Monthly Archives: November 2014

Preview of 1:4:9

The best way to draw close to G-d, though, is through Torah-study. For G-d lovingly granted us the very texts that have the unique ability to grant one the highest levels of spiritual achievement when he studies them appropriately.

Anyone who tries to understand and know it grows greater and greater — especially if he tries to grasp its secrets and mysteries. In fact, not only does the person who dwells on Torah acquire those levels but all of creation is elevated as well.

ט. ואמנם אמצעי אחד נתן לנו האל ית’, שמדריגתו למעלה מכל שאר האמצעיים המקרבים האדם אליו, והוא תלמוד התורה. והוא בשתי בחינות, הא’ – בבחינת ההגיון והלימוד, והב’ – בבחינת ההשכלה. כי הנה רצה בחסדו ית’ וחיבר לנו חיבור דברים כמו שגזרה חכמתו, ומסרם לנו, והיינו כלל ספר התורה, ואחריו ספרי הנביאים, שבסגולת הדברים ההם יהיה, שמי שיהגה בהם בקדושה ובטהרה, על הכונה הנכונה שהיא עשית חפצו ית’, יתעצם בו על ידם מעלה עליונה ושלימות גדול עד מאד.

וכן מי שישתדל בהבנתם ובידיעת מה שמסר לנו מפירושיהם, יקנה כפי השתדלותו שלימות על שלימות. כל שכן אם יגיע אל השכלת סתריהם ורזיהם, שכל ענין מהם שישכיל יוקבע ויתעצם בנשמתו מדריגה מן המדריגות היותר רמות שבמעלה והשלימות האמתי. ובכל אלה הענינים לא די מה שקונה האדם בעצמו מעלה ושלימות, אלא שמציאות הבריאה כלה בכללה ובפרטה מתעלה ומשתלם, ובפרט על ידי התורה:

(c) 2014 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

 

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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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”,

Derech Hashem 1:4:8

1:4:8

The class can be found here.

What we all need to bolster is our love and fear of G-d [1]. We do that initially by reflecting on His great loftiness versus our own terrible lowliness, and by surrendering ourselves to Him accordingly and being abashed before Him. And then we’re to long to be among those who serve Him, and to sing praises to His exaltedness [2].

Those are very potent ways of drawing close to Him and of cleansing the murkiness of our physicality as well as of allowing the soul to shine [3]. They elevate you step by step to the point where you draw close to Him [4].

Notes:

[1]       That is, besides infusing our directly mitzvah-related and everyday tasks with the conscious will to draw close to G-d (as spoken of above), we’re to go about that in a certain spirit — that of the love and fear of Him.

[2]       We foster — and bolster — the love and fear of G-d this way, as Ramchal lays it out. We begin by ruminating upon the essential, profound, and unfathomable difference between humankind and G-d Himself, and as a result of that realization we just naturally surrender ourselves to Him in love and are bashed in His presence in awe and fear given that He has encouraged us to draw close to Him. And we very humbly long for nothing more than to be His servants and devotees.

See 4:3:1 below as well as Hilchot Teshuvah 10:1-3 and Yesodei HaTorah 2:1-2.

[3]       That’s to say that not only are these good means of drawing close to Him as we’d discussed, but they’re also good means of enabling our souls to undo any impediments to that closeness.

[4]       Ramchal combines love with fear here rather than delving into both separately and in greater detail. He does do the latter in Messilat Yesharim, though, so we’ll cite from that work now to illustrate the point.

In short, “loving” and “fearing” G-d comes to having an intense and emotional relationship with Him that’s expressed either by an ardent yearning for Him, or a stunned dread of Him.

But it turns out that there are two sorts of love and two sorts of fear. A “lower” and “higher” one, depending on the intensity involved. The lower sort of love of G-d would entail your wanting to make Him “proud” of you much the way we’d like our parents to be proud of us. As such the person expressing that sort of love “would act as a loving son would to his father and would do more than his father would ask for.” He’d even do things “his father only unobtrusively hinted at” rather than asked for straight out. And “he’d deduce that such-and-such — something beyond what he was told — would make his father happy” and set out to do just that (Ch. 18).

Thus, one who loves G-d this way would go beyond the common expectations of a devotee, and would want nothing better than to please G-d. This sort of love of G-d is rooted in respect and admiration.

The higher sort of love for G-d is depicted in more romantic, quickened terms. One enjoying it would “literally desire and long for closeness to G-d” and “pursue” Him much the way “one would pursue anything” or anyone “he longed for”. It’s said that “even the mere mentioning of His name, enunciating of His praises, and being occupied in His mitzvot and G-dliness would become a treat and delight” to such a person (Ch. 19).

The lower sort of fear of G-d is marked by the feeling of dismay at going against His wishes because of the possible repercussions. It’s very easy to come by this sort of fear since “everybody has an instinct for self-preservation” and because, after all, “there’s nothing more likely to keep you away from doing something harmful to yourself than the fear of injurious consequences” (Ch. 24). Nonetheless, this sort of fear doesn’t befit intelligent and inquisitive spiritual seekers, we’re told, as it’s rather primitive.

The second, higher sort of fear (or “awe”) is referred to as “reverence for G-d’s Grandeur”. It’s rooted in the realization of two truisms: “that G-d’s Presence is found everywhere and that He involves Himself in everything, great and small“; in the teeming appreciation of the fact that “nothing is hidden from G-d, either …  great or small, scant or imposing”; and in the idea that “wherever you are, you stand in His Presence” (Ch. 25).

 

(c) 2014 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 1:4:8

The best way to draw close to G-d and to elevate your being is to bolster your love and fear of Him. We do that by contrasting His nature to our own and by surrendering ourselves to Him, serving him, and recounting His praises.

ח. והנה ממה שצריך שיגביר האדם בעצמו, הוא האהבה והיראה לבוראו ית’. והיינו שיהיה מתבונן על גודל רוממותו ית’, ועוצם שפלות האדם, ויכניע עצמו לפניו ית’, ויבוש מרוממותו. ויהיה חושק ומתאוה להיות מן העובדים לפניו, להתהלל בתהלתו ולהשתבח בגדולתו.

כי אלה הם אמצעיים חזקים המתקרבים האדם אל בוראו, המזככים את חשך החומר ומזהירים זהרי הנשמה, ומעלים את האדם מעילוי לעילוי עד שישיג קרבתו ית’:

 

(c) 2014 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”.