Mitzvot and free will

Most Jews believe that when God created them, he gave them free will. This is the idea that people are able to make their own decisions and distinguish right from wrong. Therefore, Jews believe that it is an individual’s responsibility to follow the mitzvot.

After setting out the terms of the covenant with Israel, God said: I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.

This shows that the people with whom God made the covenant were free to accept or reject it. This is true today as well – Jews believe that they are free to choose whether to accept the covenant.

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The mitzvot are seen as points of guidance to help Jewish people use their free will correctly. Jews believe that they have free will to follow the mitzvot or to reject them.

Jews believe that, by following the mitzvot, they will live a good life, meaning that they will be closer to God. Some Jews believe this will also help them to be judged well in the afterlife and achieve a place in Gan Eden.

The story of Adam and Eve shows how God gave free will but also that there are negative consequences if that free will is used to go against God.

Orthodox Jews obey the mitzvot strictly. However, some laws cannot be obeyed as they refer to the Temple, which no longer exists.

Question

What is free will?

Free will is the ability to make choices for oneself. Jews believe that God has given people free will and that sometimes they will choose to do good and sometimes they will sin.