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If Jews claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, why do we look before we cross the road? I'm a Jewish man myself and personally never look before crossing and have yet to be hit. It's not like we are going to die before our time.

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Where do Jews claim that eveything is predestined? – Double AA Sep 10 '12 at 6:36
SSpoke, +1, and thanks for the interesting question, which, as @DoubleAA notes, could use some citations edited in for its claims. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site. (Oh, and, incidentally, I suggest you start looking before you cross.) – msh210 Sep 10 '12 at 6:45
I, and others, really suggest you start looking before you cross a street. Whether or not you get hurt is not the only concern; you may cause a driver or another pedestrian serious injury or death by your carelessness. – HodofHod Sep 10 '12 at 7:54
"Mi BeKitzo UMi Lo BeKitzo." – Seth J Sep 10 '12 at 12:45
Foreseen and predestined are miles apart. Foreseen means God knows about it in advance, but it's still your choice. How he can know something if it is your choice is the famous paradox, but that is a problem with God's knowledge, not with freewill. Predestination is something completely different, it means that a certain thing is destined to occur; that freewill is not a factor. הכל צפויה means everything is foreseen; it by no means implies that everything is predestined. – Dov F Sep 10 '12 at 13:39
up vote -6 down vote accepted

Although you are correct in stating that everything is predestined and that looking both ways before crossing the street really does not protect one from death, one must nonetheless adopt the practice as a chesed (kindness) to those who are fated to die as they cross the road. Although it is a fiction, we should pretend that looking both ways does protect one from death. When someone looks both ways, even if he knows on an intellectual level that it is of no consequence, he does get the illusion of protection, which is comforting.

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Finally someone who doesn't mold their beliefs to whatever situation they are currently in. I got to give respect to this guy Clint Eastwood, if his bible says there is no free will, he believes it. – SSpoke Sep 30 '14 at 17:42
@SSpoke The question becomes, where did his bible say there is no free will? – Double AA Sep 30 '14 at 22:44
@Clint, Do you have any source for this? It really doesn't fit with any normative Jewish theology that I've heard of. Also, what do you mean by "everything is predestined?" Surely there is free choice, and effective prayer, etc.? – HodofHod Oct 2 '14 at 17:40
The initial question assumed that Judaism believes everything is predestined. Whether normative Judaism holds that is the subject of another question. Rather than contradicting the premise of the question, I answered as if it were true, addressing it to a person like the OP (i.e. a troll). – Clint Eastwood Oct 2 '14 at 20:40
@Clint You wrote "Although you are correct..." which implies that you believe his opinion to be that be valid to Judaism. So I asked what you (with emphasis) meant by that. That being said, I'm sure you agree that it's a good thing to challenge flawed premises? – HodofHod Oct 12 '14 at 23:23

First, G-d's omnipotence does not preclude free will, as the statement you bring clearly states. Omniscience does not mean that everything is decided already, only that G-d knows what you will choose to do, even if you don't know yet.

But it's true that certain things are decided in advance , so the question still stands, albeit on slightly altered legs.

But the statement that "we can do nothing to change it" is categorically untrue. Judaism believes in the efficacy of prayer, and that G-d empowers us to change even that which has been decreed above through prayer, repentance, and good deeds. Some of the most important prayers we say on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur spell this out quite clearly.

Your more direct question is "if the method and time of a person's death is already decreed, why not do dangerous things?" Well, the Talmud tells us that "HaSatan mekatreig b'shaas sakana". ("The Adversary prosecutes in a time of danger.")

That means, when a person is in a dangerous situation, the accusing angel (or 'the Satan') goes before G-d and basically says, "Look this guy deserves to die for his sins, and now is the perfect opportunity for me to do it. May I?)

Therefore, we avoid dangerous situations to avoid giving the Accuser an extra opportunity to prosecute us.

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Wow.. that guy Satan is mean, I never knew he would go to those kind of levels, especially if you're a religious person. The way I understand it is that we have God's protection as long as we do the right thing, if we commit a sin God looks the other way and Satan can step in and do us in. – SSpoke Sep 10 '12 at 7:23
Well, Satan is really just G-d's servant, so he can't do anything at all without G-d's permission. – HodofHod Sep 10 '12 at 7:41
With the permission of @HodofHod, you can see H'aguiga (end of 4b and top of 5a) where a story is reported about Malakh Hamaveth who took a life by mistake even if it is not the time. When Rav Bibi Bar Abaye asked him how it did, Malakh Hamavet answered her that the person was in danger. – allced Sep 10 '12 at 8:51
@MonicaCellio G-d does not require any effort to take care of you. It is not possible to impose on G-d who is unlimited and capable of anything. It more that you have the responsibility to look after yourself. – Michoel Sep 10 '12 at 13:33
@MonicaCellio Not just that he can, but that it would not place any additional burden on Him whatsoever. – Michoel Sep 10 '12 at 14:16

In Jewish thought it is by no means agreed upon that "everything is predestined." That everything is foreseen, perhaps, and that does create a certain paradox (see the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva 5:5); but that everything is predestined, certainly not.

According to Maimonides, man has complete freewill when it comes to the realm of action. In other words, according to him, you have freewill over any choice you make. Maimonides is clear about this in Chapter 8 of his שמנה פרקים, his introduction to Pirkei Avos.

If you walk into the street without looking and get hit by a car, the Rambam would say you are completely at fault.

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The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim 3:20-21 seems to not fit with your first paragraph. – Y ez Jan 20 '15 at 21:01
@YeZ How do you figure? – Dov F Jan 28 '15 at 23:46
He says there that things only exist because G-d knows about it. It isn't just that Hashem is aware - His knowledge is causative and nothing exists outside of His knowledge. This is (I believe) part of what leads the Rambam to say what he says in Teshuva 5:5. If it was just that Hashem was aware, that wouldn't present such a paradox. – Y ez Jan 29 '15 at 3:46

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