Question: Why is it said that “there is no coercion in spirituality,” that it is impossible to force someone to perform spiritual actions, but on the other hand it is said: “He is forced until he says “I want to?”
Answer: “There is no coercion in spirituality” means that if you are on the spiritual ladder already, then it is possible to ascend to the next level only if you reach total freedom. You have to be free of everything, including the Creator, so that you can actually perform an independent action.
You find yourself in a situation with the freedom to do whatever you want and have disposed of all the punishments and rewards. You see that no matter which action you perform, whether it is close to the Creator or far from Him, whether it is good or bad, you will receive neither a punishment nor a reward. It is much easier to perform an action that is against the Creator, but you still yearn for the Creator, trying to see Him as more important in order to perform the action for His sake, for the sake of the attribute of bestowal. Then it is called freewill.
Freewill opens the option for a person to be really free of everything, including the Creator. There, at that point, we can say that “there is no coercion in spirituality.” It is there that a person chooses the fact that he wants to exert himself and to work for the Creator. It is as if he chooses the hardest way.
Freewill is the middle line, the middle third of Tifferet, a very fine balance, like a pointer on a set of very sensitive scales between two balanced forces, the good force and the evil force, holiness and impurity.
Freewill is impossible if I fear something, if I feel ashamed, or if I want a reward. There can only be freewill if I am totally free of all the fear and anxieties, of all the pleasures that illuminate in front of me. This is the state we have to stabilize regarding many factors. When you stabilize it, you have to decide what to do with it. If you become totally neutral then how can you act, on what basis can you make a decision?
When you actually achieve this free state, then you decide where you have the opportunity to make a real effort. This is really the right way. It turns out that it is your evil inclination which shows you exactly where you are; it is the evil inclination which takes you by the hand and brings you to the Creator. It shows you that if you follow this direction you will have to exert yourself in order to overcome the obstacles that it has placed before you.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 10/8/13, Writings of Rabash