Free will and the song of the soul

Chapter 10 of the essay 'The Kabbalah of Information on Freedom of Choice, Tzimtzum, and the Physics of Spacetime'

Schneur Zalman of Liadi (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Schneur Zalman of Liadi
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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We have discussed, citing examples from the Torah and the Prophets, the different ways in which G-d may interfere with man's freedom of choice.  It should be noted, however, that the paramount factor defining a person's behavior in the world and the choices he or she makes is the composition of the soul.  This matter is discussed extensively in Christian literature.  It is placed in the category of 'middle knowledge.’  

G-d never does anything accidentally.  Creating a soul and vesting it with particular leanings, strengths and weaknesses, G-d thereby to a great extent determines the character of our evolution within the informational space and our propensity toward one choice or another.  However, this definition is not absolute.  

The issue of the composition of our soul is extremely complex and broad. Some thoughts on the subject can be found in this author's book From Infinity to Man. We will only touch upon it briefly in this article. 
 
The author is a proponent of the theory on the composition of the soul put forward by the founder of the Chabad movement Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi in his seminal works such as the Tanya, the Torah Or and others.   

The soul as an informational structure is an accurate reflection of the realm of the Sefirot, which enables it to participate in the information exchange with the Sefirot realm.  

However, their similar structure notwithstanding, all souls are different in their qualities or the degrees thereof, such as intellect, willpower, predilection toward good or evil and so on.  The question that arises is as follows: Why do such differences exist despite the identical composition of all souls?   I suggest we look to the teaching of Rabbi Isaac Luria for the answer.  According to Isaac Luria, every Sefirah contains all ten Sefirot within itself, and this structure is repeated with all Sefirot, which means that the realm of the Sefirot has a fractal structure.  It follows that every Sefirah is represented in the Sefirot realm by a set of its prototypes that are distinct from each other.  For example, we may speak of the Sefirah Chokhmah of the Sefirah Keter (named Chokhmah Stima'a), of the Sefirah Chokhmah of the Sefirah Chesed and so on.  

All these Sefirot are similar in their attribute of Chokhmah ('Wisdom') but at the same time very different in other aspects.  

In the author's opinion, these differences may be inferred also from the teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria, expounded in the book Etz Chaim, written by his disciple Rabbi Chaim Vital. In Etz Chaim, it is written that each Sefirah has three levels: internal, middle and external.  A crucial insight is then added on how the similarly oriented Sefirot inside the different other Sefirot relate to each other.  For instance, the external level of the Sefirah Binah inside the Sefirah Keter constitutes the internal level for the Sefirah Binah inside the Sefirah Chokhmah, right below the Sefirah Keter.   

This requires an explanation. 

We have mentioned previously that the key metric of the informational space of the Sefirot realm is the degree of disclosure (intensity) of G-d's information, and the Sefirot as such constitute domains within that informational space.  Thus, the position of a given Sefirah within the informational space may be visualized on a two-dimensional coordinate axis. For example, the Sefirah Chokhmah would take a specific position in a two-dimensional system of coordinates in which Chokhmah is measured on the X-axis, and the degree to which information of G-d's is disclosed is measured on the Y-axis.  

In this respect, the Rabbi Isaac Luria's three levels of the Sefirot may be presented as three points whose positions will be different in both the magnitude of their projection on the Chokhmah axis and the magnitude of their projection on the disclosure of G-d's information axis. In this case, the internal level of a Sefirah would correspond to the position of maximum disclosure of G-d's information, and, accordingly, its external level would correspond to minimal disclosure.   Consequently, the external level of the Sefirah Chokhmah inside the Sefirah Keter corresponds to the internal level of the Sefirah Chokhmah per se.  Thus, we are left with a multitude of Sefirot of kindred nature, located in different positions appropriate to their degree of disclosure of G-d's information.   

In the author's view, this is exactly what constitutes the distinction between the Sefirot of similar nature.  It is self-evident that different souls, created as accurate replicas of the Sefirot realm, may be vested with Sefirot of the same nature but located differently in terms of the disclosure of G-d's information. 
                              
 Therefore, every property of the soul has a vast multitude of levels, and, despite their identical composition, all souls possess different sets of property levels.  This is the method which, in the author's opinion, defines the character of man's informational interaction with our world and the worlds of the Sefirot. 

 It is important to add that the Sefirot combination preset in the soul at creation is not a permanent and final definition of the character of the information exchange. Indeed, we are granted ample potential to alter the levels and properties of the Sefirot of our soul by a variety of methods.  The best methods of all are to study the Torah and observe the commandments, to seek and obtain knowledge, develop the mind and so forth.     
Conclusion 
To advance our understanding of the principles of our evolution within the informational space and of the nature of the free will, we have analyzed examples from the Torah and the Prophecies, the structure of Creation and of the human soul and invoked evidence from the physics of space time.  The entirety of our analysis was performed within the framework of the Kabbalah of Information, the central dogma of which is as follows: 'in the beginning He (Ein Sof) created information, and He created nothing else, but only organized and categorized it.'

The fullness of Divine Providence is unfathomable to man.  But relying on the material set forth above, we may draw the following conclusions: 
 
• The information capacity of Creation is finite; it is set by the informational parameters of the Tzimtzum process.

• The main driving force for our evolution in the informational space is G-d's Plan, implemented according to the principle of backward causation.  

• The author believes that while we do enjoy free will, it is hemmed in by the framework of G-d's Plan. 

• Whenever our acts go against the grain of G-d's Plan, our freedom of choice may be (a) restricted in some dimensions or (b) forfeited entirely. 

• The character of our choice is sufficiently determined by G-d at the stage of the creation of our soul by giving it certain properties, strengths and weaknesses.

• Our free will may be restricted or forfeited through implicit or explicit Divine Intervention. 

The philosophy of complementarity maintains that freedom of choice and determinism are incompatible: either one is manifested, or the other.  However, the author considers this to apply exclusively to absolute freedom of choice and, accordingly, absolute determinism.  The key deduction from this work, in the author's opinion, is the fact that Creation evolves within the boundaries of a model wherein free will is limited by G-d's Plan (limited determinism).  Transgression of those limits will always entail consequences.  

We are not at liberty to transgress G-d's Plan.  But we do have the liberty and the duty to exercise our choice in such a way that our evolution within the informational space proceeds within the domain delineated by the laws and commandments of the Torah, which is devoid of projections to the dimensions of evil. 
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To purchase Eduard Shyfrin’s book ‘From Infinity to Man: The Fundamental Ideas of Kabbalah Within the Framework of Information Theory and Quantum Physics’ please click here.   
 
To purchase Eduard Shyfrin’s book ‘Travels with Sushi in the Land of the Mind’ please click here.