Taamei HaMitzvos 09

Centrality of Free Will

Rabbi Triebitz learns through section III; chapter 33 of Moreh Nevuchim in which Rambam asks (and answers) some fundamental questions. He begins by showing the similarities of approach between science and taamei hamitzvos. Just as form fits function in biology, so too in mitzvos the reasons come to explain the facts.

It turns out that just as G-d couldn’t take the Jews directly to Israel when they left Egypt, but needed to take them through the desert to prepare them, so too He couldn’t wean them directly off pagan worship, but had to do so gradually.

Rambam ends by asking why G-d had to make the world the way that He did? Why did He not make it so that He could command us directly in what He wanted us to do? Why could He not create humans with a desire to serve Him? Why could He not change our form of worship without needing to first wean us from paganism?

The answer is that G-d created the world in such a way that He cannot impinge on human free will. That is a basic principle of understanding G-d and the world.

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