Author Archives: Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Derech Hashem 2:6:3

The Way of G-d 2:6:3

1.

Given the above, the fact is that G-d doesn’t judge the world according to His foreknowledge but rather according to the way He wants things to function in the world 1.

2.

Another point to be made is that no Heavenly Tribunal renders a decision until the angels involved in the case are brought in. After all, G-d created angels to supervise what goes on in the world 2, so they’re to appear before the Heavenly Court and to attest to what they perceive to be true before the case is judged 3.

But as we’ve indicated a number of times, G-d doesn’t need any of this information, given His foreknowledge 4. This is simply the system that He instituted in His unfathomable wisdom.

3.

So, various turns of phrase are used for this all in the Torah. Thus we’re told that “G-d came down to see the city and the tower” (Genesis 11:5) 5, “The day came when the sons of G-d 6 arrived to present themselves before G-d” (Job 1:6) 7, “G-d’s eyes flew all over the earth” (Zechariah 4:10) 8, “These are the ones 9 whom G-d has sent to walk the earth” (Ibid, 1:10), and the like. They all refer to G-d’s aforementioned system of administration 10, and to the angels who were appointed to carry it out and to attest to what happens, as if they were “G-d’s eyes” 11.

Hence, when G-d appears before one of these Heavenly Tribunals to act as a judge for one case or another, as He did, for example, when it came to instance of the building of the Tower of Babel, the Torah stated that “G-d came down to see” (Genesis 11:5) 12, as in other such instances.

4.

But know that the only thing the Heavenly Tribunal has in common with earthly courts is the system of adjudication we described. Earthly courts carry out other functions differently 13. Because while the physical realm is based on physical phenomena, the spiritual realm is based on spiritual ones and on their components’ means of perceiving things.

Footnotes:

1                  That is, He allows the testimony of the angels referred to below, as well as the rules of logic, cause and effect, and the run of the natural course of events to influence His judgments.

2                  See 1:5:2 above.

3                  See Ta’anit 18a and Zohar 3: 99a.

4                  The idea that G-d doesn’t use His foreknowledge isn’t only cited right above but also at the end of 2:6:2. Some contend that there seems to be some text missing from the original that would have expanded upon this idea in novel ways.

5                  That is to say that He had His angels observe what went on.

6                  I.e., the angels.

7                  To report what they’d seen. See Zohar 2:32b.

8                  This also refers to the angels, as is indicated below. See Zohar 3:99a.

9                  I.e., the angels.

10               See Moreh Nevuchim 1:44.

11               See Tikkunei Zohar 153b.

12               See Zohar 2:33b.

13               See Clallim Rishonim 1.

(c) 2019 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.

Derech Hashem 2:6:2

The Way of G-d 2:6:2

1.

              G-d appears in each Sanhedrin and court, influences it, and sees to it that justice is served 1.

              Now, in some instances He Himself serves as the judge 2. As we’re told, G-d was found to be “seated on His throne 3 and all the Host of Heaven 4 were standing by Him, to His right and on His left” (1 Kings 22:19). The “right” side in this citation refers to the angels of defense, while the “left” refers to the prosecuting angels (Midrash Tanchuma, Shemot 18) 5. And Daniel reported that “thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days sat down; …. Justice was established, and the books 6 were opened” (Daniel 7:9-10).

2.

              The point of the matter, though, is that everyone is judged precisely when on trial as we indicated before 7. Now, in general everyone has his or her claims to truth based on various factors, and all of that needs to be judged accordingly in a trial. In fact each and every action has its guilty and innocent aspects as each and every thing in this world is a combination of incongruous or conflicting elements that go in one or another 8 direction 9. All of that is to be presented to the celestial court where it will be sorted out and set in order, and the most beneficial decision will be rendered.

              Each angel present in court is to present one aspect or another, until each and every factor is revealed. Then each is considered and a just decision is made by the presiding judge.

              If the case takes place in a court that G-d Himself decided to preside over then He pronounces the final judgment. But the following is also true: G-d allows the angels involved in the case to present their arguments as they understand the facts, and He allows for the case to be completed accordingly — even though He knows everything beforehand 10.

Footnotes:

1             That’s to say that G-d sometimes serves as the actual presiding judge (as we’ll soon see) while at others He functions as a sort of Chief Justice who establishes court criteria for every exigency, who’s still and all not present at every case.

2                See Sha’arei Orah Chapters 5-6 for a depiction on the various Sanhedrins and courts.

3                Of judgment.

4                That is, the angels.

5                This is actually a parenthetical statement since Ramchal primarily set out here to illustrate his statement about G-d Himself serving as a judge from Torah verses. He only inserted this statement here to further depict the makeup of the courts.

              See Shemot Rabbah 31:14 and JT Sanhedrin 1:1.

6                That is, court records.

7                See 2:1:3 and 2:3:4.

8                Ethical.

9                This is true of the world itself, as Ramchal pointed out in Adir Bamarom p. 288, and in esoteric terms in Klach Pitchei Chochma 72, 75.

10              See Bereishit Rabbah 8:5 as well as Pirkei Avot 4:11.

              That’s to say that even though G-d has supernatural insight into the matter that may contradict the findings offered by the parties involved in the case, He disregards that because He wants cases to be decided in the usual manner.

              See Clallei Milchemet Moshe 2 and Klach Pitchei Chochma 63.

(c) 2019 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.

Derech Hashem 2:6:1

Derech Hashem 2:6:1

In the course of His interactions with the world 1, G-d arranged it so that phenomena that affect both the things that humankind brings about 2 and those that He Himself brings about in creation 3 should function like a government. That’s to say, with upper and lower courts along with all of their procedures and rules 4. As our sages put it, “The kingdom of Heaven functions like a human kingdom” 5.

He thus established different “court systems” for the spiritual realm with rules and procedures 6, which work on various levels, feature certain spiritual entities 7,  and follow particular sequences 8. And everything that’s to be judged is to appear before those courts and is to be subject to its decisions 9. As it’s said, “By the decree of the overseers is the sentence decreed” (Daniel 4:14) 10.

Footnotes:

1                This chapter is termed “The System behind Divine Providence”, which is a subject that necessarily touches on our interactions with Him and His with us.

2                Out of their free will and are to be judged for.

3                That are somehow or another adjudged or at least subject to decisions about placement, role and the like, too.

4                The point is that G-d purposefully arranged for the universe to function in a comprehensible, linear, and over-all orderly manner — despite the fact that it’s rooted in preternatural mystical “nothingness” and primal “chaos” — so that we can understand the “rules of the game”, interact with Him within our own contours and limitations, and to thus draw close to Him.

5                Ramchal is referencing a statement in Zohar 1:197a and Berachot 58a that is worded differently.

6                Of their own that mirrors the rules and procedures of earthly courts.

7                Which function as the “overseers” that are cited below.

8                See Ma’amar HaIkurim, “B’hashgacha“.

9                See Adir Bamarom p.68.

10              See Sanhedrin 38b, Shemot Rabbah 6:1, and Zohar 2:6a.

              We’ll see how all that plays itself out in our interactions with Him.

(c) 2019 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.

Derech Hashem 2:5:6

Derech Hashem 2:5:6

1.

Yet, G-d can change the laws of nature at any time1. An example of that would be His formation of miracles2.

Miracles can be set in place at any time and affect anything; and they’re formulated according to specific circumstances and for the overall and ultimate well-being of things 3.

2.

Now, we’re taught that G-d had originally established the fact that He wouldn’t change the natural course of things 4, yet miracles do just that. So what’s the implication of that?

The point of the matter is that G-d can certainly change things as He sees fit. It’s just that at the moment of creation He informed the celestial roots of things what their essential nature and over-all purpose would be, what they’d bring about in the world and would encounter, and they were informed of their ultimate destiny 6. And they understood that all would be for the good for all in the end, which pleased and gratified them7.

When G-d informed them of all of that He also let them know that their need to facilitate perfection would involve there being miracles either for our people’s sake or for the sake of specific righteous people 8.

3.

While that information was given to the celestial roots, the reality of all that would need to be come about. So, certain angels were appointed to allow those miracles to occur within the natural course of events 9. Yet if G-d so wills it,, He can also order those angels to suspend their duties, which would then affect the laws of nature accordingly.

The decree for a miracle can be issued in different ways. It could come about much like a routine royal statute, or perhaps like a tirade that an angry potentate would display, depending on time and circumstances10.

Footnotes:

1          After all, they’re only “laws” because they were instituted as such by The Lawgiver who can abrogate them as He sees fit.

2                See Ramchal’s Ma’amar Haikkurim, Inyan Hanisim, on the whole subject of miracles.

3             Hence, a miracle is a purposeful decree on G-d’s part — an alternative Divine option — that transcends the natural course of events and is based on a specific need to “fine tune” things in order to achieve ultimate perfection.

4             See Breishit Rabbah 5:4.

5             As was pointed out, behind every entity in the world stands a transcendent force that’s linked to it on a vital, mystical level (see 1:5:2 above).

6             Aren’t these the very things that we would love to know about ourselves? The point seems to be that we’d lose our free will if we knew much of this.

7             That’s true despite the fact that there’d need to be miracles from time to time which would seem to lessen the efficacy of these celestial roots.

8             Hence, the reality of and need for miracles was implanted into the laws of nature from the first in their innermost roots.

9             That is, though miracles are exceptions to the laws of nature, they nonetheless manifest themselves in the physical world that functions according to those laws for the most part.

10           That is, miracles would not only be unusual but they could likewise be benign or disruptive.

(c) 2018 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.

Derech Hashem 2:5:5

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:5:5

Never forget, though, that G-d Himself oversees everything in Heaven and on Earth, observing both the root causes of things and their material consequences 1. And His ultimate aim is to see to it that universal perfection be achieved, for it is the spoke around which everything pivots 2.

But one’s own place in all of that depends on a number of factors according to which he or she would either be rejected or approved of, purified or left as is 3, as well as everything else that would need to come about to bring on that universal perfection.

Footnotes:

1         That is, the selfsame system that G-d set up to manage the universe spoken of above could be altered — or even undone — in a moment if G-d wants that to happen, both on the core root level of things and on their offshoots. Since G-d is beholden to nothing and no one, and He always “keeps His eyes on things”, so to speak..

Among many other things, that overseeing of things and its possible consequences also explains the miracles G-d brings about when called for (see 2:5:6 below).

2          See Da’at Tevunot 50 for a discussion about G-d’s two “agendas”: that of reward and punishment (which will eventually be undone), and that of achieving universal perfection (which will be achieved). Also see 2:8:1 below.

3         See Da’at Tevunot 58 and Clallim Rishonim 34. Also see the second chapter of this section for a discussion of what affects one’s spiritual status.

(c) 2018 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.

Derech Hashem 2:5:4

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:5:4

1.

G-d saw to it that each appointed angel would work at and fulfill its assigned role, and that it would only be prevented from accomplishing it in ways that He Himself set up.

And so, for example, the angel appointed over trees 1 would just naturally do all it could to keep them fit. Yet, G-d could have the angel appointed over wind 2 overpower some trees and thus over-rule the reign of the angel appointed over those trees, and knock them over 3.

2.

Obviously, all of this is played out in very many ways and in different realms. For example, there are angels assigned over natural phenomena and their laws, and others that function as agents of Divine judgment. And the latter may affect and sometimes even countervail natural phenomena in order to carry out a judgment. There are likewise very many instances involved there, all of which are rooted in G-d’s own hidden ways 4.

Footnotes:

1                Overall, as opposed to angels appointed over specific trees.
2                Also overall, as opposed to angels appointed to each instance of wind.

3                See Sod Hashem Liraiav 17 and Ari’s Sha’ar Hagilgulim 25.

That is, every angel has a nature and “post” which it never abandons — unless G-d wants it to. In fact, that’s the model we’re to follow in our service to Him; we too are to be sure and fixed in our beings rather than wind-driven and hesitant, and to always  be braced and set to fulfill G-d’s will.

That’s also to say that G-d saw to it that there’d be an orderly delegation of duties in the world (see 2:5:3), but that there’d also be conflicts of interest which He would manage. Conflicts of interest play themselves out in human society, too, of course.  It’s just that the human sort is often motivated by selfishness while none of that plays itself out in the angelic realm.

4                See Pitchei Chochma V’da’at 108-112, 125.

(c) 2018 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.

Derech Hashem 2:5:3

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:5:3

1.

And when it comes to G-d’s influence upon things 1 — that refers to what He does to manifest His will here in the world in the manner and to the degree that He wants it to be manifested.

As such, G-d intentionally set up everything to function as a series of steps and sequences 2. He wanted this system to function from the beginning and to continue on from there. And He uses it to maintain everything and to influence their circumstances and connections to each other

3.

Nonetheless it’s G-d alone who’s ultimately responsible for the maintenance of everything on each on every level 6, as He alone enables things to continue to exist and to develop in their own way. But bringing about things in the material world as they are and in their context is the function of the system we cited above.

Footnotes:

1      Which was referred to in 2:5:1 and will be the focus of the following chap.

2      As when orders pass down from a CEO to a VP, to a department administrator, to an employee; or as when things pass from G-d’s will down to a series of angels who carry it out, as we’ll soon see.

Understand that G-d could very well have set up an entirely, radically different construct had He wanted to since He’s omnipotent, but He intentionally chose this system because it best serves His purposes,

The significance of this particular construct is discussed in several of Ramchal’s works. See for example Klach Pitchei Chochma 10, 30,

3                See 2:1:2 above.

4                When He wants to manifest something here by using the system of steps and sequences.

5                See Ramchal’s Assara Perakim 9 and Pitchei Chochma V’da’at 125, Klallim Rishonim 23, Klach Pitchei Chochma 63, as well as 1:5:2, 10 above.

6                See Da’at Tevunot 160.

(c) 2018 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”.

 

 

———————————————————-

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 2:5:2

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:5:2

1.

Now, when it comes to G-d’s ability to perceive things, we know that He is all-knowing and that there’s nothing that He doesn’t know. For, He can see absolutely everything that’s happened in the past, what will happen in the future, and what is happening in the present, without exception 1.

2.

But we say that He perceives things 2 and that He judges or ordains things accordingly, though He limits this to the time-frame in which He wants to react to then 3. But we’ll expand upon that last point later on 4.

Footnotes:

1                That is, G-d sees and instantaneously understands what will happen in the future as a consequence of the past and the present — as well as what would have happened had things been otherwise. Aside from that, He also knows what He wants to happen in the ultimate future, and sees how to bring that about in light of the past and present provided Him.

Rambam says as much about G-d’s omniscience in Yesodei Hatorah 2:9, but Ramchal expands on that here and addresses G-d’s reactions to His knowledge.

2                Aside from knowing, which we’d just focused on. That’s to say that He also perceives the implications and consequences of what He knows.

3                See Avodah Zara 55a.

4                See 2:6:3 below. 

(c) 2018 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.

Derech Hashem 2:4:10

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:10

And even though as a rule G-d doesn’t directly govern them 1, He might still do so for our sake. And that would fall under the rubric of means-to-an-end rather than ends themselves which we’d discussed earlier 2.

Footnotes:

 1                I.e., He has appointed angelic administrators over them as we saw in 2:4:8.

2                See 2:3:12 above and our note 7 there.

(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.

Derech Hashem 2:4:9

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:9

So, G-d has allotted to us the repairing and elevation of all of creation 1, as we’d indicated 2. And He allocated all of His supervision of the world to the things we do 3, if you will 4, having given us the ability to grant light 5 and bestowance 6, or to hide and conceal 7, G-d forbid.

Others’ actions, though, neither bolster nor weaken creation 8, nor do they reveal G-d’s presence or hide it. Their actions do, though, affect themselves for better or for worse, either bodily by strengthening or weakening them, or spiritually.

Footnotes:

1                After Adam and Eve’s error.

2                See 2:4:3 above.

3                See Zohar at the beginning of Parshat Bo as well as Nephesh Hachaim 1:3-4.

4                This withholding of a bold statement of utter human control of things is meant to underscore the undeniable fact that while G-d allocated a lot of control to our actions, at bottom, He’s in complete control of things (see 2:8:1 below and Da’at Tevunot 9),

5                I.e., growth,

6                I.e., blessings.

7                G-d’s presence.

8                Still and all see Da’at Tevunot 126 where Ramchal makes the distinct point that all of creation plays a role in bolstering creation, underscoring the point by saying that “everything is intertwined, and everything is needed to fulfill the mission that G-d had in mind when He created the universe”. Also see Pirkei Avot at the end of Ch. 6.

(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.