Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Role of Free Will in the BT's Teshuva Process - Follow-Up
I was just having a conversation by e-mail with Neil at Modern Uberdox about my post from last week at Beyond BT, which related to the concept of how much free will we Baalei Teshuva really have in deciding whether or not to become frum. It's an experiential question and I think the post and the comments over there were very interesting, so I suggest checking it out. I'm going to post some of my comments to Neil below as a clarification to that piece at Beyond BT here:
I was thinking of the nature of the attraction to Yiddishkeit that we BTs felt/feel and where that comes from, especially given that many others go through the same experiences and don't feel the same attraction.
The only similarity with the Rambam on Paroh that I was referring to [in the comment section] was the existence of limitations on free will according to the Rambam. The commenter over there suggested that the idea of limiations on free will was not mainstream and that it differed with the Rambam. That's why I pointed that Rambam out to him. Because ironically, it was the Rambam who held that Paroh had his free will limited or removed, while the Ramban found a way to say that his free will was merely restored. But even according to the Rambam, the reason for the removal of his free will was the fact that he had sinned exceedingly. I don't think the same reasoning applies in the case of BTs.
I guess I was kind of taking the fact that the Rambam says free will can be limited as a punishment for certain bad choices and the fact that R' Tzadok and R' Mordechai Yosef of Izbitz say that sometimes Hashem gives us nisyonos in aveiros that are literally too difficult to pass and are beyond our "free will point" [as referred to by R' Eliyahu Dessler], and I was expanding that idea to a new area (hope I'm not an apikores!). I was extending it to the realm of positive things. Instead of doing an aveira out of a limiation on free will as those 3 aforementioned sources were referring to, I'm talking about being inspired to do teshuva though an isarusa d'leila, an inspiration from above. I was saying that I think that the inspiration to be chozer b'teshuva comes to some and not others because Hashem, for whatever reason, has decided to bestow that inspiration on a specific person.
Even the most successful kiruv organizations like the Zarets' program at UCLA only have a success rate of about 20%, which is great. So why do those 1 out of 5 people become frum while the other 4 out of 5 don't? They attend the same events. They meet the same inspiring personalities. They hear the same speeches from kiruv greats like R' Mordechai Becher, R' Jonathan Rietti, Tuvia Singer, and others. I was seeking an explanation for that phenomenon.
Am I taking the idea too far?
(Picture courtesy of Idiagram.com)