There's an idea in Judaism that says "HaKol BeYedei Shamayim Chutz MiYirat Shamayim," "Everything is in Hashem's hands except fear of Heaven" (Berachot 33b and Megillah 25a)

This means that everything is predetermined aside from your choice of right or wrong.

How does this work when someone else chooses to do wrong and you are involved in that situation. Since their choice to do wrong is not predetermined does that mean that you - the person involved - can get into a non-predetermined predicament?

  • 1
    Can you source your first line? The Talmud in Ketubbot (30a) says "everything is from heaven except colds and hots" תניא הכל בידי שמים חוץ מצינים פחים Even if you can cite your first line, please also cite support for you second line, as that is not obviously the meaning of the first quote (at least, not to me)
    – Double AA
    Nov 19 '15 at 20:17
  • God knows what everyone will do beforehand so He can account for all this
    – ray
    Nov 19 '15 at 21:09

The Ohr HaChaim writes that one with free will can kill someone even if he does not deserve to die, as opposed to dangerous animals which will only kill someone if they deserve to die. Thus, the brothers of Yosef knew that there were snakes and scorpions in the pit into which they cast him, and throwing him into the pit would be the test of if he really deserved to die, as opposed to if they directly killed him, in which case he would die even if he did not necessarily deserve it (Ohr HaChaim 37:21 s.v. ויצילהו).

The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva 5:5 writes that the resolution of the question of free will and Divine knowledge is beyond our capacity to understand. This type of situation would be included in this paradox, namely that Divine knowledge would determine what happens to you and yet someone else would have absolute free will that would affect what happens to you. How that works is beyond our ability to grasp.

  • 1
    This is a significantly different problem than Omniscience vs Free Will. The quote explcitly says that everything aside from yir'as Shamayim is under the control of the One in heaven. So mysteries about how knowledge does not imply control don't help. Nov 20 '15 at 10:57
  • The Rambam was probably falling for this sfu.ca/~swartz/modal_fallacy.htm
    – Double AA
    Nov 20 '15 at 14:21
  • @MichaBerger The Rambam understands knowledge and control to be synonymous - see Moreh Nevochim 3:20. So it is the same problem. Nov 20 '15 at 15:25
  • @DoubleAA More likely the Rambam was merely being consistent with what he says in Moreh Nevochim 3:20. Based on what he says there, the point he makes is perfectly logical. Nov 20 '15 at 15:27
  • 1
    Still, my objection to this answer has not been addressed. Free Will vs Foreknowledge involves asking whether foreknowledge limits the known future, and thus impedes Free Will. The question was about an explicit statement about Divine Control. Those answers aren't relevant. Nov 22 '15 at 18:35

Tosafos in Nida 16b writes that this Gemara (that all is in the hands of heaven besides for Yiras Shamayim) is not referring to what happens to the person. It is referring to his character traits.

The Gemara in Nida, where this Tosafos is coming off, says that before the person is born they bring the droplet before Hashem and He decides if it'll be smart or dull, rich or poor. He does not decide if it will be righteous, for that is in the person's hands.

  • So if Hashem decides the person will be rich, and someone decides to make it his life's mission to destroy all of this person's worldly possessions, will he be rich or poor? (and +1) Nov 20 '15 at 16:37
  • @yEz I'm not denying the other Sugya of Tzinim Upachim. But this is much easier to handle on its own. In the long run all agree that nobody can detract from what is coming to you. (See the Ohr Hachayim on ועשית עמדי חסד ואמת). The main discussion is about killing.
    – HaLeiVi
    Nov 20 '15 at 16:56
  • Isn't that dodging the question? Why does my free will not extend to affecting your wealth? Nov 20 '15 at 16:59
  • It can affect my specific possessions. This general Gezeira is about his life. It's not about planning the events of his life. If someone interferes with the details and this clashes with the overall plan, I guess this interference won't last.
    – HaLeiVi
    Nov 20 '15 at 17:53

The simplest logic answer (which I cannot remember the source of) is that someone else's action cannot effect your life, unless Hashem allows it to because we can only control the choice we make not the outcome of that choice.

Example. Person A chooses to kill Person B. Person A takes a gun loads it points it a person B's head and pulls the trigger (they made a morally wrong choice). Whether Person B dies or even is wounded (the outcome) is completely up to Hashem. The gun can backfire and injure person A. The gun can jam and nothing can happen, the gun can unexpectedly jerk and and aim completely elsewhere. Person A is still a murderer by choice BUT person B can only be a victim by Hashem's choice.


R. Saadia Gaon discusses this in Emunot V’Deiot (4:5):

Men also ask: “If it were to happen that God deliver up one of His servants to be slain either in punishment for sin or as a trial, what shall we think of that act or to whom shall we ascribe it in the event that the slaying is carried out by a tyrant like Jezebel, who put some of the prophets to death?” Our reply hereto is that the cutting off [decreed for the victim] is an act of God, but the manner of slaying is an act of the tyrant. For as long as [divine] Wisdom demands the extermination of the individual in question, even if the actual slayer should not in his malice slay him, the victim might perish by some other means.

A similar question is [raised] in regard to the thief who is permitted by God to sequester some of the property of men either in punishment or as a trial of the latter. Shall this theft be considered of as an act of God? The answer is that the [decree concerning the] loss of the property is an act of God but the theft is an act of man. For as long as [divine] Wisdom demands the loss of that particular object, if the thief were not to steal it, it might be destroyed by other means. Thus, too, did Shemaiah and his brother answer one of the kings of Rome. They said, namely: *We, however, have been sentenced to death by heaven. If thou dost not slay us, God has many demons at His disposal to strike us (Ta’an. 18b).

(Rosenblatt translation p. 193-194)


I have seen the reference that the judgment is passed on you to determine if you will fall prey to the person doing wrong. Once the person has decided to do wrong then it is no longer undetermined. Consider a mugging that results in murder. If the person was supposed to die at that time, some other incident would have happened to result in death had the murderer resisted the temptation.


Something we tend to think about judaism is that free will is not predetermined, but it is. Even thou we can indeed choose between good and bad, G-d knows what we'll choose. This may seem paradoxical and contradicting, but G-d is above our time and space, he is infinite and he knows absolutely all. There is more information about this in this website, I recommend you read it.

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