We know that Hashem gives everyone free choice. But when examining the traits of an insane person, it is clear that someone can be so mentally ill that it is impossible for them to control what they do. So, how can one say that this person has free choice? Is the only medicine that will stop their “uncontrollable” actions, the Torah? Please cite sources.

  • 3
    Possible duplicate of How do we exercise free will when influenced on so many levels?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 21:20
  • "We know that Hashem gives everyone free choice" - Says who? תנא אהיכא קאי? Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 8:03
  • @DonielF I suppose your suggestion discusses limited rationality, while this one is particularly interested in insane people. There's quite a big difference in my view. Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 9:30
  • @Kazibácsi Why isn’t this a subset of that?
    – DonielF
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 17:03
  • @DonielF Insane people are not rational at all. However, mentally healthy people (e.g. you and I) on many occasions exhibit limited rationality that leads to errors and biases that were mentioned in the other question. Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


When a person did lose his free choice, we say that he became Shote, loosely linked to the inaccurate term of "crazy" or insane. He is categorized as a child regarding responsibility and this state is often reversed to sanity.

For instance mishna Gittin 2.6:

קיבל הקטן והגדיל, חירש ונתפקח, סומא ונתפתח, שוטה ונשתפה, נוכרי ונתגייר--פסול. אבל פיקח ונתחרש וחזר ונתפקח, פיתח ונסתמא וחזר ונתפתח, שפוי ונשתטה חזר ונשתפה--כשר. זה הכלל--כל שתחילתו וסופו בדעת, כשר.‏

The status of Shote makes him exempt from mitsvot and no responsible for his actions even if he caused damages, even if he murdered. But sane people need to apply every duty toward insane people, there is no reciprocity, as you see in Baba Kama 8.4:

חירש שוטה וקטן, העבד, והאישה--פגיעתן רעה. החובל בהן, חייב. ‏

So not everybody has free choice. If a man doesn't have free choice, why was he created? King David asked this, and the answer is that this has a functionality that is not appearing immediately.

  • I've edited the question to bring it in accord with community policies. You may wish to edit your answer also (although I don't think it's necessary).
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 5:12
  • This answer qualifies for this contest, in case you're interested. Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 22:56
  • I don't understand what is contest @Monica Cellio
    – kouty
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 23:48
  • Sorry for being unclear! We're having a friendly competition to encourage people to answer unanswered questions every day. You answered a qualifying question without even knowing about it, so I wanted to let you know about the competition in case you want to join in. See the link (to meta) for more information, and thanks for helping to increase the number of good answers on the site. Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 23:50
  • Ahh yes of course
    – kouty
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 23:51

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