The Eleventh principle of Judaism asserts that God is Just. He rewards those who keep His commandments and punishes those who transgress them.
In the words of Rabbi Hayim Pereira-Mendes, God does not punish in the sense of vengeance but only for correction, in order that we shall forsake our sins and lead better lives. We don't always see with our own eyes the punishment of the wicked man and the reward of the righteous. Our rabbis assert that God rewards and corrects sometimes in this life and sometimes in future life. There is no necessarily and immediate external reward for an act of kindness, no automatic punishment for a transgression. Moreover, suffering is not sent to us only for punishment of a sin. It is often sent to motivate or train us to live better and nobler lives, to educate us to higher ideals, to lead us nearer to God.
The main assumption of this principle, the reason for the existence of divine reward and punishment, is that God has given us free-will to choose between good and evil, right and wrong. We Jews do not believe in Predestination. If we were destined to do right or wrong and did not have the power to choose, there would be no merit in doing the right, and we could not be justly punished for doing the wrong. Only by repentance, sorrow for our sin, and by amendment of our conduct, we can be spared from the penalty of our transgressions. Our rabbis explain that "the very remorse is itself a pain and part of our punishment. The loss of our own self-respect, the loss of the respect of others; the shame which our sin causes our families; the consciousness that we have offended God who loves us, all these are some of the penalties or punishments for sins committed."
Do you have Free-will?
by Frank Pastore, Prager University.