Taking the topic of “Free Will versus Predetermination” a step further, there are those who question: If God is beyond limitation, and therefore knows everything, how can Judaism claim that we have Free Will? Or, in other words, how can we believe in Free Will if God knows what we’re going to do?
One approach to this question is the following:
Imagine we have a book in front of us – the “Book of Time.” Each page in the book represents a moment in time, and this book includes all moments – from the beginning of time to the end of time.
Each of us, being within the bounds of time, is “inside” the book.
As each moment passes, we make a choice in the given scenario, which sets up the next scenario along with its set of options, and we make another choice, which sets up the next scenario along with its set of options, and so on.
Let’s say I’m on “page 2010” and I want to get to “page 2020.” The way I’m going to get from 2010 to 2020 is as follows: As time passes and scenarios in my life arise, I am involved in making my choices from among the options that present themselves.
This is true for me (as well as any other member of humanity) because I exist within time; I am within the Book.
But what about something that exists beyond the Book? What about something that exists beyond time? What about God?
God, being outside the Book, is “seeing” these different moments in time – 2010, 2020, and every other page in the Book – at once, similar to how you’d view the edge of all the book’s pages were the book to be closed.
So, while we talk about God knowing what’s “going to happen in the future,” the truth is that it’s only “future” and it’s only “going to happen” for us. After all, it is us who are within the bounds of time.
But for God, who is beyond the Book of Time, there is no such thing as past, present, and future. For God, past, present, and future are all one.
The result is that we can make real Free Will choices, and yet God knows what we are “going to do” because it’s only “going to” for us, not for God.
Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is a sought after cutting edge international speaker on Kabbalah, relationships, parenting, and life. His recently released #1 Amazon’s Best Seller, Jewish By Choice: A Kabbalistic Take on Life & Judaism, has won wide acclaim as one of the clearest, most comprehensive, and reader-friendly depictions of Kabbalah and the “whys” of Judaism.