Monthly Archives: January 2016

Derech Hashem 2:2:7

Somehow this one never made it here, so things are out of order. Sorry.

2:2:7

There’s one other important point, though. The community of perfected beings we’d spoken of [1] will be comprised of people on various levels; not everyone will be equal there [2]. There’ll be the lowest level, consisting of those just minimally capable of attaching onto G-d’s presence and enjoying it, and other, higher levels.

Anyone who can achieve that lowest level at least will be a member of the community and will remain there forever. Somebody who hasn’t attained that level, though, will be turned away  from the community entirely and be undone, while someone who has reached a higher level will be in a loftier community [3].

Now, since G-d has determined that we’re to be the masters of our own destiny by our own actions [4], both in general and specifically, we’re to be on the level that we ourselves strove for. As such there’ll be especially exalted individuals and less exalted ones, giants of the spirit and more pedestrian ones there — all depending on that individual’s own efforts [5] and without any ill-feeling on anyone else’s part.

Footnotes:

[1]         See 2:2:4.

[2]         See Baba Batra 75a, Da’at Tevunot 88-94, Clallim Rishonim 9, Adir Bamarom pp. 188 and 398, as well as 1:3:13 above and 2:3:9 below.

That is, while we might think that just as all of the wholly evil will be undone point blank in one fell swoop, then all in the World to Come should enjoy one sort of experience as well. But apparently that’s not so. The point seems to be that the righteous will retain their distinctiveness, while the wicked will be undone and discarded en mass. But as we’ll see in the following note that that’s not how Ramchal sees it elsewhere in his writings.

[3]         Ramchal explained the makeup of the World to Come in quite a number of his works.  He described it as the environment in which “the human edifice will come to completion” (2:8:4 below); in which “all wrongfulness will be turned around to righteousness” (Klach Pitchei Chochma 42); where “peace and tranquility will reign” and “fear and sorrow will disappear” (Mishkanei Elyon); and where the “final redemption … the ultimate (state of ) perfection” will come about, in the course of which “all damages will be repaired”, i.e., all wrongs will be made right (Klach Pitchei Chochma 30).

But this seems to be a human, this-worldly perspective of things rather than the supreme viewpoint that those who’d dwell there would ultimately achieve. Elsewhere, though, Ramchal points out that we know absolutely nothing about the ultimate level of the World to Come — which will be come about in the course of the Tenth Millennium and onward (see the discussion in Klach Pitchei Chochma 97-98). “G-d’s sovereignty will be revealed … to all of creation” then  (4:4:1 below), all there will “be eternally attached onto G-d’s presence” (2:2:4 above); and “everything will return to the state of supreme oneness” (Pinot HaMerkava).

And he also offers this: “everything will once again be as it had been at the (very) beginning” before the creation of  this world in the presence of G-d then, “with no distinctions between things” (Kitzur Kavanot p. 196). Thus, the depiction of distinctions between the righteous individuals in note 2 above isn’t always true, as there’ll apparently be no such rankings ultimately.

At bottom the point seems to be that while the initial stages of the World to Come will be those in which this world will be perfected and made right and where some of the makeup of this world, like its multiplicity, will be retained for the meanwhile. The latter stages on the other hand will be like nothing we know of, and all will be as one on all levels.

[4]         See 1:2:2.

[5]         See Da’at Tevunot 70.

(c) 2016 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”.

 

Preview of 2:2:9

This helps to explain why the righteous sometimes suffer and the wrongful prosper, as well as the travails of the Afterlife. But the success of the righteous in life is based on other things we’ll soon touch on.

But what we’d said so far is rooted in the aforementioned preparation of a society of righteous in the World to Come. Things are different when it comes to one’s own situation, as we’ll see.

ואולם בכל מה שזכרנו עד הנה, הנה נתבאר ענין יסורי הצדיקים בעוה”ז ושלות הרשעים, וכן העונשים הנפשיים, מצד מה של הכנה לגמול האמיתי שלע”ל. אך טובת הצדיקים בעוה”ז נמשכת על דרך אחר, ונבארה לפנים בס”ד.

וכל זה שביארנו הוא כפי הקוטב השני הכללי שזכרנו להכנה, אבל עניניה כפי הקוטב האישיי הולכים מהלך שונה מכל זה, ונבארהו עתה בפרק בפני עצמו בס”ד:

(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”.

 

Derech Hashem 2:2:8

2:2:8

There’s another important thing about determining how something affects your being in the community of the righteous in the World to Come and your status there [1].

It’s that there are certain good deeds that are adjudged not to earn you a place in the World to Come but to be rewarded for in this world instead. The situation of those in this category are a lot like that of the mostly wrongful [2] — with one important distinction.

Those we just discussed do make it to the World to Come thanks to their good deeds, albeit only after having been cleansed in the Afterlife for their sins. But because of the nature of their good deeds they’d only achieve the lowest degree of the World to Come, and the majority of their good deeds will be rewarded while they’re alive.

What’s tragic, though, is the fact that if those good deeds would have earned them a place in the World to Come, they’d have achieved a lofty one there [3].

 

Footnotes:

 

[1]         Ramchal said in 2:2:5 that we can’t fathom the very many calculations that go into reward and punishment, and he remarked in 2:2:7 that the community of perfected beings will be comprised of people on various levels. He’ll now delve into both ideas.

[2]         Who’ll be rewarded in this world for their few good deeds but never experience the World to Come. See 2:2:6.

[3]         To understand the significance of this let’s explore the following. Ramchal broke people down into three types in the fourth chapter of Messilat Yesharim: “those who fully understand” (what matters most and what’s expected of us by G-d), “those of lesser understanding” (than they), and “the great majority of people”.

The best of them, “those who fully understand”, would yearn for nothing else but to grow in their beings, while the basest of them, “the great majority of people”, would only want to stay out of trouble, if you will. Their positions are straightforward enough. It’s the situation of “those of lesser understanding” (than the first group but who are still and all more promising than the third group) though, that speaks to the subject above.

As Ramchal explains there in Messilat Yesharim “It’s obvious to all thinking people that the division of spiritual levels in the world of truth, that is, the World to Come, is based upon the performance of righteous deeds. And that one who is greater in such things than his friend will be exalted above him, while one who is lacking in them will be lower”.

Yet, Ramchal continues, “there are fools who only care to have it easy. They say: ‘Why  should we burden ourselves with all this saintliness and abstention? Isn’t it enough that we’re not bad and doomed to Gehenom? We’re not about to exert ourselves when it comes to getting into the Garden of Eden (or the World to Come, the subject at hand). If we don’t get a big portion (there), we’ll settle for a small one, and that will be just fine for us. We don’t plan to overburden ourselves with all this’.”

Ramchal is thus making the point here, in Derech Hashem, that that position is heartbreaking. For had such people gone to the trouble to be more exacting in their expectations of themselves, they’d in fact have achieved a high level in the World to Come. After all, they’re not like “the great majority of people”: they have what it takes to be lofty. It’s just that they’re too lazy perhaps, or not inspired enough to strive for the excellence they can achieve. And they — and those of us on that level — are to be pitied for that.

 

(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 2:2:8

Now, there are certain good deeds that are adjudged not to earn you a place in the World to Come, but to be rewarded for while you’re still alive instead. People who perform those deeds are very much like those who are rewarded in this world and will never experience the World to Come – with one important difference.

The utterly wrongful are rewarded in this world for their few good deeds but they’re to be utterly excluded from the World to Come. Yet those we just discussed do make it to the World to Come thanks to their good deeds but because of their sins they’d only achieve the lowest degree of life in the World to Come, while the majority of their good deeds will be rewarded while they’re alive.

Yet if their good deeds would’ve earned them a position in the World to Come, they’d have achieved a lofty one there.

ח. והנה על פי השרש הזה תמצא עוד הבחנה גדולה בדין המעשים לשפוט אותם שראוי שתגיע תולדותם לתת עילוי לאדם בקיבוץ השלימים שזכרנו, ושיעור העילוי שיתנו.

כי כבר ימצאו מעשים שכפי המשפט העליון המדוקדק והישר, לא יגיעו לתת לאדם עילוי לזמן ההוא, אלא יוגמלו בעוה”ז, ואז ישאר אותו האדם משפילי הנצחיים, בקמני הקיבוץ ההוא. והנה זה דומה קצת לאותם שזכרנו למעלה, שמקבלים שכרם בעוה”ז ונאבדים לעוה”ב. אך נבדלים מהם הבדל גדול,

והוא, כי אותם שזכרנו שהם הרשעים הגמורים, הנה כלה כל כח מעשיהם הטובים בשכר שבעוה”ז ואינם מגיעים אל הנצחיות כלל. ואלו, הנה כבר מעשיהם מגיעים אותם אל הנצחיות, ואפילו שיצטרך להם צירוף נפשיי רב מאד, הנה על כל פנים יש להם חלק בהשארות הנצחיי, אלא שמפני קלקול מעשיהם אין מצותיהם מגיעות אלא לתת להם שם אותו החלק הקטן שאמרנו, ורבים מזכיותיהם מקבלים אותם בעוה”ז, שאלו היה הדין נותן עליהם שיוגמלו בעוה”ב ולא בעוה”ז, כבר היו נמצאים האנשים ההם במדריגה מן הגבוהות בקיבוץ השלימים:

(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”.