none to either force things upon him or to decree things against him; either to pull him one way or draw him another way, but he alone, of his own free will, with the consent of his mind, bends to any path he may desire to follow. It is concerning this that Jeremiah said: "Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not the evil and the good" (Lam. 3. 38),2I am amazed that the English version of the American Jewish Publication Society, too, makes this sentence interrogatory. G. which is as if saying, the Creator decrees not that man should be either good or bad. Now, this being so, the consequence hereof is that the sinner alone brought harm upon himself. It is, therefore, meet that he should lament and shed tears because he sinned, and because of what he did to his soul and rewarded it with evil. Even this is the meaning of the succeeding Verse: "Wherefore doth a living man complain, or a strong man? Because of his sins" (Ibid.)3The English version in all existing translations is entirely opposed to what was an accepted doctorine by all medieval and modern Hebrew scholars. I corrected it to harmonize the texts. G. Again, he continues, in the succeeding Verse seeing that it all is in our power, and we did all the evil of our own free will and accord, it is, indeed meet for us to turn in repentance and abandon our wickedness, for our free will is in our hands now as well as at the time we committed the sins saying: "Let us search and try our ways, and return to the Lord" (Ibid.–40).4See Niddah, 16b; but the Maimoni doctorine does not contradict that text; you can not teach a brainless idiot wisdom, but a man with brains is often a charlatan; the choice is his. C. G.

3 ג

וְדָבָר זֶה עִקָּר גָּדוֹל הוּא וְהוּא עַמּוּד הַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ל טו) "רְאֵה נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ הַיּוֹם אֶת הַחַיִּים". וּכְתִיב (דברים יא כו) "רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם". כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁהָרְשׁוּת בְּיֶדְכֶם. וְכָל שֶׁיַּחְפֹּץ הָאָדָם לַעֲשׂוֹת מִמַּעֲשֵׂה בְּנֵי הָאָדָם עוֹשֶׂה בֵּין טוֹבִים בֵּין רָעִים. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה הָעִנְיָן נֶאֱמַר (דברים ה כו) "מִי יִתֵּן וְהָיָה לְבָבָם זֶה לָהֶם". כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁאֵין הַבּוֹרֵא כּוֹפֶה בְּנֵי הָאָדָם וְלֹא גּוֹזֵר עֲלֵיהֶן לַעֲשׂוֹת טוֹבָה אוֹ רָעָה אֶלָּא הַכּל מָסוּר לָהֶם:

And, this matter is a great and component part, the very pillar of the Torah and its precepts, even as it is said: "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil" (Deut. 30.15), and it is, moreover, written: "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and curse" (Ibid. 11.26). This is as if saying, the power is in your hand, and whatever human activity man may be inclined to carry on he has a free will to elect either good or evil. And, because of this very subject it is said: "Oh, who would grant that they had such a heart as this, to fear Me, and to keep all my commandments at all times" (Ibid. 5.26). This is as if saying, that the Creator forces not the sons of man, and makes no decrees against them that they should do good or evil, but that it all is in their own keeping.5Since Maimoni no authority in Israel disputed this. G.

4 ד

אִלּוּ הָאֵל הָיָה גּוֹזֵר עַל הָאָדָם לִהְיוֹת צַדִּיק אוֹ רָשָׁע אוֹ אִלּוּ הָיָה שָׁם דָּבָר שֶׁמּוֹשֵׁךְ אֶת הָאָדָם בְּעִקַּר תּוֹלַדְתּוֹ לְדֶרֶךְ מִן הַדְּרָכִים אוֹ לְמַדָּע מִן הַמַּדָּעוֹת אוֹ לְדֵעָה מִן הַדֵּעוֹת אוֹ לְמַעֲשֶׂה מִן הַמַּעֲשִׂים כְּמוֹ שֶׁבּוֹדִים מִלִּבָּם הַטִּפְּשִׁים הֹבְרֵי שָׁמַיִם הֵיאַךְ הָיָה מְצַוֶּה לָנוּ עַל יְדֵי הַנְּבִיאִים עֲשֵׂה כָּךְ וְאַל תַּעֲשֶׂה כָּךְ הֵיטִיבוּ דַּרְכֵיכֶם וְאַל תֵּלְכוּ אַחֲרֵי רִשְׁעֲכֶם וְהוּא מִתְּחִלַּת בְּרִיתוֹ כְּבָר נִגְזַר עָלָיו אוֹ תּוֹלַדְתּוֹ תִּמְשֹׁךְ אוֹתוֹ לְדָבָר שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לָזוּז מִמֶּנּוּ. וּמַה מָּקוֹם הָיָה לְכָל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ וּבְאֵי זֶה דִּין וְאֵיזֶה מִשְׁפָּט נִפְרָע מִן הָרָשָׁע אוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם שָׂכָר לַצַּדִּיק. הֲשֹׁפֵט כָּל הָאָרֶץ לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה מִשְׁפָּט. וְאַל תִּתְמַהּ וְתֹאמַר הֵיאַךְ יִהְיֶה הָאָדָם עוֹשֶׂה כָּל מַה שֶּׁיַּחְפֹּץ וְיִהְיוּ מַעֲשָׂיו מְסוּרִים לוֹ וְכִי יֵעָשֶׂה בָּעוֹלָם דָּבָר שֶׁלֹּא בִּרְשׁוּת קוֹנוֹ וְלֹא חֶפְצוֹ וְהַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (תהילים קלה ו) "כּל אֲשֶׁר חָפֵץ ה' עָשָׂה בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ". דַּע שֶׁהַכּל כְּחֶפְצוֹ יֵעָשֶׂה וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמַּעֲשֵׂינוּ מְסוּרִין לָנוּ. כֵּיצַד. כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהַיּוֹצֵר חָפֵץ לִהְיוֹת הָאֵשׁ וְהָרוּחַ עוֹלִים לְמַעְלָה וְהַמַּיִם וְהָאָרֶץ יוֹרְדִים לְמַטָּה וְהַגַּלְגַּל סוֹבֵב בְּעִגּוּל וְכֵן שְׁאָר בְּרִיּוֹת הָעוֹלָם לִהְיוֹת כְּמִנְהָגָן שֶׁחָפֵץ בּוֹ. כָּכָה חָפֵץ לִהְיוֹת הָאָדָם רְשׁוּתוֹ בְּיָדוֹ וְכָל מַעֲשָׂיו מְסוּרִין לוֹ וְלֹא יִהְיֶה לוֹ לֹא כּוֹפֶה וְלֹא מוֹשֵׁךְ אֶלָּא הוּא מֵעַצְמוֹ וּבְדַעְתּוֹ שֶׁנָּתַן לוֹ הָאֵל עוֹשֶׂה כָּל שֶׁהָאָדָם יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ דָּנִין אוֹתוֹ לְפִי מַעֲשָׂיו. אִם עָשָׂה טוֹבָה מֵיטִיבִין לוֹ וְאִם עָשָׂה רָעָה מְרֵעִין לוֹ. הוּא שֶׁהַנָּבִיא אוֹמֵר מִיֶּדְכֶם הָיְתָה זֹּאת לָכֶם. גַּם הֵמָּה בָּחֲרוּ בְּדַרְכֵיהֶם. וּבְעִנְיָן זֶה אָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה (קהלת יא ט) "שְׂמַח בָּחוּר בְּיַלְדוּתֶיךָ" (קהלת יא ט) "וְדָע כִּי עַל כָּל אֵלֶּה יְבִיאֲךָ הָאֱלֹהִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּט". כְּלוֹמַר דַּע שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדְךָ כֹּחַ לַעֲשׂוֹת וְעָתִיד אַתָּה לִתֵּן אֶת הַדִּין:

Had the decree of God prompted man to be either just or wicked, or had there been a fundamentally inborn something to draw man to either of the paths, or to any one branch of knowledge, or to a given tendency of the tendencies, or to particular act of all actions as the astrologists maintain by their foolish inventions, how did He charge us by the prophets, to do thus and not to do such, improve your ways, and do not follow your wickedness, whereas man from his embryonic state already had a decree of his conduct issued, or his inborn nature draws him toward a given path of conduct from which he can not deviate? Moreover, what need would there be, under such circumstances, for the Torah altogether? And by what law, and under what system of justice could the wicked be punished, or the just rewarded? Shall the judge of the whole earth not exercise justice? Now, do not wonder and ask: "How is it possible for man to do what his heart desires, and have his entire course of action lodged within himself seeing that he can not do aught in the world without the permission of his Master and without His Will, even as the Verse says: "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that hath He done, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps" (Ps. 135.6)? Know all that man does is in accordance with His Will, although our actions are really in our own keeping. For example? Even as it is the Creator's Will that fire and air shall ascend upward, and that water and earth shall descend downward, or that the sphere shall revolve in a circle, and that other creatures of the universe should likewise follow their respective natural laws, as it was His Will for them to be, so was it His Will that man shall have the free choice of conduct in his own hand, and that all his actions should be lodged within him, and that he should be neither forced or drawn, but he, of his own free will and accord, as God endowed him with, he exercises in all that is possible for man to do. He is, therefore, judged according to actions; if he did good, his is rewarded with good; and if he did wrong, he is punished. This is in harmony with what the prophet said: "This hath been of your own doing" (Mal. 1.9); and: "According as they have chosen their own ways" (Is. 66.3); and of this very subject Solomon said: "Rejoice O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment" (Ecc. 11. 9); as if saying: "True, it is within the power of thine hand to do so, but thou art to render an accounting on the day of judgment".6See Shabbat, 156a; Maimonides, herein, does not deny the variations in human intelligence, nor native excellence of one and native shortcomings of another; what he maintains is that man is not governed in his conduct by natural laws, as is every creature below him. G.

5 ה

שֶׁמָּא תֹּאמַר וַהֲלֹא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יוֹדֵעַ כָּל מַה שֶּׁיִּהְיֶה וְקֹדֶם שֶׁיִּהְיֶה יֵדַע שֶׁזֶּה יִהְיֶה צַדִּיק אוֹ רָשָׁע אוֹ לֹא יֵדַע. אִם יֵדַע שֶׁהוּא יִהְיֶה צַדִּיק אִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה צַדִּיק וְאִם תֹּאמַר שֶׁיֵּדַע שֶׁיִּהְיֶה צַדִּיק וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רָשָׁע הֲרֵי לֹא יֵדַע הַדָּבָר עַל בֻּרְיוֹ. דַּע שֶׁתְּשׁוּבַת שְׁאֵלָה זוֹ אֲרֻכָּה מֵאֶרֶץ מִדָּה וּרְחָבָה מִנִּי יָם וְכַמָּה עִקָּרִים גְּדוֹלִים וַהֲרָרִים רָמִים תְּלוּיִים בָּהּ אֲבָל צָרִיךְ אַתָּה לֵידַע וּלְהָבִין בְּדָבָר זֶה שֶׁאֲנִי אוֹמֵר. כְּבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ בְּפֶרֶק שֵׁנִי מֵהִלְכוֹת יְסוֹדֵי הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ מִדֵּעָה שֶׁהִיא חוּץ מִמֶּנּוּ כִּבְנֵי אָדָם שֶׁהֵם וְדַעְתָּם שְׁנַיִם. אֶלָּא הוּא יִתְעַלֶּה שְׁמוֹ וְדַעְתּוֹ אֶחָד וְאֵין דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם יְכוֹלָה לְהַשִּׂיג דָּבָר זֶה עַל בֻּרְיוֹ. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁאֵין כֹּחַ בָּאָדָם לְהַשִּׂיג וְלִמְצֹא אֲמִתַּת הַבּוֹרֵא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לג כ) "כִּי לֹא יִרְאַנִי הָאָדָם וָחָי" כָּךְ אֵין כֹּחַ בָּאָדָם לְהַשִּׂיג וְלִמְצֹא דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁל הַבּוֹרֵא. הוּא שֶׁהַנָּבִיא אָמַר (ישעיה נה ח) "כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְרָכָי". וְכֵיוָן שֶׁכֵּן הוּא אֵין בָּנוּ כֹּחַ לֵידַע הֵיאַךְ יֵדַע הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כָּל הַבְּרוּאִים וְהַמַּעֲשִׂים אֲבָל נֵדַע בְּלֹא סָפֵק שֶׁמַּעֲשֵׂה הָאָדָם בְּיַד הָאָדָם וְאֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מוֹשְׁכוֹ וְלֹא גּוֹזֵר עָלָיו לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּךְ. וְלֹא מִפְּנֵי קַבָּלַת הַדָּת בִּלְבַד נוֹדַע דָּבָר זֶה אֶלָּא בִּרְאָיוֹת בְּרוּרוֹת מִדִּבְרֵי הַחָכְמָה. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה נֶאֱמַר בַּנְּבוּאָה שֶׁדָּנִין אֶת הָאָדָם עַל מַעֲשָׂיו כְּפִי מַעֲשָׂיו אִם טוֹב וְאִם רַע וְזֶה הוּא הָעִקָּר שֶׁכָּל דִּבְרֵי הַנְּבוּאָה תְּלוּיִין בּוֹ:

Peradventure, thou wilt ask: "The Holy One, blessed is He, does he not know what it will be before it will come to pass? Did he know whether a certain person will be either just or wicked, or did He not know it? If he knew that he would be just, then it would be impossible for him not to be just? If thou wilt say that He did know that he would be just but that it is possible for him to be wicked, lo, He did not know the matter clearly? Know, that the answer to this question is longer in measure than the earth and broader than the sea, and many great elements and ranking mountains are suspended thereon; but it is essential that you know this fundamental matter which I outline. In the second chapter of the treatise of Fundamentals of the Torah it was already elucidated that the Holy One, blessed is He! does not know of things with a knowledge which exists outside of Himself, like, for instance, the sons of man do, for they and their knowledge are two separate things; but, He, may His Name be exalted! and his knowledge are One, and it is not within the power of the knowledge of man to attain this matter clearly, and even as it is not within the power of man to attain and find the truth of the Creator, even as it is said: "For man shall not see Me and live" (Ex. 33.20), even so it is not within the power of man to attain and find the knowledge of the Creator. This is even what the prophet said: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord" (Is. 55.8). This being so, it is not within our intellectual power to know in what manner the Holy One, blessed is He! knows all the creatures and their actions, but we do know without a doubt that man's behavior is in the hand of man, and that the Holy One, blessed is He! neither draws him nor issues edicts against him to do as he does. And, not solely because of having accepted the religion do we know that there is no predestination, but even by clear evidence of the words of wisdom. Because thereof it is said in prophecy that man is judged for his actions according to his actions, whether they be good or evil, and this is the very foundation upon which all the words of prophecy depend.8Shabbat, 63b; Berakot, 33b. G.