at home with ann

More Thoughts on Freewill

Posted on: 7 December 2009

Today was an amazing day – I had the opportunity to attend five brilliant lectures and I didn’t want any of them to end.   We only got a taste, an hour each,  enough for everyone to hunger for more, on subjects ranging from Polish Jewry; the Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet; the Enigma of Jewish History – Random or Design; the Proof for the Existence of G-d; and the keynote speaker on the Paradox of Freewill, a personal favourite.   Each was a gem.   

Language fascinates me.   Many languages use the same words for modern inventions like radio, television, telephone etc.   I thought the Hebrew for computer would be just that, but the word is machshev, the root of which is lachshov – to think – the one thing a computer cannot do for itself – interesting eh!   Every letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the alephbet,  is a word of its own and it’s formation is made up of component letters that represent  words.   For example the first letter aleph has several meanings from the number 1000, to teach and prince.   The letter vav looks like a hook and means just that, so it is also the connecting word ‘and’ hooking words together.   Also every Hebrew letter has a numerical value so that words have even deeper meaning.

Still as my body needs nourishment so does my soul.   Many of you who know me well know that I live mostly in a state of perpetual confusion and uncertainty – everyday I struggle with my conscience and my morals.  There is no deed or spoken word that I don’t analyse and agonise over, thinking I shouldn’t have done that or said this and why didn’t I do it differently – particularly why didn’t I do more or give more of myself.     So I think I’ll do better next time.   But that next time never seems to come; it’s like a never-ending circle.   Yes, even my entertainment and relaxation choices bother me.  Believe it or not  I do prefer to read books or watch programmes that make an impact, deliver a message, teach a lesson.   Yeah you’re thinking sure and all this coming from a Bon Jovi fan, but his lyrics aren’t all soppy love songs, he embraces war and politics and humanity and human nature.  And the cop shows I watch – they send a message too – that good will triumph over evil.   

Then of course there’s that eternal problem of temptation.    The devil dancing on one shoulder urging you on saying go on, you know you want to,  and the angel on the other reminding you that you really really shouldn’t.   Then the regrets either way.   Giving in and kicking yourself in the process, or not giving in and still kicking yourself when you should be feeling virtuous… oh the complexities of the conscience mind.  And all the time I know I can’t hide away, that Hashem knows the truth of my every action, my every thought and that I do care what others think, but more so what He thinks and that it’s not His will but my will, the freewill He has given us all.

So I go to these talks and I go to synagogue.  Sometimes when I go to pray I can’t  focus, my head filled with a stream of abstract thoughts.  On those days  the sound of the familiar tunes helps and I hope the sermon will provide the spiritual lift my soul needs.    It’s good to have my conscience pricked.    Life is a constant learning curve; I sure don’t know it all; I have to ask questions even knowing that those questions cannot fully or necessarily be answered rationally, but faith and a willingness to hear what those wiser and learned have to impart does make a difference – it’s stimulating and food for thought.  

We have been given freewill, we can perpetuate or break the mould, we can do good or bad, but at the end of the day it’s our lives.  It’s not my place to judge anyone or yours to judge me;  heaven forbid I try so hard not to do that and I know I am my worst critic.  We cannot possibly know the circumstances of others’ lives, we can only know what’s in our own heart and soul and mind,  but there is one conclusion I have come to and I do truly believe – we are judged on how we deal with our circumstances and not on the circumstances we are dealt.  



18 Responses to "More Thoughts on Freewill"

It’s love Annie. Being ‘good’ is all about loving someone despite their foibles and realizing you want to be with him/her no matter what. You have a kind and gentle soul Annie and always try to do the right thing even when certain temptations howl in the night. But you resist – usually – and sail away to learn something new over the horizon. I would never judge you… although…



Brian – I’m not totally sure where love comes into this – I guess the temptation part, although man’s natural urges are more likely to be lust, the sensual and the sexual are one of the highest levels of temptation – I could of course have just been talking about my weakness for chocolate 😉

Thank you for the thought provoking post Ann.Now I am fascinated by JUST the Hebrew alphabet-how can I even get to dipping my toe into the rest?;)I am fascinated by words as well-especially names.

bryde – at least it’s completely phonetic although there is more than one ‘a’ letter – aleph and ayin (but the second one is gutteral) and ‘k’ letters – kaf and kof – and ‘s’ letters – sin and samech – and ‘t’ letters – tet and tav and tz or z in tzadek and zion – oh dear!

for me the most interesting part is that every word has a root known as a ‘shoresh’ so the root of machshev computer and lachshov to think is the ch,sh,v – chet,shin,vet –

oh please don’t be put off – at least there’s only 22 letters to learn

Ann, are you sure that it was your decision to write this, or was some hidden force at work on you?

ah val… now there’s a question?

Mmmm a thought provoking post Ann. Whilst I believe we do have free will in that we are able to make choices, I also believe that out lives are mapped out for us and whichever path we choose will inevitably lead to our pre-ordained destination.

akelamalu – you’re probably right, but is it not also how we get there?

I might sound like the devil to you, but I believe we were given free will in order to test things and learn from its consequences, good or bad. So, I’ll say this : I do whatever I WANT to do at that given time, good or bad.

Somehow, it all happens for a reason and falls into place if you know where to look (the view you choose to perceive it as).

You are too sweet and too concerned about your soul, Ann.
The Universe knows what you are in essence and what to do with you 😉
Never deny who you are or what you want. You want it for a reason.

Axe: oh yeah a great mum like you… the devil… huh!!!
and I do believe you do what you WANT – erm, like bikes and dolls – yard – car 😆

I’m not afraid of death – I’m not ready to go yet I hasten to add – but I do seem to be somewhat fixated on the afterlife and my soul yet us Jews don’t buy into heaven and hell although I do believe our next resting place will be like paradise

i think i’ll lay off this subject for a while

“…we are judged on how we deal with our circumstances and not on the circumstances we are dealt.” Boy you hit the nail on the head Ann!

That’s so great that you feel connected to your faith. It’s something I never felt at all, even when I was a kid raised in the Catholic Church, and sometimes I wonder if I’m spinning out of control b/c I have nothing to believe in at all other than science and nature.

Back in college, my friend Ellen taught me the symbols on the dreidel as we played one night. That was a blast!

jojo – by the laws of probability, science as we know it, nature and the universe and humanity shouldn’t even be here – but we are – soooooo?????

ah dreidels, very apt, since Chanukah starts this Friday night here’s four letters for bryde

nun, gimmel, hai, shin
nes gadol hayah sham
a great miracle happened there

hope while you were spinning the dreidel you had do’nuts and latkes

We were playing with the dreidel in her dorm room, so we were betting with Chanukah Gelt instead. Can’t go wrong with chocolates. However, Emerson College, being very cognizant of their Jewish students, always made a point of having a separate & special meal on Jewish holidays, in a room off the main student cafeteria. Ellen took me for one of the meals during Chanukah and we had all the fixins! It was a lot of fun. She and I lit her makeshift Menorah every night too (which I believe were 8 small birthday candle holders w/ birthday candles).

Ellen always lamented how she never got to celebrate Christmas, so I decorated her dorm room when she was at class one day, and I invited her to my house to decorate my parents’ tree when classes were done for the semester.

Your thoughts are very interesting. Consider this, if G_d gave us freewill, then why would G_d judge us on our use of it. I beleive free will is a gift bestowed upon us to fully experince life and not something that will be used by G_d to beat us up with or judge us with. We are of source, we are of G_d and it is through our free will that we are able to experience this human leg of our journey. Now, if G_d is not sitting in judgment of our thoughts and actions then why would we spend so much time agonizing over our choices. Live from your heart, from your soul, follow the love that you are and all that you do is okay.
Imagine the possibilities if you turned off the fear of judgment and trusted in the love of G_d and of yourself.

mark – i’m not sure i actually do live in fear of judgement; more a fascination and wonderment of the world to come – our life’s lessons and journey does not stop with the physical –
maybe it’s all down to personality trait and the stars – being a typical libran who sees two sides to everything, cannot make a decision and wants everyone to live in peace and harmony

jojo – i’m sure whatever religion i was i would embrace it as enthusiastically as i do the one i was born into and love – mind having said that, this is actually a do’nut free house – i can’t stand ’em! yuck!

i bet your friend was right chuffed 🙂

Of course Ann, those are the lessons we learn on the way! 🙂

This may be foreign or ridiculous to you but if you read the Bible, you may see thet Jesus is indeed the Jewish Messiah. His name in Hebrew litterally means “salvation” he was born in a town named Bethlehem which means house of bread. Please ask Him to show you if he is real and alive. He came to show us the, the truth and the life for eternity!

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December 2009
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