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In Judaism, there is a concept of free will; but, from many sciences and probably our own experiences we know for a fact that many factors influence our decision-making process, and many of them affect us without us ever realizing.

The decision-making process is often susceptible to errors, fallacies, and biases. With so many factors which can disrupt this process, how does Judaism look to the decision-making process? We have free will; but, how does one overcome these factors which influence our decision-making in order to do good, to do the Will of G-d etc.?

  • Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler has a concept of "the point of free will" (נקודת הבחירה) in מכתב מאליהו vol. 1 which could answer the question. I don't have the book on me now, so I'll wait to see if anyone wants to write an answer from the original source, but there are a few summaries in English on the internet (e.g. "Taking a Closer Look" here) that could be used if no one writes an answer from the book – b a Apr 8 '18 at 8:37
  • Related (one example of a factor that influences decisionmaking): judaism.stackexchange.com/q/35058 – msh210 Apr 8 '18 at 10:24
  • You say "in Judaism, there is a concept of free will", as if there was an entity called Judaism that had a fixed content that could be expressed in verbal statements. – paquda Apr 12 '18 at 23:44
  • @paquda Actually if you would take my words literally it would be as if there was an entity called Judiasm with free will. But if it wasn't clear enough: what I meant was that within Judaism rabbi's, scribes, teachers etc. uphold the idea of “free will”. I don't get why you would point this out to me, because words like 'in Judiasm' or 'within Judiasm' are often used to refer to the collective Jewish believes, idea's, faith etc. English is not my first language, so if you would like to present a better way (grammatically) to express myself please feel free to edit. – Levi Apr 13 '18 at 6:12
  • What I meant is that the concept of free will is so significant in Jewish Thought – Levi Apr 13 '18 at 10:58
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You said it yourself! "many factors influence our decision making" the concept of "decision making" is by definition free will.

The fact that in any given situation, we can choose how to proceed, that is free will.

You're right that in many situations, we will choose the path that makes more sense to us because that's how we were brought up, but if we really want to, we can still change.

For example: a judge is given a bribe. This will most probably influence his judgment. But does that mean that he can't rule in a fair way just because of the bribe? The answer is no. If he really wants to, he still has the free choice to choose good or bad.

Robots have no free choice. In any given situation they will proceed as programmed, and they cannot change that even if they really want to.

  • According to many, a judge can no longer judge fairly once he has taken a bribe. Even if he attempts to act righteously, the bribe itself has clouded his judgement. See the story in Bava Metzia Chapter 8. – LN6595 Nov 5 '18 at 2:46
  • According to many, a judge can no longer judge fairly once he has taken a bribe. Even if he attempts to act righteously, the bribe itself has clouded his judgement. See the story in Bava Metzia Chapter 8. – LN6595 Nov 5 '18 at 2:46
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You mainly have the free choice to be righteous or wicked.

Other free choice depends on this a lot.

The other choices you make in life are influenced by God, bad deeds, good deeds, how much effort you put, enviroment and other people in your life.

Some people lose their free choice due to sins.

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