The still level of nature has existed for billions of years, the vegetative level of nature for hundreds of millions of years, the animate world has been developing for millions of years, and then finally, only 200 to 300 thousand years ago, humans appeared. For a long period of time, humans have been developing the same way as animals. Man was driven by the force of nature that created him and left him no choice. As if involuntary, we went through the still, vegetative, and animate forms of the human level, until we reached the level of human within human.
What is it that separates a human from the preceding level? The difference between a human and an animal is that a human doesn’t act only instinctively, blindly obeying nature. The life of an animal is entirely governed by instincts, which are passed on from generation to generation. Only days after being born, an animal stands up and is ready for an independent existence.
However, a human needs an environment for his growth. If a person is left in the woods, he’ll grow up like a real animal and will only vaguely resemble a human. He won’t speak or walk upright. That is, a person is fully dependent on his environment. The kind of environment he develops in will determine what he will be because his development isn’t programmed definitively in nature, but requires a social implementation.
A person doesn’t possess the instincts necessary to survive. He can’t discern a medicinal plant like a dog can or how to avoid what’s harmful. Unlike an animal, a person can’t act according to inner instinctive programming that would ensure his well-being.
We all know what would happen if we granted freedom to a newborn. An animal is much smarter than a baby; it makes no mistakes, whereas humans make mistakes all the time. That is, an animal is endowed with all necessary instincts, while a person only has the minimum.
On the other hand, an animal can’t learn a lot of things. It only can be trained or tamed. Even after living for hundreds of thousands of years alongside humans, a dog still remains a dog because it acts according to its instincts.
A person doesn’t possess these instincts. He has to acquire a form of behavior from his environment, and precisely as a result of this, he develops. This is why people have achieved such great development in comparison to the animals that have lived alongside them and practically remained unchanged.
In essence, a person used to be an animal as well, but something very important was instilled in him: the ability to develop by means of his environment. If he uses his environment for his development, he can achieve great success.
This is why the still, vegetative, and animate levels have no freedom of choice. A person, on the other hand, can induce additional development through a specific environment, and this constitutes his free will. After all, a person can change his environment and thereby change himself.
For this reason, judgment and higher calculation exist only in regard to a person: Who he is and how he used the opportunities given to him by nature and whether he realized the freedom of will that determines his entire development.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/23/2011, Writings of Rabash