Are we products of our environment? Is there freedom in what we choose, think and feel, or is this our genesis? Our entire society is based upon the principle of free will. It's a fundamental question, but does anyone really want to answer it?
According to Kabbalah, there are four phases of which an organism consists. These phases control us. However, they are also the key to exercising free will. The phases are called:
1. The bed;
2. The static attributes of the bed;
3. Attributes that change the organism through external forces;
4. and changes in the external environment.
Allow Kabbalah to explain the above four concepts.
The bed is the name of the unchanging essence within the organism. These are factors that affect the organism despite its external environment. Think of it as our ability to be sitting in a corner crying, at a birthday party.
The best way to examine this these phases are through a study of the vegetative state. It is a phase of creation in which we are not subjectively involved - hence, it is ripe for study.
Consider a stalk of wheat. When a wheat seed rots, it entirely loses its form. But this "form", the outer clothing, is the only thing lost. The force within the wheat remains and creates a new stalk of wheat. The bed of wheat remains the same, its essence or "force" is always the same despite the transitory change in form.
The static attributes of the bed
We have established that within nature, no wheat seed may produce a plant other than a wheat stalk. Not only that, but the way in which a stalk develops from its seed is also unchanging. All phases that a stalk of wheat must encounter within itself, from creation to destruction, are identical for all stalks of wheat. Of course, quality and quantity may change, but the underlying structure of the wheat remains the same.
The same can be said about living organisms as well. For instance, humans have the same growth cycle - from infanthood, to childhood, puberty, and adulthood (in fact, the word "hood" is a good reminder of the "clothing" an organism must take throughout its lifetime).
Attributes that change the organism through external forces
Depending on the amount of nutrition a stalk of wheat receives during its life (such as sunlight, rain, soil etc), its appearance or "clothing" may change. Poor quality wheat is in fact, still wheat. In a human organism, its moods and perceptions can change as a result of its external environment. When we submit to a certain environment for too long, it can change not only our mood but our character. This is not because the bed is changing. It is because these qualities are already present within the bed, but the organism chooses to nourish specific qualities or attributes through its choice of environment. For an understanding of the great scope for variation that environment provides, see ("Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network", http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/dec04_2/a2338).
Changes in the external environment
Of course, the environment chosen by the organism is itself affected by factors. Things such as climate and human traffic will greatly affect the environment of our little stalk of wheat. In the case of wheat, farmers take great care in providing the best environment for it to grow. Similarly, humans must submit to their environment - in the case of laws, elected officials, fashion, and so on.
So, nature or nurture?
From the above it can be seen that the humans must submit to their environment. Like a stalk of wheat, the environment they choose will greatly influence the quality and quantity of their existence. It follows that the only freedom of choice an organism has, is the choice of its environment. Depending on where it chooses to situate itself, the organism will naturally respond to that environment and will be subject to its control. The "nature vs nurture" argument is at best, misguided. The two forces are complimentary and are not mutually exclusive.
Wait a minute! You didn't answer the question!
For a technical explanation, see http://www.kabbalah.info/eng/content/view/full/4218 - The Science of Kabbalah, available for free download.