Da’at Tevunot 3:6 (¶ 118 [beginning])
Ramchal reiterates here 1 that wrong is a created entity 2 that was only designed to last for as long as G-d wanted it to, and then be undone. He’ll now lay out some of the details of that.
His first point is that G-d originally established the possibility of everything — but perfect phenomena 3 — to be undone. That being so, he argues, the world we now know of can be undone, since it’s imperfect. But once the Ultimate Future comes about with its perfected heaven and earth 4, the world will ultimately not be undone 5.
He’ll now explain some of the mechanics behind this. The original emanation that brought about the sort of imperfect reality that we now know of that will be undone 6 will not bring about the Ultimate Future. For that original emanation was only implanted with the ability to bring about imperfect things. After all, didn’t it bring about the sorts of people we are, who are a combination of right and wrong, good and bad?
That emanation could only allow for the eventual separating out of wrongfulness rather than its undoing 7 by Divine decree. It doesn’t actually allow for things to be undone as they stand now but rather to be bound by G-d’s decree that they not be undone yet, but to function instead under the rules that He established for the world.
In fact, that original emanation was designed to allow things to grow stronger in effect sometimes, and weaken at other times, as G-d would deem necessary. And so we have the sort of world we live in now with its combination of right and wrong, but with not enough wrong to cause it to be undone — until it would be, given that “all that exists now will eventually deteriorate” 8, as Ramchal so ominously puts it, when G-d decides that that’s to happen.
So again, when G-d brought about the original emanation, He implanted within it the ability to allow things to eventually be undone. That’s why an inherently imperfect universe exists now, and why the world has within it the ability to allow for wrong as well as annihilation.
That’s not to say that that first emanation was faulty or incapable of “doing better”, so to speak, by the way. In fact, what’s due to come about in the Ultimate Reality could have come about from the first under the influence of that original emanation; it’s just that that emanation was specifically implanted with the ability to bring about imperfect things
But – and here’s the point — a second emanation was to also come about as well which will also allow for existence, but which will forestall annihilation until the right time.
As a result, while “the state of being undone itself will not yet itself have been undone”, as Ramchal put it, wrong will have been given boundaries and made to serve the purpose it was meant to 9. There will nevertheless come a time when all wrong will be undone and only perfect and eternal things will exist 10.
Don’t forget, though, what as we’d pointed out a number of times before 11 — that a major principle upon which the world stands is G-d’s either “hiding His Countenance” which results in imperfection, wrong and injustice, or His “revealing” it which results in perfection and righteousness.
Our point here, Ramchal indicates, is that wrong is the greatest example of G-d’s “hiding His Countenance”. For, given that G-d wanted to create man to be a combination of body and soul, He utilizes these two principles to enable man to eventually achieve perfection, even though man can sometimes be weak and other times strong, exalted or lowly and the like, since that is all in keeping with G-d’s ultimate plans, despite appearances.
1 Also see 3:1 above.
2 And so it’s neither eternal nor is it as powerful as G-d, as some erroneously think.
3 Like souls, Divine emanations, the world of the Ultimate Future (which ia spoken of below) and the like.
4 See Isaiah 65:17 where it’s written “I will create new heavens and a new earth”.
5 This is subtly alluding to the esoteric idea of the imperfect body and perfect soul conjoining in the World to Come when both will exist forever (see 2:1 above and our note 6 there).
Also see 3:19 about everything eventually being pure goodness, and Adir Bamarom p. 397 about the fact that wrong as it is now will prove to be not actually wrong but rather only apparently (not genuinely) so.
6 See 3:2 above.
7 See 3:22 below for an explanation of this.
8 With the exception of perfect things as indicated above.
9 I. e., to allow for free will. See 1:11 above.
10 Let’s continue to follow the “bouncing ball” here.
As we said in our first footnote to 3:4, Ramchal’s aim is to present the whys and wherefores of wrong and injustice, which he did by first discussing the emanation that lead to the creation and maintenance of the world (3:2). From there he went on to speak of the place of G-d’s will within that emanation (i.e., of the fact that G-d is always allowing for whatever is going on – even instances of wrong and injustice) (3:3). Then see note 3 to 3:5 about a discussion of the potential for wrong and injustice in the world, as well as 3:4 which addressed the interface between the potential for wrong and the Divine Will worked through that emanation.
At this point Ramchal explains the existence of wrong as being dependent on the fact that that original emanation would only allow for the world’s temporary existence with a potential for imperfection and thus wrong but that a second emanation will eventually undo that reality and bring on perfection.
There’s a profound discussion of the makeup and implications of these two systems of emanation in Clallim Rishonim 12.
Ramchal will now reintroduce another major factor in the playing out of right and wrong.
11 See 2:5 as well as the end of 3:5 above, etc.
(c) 2019 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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Rabbi Feldman’s new annotated translation of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag’s “Introduction to the Zohar” is available as “The Kabbalah of Self” on Kindle here. His annotated translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here and his annotated translation of Rabbeinu Yonah’s “The Gates of Repentance” is available here.
He has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).