Category Archives: Hashkapha

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

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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”.

 

 

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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 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

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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 2:5:1

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:5:1

Till now we’ve been discussing the rules G-d Himself set up for our interactions with Him and His with us 1. From now to the end of the chapter we’ll touch upon the mechanisms He set up to implement those interactions 2.

But let’s first cite the fact that G-d interacts with the world on two levels overall 3 there’s His perception of things, and His influence upon them.

Footnotes:

1 As when we discussed why the righteous sometimes suffer and the wrongful succeed, why we don’t understand G-d’s ways, the makeup of the Afterlife, etc.
2 Such as the establishment of courts and laws, the role that angels play, etc.
3 Though there are an infinite number of offshoots.

(c) 2018 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org
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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

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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.

Derech Hashem 2:4:8

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:8

G-d appointed 70 angelic administrators 1 to oversee and govern the other nations in detail, albeit under His purview, while He Himself only does so broadly 2.

As such, it’s written, “you alone have I known among all the families of the world” (Amos 3:2) 3. That’s not to say that G-d is unaware of them: He’s intimately aware of them as He is of everything and everyone 4. The point is that He doesn’t supervise or impact upon the particular details of their lives, as we’ll see below 5.

Footnotes:

1                     Every nation was said to have its “genius” – its unique nature, gift, and contribution to humanity – which was said to be derived for its “genie” or “guardian spirit” in antiquity, all of which is close to the subject at hand. Ramchal’s point seems to be that a nation’s angelic administrator epitomises that nation’s character and type and thus sees to it that it be brought about and maintained.

                  See 2:4:3 which discusses the division of the world into 70 primal nations (aside from our own). Also, see Klach Pitchei Chochma 31 and the end of Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at.

2                     2:4:1-7 above serve as a sort of prelude to this section and to 2:4:9. For the entire thrust of Part 2 is on Divine Providence, and while we’d learned how G-d interacts with the Jewish Nation up to now, Ramchal is now touching upon that here in relation to others.

His point here is that G-d only interacts with them broadly. Yet in Da’at Tevunot 36 Ramchal indicates that G-d Himself oversees all things and all people in great detail! That’s quite a discrepancy,

As such we’d say that whereas G-d has His angels tend to others for the “meanwhile”, in the end He alone will have proven to have overseen each and every entity without exception – including the 70 Nations and the administrators that ruled over them.

Also see 2:1:1.

3                 It’s important to stress that the rest of this verse reads, “therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities”, which underscores the responsibility that goes with chosen-ness. And what’s soon to follow, which underscores the continued relationship that G-d has with others as well,  likewise lessens the gleam of chosen-ness.

4                     See 2:5:2 below.

5                     See 2:5:3, but especially 2:6.

(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.

Derech Hashem 2:4:7

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:7

Their righteous earn a place in the world to come, too 1. But their experience there would be unlike our own 2.

They’ll serve a supplementary and subservient role there, though, like clothing to a body 3. As that is all they could ever hope for, given the phenomena we’d cited above 4.

Footnotes: 

1                     See Sanhedrin 105a, Hilchot Teshuva 3:3; though also see Zohar Chadash 78d and T.Y. Berachot 9a.

A “righteous gentile” is defined classically as a non-Jew who accepts the seven Noachite Mitzvahs (see 2:4:6) with certain conditions (see Hilchot Malchim 8:11). In any event, this underscores the idea that an individual can be judged for his own actions, rather than one of a multitude of descendants of a particular “branch”.

2                     Thanks to the merits of our ancestors and to the eternal covenant that G-d and we entered into. See more about this in Avodat Hakodesh 2:41, Reishit Chochma Yirah” 13, and in a number of other traditional sources.

3                     This arresting image can either be off-putting (a piece of clothing rather a full human being) or perhaps even flattering (along the lines of “clothing makes the man”), but Ramchal has a wholly unexpected take on it in Adir Bamarom. He speaks there (p. 609) of humankind having been born with souls and clothing at first, and that the latter had to be removed once Adam and Eve sinned and to be “converted” (i.e., returned to their native purity by becoming a part of the Jewish Nation), which would ultimately happen (see p. 353 there) and be the ultimate act of rectification.

4                     That is, given our people’s role in the wake of Adam and Eve’s sin and in the course of G-d’s intentions for humanity.

(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 2:4:6

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:6

That’s not to say that non-Jews are dispensable, though, G-d forbid. No one is. It’s just that they were assigned a lesser role, but only as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s error 1. Still and all, having been created in the image of G-d 2, they too have souls, though unlike our own 3. And they too were bestowed with some mitzvahs that provide them spiritual and material well-being as well, which are known as the “Seven Noachite Mitzvahs” 4.

In any event, the way things would have been had Adam and Eve not sinned, and the way things are now that they did sin was all set in place from the first 5. As such, their relative status and assignment are like all other instances of harm and retribution that come about as a consequence of one thing or another, as our sages point out 6.

Footnotes:

1           See Adir Bamarom p. 469.

2                See Pirkei Avot 3:14.

3                Zohar 47a.

4                See Genesis 2:24, 9:37, Sanhedrin 56b, and M.T. Hilchot Melachim 9:1. Also see Adir Bamarom p. 380 and Klach Pitchei Chochma 30.

The seven mitzvahs include bans against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, incest and related sexual deviations, robbery, and against eating flesh torn from a live animal; the seventh mitzvah is the imperative to establish a judicial system to enforce the other six.

5                This accentuates the point that Adam and Eve were indeed free to choose to sin or not, since “alternative universes” were arranged from the first to accommodate either reality.

6                Avodah Zarah 5a.

 

(c) 2017 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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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 2:4:5

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:5

Now, just as all of Adam and Eve’s descendants were originally divided into source “trees” with “branches”, each subsequent “tree” was able to yield its own “branches” which could then produce their own off-springs 1.

Abraham’s “branches” 2 could only number 600,000, which is the number of Jews who left Egypt, received the Torah at Mount Sinai 3, and inherited the Land of Israel 4, who thus comprised the essential Jewish Nation. All Jews who descended from them are considered their “branches” and off-spring.

The other nations were given one more opportunity to achieve their spiritual potential — when the Torah was given to us and they, too, were offered it 5. Had they in fact accepted it, they’d have been given the same spiritual potential as the Jewish people, but they declined it. Their fate was then sealed and the gate 6 was permanently closed 7. Still and all as we said, any individual non-Jew can decide to attach him- or herself onto Abraham’s “tree” 8.

Footnotes:

1                Without restriction.

2                On the other hand.

3                Ramchal spoke of the centrality of the revelation at Mount Sinai in a number of his works. See for example Da’at Tevunot 78, 159, Tikkunim Chadashim 21, 33, 42, and Klach Pitchei Chochma 30.

4                He also spoke of the centrality of the Land of Israel in several of his works. See for example Adir Bamarom p. 235; also see Ma’amar Hachochma (Tephillat Rosh Hashanah) for the relationship between it and the Jewish Nation.

5                See Avoda Zara 2b.

6                Of access to that special level.

7                See 2:4:2 where it’s said that “humanity has been granted the freedom to choose to ascend to a very great level. It’s just that there’s a time limit within which we can do that”.

8                That’s to say that the Jewish Nation was purposely set up from the start to be a small, “tight” corps of agents of change and rectification which can take on new members but will never be large.

(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 2:4:4

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:4

But G-d graciously saw to it that others could leave their root nation and join the family of Abraham if they’d care to 1. For G-d had made Abraham the father of converts 2, telling him that “all the families of the earth will be blessed through” him (Genesis 12:3).

If they don’t try to do that, though, then they’ll just naturally stay aligned with their root nation.

Footnotes:

1                Thus, becoming a Jew comes down to leaving one’s own people and attaching onto the Jewish people (rather than only onto the Jewish religion). Like any other one, the Jewish people has its own ways and values, but rather than being molded by climate, circumstance, and the like, Jewish ways and values are rooted in Abraham’s dreams for his family of drawing close to G-d.

In fact, our sages pointed out that we went into – and continue to be in — exile in order to accept converts (Pesachim 87b).

See Ramchal’s insights into the place of converts in Otzrot Ramchal p. 149 and in Adir Bamarom pp. 353, 469.

Interestingly enough, a Jew can never leave the Jewish people himself (even if he “converts” or strays from Jewish practices or values), given that a Jew is always a Jew (see Sanhedrin 44a).

2                See Midrash Tanchuma, Lech Lecha 6.