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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Mon, 30 Dec 1996 13:13:34 -0500 Subject: RE: Is Free Will Limited Eli Frankel, V25n51, cites authorities who suggest that free will may be limited. Eli further points out that real Teshuva requires a total personality transformation and cannot e.g. be done overnight.I first quote a talmudic story of instantaneous repentance of a mass murderer. I then cite 2 sources answering Eli's question: "But how could he transform in an instant?" THE STORY: The Talmud explicitly relates that when Jerusalem was captured one of the generals discovered the blood of Zecharyahu ben Ido who had been murdered in the Temple while rebuking the people. The blood could not be swept away and the general started slaughtering thousands of Jews to appease it. When this didn't work the general asked:"Zecharyahu I have killed the choicest of them do you want me to kill all of them", at which point the blood went away. The general in turn was shocked that one life could mean so much. He said to himself: If this one murder required so much to atone for it what will happen to me who has killed many thousands of people?". He repented and converted and several great talmudic scholars came from him. A PHILOSOPHICAL ANSWER: First, the question of the justice that one person can repent at the end of his life and achieve the next world while others must toil their whole life to achieve it was dealt with in a beautiful article in BOR HATORAH by Dr. Schlessinger. Secondly, a direct answer to Eli's question is provided by Rav Hirsch who comments on the talmudic story of a person who sinned with every prostitute he heard about until one day upon seeing his Tzitzith while undressing he remembered the message of "leaving Egypt" and repented. Rav Hirsch explains that this person put on Tztitzith 365 times a year and probably never thought of their symbolic or spiritual meaning. Nevertheless at the right moment these acts bubbled to the surface of his consciousness and saved him. This then is the answer to Eli's question: "Teshuva requires alot of work--how could he repent in the instant?"The answer is:"He had been putting on Tzitzith all these years and without knowing it this activity formed the basis for his Teshuva." In summary we never know with any person how suddently the varied acts of their life will reorganize and bubble to the surface. Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d, ASA, rhendel @ mcs drexel edu