In the Book Mesilat Yesharim, the Ramhal, states that the reason we were put on this world is to work hard, fight the yetzer hara, and accept the reward in the World To Come. He goes on to say that if we just receive the rewards for free it wouldn't be as enjoyable to us.

If God wanted to give us reward with maximum enjoyability, he could have just created us with the ability to enjoy free stuff without any work just as well.

Since God is without any limitations, why would he restrict us to only enjoy rewards in this particular way?

  • 1
    That isn't an answerable question (i.e. the answer is that it is unanswerable). Ultimately logic doesn't dictate the parameters of the world - G-d's choice does.
    – Yishai
    Aug 22, 2014 at 15:28
  • I don't understand the question -- free beer is as tasty as bought beer.
    – rosends
    Aug 22, 2014 at 15:30
  • 1
    @Danno, beer is the exception. :)
    – Ani Yodea
    Aug 22, 2014 at 15:32
  • 2
    @Danno, מים גנבים יומתקו.
    – Yishai
    Aug 22, 2014 at 15:37
  • 1
    @ray, thanks for the link! That rabbi sounds pretty interesting.
    – Ani Yodea
    Aug 24, 2014 at 2:07

3 Answers 3


In Derech Hashem 1:2, the Ramchal provides the following explanation:

ובהיותו הוא לבדו יתברך הטוב האמיתי, לא יסתפק חפצו הטוב אלא בהיותו מהנה לזולתו בטוב ההוא עצמו שהוא בו יתברך מצד עצמו, שהוא הטוב השלם והאמיתי. והנה מצד אחר, הטוב הזה אי אפשר שיימצא אלא בו. על כן גזרה חכמתו, שמציאות ההטבה האמיתית הזאת יהיה במה שיינתן מקום לברואים לשיתדבקו בו יתברך באותו השיעור שאפשר להם שיתדבקו; ואז נמצא, שמה מצד עצמם אי אפשר שיתוארו בשלימות כשלימותו יתברך, הנה מצד התדבקם בו יגיע להם באותו השיעור שאפשר לתאר בשלימות ההוא יתברך, מצד היותם מתדבקים בו,

Since Hashem alone is authentic good, it would not be sufficient for His desire to bestow good except through giving the good that He Himself is, which is complete good. And from a different angle, this good is impossible to exist except in Him. Therefore, His wisdom decreed that the existence of this good should be in that which He gives the opportunity to His creations to cling to Him to the degree possible for them. The result is that that which they in and of themselves were unable to achieve, namely His perfection, they will reach, to the degree possible, through their clinging to Him.

אולם גזרה חכמתו, שלהיות הטוב שלם, ראוי שיהיה הנהנה בו בעל הטוב ההוא; פירוש - מי שיקנה הטוב בעצמו, ולא מי שיתלוה לו הטוב בדרך מקרה. ותראה שזה נקרא קצת התדמות, בשיעור שאפשר, אל שלימותו יתברך. כי הנה הוא יתברך שמו שלם בעצמו, ולא במקרה, אלא מצד אמיתת עניינו מוכרח בו השלימות, ומשוללים ממנו החסרונות בהכרח.

However, in order that the good be complete, it is fitting that the beneficiary should be the master of that good, meaning, he should be one who has acquired it himself, and not one who has it incidentally. See that this qualifies as a measure of being similar to His perfection, because He is perfect of Himself, and not incidentally, but as a function of His absoluteness.

To summarize, we as created beings cannot achieve real perfection like that of Hashem. However, that very perfection which we cannot achieve is what Hashem wants us to experience. So by becoming like Him, in a sense, we can attach to His goodness. Therefore it is necessary that the perfection that we have be acquired through our own efforts, in order that it be similar to His perfection.

  • This sounds very similar to the answer Matt provided: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/44768/3006
    – Ani Yodea
    Aug 24, 2014 at 13:45
  • @Matt, Daas Tevunos = Derech Hashem?
    – Ani Yodea
    Aug 24, 2014 at 14:08
  • I commented before I read, oops. But he says the same in both books (it is the same author after all) Aug 24, 2014 at 14:09
  • @Matt I only added mine because I think he expresses it more clearly in Derech Hashem. Aug 25, 2014 at 1:40

The Ramchal answers this question himself in his other book, Daas Tevunos, where he says that in order to be the most pleasurable, the 'good' has to be the most God-like. God Himself didn't have His nature given to Him by an external force, but rather it was a natural outgrowth of his existence. Therefore, a good that is given to a person by an external force would remain external to that person, and not be as full of a good as possible unless the good comes as a natural consequence of that person's efforts

(Caveat: I don't really understand this myself, I'm just paraphrasing as best as I can)

  • This does make sense, but coming back to the question - if God is limitless why can't he tweak our nature such that the source of the good (internal or external) would make no difference?
    – Ani Yodea
    Aug 24, 2014 at 11:39
  • @AniYodeya hence my caveat. The answer is that then we wouldn't be as godlike, and the greatest good can only be the godlike good because god is the greatest good. But... There's more to it that I don't understand either Aug 24, 2014 at 13:59

Avot D'Rav Natan 11:1 provides on explanation of the purpose of work:

אהוב את המלאכה כיצד


מלמד שיהא אדם אוהב את המלאכה ואל אדם יהי שונא את המלאכה. כשם שהתורה נתנה בברית, כך המלאכה נתנה בברית, שנאמר: (שמות כ) "ששת ימים תעבוד ועשית כל מלאכתך, ויום השביעי שבת לה' אלהיך

My translation:

"How does one love work? This teaches us that man should love work and not hate work. In the same way that the Torah was given to us by a covenant, work was given to us by a covenant, as it says (Shmot 20): 6 days shall you work and complete all your creative work, and the 7th day is Shabbat to your G-d"

In a sense, work is a "covenant" between G-d and us. When we accepted the covenenat of the Torah, we accepted the covenant of doing work, as well. (According to this explanation.)

I realize that this verse doesn't DIRECTLY answer your question. But, it provides an aspect of undrestanding why G-d asks us to work vs. being idle, which is part of what you asked in the 2nd paragraph of your question.

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