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Independence and Free Will

There are plenty of proofs for the existence of a Creator Who sustains the universe. However, for every argument there is a skeptical counter-argument, so that the arguments for G-d’s existence are rarely conclusive. There is a reason why there is no air-tight proof for G-d’s existence that will satisfy every skeptic: Once such a proof is found, the concept of free will is moot.

G-d deliberately concealed Himself in this world and left open the question of His very existence, to allow us to reach an awareness of G-d through our own efforts, and to achieve a level of apprehension of G-d that is above logic and reason. The world appears to run according to natural rules, with no need to factor in a Creator. This allows an opening for free will. We can accept or reject G-d’s existence and His place in our lives, according to our free choice.
Even when G-d chooses to act in a miraculous manner, He still leaves room for doubt and denial. There is always a way to explain away the miracle and attribute it to natural causes, statistical fluctuation or “odd matches.” One who is saved from a fatal car crash will argue that he was saved by statistics, not by G-d. Someone who is diagnosed with a malignant disease and recovers will say that one in 10,000 people with that diagnosis recovered, and he was just lucky enough to beat those odds.
The same applies to the historical miracles of our past. When the Reed Sea split to allow the Jews to cross over on dry land, G-d made all the waters of the world split at the same time. This was the opening left for the skeptics. One who wished to deny the miracle could always say that some external event had caused all the waters of the world to split, but this anomaly was in no way related to the rescue of the Jewish People from the Egyptian army who were pursuing them.
Our sages sum up this state of affairs with a pithy statement: “One who wishes to err, will err!” G-d does not force anyone to accept His existence or His commandments. We are free to examine the evidence and make the choice ourselves, whether to accept His existence, His edicts and His precepts as written in the Torah.
One exception to this rule is the disease of Tzaraat, which is described in the Torah portion of this week. Although it had physical manifestations, Tzaraat was not a physical disease but a spiritual one. Somehow, a person’s spiritual blemishes would cause his skin to break out in a weird rash. This disease could not be explained scientifically, since its etiology did not follow that of any known disease.
Interestingly, one person who is described as being afflicted with Tzaraat is none other than Moshiach himself! While many explanations have been offered, there is one common denominator between Moshiach and Tzaraat: Both are completely above nature. The Redemption, brought by Moshiach, will also not follow a natural course or process. It will be a clear-cut revelation of G-d, that will leave no room for doubt.
Now, while in exile, we still have the ability to choose our belief in G-d. That choice will be denied us in the Messianic Era, when all concealments will be removed and we will be able to perceive G-d with our eyes of flesh. Let’s make use of the final moments of exile, to accept G-d of our own accord.


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