Da’at Tevunot 1:17 (# 54 – 56 [beg.])

Da’at Tevunot 1:17 (# 54 – 56 [beg.])

1.

There’s something not to be denied about G-d’s interactions with us, and it’s this 1. There are times when He acts in an open and above-board sort of way with us, as when He punishes or rewards us for our deeds, “showing us His hand” if you will and directly responding to our actions, measure for measure.

And then there are times when His actions don’t quite fit that pattern and His reactions aren’t at all straightforward, as when He functions in response to what Ramchal terms His own “profound counsel” 2 — His own plan which aims to lead us all toward the ultimate rectification and sees to it that everything contributes to that end.

In fact, that only stands to reason. After all, haven’t we been taught that “everything done by Heaven is (for the) good” (Berachot 60a); and hasn’t the prophet said, “In that day we will say, ‘I will praise You, G-d; for though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away and You have comforted me” (Isaiah 12:1)3?

Indeed, we’ll come to understand for ourselves in the end that behind everything that happens in the world lies the fact that G-d will eventually make His ways known to us, that only goodness and blessings will come about despite our travails, that utter goodness will always rise up out of the bad, and that no one will ultimately be rejected as a consequence of his sins so much as “treated” for and cleansed of them, and that everything will be set right. It will become clear that all G-d intended from the first was to rectify things.

2.

It will also become manifest in retrospect that G-d’s ways have always been far more “awesome, and infinitely wide and deep” than we imagined, as Ramchal puts it, and staggeringly beyond our ken. And it will be understood how “even the least significant of His actions is so full of wisdom and depth that it’s impossible to plumb them”.

For, while G-d’s actions “may seem to be straightforward” at times, still-and-all “their contents are (in fact) esoteric” and a by-product of G-d’s occult plan to do good; and they’ve always been rooted in “goodness rather than harm” even if we can’t “see them or understand (them in that light) now”. For, we can only grasp a “drop from the great sea” of His deeds and intentions 4.

We’ll also eventually come to know that even when He chides us and has us suffer trial and tribulation, things are not what they appear to be — it’s all for the good, as G-d only means to rectify us. He isn’t set on rejecting wrongdoers as the notion of “retribution” would seem to indicate. For, as He Himself said, “Have I any pleasure at all when a wrongdoer dies? …; (I’d rather) he repent of his ways and live!” (Ezekiel 18:23).

That’s to say that we’ll sooner or later see through the apparent and peer onto the meant. For, “as soon as G-d enlightens our eyes with insight”, Ramchal says, “we’ll come to understand (in retrospect) through the very things that happened” to us themselves before we became aware all contributed to His goal 5.

So let it be reiterated that whatever happens to us now as a consequence of our bad or good actions is still-and-all rooted in our ultimate perfected state, when “the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped” (Isaiah 35:5), For we’ll come to see and to understand the truth of G-d’s ways then as we never could before, and we’ll catch sight of the wisdom that runs through them like a rivulet of quicksilver 6.

Footnotes:

1             This chapter returns to 1:15 and reiterates the important idea expressed there that G-d is always tilting the cosmos in the direction of perfection, and that nothing could ever thwart that. But it does underscore another point, which we’ll address below.

The truth be told, there are several instances in Da’at Tevunot, here and there, where Ramchal seems to be redundant. But it’s our contention that he purposefully repeats himself in order to underscore just how vitally important it is for us to grasp the things being said.

But see Klallim Rishonim 7 for other shades of meaning suggested here. They touch on the mystery of the “immanent” versus the “transcendent” lights spoken of by the Kabbalists. Ramchal contends that the imminent lights represent the way things seem to be while the transcendent ones represent things beyond our ken.

2             See 6:1:2 below, Clallei Milchamot Moshe 7, and Breishit Rabbah (Eikev) for use of this unusual and captivating turn of phrase.

3                That is, “In that day”, i.e., in the end, “we will say, ‘I will praise You, G-d; for though You were once angry with me,” I have come to understand that “Your anger is now turned away and You have comforted me instead”.

4                This is Ramchal’s additional stance here, referred to in note 1 above: that not only can’t we understand G-d Himself but that even His actions are frequently unfathomable.

5                That’s to say, we’ll eventually sit stunned assessing it all and say, “Now I understand why this and that (seemingly bad thing) happened to me – it was so that thus and such (good thing) could come about”.

6             Ramchal is careful to point out here in the text, though, that the overwhelming benevolence that we’re to experience will only come our way to the degree that we can handle it — it will not be to the degree that G-d’s own inherent essential benevolence could express itself. That’s to say that even though there’s much more to remark about the stupendous things we’re to experience than we’ve indicated, the point remains that there’s an even more stunning level that can’t even be cited.

Ramchal sets out to encapsulate this chapter at the end which we’ll offer here rather than above to avoid redundancy.

As he puts it, “G-d’s own inherent perfection is utterly unfathomable. But since He wanted to express His benevolence through acts that are in our ambit and not beyond it, He brought about various things that would eventually have us achieve perfection and a state of rectification. This factor underlies all His actions (here) and is their common denominator. Some and only some of this hidden factor can be caught sight of in G-d’s actions themselves when G-d wants us to open our eyes (to the truth of things), but G-d’s awesome and profound wisdom keeps the vast majority of it hidden away and unfathomable.”

(c) 2017 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal” that can be subscribed to.

Preview of Da’at Tevunot 1:17 (# 54 – 56 [beg.])

Preview of Da’at Tevunot 1:17 (# 54 – 56 [beg.])

G-d interacts with us both overtly and covertly, but in the end everything is for the good, whether it seems to be or not. And it’s all there to bring about the great rectification.  We’ll understand in retrospect just how everything that happened was for the good (though we won’t and couldn’t understand that utterly so).

(נד) אמר השכל – עוד אודיעך בענין הזה דבר יותר פרטי, והוא – כי ודאי בכל מדה ומדה שהוא ית”ש מודד לנו, נבחין שני ענינים, הנראה והנסתר; דהיינו, הנראה הוא השכר והעונש, למי שנמדדה לו המדה ההיא לפי מה שהיא, הטובה היא אם רעה; והנסתר היא העצה העמוקה הנמצאת תמיד בכל מדותיו, להביא בהן את הבריות לתיקון הכללי. כי כך היא המדה ודאי, שאין לך מעשה קטן או גדול שאין תוכיות כוונתו לתיקון השלם, וכענין שאמרו (ברכות ס, כגירסת ע”י), “כל מאי דעבדין מן שמיא – טב”. והם הם דברי הנביא (ישעיהו יב, א), “ישוב אפך ותנחמני”, כי יודיע דרכיו הקב”ה לעתיד לבא לעיני כל ישראל איך אפילו התוכחות והיסורין לא היו אלא הזמנות לטובה, והכנה ממש לברכה. כי הקב”ה אינו רוצה אלא בתיקון בריאתו, ואינו דוחה הרשעים בשתי ידים; אלא אדרבה, מצרפם בכור להתקן, ולצאת מנוקים מכל סיג. והכוונה זאת אחת היא לו ית’ בכל מעשיו שהוא [עושה] עמנו, להימין ולהשמאיל, וכמו שביארנו לעיל:

ואמנם צריך שתדעי כי כל מעשה ה’ נורא הוא, ורחב ועמוק לאין תכלית, כענין שנאמר (תהלים צב, ו), “מה גדלו מעשיך ה'”; והקטן שבכל מעשיו יש בו כל כך מן החכמה הרבה והעמוקה, שאי אפשר לרדת לעמקה לעולם, והוא ענין הכתוב (תהלים שם), “מאד עמקו מחשבותיך”. והנה עתה אין מעשי ה’ מובנים לנו כלל, אלא שטחיותם הוא הנראה, ותוכיותם האמיתי מסתתר, כי הרי התוך הזה שוה בכולם – שכולם רק טוב ולא רע כלל, וזה אינו נראה ומובן עתה ודאי. אך לעתיד לבא זה לפחות נראה ונשיג – איך היו כולם מסיבות תחבולותיו ית’ עמוקות להטיב לנו באחריתנו. אבל לא נדמה מפני זה שנשיג סוף החכמה הרבה הנכללת במעשים ההם, כי כל מה שישיג אדם אפילו ממעשי הבורא אינו אלא כטפה מן הים הגדול. ועל כן נדע שבהיות שרצה האדון להשקיף בחק טובו שזכרנו על בריותיו, הנה כל המעשים המגיעים לנו עתה על פי דרך השכר ועונש, יש בתוכם מה שאין בברם ודאי – מה שמגלגל ומסבב בטובו תמיד להשלים תיקוננו. ויש בתוך הזה מה שיתגלה לעתיד לבא מיד, שנאמר (ישעיהו לה, ה), “אז תפקחנה עיני עורים”, היא הכונה, המחשבה הנראית וניכרת מתוך המעשים עצמם, שמיד שיאורו עינינו באור הדעה נבינה מן המעשה עצמו אשר נעשה. אמנם, יש ויש ודאי מן החכמה העמוקה במעשים ההם, מה שאינו ניכר ומושג מכחם של המעשים כלל; כי מרוממות החכמה העליונה הוא, שאינה ניכרת אפילו מפעולותיה. וזה וזה אינם אלא מעשי טובו ית’ המשקיף עלינו לטובה, אך תמיד לפי ערכנו, ולא לפי ערכו, וכמו שביארנו; כי אין זה אלא מה שנמשך מחק שלמותו, אבל בעשותו מעשיו רק לפי מה שנוגע לנו:

(נה) אמרה הנשמה – תכלול גם הענין הזה:

(נו) אמר השכל – זה הכלל, שלמותו ית’ מצד עצמו אינו מושג כלל, אך ברצותו לעשות בחק טובו, לפחות באותם המעשים שהם לפי ערכנו, לא יותר, שם עצות וגלגולי הנהגה להביא כל הבריות אל שלמות ותיקון, וזה הנסתר שבכל מעשיו, צד השוה שבהן. ונסתרם זה – קצת מן הקצת ממנו מתגלה וניכר מתוך המעשים עצמם, כשרוצה הקב”ה לפקוח עינינו. אפס רובו עדיין ישאר מרומם ונשגב ולא מושג כלל, מרוב עומק חכמתו ית’ הנפלאה:

(c) 2017 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

 

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal” that can be subscribed to.

Da’at Tevunot 1:16 (# 51 – 53)

Da’at Tevunot 1:16 (# 51 – 53)

1.

We need to make an important point, though. Are we saying that G-d’s very Self will be revealed? Didn’t we say that His Self is simply unknowable and can’t be experienced 1? No, His very Self won’t be.

For, even the sort of utter rule and control over everything that His sovereignty entails which will be revealed in the end is distinct from G-d’s very Self. Since G-d’s sovereignty has to do with His relationship with the cosmos and His very Self is utterly apart from creation and utterly beyond our experience and ken 2.

It’s just that G-d decided to function to a degree within the dimensions and paradigms that we function in when He created the universe rather than within His own unfathomable reality. So while His own full Self lies in the background and won’t ever be revealed 3 we experience something of His presence here and now, and will know a far fuller flowering of that in the end, as we’d said.

2.

In fact, G-d could be said to have “held Himself back”, if you will, by two enormous degrees 4. Firstly, He only does things here that we can endure rather than what He’s fully capable of manifesting, and thus holds Himself back from displaying His natively full, blindingly rich benevolence simply because we couldn’t bear it.

And secondly, He also hasn’t even manifested the degree of benevolence that we could and will bear in the end— for now. As while He could have created us from the beginning as perfect and as capable of basking in the light of His sovereignty as we could, He didn’t, for His own good reasons 5.

.3.

The point remains, though, that G-d didn’t want our state of imperfection to go on forever — for there to always be the sort of Sturm und Drang, blessings and curses, and moral contentions that characterize our world now. Rather, He wanted perfection to flower forth from the midst of it all.

But let it never be forgotten or mistaken: our destined, relevant perfection cannot compare to G-d’s own inherent perfection whatsoever. As His perfection, “His utter simplicity” as Ramchal words it, “is utterly irrelevant to our experience” no matter how exalted that experience will be.

Footnotes:

1                See 1:3:2 above and note 4 there as well as 1:12:2 and note 3 there.

2                For G-d Himself exists in a space-less, time-less “space” and “time” that’s utterly devoid of definition and beyond conjecture, and is chockfull of utter G-d and nothing else. Were we to dare try to portray that realm in the context of anything in our experience we’d gingerly liken it to something as abstract and subtle as the notion of having the idea for an idea, or to a memory we might have had once of having had a memory long ago. But that too is inadequate for our understanding of the utterly subtle and nonrepresentational nature of G-d’s context.

3                Other than to Himself.

4                See 1:2:3 above as well as Clallim Rishonim 2 and 6 (further on than what’s cited in the previous chapter) and Klach Pitchei Chochma 28.

5                So G-d Himself lies far, far in the background and is removed from our experience. And not only is that so but the single facet of His Being that we will experience — the revelation of His sovereignty — has purposely been denied us up to now. Perhaps that explains the sense of terrible and chill distance from Him that we often feel, although maybe the promise and expectation of the revelation of His sovereignty explains the sense we have of His otherwise very real presence. Recall, though, that we’re still and all able to attach unto His presence indeed, as Ramchal assures us in several places here and elsewhere (See notes 2 and 3 to 1:2 for reference to this).

 

(c) 2017 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 1:16 (# 51 – 53)

Preview of Da’at Tevunot 1:16 (# 51 – 53)

Even the sort of utter rule that G-d’s sovereignty entails which will be revealed is distinct from G-d’s very Self. Since G-d’s sovereignty has to do with His relationship with the cosmos and His Self is utterly apart from creation and beyond our ken

It’s just that G-d decided to function within the dimensions that we function in when He created the universe rather than within His own reality. So while His own full Self won’t ever be revealed, we experience something of His presence now, and will know a fuller expression of it in the end.

G-d could be said to have “held Himself back” by two enormous degrees. Firstly, He only does things here that we can endure. And secondly, He also hasn’t even manifested the degree of benevolence that we could bear, as while He could have created us from the beginning as perfect as we could be He didn’t.

.The point remains that G-d didn’t want our state of imperfection to go on forever and for there to always be moral contentions. Rather, He wanted perfection to evolve from the midst of it. But let it never be forgotten that our destined perfection can’t compare to G-d’s own inherent perfection whatsoever.

(נא) אמרה הנשמה – עדיין אני צריכה ישוב קצת על ענין מידת הממשלה הזאת שזכרת, כי אינני מבינה היטב את פעולת שלמותו הפשוט ית’, כי לפי הנראה אף היא אינה מחק השלמות, כי כבר אמרת שאין שלמות האמיתי מושג:

 (נב) אמר השכל – היטבת לדקדק. ועתה אעמידך על בורים של דברים. שלמותו ית’ הפשוט אי אפשר להשיגו כלל ועיקר, הוא הוא השלמות האמיתי הבלתי נודע לנו כלל, והנה זה מרומם ונשגב מעצמו מכל עניני הנבראים. כי מיד שרצה לנהג בריותיו, קבע ורצה במדות האלה שהם כולם ענינים מתיחסים לנבראים, ולא לפי ערכו כלל; ונמצא, מהותו הפשוט מסולק מכל הענינים האלה לגמרי. ולא עוד, אלא שאפילו בפעולותיו אלה עצמם לפי ערך הנבראים – מה שהיה יכול לעשות לא עשה; ואדרבה כבש, כביכול, את טובו לבלתי עשות מה שהיה ראוי לו לעשות לפי טוב חקו. וזה, כי אפילו ברצותו לנהג הנבראים ולהגלות להם רק לפי ערכם, ולא לפי ערכו, היה יכול על כל פנים ליגלות להם ולנהגם לפחות לפי ערכם זה, אך בשלמות בלא חסרונות, וכמו שיהיה סוף סוף לעתיד לבא. ומחק טובו וחסדו היה זה ליגלות להם בהטבה רבה ובהשפעה רווחת, ומחק שלמותו היה לעשות מעשיו שלמות בלא חסרונות; וכבש כל זה, ורצה לעשותם בחסרונות, וחסרי ההארה כמות שהם:

ואמנם, לא רצה על כל פנים להניח עולמו כך, שיהיה תמיד הולך וסוער בשותפות הטוב והרע, אלא מטעם טובו הגדול היה לשים הנהגה אחת ועצה עמוקה לסבב כל הדברים מתוך הטוב ורע עצמו אל התיקון השלם השייך לימצא בהם; ומחק שלמותו הוא זה לעשות שעל כל פנים יהיו מעשיו מושלמים, ולא ישארו בחסרונם. אמנם אין זה מעשה שלמותו הפשוט לפי עצמו הבלתי מושג, כי פשיטותו אינו שייך בעניננו בשום פנים. אלא הוא הדבר אשר דברתי, כי על כל פנים מחק שלמותו הוא שאפילו שרוצה לפעול רק לפי הנבראים – אך יפעול עמהם בשלמות. וזה הוא מקור ההנהגה – עצה העמוקה שאמרתי, המסבבת וממשכת את הכל לתיקון הגמור:

ואולם אהנו מעשיו ודאי בכבישת רחמיו, כביכול, שזכרנו, שלא יעשה כחק שלמותו להיות הבריות שלמים מתחילתם, אלא תחילתם חסר, וסופם יהיה שלם, מטעם טובו הגדול כמו שביארנו. שאלמלא היה מניח לעולם רק מדת המשפט, לא היו הבריות יוצאים מדי דפים לעולם, כי תמיד היו נמצאים צדיקים ורשעים, טובות ורעות, ברכה וקללה. אך עתה, אף על פי שבתחילה כך הוא, לא יהיה כן בסופו. ועל כן נשארה מדת המשפט בגלוי ומדת התיקון הכללי בהסתר, כי מעשיה בסתר הם, עד סוף דבר שיתוקן כל המציאות כולו לעתיד לבא:

(נג) אמרה הנשמה – עתה נתישבתי, כי ודאי דרך התיקון הכללי מחק טובו ית’ הוא ודאי, אך על כל פנים ברצותו לפעול עמנו רק לפי ערכנו, ולא לפי ערכו:

 (c) 2017 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 1:15 (# 48 middle – 50)

Preview of Da’at Tevunot 1:15 (# 48 middle – 50)

1.

Despite the daunting reality of G-d’s seeming absence in this world, bear in mind that His ultimate aim is to disclose His presence and sovereignty, and to make it clear that His having concealed it in the first place was a means to reveal it in the end 1. For, though His hiddenness allowed for the system of right and wrong 2, G-d will ultimately bring everything to a state of perfection 3 and shower all with His beneficence 4.

And so eventually the whole murky system of right and wrong that G-d established here for the meanwhile will be undone, and all will be set right; for the 6,000 year-long period of spiritual trial and error will have played itself out, and G-d’s presence will be manifest along with all the perfection that will follow in its wake. In fact, G-d is consequently always affecting, shifting, and arranging things and circumstances here and now to bring that day about, and every single day brings us closer to it 5.

As the prophets affirmed, “You have (always) done great things … O L-rd my G-d. For Your wonders and Your thoughts are for (i.e., directed toward) us” (Psalms 40:6), “You (G-d) have dealt wondrously; (You have conjured) devices (for the revelation of Your Yichud) from long ago” (Isaiah 25:1), and “G-d … devises means so that anyone who is banished (as a consequence of his sins) will not be cast from Him (in the end)” (2 Samuel 14:14).

Understand though that the whole process — G-d’s hiddenness and His eventual revelation — had to follow a measured course of action. For as Ramchal puts it, “G-d certainly didn’t want to adopt a system of right and wrong for a certain amount of time, then abandon it and set up another one in which His sovereignty would reign in one fell swoop, like someone who regretted what he’d done (and seemed to have changed his mind)”.

Instead, G-d wanted to bring the change about from “within” in such a way that His sovereignty would simply evolve out of the system of right and wrong we experience now. And then the experience of perfection and G-d’s Yichud would be revealed, and the two eras 6 will stand in clear contradistinction to each other, as we’ll see later on.

3.

The truth is that G-d interacts with us even now both ways at the same time. As we all know, He now allows for reward and punishment 7, and thus judges and rules accordingly; yet at the same time He unobtrusively and covertly allows His inherent benevolence that will eventually lead to perfection to permeate the world as well 8.

Interestingly enough, G-d seems to allow Himself to be swayed by, or to even be subservient to our actions and ethics in the here and now, and to thus reward or punish in reaction to us rather than His own penchants 9.

But know that while G-d certainly judges our actions and responds to them measure for measure, and He has innumerable ways and agents to administer justice10, nevertheless He is still in actual fact bringing everything to the state of perfection 11.

That’s not to deny the fact that He still-and-all has purposely held back His sovereignty from the world, created us imperfect, and has us endure more darkness than light in a world of wrong and injustice. It’s just that the fact remains that He will manifest His full benevolence and sovereignty in due course and will bring us to the state of perfection that is our destiny.  For, the revelation of G-d’s Yichud is the truth that simmers beneath the surface of things that roils more and more resoundingly and comes closer and closer to the top 12.

Footnotes:

1                That is, G-d purposely hid His presence, which then has us yearn for it, which makes its appearance the greatest favor He in His beneficence can grant us. As there’s no greater gift than a need fulfilled; and there’s no greater need than the one for G-d’s manifest presence.

See Clallim Rishonim 6 for a discussion of the Kabbalistic themes underlying this chapter. In short, after G-d hid His presence as a consequence of the Tzimtzum (see note 7 to 1:1, note 6 to 1:3) He left a mere “Trace” of His presence behind (see note 7 to 1:14). At a certain point He reintroduced a fuller stream of His presence termed the Kav (or “Line”) which enables more and more of His presence to appear, so as to affect the perfection referred to in this chapter. The interplaying of the Kav and Reshimu is what’s depicted here, and it’s a central theme in Ramchal’s thoughts. See his Assarah Orot 7.

2                Within which some enjoy and deserve G-d’s favor and others don’t.

3                See 6:6 below for discussion of the state of perfection.

4                Let’s clarify this. We all see the need for reward and punishment in this world, given that there’s right and wrong which should be reacted to appropriately. But there simply won’t be a role for any of that once everyone is dazed and stunned by the stark reality of G-d’s presence and sovereignty: that reality will simply undo wrongdoing (and thus punishment). And that is what we’re heading toward .

5                That’s to say that every seeming impediment, every “sideswipe” and “curve ball”, will prove to have been perfectly timed, fully appropriate, on-target, and imperative. For it will be found that absolutely nothing was independent of the process of revelation, nothing irrelevant to it; everything said, thought, done, and planned was a part of it all, along with each nuance and shade-of-a-nuance. The underlying point is that the great redemption and revelation of G-d’s sovereignty is indeed on its way, whether we know it or not. Have faith, for the great mystery will be solved, and the knottiest of puzzles will be unraveled right before your eyes.

6                I.e., “before” and “after” the revelation of G-d’s sovereignty.

7                Ramchal terms this His “values-based rule” (G-d’s other means of interaction is termed His “Yichud– and perfection-based rule” as we’ll see in the note 12 below).

8                We could perhaps liken G-d’s Yichud-mode to our autonomic nervous system and His values-based mode to our voluntary movements. The autonomic nervous system controls various vital bodily functions on its own and without our input, and sees to it that we thrive (sometimes even despite ourselves). Our voluntary movements, on the other hand, follow our dictates, right or wrong, and can either better or even undo us. In much the same way, it’s G-d’s Yichud-mode that always sees to it that we thrive — more so, that we perfect ourselves; while His values-based mode allows us the freedom to better or harm ourselves.

9                Ramchal remarks in the text here that this in fact explains statements that seem to deny G-d’s sovereignty such as Psalms 68:35, Deuteronomy 32:18, (see Eicha Rabbah 1:33 about these two verses), Zachariah 3:9, and Jeremiah 50:20.

His point seems to be that it’s as if G-d wasn’t G-d at all so much as a servant to a higher force than Himself whom He’s to answer to, if you will — right and wrong. But the truth is that G-d does indeed work on two levels at the same time: He allows Himself to “acquiesce” to His own creation’s demands on the one hand, but He also sees to it that His own will is the last word, as the mode of acquiescence will eventually be undone and G-d’s sovereignty will indeed manifest itself — as soon as G-d decides it should.

10              In fact, that goes far to explain the odd and surprising roles we find ourselves in from time to time as we act as G-d’s agents for others, unbeknownst even to ourselves; and it also accounts for the utterly unexpected appearance of so many things in our life.

11              Ramchal also remarks in the text that all of this explains the statements, “I, G-d, do not change” (Malachi 3:6) and “I have never changed” (Zohar 3:281a), which mean to say that even though G-d may seem to acquiesce to others’ wishes now, nonetheless His native sovereignty will be apparent in the process of time.

12              The Neshama asks the Sechel at this point in the text to encapsulate his main points here. We’ll present his words in this note rather than above to avoid redundancy.

“G-d manifests two traits in this world: a values-based rule and a Yichud-and-perfection-based one. The values-based rule necessitates (the existence of both) right and wrong which all good and bad phenomena depend on, and it’s rooted in G-d’s hiddenness and (innate) benevolence, and in His concealed perfection.

“The Yichud-and-perfection-based rule (on the other hand) is the trait that will (eventually) bring on the perfection of all created things (even when they don’t deserve it) and is rooted in G-d’s inherent benevolence. (The latter) functions regularly though clandestinely in the presence of the values-based rule so as to bring everything to perfection (in the end), and it’s rooted in G-d’s inherent pure benevolence. Despite its hiddenness it never fails to shine goodness upon us. (In short,) while His values-based rule is (now) manifest and outright, (G-d’s full and perfect) sovereignty is hidden and concealed (though certainly with us all along).”

(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 1:15 (# 48 [middle] – 50)

Preview of Da’at Tevunot 1:15 (# 48 [middle] – 50)

Despite G-d’s seeming absence in this world, His ultimate aim is to disclose His presence and to make it clear that His having concealed it was a means of ultimately revealing it.

Right and wrong will be undone and all will be set right It’s just that the whole process has to follow a measured course of action, and that His sovereignty evolve out of the system of right and wrong.

In fact, G-d interacts with us now both ways at the same time. And though He seems to be swayed by our choices, He’s still bringing everything to the state of perfection.

For though He purposely withheld His sovereignty, created us imperfect, and has us endure wrong and injustice, He will ultimately manifest His sovereignty and bring on the state of perfection.

ואמנם בהיות הכונה התכליתית רק גילוי היחוד, ולא העלמו, וכמו שביארנו לעיל, כי אין ההעלם הזה אלא אמצעי כדי לבא אל הסוף הזה של הגילוי; על כן, אף על פי שהסתיר פניו לחדש בו דבר הנהגת הטוב ורע הזאת, שב על כל פנים והשקיף במדת טובו, ולפי חק ממשלתו, להשלים סיבוב כל ההנהגה הזאת בתיקון הכללי.

וזה דבר פשוט, כי כבר שמעת איך קץ שם לחשך זה של הטוב ורע כל זמן השיתא אלפי שנין; וכבר גזר מראשית אחרית אשר תכלינה כל אלה, וישאר יחודו מגולה, וטובת העולם קבועה לנצח נצחים. אם כן, כל יום ויום שעובר, נמצא העולם קרב יותר אל שלמותו; ולא עוד, אלא שהקב”ה מסיבות מתהפך בעומק עצתו, ומגלגל גלגולים תמיד, להביא העולם אל השלמות הזה.

והוא מה שאמר הכתוב (תהלים מ, ו), “רבות עשית אתה ה’ אלהי נפלאותיך ומחשבותיך אלינו”; וכן אמר הנביא (ישעיהו כה, א), “עצות מרחוק אמונה אומן”; וכן נאמר (שמואל – ב יד, יד), “וחשב מחשבות לבלתי ידח ממנו נדח”. כי ודאי אין הקב”ה רוצה לאחוז בדרך הטוב ורע כל כך זמן, ואחר כך לעזבה ולתפוס בדרך הממשלה והיחוד ברגע אחד, כאדם המתחרט ומתנחם; אלא מעומק עצתו ית’ הוא לגלגל מסיבותיו מעומק חכמה כל כך, עד שמתוך הטוב ורע עצמו נגיע סוף סוף לדבר זה, שיהיה הכל נשלם, ויהיה הוא ית”ש מגלה יחודו. ועוד יתבאר מזה לקמן בס”ד:

ונמצא שבאמת בשתי מדות אלה אוחז האדון ב”ה תמיד, ושתים אלה קבע בחוקו מוסדי ארץ, א’ – מדת השכר ועונש, היא הנהגת הטוב והרע בשיקול אחד לזכות ולחובה, ונקראת הנהגה זאת, הנהגת המשפט, שהקב”ה יושב ודן כל העולם כולו לפי מעשיהם הטובים והרעים. ואתיא תוך משפטו זה – מדת טובו אשר לפי חק שלמותו, לפי ענין ממשלתו, שבכחו הוא רוצה לתקן את כל נבראיו.

והנה, לפי מדת השכר ועונש – הקב”ה, כביכול, משעבד מעשיו למעשי בני אדם, שאם הם טובים גם הוא יטיב להם, ואם הם רעים יוכרח, כביכול, להענישם; וכענין הכתוב (תהלים סח, לו), “תנו עוז לאלהים”; והפכו (דברים לב, יח), “צור ילדך תשי”; וכמאמרם ז”ל (איכה רבה א, לג), “בזמן שישראל עושים רצונו של מקום – מוסיפים כח בגבורה של מעלה, וכשאינן עושים רצונו של מקום – מתישין כח של מעלה”, ח”ו, ולפי מדת ממשלתו ושליטתו אמר (זכריה ג, ט), “ומשתי את עון הארץ ההיא ביום אחד”; (ירמיהו נ, כ), “יבוקש את עון ישראל ואיננו ואת חטאת יהודה ולא תמצאנה”. והנה לפי מדת הטוב ורע – משפטי ה’ אמת לתת לאיש כדרכיו מדה כנגד מדה, והרבה דרכים למקום לשלם לאדם כפעלו, וכאורח איש ימציאנו, אכו לחסד אם לשבטו. אך לפי עצת טובו בחק שלמותו ית’ – הצד השוה שבהן, להחזיר את הכל – לטוב שלם, לתיקון הגמור שיהיה באחרונה. ועל דבר זה נאמר (מלאכי ג, ו), “אני ה’ לא שניתי”. ובמדרשו של רשב”י אמרו (זוהר כי תצא רפא. וע”ש), “לא אשתני בכל אתר”. ואמנם הנהגת השכר ועונש היא המגולית ונראית תמיד לעיני הכל, אך הגלגול שהוא מגלגל הכל לטובה עמוק עמוק הוא, ולא עבידא לאיגלויי כי אם לבסוף, אבל מתגלגל הוא והולך בכל עת ובכל שעה ודאי, ואינו פוסק:

ונמצא, שודאי כבש האדון ב”ה, כביכול, את חק שלמותו בבריאת הנבראים האלה, ובראם חסרים ולא שלמים, ושם להם דרך הנהגה ומין השפעה שאינה אלא חשך סתרו ית’, שממנו בא מציאות שיקול הטוב ורע, ויש מציאות לחטאים ופגמיהם ולעונשים וקלקולים. ואף על פי כן שב והביט בטוב חוקו אל הנבראים האלה לתקנם התיקון הכללי והגמור העתיד לבא, שעליו מסבב את כל הגלגל דבר יום ביומו, וממשיך דברי הטוב ורע עצמו, לגמור בתיקון שלם בכח יחוד שליטתו ית”ש:

(נ) אמר השכל – שתי מידות שם הקב”ה לנהג בם את עולמו, אחת – מידת המשפט, ואחת – מידת השליטה והממשלה היחידית. מידת המשפט היא מידת הטוב ורע, שבה תלויים כל עניני הטובות והרעות בכל תולדותיהם; ומקור המידה הוא הסתר פני טובו, והעלם שלמותו. מידת הממשלה היחידית היא מידת תיקון כל הנבראים בכחו יתברך, אף על פי שמצד עצמם לא היו ראויים לזה, והיא הסובבת והולכת בהעלם בכל דרכי המשפט עצמו, לסבב כל דבר אל השלמות לבד; ומקורה הוא חק טובו הפשוט ית’, שאף על פי שנתעלם, לא זז מלהשקיף עלינו לטובה. מידת המשפט היא המתגלית ונראית, מידת הממשלה היא המתעלמת ומסתתרת לפנים:

(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 1:14 (# 48 beg.)

Da’at Tevunot 1:14 (# 48 beg.)

1.

Knowing now what we do of His omnipotence and benevolence, we’d have expected G-d Almighty to have produced a perfect, utterly and unimaginably effulgent, fecund, boundless, wholly good, G-dly world 1. But He clearly didn’t.

Instead, simply because He wanted to interact with us in a particular way before He revealed His Yichud, He uncharacteristically formulated an utterly and radically original other sort of reality: imperfection 2. And it is that imperfection which forms the crux of our universe and the epoch of time we’re in now.

So, let’s characterize this epoch of time in which our own ethical and spiritual input plays so active a role and where G-d hides His presence 3.

2.

The current epoch is the one in which good and bad choices are there for the taking and in which the righteous are to be rewarded and the wrongful punished; in which we’re either drawn to G-d, which is our goal, or distracted from Him; wherein the Jewish Nation — the people chosen by G-d Himself to execute His plan and make the whole of it right and just-so — can somehow be exiled and quashed for thousands of years; the one in which humankind is sometimes lofty, other times base; where all the unholy, polluted phenomena like idolatry and the like which the prophets promised would be undone in the end now function 4; and it’s where the principle that “everything is in the hands of Heaven but the fear of Heaven” (Berachot 32B) holds sway, by virtue of the fact that G-d who indeed controls everything nevertheless allows for  wrongfulness and injustice 5.

What can’t be denied is that this world of right and wrong is also the one in which the righteous are vexed and challenged, where each and every move they make is scrutinized; where we’re sometimes soiled and other times cleansed; and where destructive forces are loosed and our people are subjugated to foreign, even idolatrous values and control.

The point again is, though, that had G-d wanted to, He could certainly have created the world otherwise by revealing His Yichud from the first and disallowing for wrong and injustice. But instead He purposefully and willfully created the one we’re in now, and that He’ll undo it after His goal will have been met 6.

3.

Understand, though — and this is an important point — that that’s not to say that G-d has abandoned this world (G-d forbid!). For He still bestows us with existence and vigor by means of what’s termed His “emanations” 7. It’s just that those emanations don’t cascade down to the world as they would be inclined to so much as flow (perhaps even only trickle) down.

G-d nonetheless sees to it that the world is sustained all the time by spurring it on and granting it vigor. It’s just that the degree of vigor He allocates for it at this point is nearly nothing compared to what His own abilities would ordinarily allow for. Hence, the force pulsing throughout this universe is “like a shadow of someone, rather than he himself”, as Ramchal puts it, like “the smudge left behind after letters are erased” rather than the letters, as “more darkness than light” compared to the full vigor it could exhibit. We’re satisfied with that, not knowing any better and given that “from our perspective, that’s all of life”, in Ramchal’s words here 8.

The point is that G-d’s emanations have to come to us to that degree at least, though, or we’d simply be undone 9. Nonetheless, what remain as a consequence of this constricted level of emanation, which is a by-product of G-d hiding His Presence from us, is our world and our life — the reality and mother-substance we’ve been thrust into, depend on, trust, and have come to accept as all of reality.

Footnotes:

1             See 1:2:3.

2             3:1 below will speak of the originality of imperfection and wrongfulness.

3             Let’s retrace our steps here in order to understand what’s being offered.

Recall that Ramchal referred to the fact that there’ll be three epochs of time in 1:11:3 (as well as 1:10:1): the one within which G-d’s presence is hidden, the one in which His presence is to be revealed, and the transition period between the two.  He then stepped aside for a while to focus on the various “tools” G-d uses to interact with us in 1:12-13, but he’s now returning to the three epochs, beginning with the one in which G-d’s presence is hidden.

4            Ramchal cites the following verses that depict the end of this epoch as one in which “the haughtiness of man will be bowed down, and the arrogance of men will be brought low; when G-d alone will be exalted …. and (when) He will completely abolish the idols” (Isaiah 2:17-18), when “it will come to pass … says the L-rd of Hosts, that I will cut away the names of the idols from the land, and they will no more be remembered” (Zachariah 13:2), and when G-d “will destroy death forever; … wipe the tears away from all faces; and will remove the insult of His people from all the earth; … and it will be said on that day, ‘Behold! This is our G-d for whom we have waited!’ and He will save us” (Isaiah 25:8-9).

5             The idea that “everything is in the hands of Heaven but the fear of Heaven” implies that G-d’s sovereignty can apparently be undone if we decide not to “fear Heaven”, i.e., not to take G-d seriously. The point is, though, that since it’s G-d Himself who has granted us that freedom as well as the wherewithal we would need to follow through on it, His sovereignty is not only not undone, it’s actually bolstered.

6             That’s to reiterate the point that the world of right and wrong and of exile will eventually be undone and replaced by a newer, transcendent reality that’s beyond right and wrong, reward and punishment; for, none of that will be necessary once G-d’s Yichud will be revealed. See 1:10:1 above.

7             His “emanation” or what’s described in the text as the “overflowing of G-d’s superabundant goodness” is termed shepha in Hebrew. See Job 22:11 and 38:34 which speak of an “abundance (shepha) of water over-covering you”; Vayikrah Rabbah 27, where G-d is depicted as providing plentifully (mashpia) when He gives; and refer to Derech Hashem 2:8:3.

There are some other Kabbalistic references here, too. Without going into great detail, the Kabbalists speak of a “Trace” of G-dliness left behind after the Tzimtzum process (spoken of in note 7 to 1:1 above and note 6 to 1:3). which is known in Hebrew as the reshimu. It’s alluded to here, given that it represents the minimum amount of G-dliness needed for the world to function spoken of here. For discussions of the reshimu in Ramchal’s works see Clallim Rishonim 5 and 6*, and Klach Pitchei Chochma 26-27,

8             As such, we’re like very poor people who know nothing of what life can be like with the wealth that others know of and are to be pitied for our short-sightedness.

9             Not as if our batteries had suddenly died and we’d be left behind to rust off the side of the road, but rather as if we’d simply vanished without a trace.

In fact, after Moses spoke to G-d about the Jewish Nation’s grave sin of having constructed the Golden Calf and pleaded with G-d to forgive them, he then asked Him quite spectacularly to just, “blot me out from Your book” (Exodus 32:32) if G-d wouldn’t forgive them. G-d clearly didn’t acquiesce to that, but we have to wonder if anyone (significant or otherwise) might have been blotted out of the Torah, in fact, without leaving a trace!

In any event, this seems to serve as the paradigm of just how things would be if G-d were to utterly remove His shepha, G-d forbid: all records would be gone about this world and it would be as if it had never existed.

 

(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 1:14 (# 48 [beg.])

Preview of Da’at Tevunot 1:14 (# 48 [beg.])

Being omnipotent and utterly benevolent, G-d would certainly have created a perfect world from the first. Instead He created the world in which there’s good or bad, reward or punishment, holy or profane — one which includes all of the bad possibilities that the prophets said would eventually be undone and that vex and challenge the righteous. All of that is a consequence of G-d hiding His presence and most especially His sovereignty; but once that’s revealed all of the above will be undone.

That’s not to say that G-d’s presence is utterly missing from the world. He still bestows life and energy upon us, otherwise we simply couldn’t exist. It’s just that the degree of it is minimal in light of the sort He could be bestowing upon us. In fact, the degree we experience now is a mere shadow or trace of what it could be, and is more darkness than light in comparison. But it’s the only degree of it that we know of ourselves, and it’s a product of G-d largely hiding His presence from us.

(מח) אמר השכל – הזמן הראשון שיש לנו לבאר עתה, הוא זמן התעלם יחודו ית’ כיום הזה, הוא כלל זמן עבודת האדם, כמו שביארנו.

והנה מחוק שלמותו, כבר אמרנו, היה ודאי יכול לעשות את כל מעשיו שלמים, ולא יהיה במעשיו אלא טובה גמורה ושלמה, בלי שום חסרון ורעה כלל. אמנם ברצותו להתנהג עם נבראיו בהנהגה הזאת שכבר זכרנו, הנה המציא סדר חדש ממש, שלא כדת השלמות העליון ב”ה, אלא מאי דצריכא לברייתא לתת להם זכות ושכר טוב באחריתם, והוא דרך הטוב והרע, השכר והעונש; שלפי הדרך הזה, הנה הטוב והרע שקולים הם ובאים שניהם בעוה”ז, וכך מזומן הוא הטוב לטובים כמו הרע לרעים; ועל פי הדרך הזה נמצא הבריות מתקלקלות לפעמים, ונתקנות לפעמים, וניתנה הרשות לשטן להסטין, ולמשחית לחבל את אשר ירשיעון אלהים, ונמצאו אומות העולם ועובדי עבודה זרה,

 וכן כל שאר הרעות כולם אשר בעולם, שעליהם באו הבטחות הנביאים ע”ה להעבירם מן העולם לעתיד לבא, כענין שנאמר (ישעיהו ב, יח), “והאלילים כליל יחלוף”; (זכריה יג, ב), “ואת רוח הטומאה אעביר מן הארץ”; (ישעיהו כה, ח), “בלע המות לנצח”; (ישעיהו יא, ט; סה, כה), “לא ירעו ולא ישחיתו בכל הר קדשי” וגו’. ועל פי הדרך (ברכות לג ע”ב), “הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים” – שאין הקב”ה רוצה לעכב כלום ביד בני האדם אם רוצים לקלקל מעשיהם. ומזה נולדו כל הקלקולים הגדולים אשר היו בעולם מני יום ברוא אלהים אדם, ואין מנוחה לצדיקים בעוה”ז, כי רעת האדם רבה עליו, והשטן מקטרג בכל עת ובכל שעה, והקב”ה מדקדק עם חסידיו כחוט השערה.

זה כלל הדרך אשר חידש הרצון העליון לפי ענין התעלם שליטתו ויחודו, ואין דרך זה תלוי אלא בהסתר פני טובו ית’, כי לולי היה רוצה להתגלות באמתת ממשלתו, היה מעביר כל הרעות האלה, ולא היה מניח אלא הטוב והתיקון לבדו, וכמה שיעשה לעתיד לבא:

ודעי עוד., כי ודאי גם עתה אע”פ שהעלים טובו ומנע חק שלמותו מן הנבראים, אף על פי כן ודאי הוא שחוא משפיע להם, כי מאין להם הויה ומציאות וקיום אם לא מהשפעתו. אם כן ודאי משפיע הוא, אך השפעתו זאת שהוא משפיע עתה – לגבי מה שהיה ראוי להשפיע אם כחק שלמותו היה רוצה להשפיע – אינה אלא כדמיון הצל לגבי אדם, או כרושם קטן הנשאר מן הכתב על הנייר אחר שסרו האותיות ממנו. ונקרא כלל מין ההשפעה הזאת – חשך ולא אור, לגבי ההשפעה השלמה שהיתה יכולה לבא אם כחק שלמותו היה משפיע. אמנם לגבי דידן על כל פנים זה כל חיינו, כי בהשפעה זאת אנחנו חיים וקיימים, לא זולתה. ונמצא, שכשנזכיר מין ההשפעה הזאת המחודשת בהסתר פני טובו ית’, נקראהו בכלל אחד – כמו צל הכח העליון לבד, לא יותר; ובהתפרטו לפרטיו – נמצא בו כל החוקים והמשפטים אשר מבחינים אנחנו בהנהגה העליונה, כי כלם יחד דבר מועט עד מאד נחשבים הם לגבי הכח העליון אם היה פועל בשלמותו, וכמו שזכרתי:

(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 1:13 (# 46 – 47)

Da’at Tevunot 1:13 (# 46 – 47)

1.

There’s another thing about G-d’s interactions with us we’d do well to explain now 1. It’s that we’re only able to grasp the effects of G-d’s actions — not the means and processes He uses to bring them about, because they touch upon things about Him that we can’t fathom 2, given that we can only comprehend things that touch upon us 3.

And so while G-d is said to “know”, “remember”, “reflect upon”, “sympathize with”, “anger”, or to “want” one thing or another 4, in truth He doesn’t at all experience those the way we do. All we can say is that He experiences certain ineffable thought processes that are somehow and mysteriously analogous to what we’d experience in certain circumstances, but that they’re nevertheless utterly removed from ours.

The point of the matter, in any event, is that we experience the kinds of interactions and effects He’d want us to 5.

2.

It’s also true that what He’s said to refrain from doing 6 is beyond our ken. For, He just has to “say” something for it to come about — albeit in ineffable ways — in our realm to the extent He’d wants it to 7. A classical example of this ineffable ability was the time He was able to say something and have it heard by Moses and concurrently not be heard by the Jewish Nation right beside him 8.

The fact of the matter is that G-d is omnipotent 9 and no “rule” 10 or “limitation” 11 could ever thwart Him, for while our actions are finite and have their limitations, His are infinite and boundless.

And now that we understand just how perfect, exalted, omnipotent, and unimpeded G-d actually is we can begin to comprehend some of the otherwise unfathomable and bewildering aspects about life, history and the course of things we’re often thrown by 12.

Footnotes:

1                See Clallim Rishonim 6 “V’Kav” for a discussion of this.

There’s some seeming redundancy here and 1:12 since both discuss G-d’s interactions with us. Nevertheless while Ramchal discussed G-d’s use of character traits there he’ll be concentrating on His thoughts and actions here.

2             I.e., His thoughts and processes.

3             I.e., our material thoughts and processes.

4             Which involve thoughts and processes beyond us.

5             When He deploys those thoughts and processes.

6             Or what He does to a limited extent, as we’ll see below.

7             That is, He can bring two contradictory phenomena about at the same time.

8             Ramchal is referring to what’s said in Torat Cohanim, Parshat Vayikra 2:10 here.

9             And thus ineffable.

10           Of logic or of some other theoretical lawgiver.

11           Which could theoretically be placed on His abilities.

12           Which will be discussed next.

(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 1:13 (# 46 – 47)

Preview of Da’at Tevunot 1:13 (# 46 – 47)

We’re only able to grasp the effects of G-d’s actions — not the means He uses to bring them about, since the latter touch upon things about Himself which we can’t fathom.

G-d is said to “know”, “remember”, “reflect upon”, etc. But He doesn’t experience any of that the way we do. He experiences things that are somehow analogous to what we would that are nevertheless utterly removed from them. Nonetheless the point is that we experience the kinds of actions He’d want us to. It’s also true that what He’s said to refrain from doing could have been expressed in other than human terms.

At bottom the absurdity of likening anything G-d does to what we’d do is all rooted in the fact that G-d is omnipotent, and in the reality that our actions are finite and have their limitations while His are Infinite.

Now that we understand just how omnipotent and unimpeded G-d is we can begin to comprehend some of the unfathomable aspects of life that we’re often thrown by.

ואמנם עוד צריך שתדעי, שאפילו פעולותיו אלה שהם מושגות לנו, אין מושגות לנו אלא תולדותיהם; פירוש, הנפעל ממנו ית’, אמנם לא דרך הפעולה – איך הוא ית’ פועל אותה. כי כל מה שהוא בו ית’ – אין השגה שתשיגהו, ואי אפשר להשיג אלא מה שהוא בנו, אנחנו נבראיו.

ועל כן, אף על פי שניחס לו ית’ המדות אשר ניחס, דרך משל, הידיעה, הזכירה, המחשבה, החמלה, הכעס, הרצון – לא נאמר מפני זה שדרך ידיעתו הוא כדרך ידיעתנו, ודרך זכירתו כדרך זכירתנו, ומחשבתו כמחשבתנו, וחמלתו כחמלתנו, וכעסו ככעסנו, ורצונו כרצוננו, וכן כולם; אלא אלו הפעולות הוא פועל בדרך הבלתי מושג ונודע לנו כלל, אבל אלינו מגיעים באותו הענין ואותו חוק שהוא רוצה.

ולא עוד, אלא שאפילו הפעולות של החסרונות אינו צריך לפעול אותם בחסרון ההוא, כמו שהיה צריך לעשותם האדם שהיה רוצה לעשותם, אלא הוא אמר ויהי, באופן אשר דרכו נסתרה ולא מושגת לנו כלל, ולנו מגיעות הפעולות בשיעור ההוא שמגיעות. צא ולמד מקולו ית’ באהל מועד, שאמרו חז”ל (תו”כ פרשת ויקרא, דיבורא דנדבה, פרשתא ב, י), “קול ה’ בכח”, ואף על פי כן משה שומע וכל ישראל לא שומעים”.

וכל זה נמשך מהיותו ית”ש כל יכול, והוא יכול לעשות כל מה שהוא רוצה, שאין שום חוק שיעכבהו, ושום משפט וגבול שימנעהו. על כן לא נקיש לפעולותיו מפעולת הנבראים כלל, אחר שהם מוגבלים ומותחמים, והוא ית”ש כל יכול לגמרי.

והנה עד הנה הקדמתי לך הקדמה, שהיא צריכה לכל מה שנעסוק בו בויכוחנו זה, עתה נבוא לעניננו:

(מז) אמרה הנשמה – שמעתי, ומתישבים הדברים עלי, כי אי אפשר לשקוט בעניני הבריאה ומקריה, אם לא שנדע שיש לה עילה ומנהיג כך פשוט ומרומם, כל יכול, ובלא שום הכרח וכפיה, וזולת זה אין ישוב וביאור לרוב הספיקות ותמיהות הנופלות בה:

(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”.