Ephraim Urbach on Ecc 7:14

The dictum that we cite next, which was transmitted by Aher [‘Other’]—that is, Elisha b. Avuyah—in the name of R. Akiba, teaches apparently, by its formulation, the doctrine of immutable fate, but an examination of its content shows that this is not the case. Aher asked R. Me’ir the meaning of the verse Ecclesiastes vii 14: ‘God has made the one as well as the other.’ Apparently Aher wished to find an allusion in this verse to fate, which determined the righteous and the wicked in the world. R. Me’ir diverted the verse to another homily, to which Aher reacted by saying: ‘R. Akiba, your teacher, did not expound it thus, but (God) created righteous men (and) He created wicked men; He created the Garden of Eden (and) He created Gehenna. Every man has two portions, one in the Garden of Eden and one in Gehenna. The righteous man, having been found worthy [by the Heavenly Court], receives his own portion and that of his fellow in the Garden of Eden; the wicked man, having been found guilty, receives his portion and that of his fellow in Gehenna’ (T.B. Hagiga 15a). To each one a portion is allocated both in the Garden of Eden and in Gehenna, and which of these falls to a man’s lot depends purely on his actions. Were the righteous and the wicked predetermined, it would only be necessary to prepare for each one the place due to him.

Urbach, Ephraim E.. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs . Kindle Edition.

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