Jewish thinkers(Who?) sum up G-d's creation of the world as follows: It was the ultimate act of goodness. G-d is perfect and infinite. He has no need for a universe; He has nothing to gain from creating mankind. Thus, we can only view creation as an act of altruism -- for the sake of man.

Further, if G-d is truly perfect, His acts must be viewed as acts of perfect goodness. G-d created man in order to have creatures upon whom He could bestow goodness. Creation was, therefore, the ultimate selfless act: A G-d who needs nothing created a world in order to give the man everything.

But Instead of giving us everything on a silver plate, the human being has to work for it. My question is: Why?

Zohar and kabbalists and the Ramchal refer(Where?) to the "the bread of shame principle" ("nahama d'kisufa"): If G-d were to "reward" us for doing nothing it would not be a reward; it would be humiliation/shameful.

How does this principle work and how it leads to having a free will?(Is this a separate question?)

  • 4
    Why couldn't God just make a universe where getting things for free felt better than working for them?
    – Double AA
    Jun 12, 2015 at 15:06
  • I am not sure "how it leads to having a free will". Presumably you mean that therefore we were granted a free will. This idea, which I believe R. Saadya Gaon says as well, is that the truest pleasure is that which is earned. It is a difficult attempt to overcome the question of @DoubleAA which is that God ought to be able to make a universe in which he could make free pleasure be the best. The attempted answer as I understand it is to compare the principle of pleasure, to mathematical rigidity. Just as God cant make a 4 sided triangle, or 1 + 1 = 3, for these are matters of objective...
    – mevaqesh
    Jun 12, 2015 at 15:16
  • definition, so too could he not make free pleasure more enjoyable than hard earned pleasure. One explanation for why this might be is that the greatest pleasure by definition is closeness to God (for whatever reason) accordingly one would posit that this closeness by definition is accomplished through hard work.
    – mevaqesh
    Jun 12, 2015 at 15:18
  • 1
    Are those superscripts supposed to be Wikipedia references?
    – DonielF
    Aug 24, 2016 at 5:08

2 Answers 2


The Ramchal addresses this issue in Derech Hashem (among other places).

He explains that the ultimate good is Hashem Himself, and therefore connecting to Hashem and being like Hashem is the ultimate experience of good. A central element of Hashem's perfection is that He was not given His perfection by an external source, but rather His perfection is intrinsic to His existence. Therefore, the way in which we become the most similar to Him as possible (although it is not a complete similarity) is by becoming the "master" of our own perfection.

Derech Hashem 1:2:2

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. ואולם זה אי אפשר שיימצא בזולתו, שיהיה אמיתתו מכרחת לו השלימות ומעדרת ממנו החסרונות. אך להתדמות לזה במקצת, צריך שלפחות יהיה הוא הקונה השלימות שאין אמיתת עניינו מכריח לו, ויהיה הוא מעדיר מעצמו החסרונות שהיו אפשריים בו.


Rabbi Arye Kaplan explains in his "If You Were G-d" that shame is being in the wrong place. Shame is not a vestigial emotion from the cave days. It is a perception of yourself.

When you get without deserving you are getting what is not yours. It is like the butler sitting in the dais. Whether or not he feels funny about it, it is funny.

This is like the difference between painting and electronic plating. In the case of the latter it is a full binding on the chemical level.

Accepting G-dly goodness without owning it is being separate from it. When you seek out Hashem and play a part in spreading His name here in our domain, you joined forces with His mission. Then, when you merit divine closeness it is actual closeness.

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