Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The individual has it in his power to decide”

Man has always had the ability to change, whether this change lies in a deviation from ancestral ways or in some revolution in the life of the individual himself.

Righteousness and evil are not character traits determined in advance or by heredity, but lie rather in the hand of each one of us.

We can all carry on with “the deeds of the fathers”—or we can radically change them.

Maimonides himself points out that the Bible assumes the individual has it in his power to decide, to forge a way of life of his own, and to choose between good and evil.

Although the Book of Job raises the question of Divine justice of a fate that determines the reward or punishment of man regardless of his deeds, the Scriptures as a whole, with their admonitions, their call to repent and to choose between good and evil, repeatedly testify to this basic assumption of man’s power to choose.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz