The Master of the Universe, praised be He, blessed us with the gift of free will. Along with speech, this is perhaps the one thing that truly raises us above the animals.
But in His wisdom, He did not stop by just giving us the intellectual wherewithal to make choices. He then gave us His Torah as a guide to making those choices.
He then gave us the choice of whether to follow Torah or to allow our whims and our petty concerns drive our actions.
And He gave us the intellectual capacity, through the faculty of reason, to think through our actions, so that we could justify any course of action so as to ensure we would be able to live with our own choices, no matter how foolish or ill-advised. Or, if we made the choice to follow Torah, to use that capacity to apply its laws with wisdom, with justice, and with mercy.
Because we reason through our choices, our choices become the rungs in the ladders of our character. The internal struggle that precedes each choice we make is the hammer of a blacksmith on the metal of our soul, with each struggle between our instincts and “the better angels of our nature,” either weakening or breaking us when we come out with poor choices, or tempering and strengthening us when we make the choices that uplift us and make the world a better place.
So free will is more than about whether to eat a pepperoni pizza or go t0 synagogue. It is a forge for our character.
Have a wonderful week!