Monthly Archives: May 2015

Derech Hashem 1:5:8

Though G-d certainly manifests and allows for goodness by turning His “face” toward one thing or another [1] He also manifests and allows for evil [2] by hiding His “face” and by simply disallowing for goodness to occur in that instance. It’s just that He’s not the perpetrator of evil [3].

In fact, G-d created a specific system for evil to exist and function [4], and He did that with the specific intention of having evil — as well as goodness — carry out His ultimate designs for humankind and the universe [5].

This system, which we’ll expand upon later [6], is comprised of a different order of phenomena than that of the Transcendent Forces, and all manifestations of evil and imperfection derive from this system. Ultimately, though, all of the phenomena within this system derive from G-d’s concealing His “face”, with greater instances of concealment allowing for greater instances of evil [7].

At bottom, then, goodness is withheld and the Transcendent Forces are weakened when the system of evil rules, while goodness is strengthened and the Transcendent Forces are themselves rectified and made secure when the system of evil is subjugated.

As such, everything we’ve said about the existence of goodness and evil [8], about the battle between reason and physicality [9], and about things being rectified and defective [10] is rooted in these two systems [11]. For when one is either fortified or overpowered its qualities and effects influence creation one way, while when the other is fortified or overpowered its qualities and effects influence creation the other way.

 

Footnotes

[1]       See 1:5:7.

[2]       …given that He’s the Creator of everything.

This is meant to deny the claims of those in antiquity who held that evil was created by another being. See Da’at Tevunot 36 for a discussion of this misreading of G-d’s abilities and intentions. But in fact we should be flummoxed by the fact that G-d would have created evil given that He’s over-achingly benevolent, as was pointed out in 1:2:1. This dilemma is discussed in Da’at Tevunot 30, 36 and in Klach Pitchei Chochma 47, and is the subject of the discussion below.

[3]       That’s to say that while He allows for it to occur by turning His “face” away, He Himself doesn’t commit evil.

That apparently indicates that goodness is the “default mode” of the universe. It’s just that there are times when evil must manifest itself because it too serves an important purpose (see below). G-d then “suppresses” His goodness which itself allows for evil.

Again the point is that while G-d doesn’t commit evil, He sometimes allows for it passively. See arcane discussions of the issues raised here in Adir Bamarom p. 344 and in Otzrot Ramchal p. 203, and see Da’at Tevunot 100-114, 130.

[4]        This system is the mirror image of the system within which the Transcendent Forces operate, in keeping with the principle known as “G-d has made one to correspond to the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14), which is roughly analogous to Newton’s rule  that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

[5]       That is, contrary to the common notion, evil serves God, too; it also has a role in the playing out of G-d’s intentions for the universe. For, nothing can countervail G-d’s intentions or thwart His designs; everything is beholden to Him.

[6]       See 2:8:2 and 3:2:8 as well as Klallei Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 8.

[7]       That is, while this phenomenon is the overarching basis for the existence of evil it nonetheless plays itself out through the alternative system spoken of above that evil functions under.

[8]       See 1:5:7.

[9]       See 1:3:2.

[10]     See 1:5:7.

[11]     That is, they’re rooted in the conflicting roles of these systems.

 

(c) 2015 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 1:5:8

Though God is certainly the creator of evil, He’s not its perpetrator. He allows for it to happen rather than commits it by simply disallowing for goodness at any instance.

He created a system for evil to exist with the intention of having them carry out His ultimate designs for humankind and the universe.

This system is comprised of a different order of phenomena. All sorts of evil and imperfection derive from this system.

Ultimately all of the phenomena within this system derive from God’s “concealing His face” and the greater the concealment, the greater the instance of evil.

Goodness is withheld when the system of evil rules and the Transcendent Forces are weakened. But when the system of evil is subjugated, then goodness is strengthened and the Transcendent Forces are themselves rectified and made secure.

As such everything we’ve said about the existence of goodness and evil, the battle between reason and physicality, and about things being rectified and defective is rooted in these two systems. When one is fortified or overpowered, then its qualities and effects influence creation one way, while the opposite is true if the other is fortified or overpowered.

ח. וצריך שתדע כי הנה אע”פ שבאמת סבת כל עניני הטוב בכל מקום שהם, פירוש – בין בכחות בין בתולדותיהם, הנה היא הארת פניו ית’ כמ”ש, וסבת הרע בכל מקום שהוא, העלם הארתו, אמנם לטוב יתואר האדון ב”ה בשם סבה ממש לכללו ולפרטיו, אך לרע לא נתארהו ית”ש סבה ממש, כי אמנם “אין הקב”ה מיחד שמו על הרעה”, אלא העלם אורו והסתר פניו יחשב לשורש לו, כי זהו סבתו באמת, וזה על צד העדר הטוב.

אבל לפרטי עניניו במציאותם, הנה האדון ב”ה שהוא כל יכול ואין לחפצו מניעה ולא ליכולתו גבול כלל, ברא שרש ומקור פרטי, מכוון בו התכלית הזה של הוצאת פרטי עניני הרע, כפי מה ששיערה החכמה העליונה היותו מצטרך למצב הנרצה באדם ובעולם. והוא מה שאמר הכתוב, יוצר אור ובורא חשך עושה שלום ובורא רע.

וענין השורש הזה הוא כלל כחות שונים, ישתלשלו מהם עניני החסרון והרעות כלם בכל בחינותיהם, בין מה שנוגע לנפש בין מה שנוגע לגוף, בכל פרטיהם למחלקותם, ועוד נדבר מזה בחלק הב’ בס”ד.

והנה כלל הכחות האלה מתנהג לפעול או שלא לפעול, בין בכלו בין בחלקיו, אחר העלם אורו ית’ והסתר פניו, כי כפי שיעור ההעלם, כך בשיעור זה תנתן שליטה וממשלה אל כלל הכחות האלה, או אל חלקים ממנו שיפעלו.

והנה בהתגבר הכחות האלה ובמשלם, יוכחש כח הטוב, ויתקלקל מצב הכחות שרשי הנבראים שזכרנו, ויתחלשו הם וענפיהם, וכשיוכנעו הכחות האלה ותנטל מהם השליטה והפעולה, יגבר הטוב, ויתוקנו שרשי הנבראים ויתיצבו במצב הטוב ויתחזקו הם וענפיהם.

ואולם כל מה שזכרנו מעניני הטוב והרע, ומלחמת השכל והחומר, וכל עניני תיקון וקלקול, שרש כל הענינים כלם, הם התגברות הכחות האלה, והגיע ענינם ותולדתם בנבראים, בשרשים או בענפים, או הכנעתם וביטול פעולתם, והסיר ענינם ותולדותם מן הנבראים, שרשים וענפים:

 

(c) 2015 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”.

Derech Hashem 1:5:7

And the whole system of goodness and evil that G-d decreed for the world [1] is also rooted in the Transcendent Forces, from where it flows downward [2]. G-d set up the Transcendent Forces in the particular order and with the specific qualities they’d need to bring about the various “damages” and “repairs” [3] necessary for goodness and non-goodness to exist [4].

In order for true goodness to exist G-d’s “face” must be allowed to shine upon a Transcendent Force, and in order for true evil to exist G-d’s face must be withheld from it [5]. In fact, goodness is a product of the “repairing” of the Forces while evil is a product of their being “damaged”.

Footnotes:

[1]       See 1:2:2,4.

[2]         Since, as we’ve been saying, the Transcendent Forces are the backdrop behind everything that happens here on earth, it follows then that they’re also the backdrop behind both goodness (which is understandable, given that G-d is loving and benevolent and that He manifests that through the Transcendent Forces) and evil (which seems counterintuitive, given that evil seems to be so far beneath G-d and the Transcendent Forces, but see note 4 below). In any event, since goodness and evil play out in the theater within which we humans act out our lives, it stands to reason that both our moral and immoral actions would all be so intensely rooted in the Transcendent Forces.

But in order to understand that we’d also need to know that …..

[3]      G-d purposely created an imperfect world in which adjustments to the status quo would necessarily need to be made from time to time. That’s to say that there are times when certain “damaged” (or, off-the-mark) phenomena need to be “repaired” (or, set back on course) in order to keep the entire system intact.

[4]       Ramchal speaks of “non-goodness” here rather than out-and-out evil because actual evil doesn’t exist in the upper realms: they only allow for the possibility of evil to exist in the world and don’t actually manifest it. See Da’at Tevunot 100-106, 114 and Klach Pitchei Chochma 80 for the Kabbalistic explanation of this theological conundrum.

[5]       The idea is that G-d turns His “face” toward something (i.e., He gives it His full and loving attention) when He favors it and turns away from it when He disapproves of it. It’s based on the phrase “May G-d bless you and keep you; may God shine His face upon you and be gracious to you; may G-d turn His face toward you and grant you peace. (Numbers 6:24-36).

This isn’t merely a poetic rendering of G-d’s “feelings” — it entails a lot of Kabbalistic fine points. See 4:6:10 below as well as Da’at Tevunot 158 and Klallim Rishonim 28 for more on it.

The point of the matter is that goodness is a natural product of a healthy and full connection with G-d while evil is a product of its opposite.

(c) 2015 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 1:5:7

The system of good and bad is rooted in the Transcendent Forces.

G-d set up the Transcendent Forces in the order and with the qualities they would need to bring about “rectifications” and “damages” that are connected to the system of good and bad. Goodness comes about when G-d’s visage shines upon a Force and wrong is a product of G-d’s visage being withheld from a Force. In fact, goodness is a product of the rectification of the Forces while wrong is the opposite.

 ז. והנה בהיות שגזרה חכמתו ית’ שיהיה בעולם מציאות הטוב והרע כמ”ש, הנה תחלת ענין זה צריך שיהיה בכחות האלה השרשיים ואחריהם ימשך הדבר בשפלים.

והנה סידרה חכמתו ית’ את הכחות הנבדלים שרשי הנבראים שזכרנו, בסדר ובתכונה, שיפול בהם כפי מה ששייך בהם תיקון וקלקול, והיינו שימצא בהם מצב טוב ולא טוב.

ואמתת טוב המצב יהיה, שיהיו בהכנה ליאור באור פניו ית’, ויאיר להם, והפכו, שתחסר מהם ההכנה הזאת ויתעלם מהם. ותולדת תיקונם בשפלים הוא הטוב בהם, וההפך בהפך:

 

(c) 2015 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”.