Monthly Archives: July 2016

Da’at Tevunot 1:10 (# 40 [end] – 42)

Da’at Tevunot 1:10 (# 40 [end] – 42)

1.

Let’s reiterate the secrets of the universe we’ve been privy to so far since they’re so wide-ranging and challenging, and go so far to explain how things work. And besides, seeing this all laid out plain will remind us of just who we are at bottom and what’s expected of us.

In general it comes to this: G-d “wanted from the first to reveal His Yichud” (His utter sovereignty), as Ramchal puts it, which is to say, to demonstrate that nothing whatsoever can thwart His wishes. And He established that as the underpinning of all of reality 1.

He first purposefully concealed His Yichud, though, which then allowed for wrong and injustice to exist; but once He will have revealed it, all wrong and injustice will be undone 2. G-d thus presented us with the mission of perfecting ourselves 3 within the period of time between the concealment and revelation of His Yichud.

2.

Now, all this not only has countless ramifications for our day-to-day, to say nothing for our eternal lives, it also affects all of reality. For, “once G-d decided to follow this path”, i.e., of first hiding His Yichud and allowing for wrong and injustice, then revealing it and undoing all of that, “He then provided the space”, i.e., the environment and wherewithal, for all of us “to achieve true perfection” Ramchal asserts.

That means to say that now that this dynamic has been set in place it follows that everything functions in accordance with it, that this is the essential universal pattern, and that it offers us the means to grow and reach our full potential as G-d wants us to.

In any event, knowing this, we can now understand how the world is at once deeply flawed, chaotic, and puzzling by all appearances, yet it was made to be perfect, structured and comprehensible.

At bottom, though, we’re assured that G-d will indeed reveal His sovereignty in the end either with or without human intervention 4, we’ll eventually no longer need free will, and that we’ll have earned our eternal reward 5 and the universe will have achieved perfection.

Footnotes:

1             See 1:3,4,6,7.

2             See 1:6,7,8.

3             See 1:1,2.

4             See 1:8,9.

5             See 1:1,7.

 

(c) 2016 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

Preview of Da’at Tevunot 1:10 (# 40 [end] – 42)

Preview of Da’at Tevunot 1:10 (# 40 [end] – 42 )

G-d first hiding His sovereignty then eventually revealing it allows for everything to achieve its potential. His hiding it allows for imperfections which then makes it possible for us to strive for perfection; and His eventually revealing it puts a limit on free will and our efforts and enables us to enjoy reward.

The point is that G-d wanted to eventually reveal the fact that nothing can foil His rule, and He made that the basic underpinnings of all of reality. As such, He first hid His countenance and allowed for wrongfulness to exist just until He’d reveal His countenance and wrongfulness would be undone and His sovereignty would be manifest. Free will and human service would thus be possible while His countenance is hidden and perfection would be within our grasp; and we’d enjoy the reward for our efforts once His countenance would be revealed.

סוף דבר, תראי שכאשר בחר הרצון העליון ללכת בדרך הזה, נתן מקום לכל מה שנתן שצריך לתחתונים לשלמותם האמיתי. כי בהיותו מסתיר פניו, הנה נותן מקום לחסרונות, ובתתו מקום לחסרונות – נותן מקום לעבודה כדי להשלימם. ולפי שההסתר עשוי רק כדי להגלות, הנה זה נותן מקום לתקן החסרונות ההם בכח הגילוי של השלמות.

ובהיות שההסתר עשוי ליגלות על כל פנים אפילו מעצמו, הנה ניתן קץ לימי הבחירה, שסוף כל סוף כל העולם יהיה מתוקן בתיקון שלם, ומשם והלאה יהיה זמן קבלת השכר על העבודה, שקדמה כבר, כמאמרם ז”ל (עירובין כב ע”א), “היום לעשותם ומחר לקבל שכרם”:

(מא) אמרה הנשמה – נקבץ איפוא כל אשר דברנו עד עתה בענין הזה, כי רב הוא:

(מב) אמר השכל – הכלל קצר ונוח לקבלו. רצה הרצון העליון לגלות ולברר אמתת יחודו – שאין שום יכולת נגד יכלתו כלל ועיקר, ועל היסוד הזה בנה עולמו בכל חוקותיו.

והכלל הוא, מה שהוא מסתיר פניו ונותן מקום לרע לימצא, עד שיחזור ויגלה טובו, והרע לא ימצא עוד, ונראה יחוד ממשלתו. ובין כך וכך ניתן מקום עבודה לאדם כל זמן שהחסרון נמצא, והשלמות עומד להתגלות; ואחר שנתגלה – הוא זמן קבלת השכר על העבודה שנעשית כבר:

(c) 2016 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

Da’at Tevunot 1:9 (# 40 [continued] )

Da’at Tevunot 1:9 (# 40 [continued] )

We can come to “recognize the truth … about this world” and “draw close to G-d”, Ramchal assures us, if we’d just realize this: that doing things that go against G-d’s wishes are wrongful, and that G-d created wrongfulness in the first place by hiding His visage [1].

So, rather than be attracted to wrong we’d be wise to be drawn instead toward the holy things that carry the promise of our being exposed to “the hidden, mystic light … of the Living G-d’s own visage” instead. Make that choice, we’re told, and you’ll “reveal G-d’s sovereignty yourself” in your heart and in the world, and you’ll have achieved redemption rather than have to endure the travails of exile [2].

In fact, this was the opportunity offered to Adam at the very beginning [3]. He was faced with the reality of wrongdoing, too, in the form of the snake. But had Adam not been faced with that reality and had only seen G-d’s presence, he wouldn’t have grasped the actual extent of G-d’s rule. So, G-d allowed for wrong to be manifest in the Garden of Eden so Adam could understand the difference between its rule and G-d’s own, and come to fully appreciate G-d’s full sovereignty [4].

Yet he failed. He knew that he was told not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but he ate from it anyway, in the erroneous belief that there could be two rulers [5], as if what the snake said was true. Adam should have thought about the implications of what he saw and chosen right over wrong  — chosen the good that reiterated G-d’s sovereignty, and rejected the wrongfulness that denied it and which was only created to test humankind.

Had he in fact trusted his inherent faith [6] until the end of the day he was tested rather than fallen for the schemes of the snake, he would have more fully grasped the reality of G-d’s sovereignty, since he’d have seen wrongfulness for himself and known that G-d only allowed for it to exist for His own purposes. And he’d have accomplished in that one day what would subsequently take 6,000 years to do! For he’d have undone all wrongfulness right there and then.

Yet he was duped. He fell sway to his desires for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and descended into error. Adam was then forced to see for himself the actual makeup of wrong — i.e., the fact that it’s “temporary” and due to be replaced by goodness alone. The sad fact is that he had to be shown outright what he’d known and believed from the first.

That’s indeed parallel to our own situation here. For, if we’d only be willing to take the reality of G-d’s sovereignty to heart and believe in it forthrightly, we will have succeeded from the start. But since we fall for the five calamitous theological errors spoken of before [7] G-d is forced to reveal His sovereignty to us outright in the end, and to have us experience the horrors of exile in the meanwhile which enables wrongfulness to grow exponentially.

In fact we pay an extraordinarily high price for the reality of G-d’s visage being hidden from us: our insights are skewed and our deeds are corrupt. That then brings about calamitous changes in all of reality around us to the point where life is chaotic and fraught with wrongdoing. Nonetheless we’re reassured that once G-d’s Glory and sovereignty are revealed our insights and deeds will be rectified and we’ll all cling on to His presence [8].

Footnotes:

[1]         How astounding! His point is that we can come to know what’s true and what’s not — and draw close to G-d at one at the same time — if we’d only take to heart the idea that what we should do is avoid what G-d wants us to avoid, and to realize that such things only exist in the first place because G-d created them in a “back-handed” sort of way in order for us to learn from them the reality of G-d’s utter sovereignty.

[2]         Thus, Ramchal’s position is that just realizing the truth of G-d’s utter sovereignty will greatly benefit us and the world. In fact, it could be said that the whole point of Da’at Tevunot is to enable us to come to that realization and to take it to heart.

[3]         Ramchal depicted the possibilities and failures of Adam a number of times in his works: see below 2:3, 3:5 and 3:14-17; Derech Hashem 1:3:6-8 and 2:4:2; Adir Bamarom pp. 389-395 (and elsewhere there); and Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 120.

[4]         That is, if he’d only seen G-d, he’d just naturally have assumed that G-d ruled the universe, but by having seen wrongfulness in the world, too, he was presented with the possibility of it ruling. His turning his back from wrongfulness then would have been a brave and righteous choice on his part, it would have enabled Him to have bolstered his faith in the reality of G-d’s sovereignty, and it would have readied everything for sheer perfection.

[5]         That is, that G-d’s command was no more imposing than the snake’s.

In fact, Adam was referred to as an outright heretic by our sages (Sanhedrin 38a) for that, as Ramchal indicates later on in the text.

[6]         I.e., his personal knowledge of G-d’s ways in the world.

[7]         See 1:5 above.

[8]         Ramchal cites a number of well known messianic-like verses to buttress his points here, including the statement that in the end G-d “will pour out (His) spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 3:1) as a consequence of which “no longer will anyone (have to) instruct his neighbor or … his brother, saying, ‘Know G-d!’ for they will all know Me from their smallest to their greatest” (Jeremiah 31:33); there will be a point when “many nations will go and say, ‘Let us go forth and ascend G-d’s mountain. Let Him teach us His ways, and let us walk in His paths!'” (Isaiah 2:3) and “the wolf will dwell with the lamb“(Isaiah 11: 6).

(c) 2016 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.