Is there any indication of predestination doctrine in Judaism?

  • 2
    Can you define "predestination" and explain why that verse is relevant?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 15:14
  • 1
    In that verse, G-d "has made" the wicked for "the day of evil". (I am not surely certain what is "the day of evil" meant... whatever it is "Yom HaShem/the Judgement Day" or "the days the wicked rule".... But I tend to choose "Yom HaShem"....)
    – Win Aero
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 16:52

3 Answers 3


We find several examples of future choices being foretold. Here are some of them.

The Gemara in Yoma 38b says:

דף לח - ב. (אמר) ר' חייא בר אבא א''ר יוחנן ראה הקדוש ברוך הוא שצדיקים מועטין עמד ושתלן בכל דור ודור שנא' {שמואל א ב-ח} כי לה' מצוקי ארץ וישת עליהם תבל

Rav Chiya bar Abba said in the name of Rebbi Yochanan, Hakadosh Baruch Hu saw that the righteous are few, so He went ahead and sprinkled some in each generation.

The Medrash in Vayeira Parsha 48:14:

אמר רבי סימון קפצו מלאכי השרת לקטרגו אמרו לפניו רבון העולמים אדם שהוא עתיד להמית את בניך בצמא אתה מעלה לו באר אמר להם עכשיו מה הוא צדיק או רשע אמרו לו צדיק אמר להם איני דן את האדם אלא בשעתו קומי שאי את הנער

Rebbi Simon taught, [when Yishmael was sick and Hashem decided to help him,] the angels jumped to prosecute him. They said, "to the one who will kill your children by thirst you will bring up a wellspring?" Hashem answered them, "Right now is he righteous or evil?" "Righteous", they answered. Hashem said, "I only judge a person in his time [as he is]. Go help him."

In Devarim 31 we find Hashem letting Moshe know that the Jews will sin and that they will be punished:

דברים פרשת וילך פרק-לא
טז} וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה הִנְּךָ֥ שֹׁכֵ֖ב עִם־אֲבֹתֶ֑יךָ וְקָם֩ הָעָ֨ם הַזֶּ֜ה וְזָנָ֣ה ׀ אַחֲרֵ֣י ׀ אֱלֹהֵ֣י נֵֽכַר־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר ה֤וּא בָא־שָׁ֙מָּה֙ בְּקִרְבּ֔וֹ וַעֲזָבַ֕נִי וְהֵפֵר֙ אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּרַ֖תִּי אִתּֽוֹ׃
יז} וְחָרָ֣ה אַפִּ֣י ב֣וֹ בַיּוֹם־הַ֠הוּא וַעֲזַבְתִּ֞ים וְהִסְתַּרְתִּ֨י פָנַ֤י מֵהֶם֙ וְהָיָ֣ה לֶֽאֱכֹ֔ל וּמְצָאֻ֛הוּ רָע֥וֹת רַבּ֖וֹת וְצָר֑וֹת וְאָמַר֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא הֲלֹ֗א עַ֣ל כִּֽי־אֵ֤ין אֱלֹהַי֙ בְּקִרְבִּ֔י מְצָא֖וּנִי הָרָע֥וֹת הָאֵֽלֶּה׃
יח} וְאָנֹכִ֗י הַסְתֵּ֨ר אַסְתִּ֤יר פָּנַי֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא עַ֥ל כָּל־הָרָעָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה כִּ֣י פָנָ֔ה אֶל־אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֲחֵרִֽים׃

We also find in Berachos 10 that King Chizkiyahu foresaw that his children will turn out bad.

On the other hand we have the Gemara in Nida 16b telling us that everything is predetermined in heaven besides for fear of G-d. And in Bava Basra 16 the Gemara quotes Iyuv as having claimed that people are born righteous or evil and his friends retorted that it isn't so. People were created with desires but we can overcome them.

Tosafos in Nida (Hakol Bidei) makes the distinction between foreknowledge and predetermined. He explains in the case of Chizkiyahu that he was shown what will happen but that was based on the future. It was not a case of the future being decided in heaven beforehand. Tosafos then gives another explanation that some interpret to mean that it is predetermined by the Mazal but not as a heavenly decree.

The Chovos Halevavos in Shaar Avodas Elokim chapter 8 discusses this and quotes many verses showing both, that we are responsible for our actions and that all is known beforehand.

The question of why people would get punished if it is predestined, or if it is actually predestined or merely anticipated, is dealt with in many Sefarim. Rabbeinu Saadya Gaon's Emunos v'Deios, the Rambam in the Yad and Moreh Nevuchim, and the Chovos Halevavos, are a good start.

  • 2
    I think this questioner would be better served by more translation and less jargon. Please see the jargon policy here.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 15:32
  • 1
    This seems to be a long comment as you don't actually answer the question. Pointers should be left as comments Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:48

"Everything is in the hands of heaven except the fear of heaven." (Talmud Berakhot 33b)

so yes everything except what moral choice you will make

see also gate 3 ch.8 of chovos halevavos for a discussion of this topic

  • Everything is also in the hands of heaven except hot and cold.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:43
  • @DoubleAA being negligent of your health is also a moral choice
    – ray
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:44
  • That could be but it isn't what I said. In any event, what is not a moral choice? How do you even conclude anything about 'moral choices' from the Talmud you cite?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:45
  • @DoubleAA it's explained like this in that link and also in the shaar bitachon ch.4
    – ray
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:57

Avos 3:15:

הכל צפוי והרשות נתונה

All is foreseen and [yet] jurisdiction is granted.

This implies both predestination (meaning, G-d being aware before it happens) and free-will.

The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva 5:5 codifies this point:

שמא תאמר והלוא הקדוש ברוך הוא יודע כל מה שיהיה קודם שיהיה: ידע שזה צדיק או רשע, או לא ידע; אם ידע שהוא יהיה צדיק, אי אפשר שלא יהיה צדיק, ואם תאמר שידע שיהיה צדיק ואפשר שיהיה רשע, הרי לא ידע הדבר על בורייו. דע שתשובת שאלה זו "ארוכה מארץ, מידה; ורחבה, מני ים" (איוב יא,ט), וכמה עיקרים גדולים והררים רמים תלויים בה... אין בנו כוח לידע היאך ידע הקדוש ברוך הוא כל הברואים ומעשיהם

Perhaps you will say, either G-d knows all that will happen before it occurs, or He doesn't. Either He knows if this one will be righteous or wicked, or He doesn't. If He knows that the person will be righteous, it is impossible for him to not be righteous. And if you say that G-d knows that he will be righteous, and yet he still could be wicked [despite G-d's knowing otherwise], then He doesn't really know. Know, that the answer to this question is "broader than the land and wider than the see" and many essentials of belief hang upon it... we do not have the ability to understand how He knows about every creation and their actions.


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