Lets say John is about to end all mankind by releasing a deadly virus that can never be reversed, cured, or stopped. Will Hashem step in and stop the act? This is a contradiction because Hashem gave us all free will so if he stops the act that isn't really free will. If Hashem stops John, he is basically stopping the test of life. But then would Hashem who loves all his Jewish people allow somebody to end his creation? If Hashem doesn't stop John, will he only save the Jewish people or would he save all the people of the world?

Quantum physics tells us all possible outcomes do occur in alternate timelines. This brings up another question. Let's say Hashem does not stop John from commiting the sin because Hashem doesn't want to break one of his fundamental laws, would we all die or would our spirits get transported into an alternate universe which is exactly the same as this one, but John will not exist there?

  • 1
    Can HaShem solve an impossible paradox?
    – Seth J
    Sep 11, 2012 at 0:50
  • 4
    Your question is built on an erroneous assumption. As far as I know, no theological argument for freewill demands that God never intervene. In your scenario I find it perfectly plausible from a perspective of Jewish thought that the person would lose their freewill and be unable to carry out such a major catastrophe.
    – Dov F
    Sep 11, 2012 at 1:42
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    Isn't the real issue with your argument that you assume God can't cure the virus?
    – Double AA
    Sep 11, 2012 at 16:55
  • Free will does not imply that a person is given the ability to do anything he wants. It only implies that a person's will is unencumbered. Frequently, but not always, he is given the ability to carry out that will.
    – Fred
    Nov 29, 2013 at 19:23
  • Quantum physics does not tell us that. Multiverse theory removes the 'problem of free choice', by asserting that parallel universes exist in which all eventualities have necessarily occured
    – bondonk
    Sep 16, 2014 at 13:31

2 Answers 2


You have several assumptions in your question.

First: "deadly virus that can never be reversed, cured, or stopped". It's a basic assumption in your question, but it is not supported. There is no such thing. Just from a biological basis a virus depends on its host to survive, if it kills the host the virus dies too. This balance prevents any virus from getting out of control.

Second: "Quantum physics tells us all possible outcomes do occur in alternate timelines." This isn't true either. First, quantum physics tells us no such thing, it's a theory, but it has not even a shred of evidence except for "you can use this theory to solve a paradox (specifically single photon scattering)".

Third: "all possible outcomes". Even if the theory is true, all possible outcomes do not occur. Only things that are random at a quantum level are duplicated in this way. But the vast majority of actions are not dependent on quantum randomness and are identical in all universes.

There is a theory (and I VERY strongly emphasize the word theory here, this is a very controversial idea) that free will is basically quantum randomness. Without randomness you would assume that everything is predetermined since all physical interactions are deterministic. Why should a human brain be any different? So what is free will? It's quantum randomness, which is not deterministic. (The alternative non-religious explanation for free will is that there is no such thing.)

Except that free will is actually a function of the soul, and the soul is not subject to quantum randomness, so any action a person takes in one world is likely to be the same in all of them. Including the actions of Mr. John.

Fourth: "our spirits get transported" Transported to what? Wouldn't that world already have people in it? And if not, it's completely equivalent to simply stopping John in this world. (How would you tell the difference?)

Fifth: "Hashem doesn't want to break one of his fundamental laws" Can't Hashem give a human the power to stop John? Hashem has the ability to do anything, including giving a human the ability to stop an unstopable virus. (The virus was created by man after all - since when does man have the ability to create something absolute?)


While a person has free choice as to how he behaves, his free choice is only for himself and cannot affect other people. Rabbi Shnuer Zalman of Liadi (Iggeret HaKodesh Epistle 25) explains the saying of Chazal (Zohar I, 27b; III, 179a; Rambam, Hilchot De’ot 2:3): "One who gets angry is considered as if he has worshiped idols," as follows: One of the basic foundations of belief is hashgacha protis, that every event in the world is Divinely ordained. If someone should walk up to me and slap me in the face, that would only have been possible to happen if Hashem wanted it to. Getting angry at the person who did it is likened to avoda zorah because it is as if he believes something else besides for Hashem could have caused it to happen. Sure, the person who slapped me has free choice, he is in the wrong and needs to do teshuva but as far as I am concerned the slap is from Hashem. If that individual would have made decision not to hurt me, "harbeh shluchim lemakom", Hashem has many messengers and someone else would have done it. Free choice does not influence the outcome, only the responsibility. Likewise in your doomsday scenario, while John might have free will, he cannot use it to alter G-d's masterplan.

[Additionally, free choice is only in matters of Torah and Mitzvos - and not in every action a person performs].

See also this article.

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