More Thoughts on Freewill
Posted 7 December 2009on:
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.