Freedom To Choose


Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught…

Reb Nosson wrote: “You must know and believe that, no matter what, a person always has free choice. As for what is beyond his control, it is not his affair.”
(Healing Leaves, p. 41)


What does this mean to me?
Reb Nosson here helps to clarify a concept that confuses many of us. Why, if the purpose of our existence is for us to exercise our free will to reveal G-d’s presence in the world, do we often feel so boxed in by circumstances? What, exactly, is the nature of this free will when we see how limited we are sometimes in what we can accomplish or change?
Clearly, our free will is not a force that guarantees our getting our way; only G-d can completely carry out His will into the world of action without obstacles. As Reb Nosson says, there are things that are beyond our control, but they are not our affair. Our work lies within the circumscribed area of our choices and action; there, we are free to choose.
Our ability to exercise free will continues throughout our lives. If our actions are limited, we still choose what to think. If our thoughts are limited, we still choose what to want.


A prayer:

Merciful G-d,
I know how very much
You care for me;
You’ve made me
“in accordance with Your Will.”
Why then don’t I always want to be
that which You’ve made me?
Help me not to fall short
of all that You want me to be.

(Gentle Weapon*, p. 92)

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*“The Gentle Weapon: Prayers for Everyday and Not-So-Everyday Moments – Timeless Wisdom from the Teachings of the Hasidic Master, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov” by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Adapted by Moshe Mykoff & S.C. Mizrahi with the Breslov Research Institute, 1999.  Permission granted by Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, VT,

Author: Yehudis Golshevsky

Mrs. Yehudis Golshevsky is a graduate of Yavne Teacher’s Seminary in Cleveland and SUNY Buffalo. She is a Breslov Chassidiste who lives with her very patient and forgiving family in Jerusalem and has taught Breslov Chassidus (and many other subjects) and worked in Torah publishing for nearly twenty years. Recent projects include the new Holocaust history textbook, “Witness to History;” Erez Moshe Doron’s commentary on The Exchanged Children; content and curricula for Project Derech of Toronto; translations of Rabbi Berland’s lessons and prayers for; editing of the stories for Daf Digest and Mishnah Berurah Digest; and editing of the weekly translations of Rav Itche Meir Morgenstern’s shiurim for Toras Chochom. In her spare time, she does battle with foreign bureaucracy and general pin-headedness in Ukraine so that she can have the privilege of bringing other women to Uman and other kivrei tzaddikim. She also likes to joke around—just ask her students.

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