Category Archives: Kabbalah

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.

Preview of 2:4:5

Preview of Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:5

Just as Adam and Eve’s descendants were divided into “trees” and “branches”, each subsequent “tree” was able to yield its own “branches” which could then produce their own off-springs.

But Abraham’s “branches” could only number 600,000, which was the number of Jews who left Egypt, received the Torah, and inherited the Land of Israel, who thus comprised the essential Jewish people. All Jews are their “branches” and offspring.

The other nations were offered the Torah and had they accepted it they’d have been given the same potential as the Jewish people, but they declined the offer. Their fate was then sealed, though an individual non-Jew can always decide to attach himself onto Abraham’s “tree”.

ה.  וצריך שתדע שכמו שכלל תולדות האדם מתחלק לאילנות שרשיים וענפיהם עמהם כמ”ש, כן כל אילן ואילן בפני עצמו, יבחנו בו הענפים הראשיים, שמהם נמשכים ומתפרטים כל שאר הפרטים. ואמנם ענפי אילנו של אברהם אבינו ע”ה, הכוללים, הנה הם עד ששים רבוא, שהם אותם שיצאו ממצרים ונעשית מהם האומה הישראלית, ולהם נחלקה ארץ ישראל. וכל הבאים אחריהם, נחשבים פרטים לתולדות הכוללים האלה. והנה לאלה ניתנה התורה, ואז נקרא שעמד אילן זה על פרקו. ואולם חסד גדול עשה הקב”ה עם כל האומות, שתלה דינם עוד עד זמן מתן התורה, והחזיר התורה על כלם שיקבלוה, ואם היו מקבלים אותה, עדיין היה אפשר להם שיתעלו ממדריגתם השפלה. וכיון שלא רצו, אז נגמר דינם לגמרי, ונסתם השער בפניהם סיתום שאין לו פתיחה. ואך זה נשאר לכל איש ואיש מן הענפים בפרטיהם, שיתגייר בעצמו ויכנם בבחירתו תחת אילנו של אברהם אבינו:

(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.

Preview of 2:4:4

Preview of Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:4

G-d allowed people to leave their root nations and join the family of Abraham instead if they’d care to. For, G-d had made Abraham the father of converts.

But if they don’t try to do that they’ll stay aligned with their root nation.

 ד ומרוב טובו וחסדו ית’, גזר ונתן מקום אפילו לענפי שאר האומות, שבבחירתם ומעשיהם יעקרו עצמם משרשם, ויוכללו בענפיו של אברהם אבינו ע”ה אם ירצו. והוא מה שעשהו ית”ש לאברהם אב לגרים, ואמר לו, ונברכו בך כל משפחות האדמה. ואולם אם לא ישתדלו בזה, ישארו תחת אילנותיהם השרשיים כפי ענינם הטבעי:

 

(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 2:4:3

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:3

Recall that originally there’d been root souls and offshoots 1. The root souls were to have regained Adam and Eve’s original high spiritual stature, their offshoots were to follow in their wake 2, and all of humanity was to have remained on that exalted plane 3.

But there were to have been two time periods for this to have worked itself out, though. There was a fixed period in antiquity during which the gates 4 were left wide open and when everyone could have become a root him- or herself and been worthy of being on the level of Adam and Eve before their sin. And all of his or her descendants would have been on that level, too. This opportunity was available from the time of Adam and Eve themselves up to the time of the destruction of the Tower of Babel 5.

For, there were indeed people at that time who strove for personal perfection, like Enoch 6, Methuselah 7, Shem 8, and Eber 9. They and others of their caliber could very well have become root souls to their particular offshoots, who’d then have served as bearers of G-d’s message for mankind, as we Jews do. But none of them did. Only Abraham, the father of the Jewish Nation, did, which is why only we, his descendants, came to inherit his spiritual bounty 10.

There eventually came to be 70 primal nations in all 11. And each one plays its own particular role in the larger scheme of things 12 while yet remaining on the level of humankind in its fallen state.

Thus while mankind may seem the same as it always has been there’s actually a profound difference between then and now. For, again, up to the time of the Tower of Babel all of humankind existed in the age of potential root souls and was dealt with accordingly; while afterwards, a new era began — the era of offshoots, which we’re still in the midst of.

Footnotes:

1                See 2:4:2 above.

2                I.e., to have “inherited” their high status, if you will.

3                But that would not have guaranteed that they would have achieved the ultimate spiritual status that Adam and Eve would have reached had they not sinned. See Adir Bamarom p. 29 for a discussion of that ultimate level in this context as well as note 3 to 2:4:2 above.

4                … of possibility and heavenly down flow …

5                See Genesis 1:26 to 11:1-9. Abraham, who’ll be cited below, lived within this time period, as is indicated in Breishit Rabbah 38:6 and elsewhere.

See Ramchal’s remarks about this in Ma’amar HaGeulah.

6                Genesis 5:21-24.

7                Ibid. 5:25.

8                See Breishit Rabbah 63:8.

9                See Seder Olam 1. Also See Adir Bamarom p. 13 about Shem and Eber.

10              Ramchal’s overarching point here is that we are the Chosen People only because we are the offshoots of Abraham who was singled out among others in his primal epoch to serve as a root soul. We ourselves would not have been the Chosen People had he not succeeded since there’s nothing inherently worthy about us to have earned that merit on our own. The Enochites and Methusalites could have been, but that didn’t happen.

Ramchal wrote extensively about the difference between Abraham and the righteous individuals who preceded him. See Adir Bamarom pp. 8,29,31,218, Biurim Al Tanach, Parshat Lech Lecha (as found in Otsrot Ramchal pp. 18, 20), and Messilat Yesharim Ch. 4.

11              With many subsequent subdivisions. See Genesis Ch. 10 and 1 Chronicles 1:5-23.

12              See Sukkah 55a and Sotah 36b.

 

(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.

Preview of 2:4:3

Preview of Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:3

The root souls we’d spoken of above were originally to have regained Adam and Eve’s spiritual stature, and their offshoots were to follow in their wake, and all of humanity was to have remained on that exalted plane forever.

But there was to have been a fixed period in antiquity for this to have happened by: from the time of Adam and Eve themselves up to the time of the destruction of the Tower of Babel.

There were indeed people at that time who strove for personal perfection. They and others of their ilk could very well have become roots souls to their particular offshoots. But none of those individuals did. Only Abraham, the father of the Jewish Nation, did.

There subsequently came to be 70 primal nations in all, and each plays its own particular role in the larger scheme while yet remaining on the level of humankind in its fallen state. We’re thus still in the midst of the era of offshoots.

        ג והנה ראתה החכמה העליונה היות ראוי שזה ההשתדלות יתחלק לשרשיי וענפיי. פירוש – שיהיה בתחלה זמן ההשתדלות לשרשים שבתולדות, ואחר כך לענפים שבהם. והיינו כי המין האנושי כלו היה צריך עדיין שיקבע ענינו כראוי, ויתוקן מן הקלקולים שנהיו בו. ולפי סדר ההדרגה, הנה היה ראוי שיוקבעו בראשונה, שרשיהם וראשיהם של תולדות האדם, לעמוד במדריגה מתוקנת, ויעמדו בה הם וענפיהם, כי הענפים ימשכו תמיד אחר השרש.

והנה הגביל הזמן להשתדלות השרשי הזה, שמי שיזכה מכלל הנמצאים באותם הזמנים שהיה שער זה נפתח והיה בידם להגיע לזה הענין ויכין את עצמו כראוי, יקבע לשרש אחד טוב ויקר, מוכן למעלה הרמה, הראויה למי שהוא אדם במצב הטוב ולא אדם במצב המקולקל. וכן ישיג שיותן לו להוציא תולדותיו הראוים לו, כלם בבחינתו, פירוש – באותה המדריגה והמצב שכבר השיג הוא בשרשיותו.

והיה הזמן הזה מאדה”ר עד זמן הפלגה. והנה כל אותו הזמן לא חדלו צדיקים דורשים האמת לרבים, כגון, חנוך מתושלח שם ועבר, ומזהירים אותם שיתקנו את עצמם. וכיון שנתמלא סאתם של הבריות, בזמן הפלגה, שפט במדת משפטו ית’ היות ראוי שיגמר זמן ההשתדלות השרשיי, ויהיה קצם של הדברים, שיקבע מה שראוי ליקבע בבחינת השרשים, לפי מה שכבר נתגלגל ונהיה עד עת הקץ ההוא.

ואז השגיח ית”ש על כל בני האדם, וראה כל המדריגות שהיה ראוי שיקבעו בם האנשים ההם כפי מעשיהם, וקבעם בם בבחינתם השרשיית כמ”ש. והנה כפי מה שהונחו הם, כן נגזר עליהם שיהיו מוציאים התולדות, כפי מה שכבר שוער שהיה ראוי לשרש ההוא. ונמצאו כלם מינים קבועים בעולם, כל אחד בחוקו וטבעו, ככל שאר המינים שבבריות, וניתן להם להוציא תולדותיהם בחקם ובחינתם ככל שאר המינים.

ואמנם נמצאו כלם לפי המשפט העליון, ראוים לישאר במדריגת האנושית השפלה שהגיעו לה אדה”ר ותולדותיו מפני החטא, ולא גבוהים מזה כלל. ואברהם לבדו נבחר במעשיו ונתעלה, ונקבע להיות אילן מעולה ויקר, כפי מציאות האנושית במדריגתו העליונה, וניתן לו להוציא ענפיו כפי חקו.

ואז נתחלק העולם לע’ אומות, כל אחד מהם במדריגה ידועה, אבל כלם בבחינה האנושיות בשפלותו, וישראל בבחינת האנושיות בעילויו.

והנה אחר הענין הזה נסתם שער השרשים, והתחיל הגלגול וההנהגה בענפים, כל אחד לפי ענינו. ונמצא שאע”פ שלכאורה נראה ענינינו עתה וענין הקודמים שוה, באמת איננו כך. אלא עד הפלגה היה הזמן שרשי האנושיות, ונתגלגלו הדברים בבחינה זו. וכשהגיע קץ זמן זה, נקבע הדבר כפי המשפט, והתחיל זמן אחר שהוא זמן הענפים, שעודנו בו עתה:

 (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 2:4:2

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:2

Adam and Eve — who were everyone’s ancestors, of course 1 — were on a far greater spiritual level than any one of us, as we’d already explained 2. They deserved great homage and eternal life, and had they not sinned they’d have achieved greater and greater heights 3.

They’d then have had as many descendants as G-d saw fit for there to be, and they’d have all delighted in His benevolence along with Adam and Eve. It’s just that those descendants were to be comprised of different levels in that some would have been primary and others secondary, “roots” and “branches” 4.

But Adam and Eve descended far downward when they sinned and became sullied with all sorts of murkiness and impurity, as we’d also pointed out 5. As a consequence their descendants – we ourselves — slid to a level that almost precluded them from reaching the exalted and immortal level originally due them.

That’s not to say that we’re incapable of ascending higher than the level we’d sunk to, or that Adam and Eve were denied the chance to return to their original level even though they’d descended so. 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, not unlike the time limit each one of us has in this world to rectify ourselves and attain a place in the World to Come 6; after all, everything that requires effort has a time limit.

Footnotes:

1                This point will matter later on when it’s explained why the Jewish Nation alone was chosen.

2                See 1:3:6-8.

Ramchal depicts them in Adir Bamarom (p. 29) as being so pure at first that they could have single-handedly finished off the order of perfection that G-d set in motion. All wrong would have been turned to right there and then, as will eventually happen, and all of creation would have been utterly purified.

3                See 1:3:13 for our connection to that, and Da’at Tevunot 40, 126 for more about their sin.

4                I.e., major family lines and minor ones.

5                See 1:3:8 and 1:4:2.

6                See 1:3:3.

(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.

Preview of 2:4:2

Preview of Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:2

Adam and Eve – who were all of our ancestors — were on a far greater spiritual level than we are. They deserved great homage and eternal life, and had they not sinned they’d have achieved even greater heights.

They’d have had many descendants who would have delighted in G-d’s benevolence along with them. And those descendants would have been comprised of different levels: primary and secondary levels, like “roots” and “branches”.

But Adam and Eve descended very far when they sinned and became sullied. As a consequence their descendants were almost precluded from reaching the exalted level originally due them. But that’s not to say that we’re incapable of ascending higher, or that Adam and Eve were denied the chance to return to their original level. Humanity has been granted the freedom to choose to ascend to a very great level. It’s just that there’s a time limit to that.

ב אדם הראשון קודם חטאו היה במצב עליון מאד ממה שהוא האדם עתה, וכבר ביארנו ענין זה (בחלק א’ פרק ג’). ומדריגת האנושיות לפי המצב ההוא היתה מדריגה נכבדת מאד, ראויה למעלה רמה נצחיית כמו”ש. ואלו לא היה חוטא, היה משתלם ומתעלה עוד עילוי על עילוי. והנה באותו המצב הטוב היה לו להוליד תולדות, מספר משוער מחכמתו ית’, על פי אמתת מה שראוי לשלימות הנהנים בטובו ית’, והיו כלם נהנים עמו בטוב ההוא.

ואמנם התולדות האלה שהיה ראוי שיוליד, נגזרו ושוערו מלפניו ית’ משוערים בהדרגות מיוחדות, פירוש שיהיה בהם ראשיים ונטפלים, שרשים וענפים, נמשכים זה אחר זה בסדר מיוחד כאילנות וענפיהם ומספר האילנות ומספר הענפים הכל משוער בתכלית הדקדוק

והנה בחטאו ירד מאד ממדריגתו, ונכלל מן החשך והעכירות שיעור גדול וכמש”ל. וכלל המין האנושי ירד ממדריגתו ועמד במדרגה שפלה מאד, בלתי ראויה למעלה הרמה הנצחיית שהתעתד לה בראשונה, ולא נשאר מזומן ומוכן אלא למדריגה פחותה ממנה פחיתות רב, ובבחינה זאת הוליד תולדות בעולם, כלם במדרגה השפלה הזאת שזכרנו.

ואמנם אעפ”כ לא חדל מהמצא בכלל מדריגת המין האנושי מצד שרשו האמיתי, בחינה עליונה מן הבחינה שהיה המין הזה אז בזמן קלקולו. ולא נדחה אדה”ר לגמרי שלא יוכל לשוב אל המדריגה העליונה, אבל נמצא בפועל במדריגה השפלה ובבחינה כחניות אל המדריגה העליונה. והנה נתן האדון ב”ה לפני התולדות ההם שנמצאו באותו הזמן, את הבחירה, שיתחזקו וישתדלו להתעלות מן המדריגה השפלה ולשים עצמם במדריגה העליונה. והניח להם זמן לדבר, כמו ששיערה החכמה העליונה היותו נאות להשתדלות הזה, ועל דרך מה שמנחת עתה לנו, לשנהיה משיגים השלימות והמדריגה בקיבוץ בני העוה”ב כמש”ל. כי הנה כל מה שהוא השתדלות צריך שיהיה לו גבול:

(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 2:4:1

Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:1

One of the most profoundly significant ways G-d interacts with humanity is by differentiating between ourselves, the Jews, and other people 1.

Now, we’re all the same on the surface, of course 2, yet when it comes to the concerns of the Torah our people is set apart from all others 3. We’ll do what we can here to explain this as best as we can and to show how we’re all alike and how we’re different.

Footnotes:

 1                That is, while the previous chapter dwelt on how G-d interfaces with individuals, this one will focus in on how G-d interacts with the Jewish Nation as a whole, His “chosen people” (see Deuteronomy 7:6), His “kingdom of priests and holy nation” (Exodus 9:16), as opposed to how He relates to others.

2             Aside from being comprised of the same physical components, we have deeper connections, too: all of us have a spiritual side, we’re all given free will, we all have the potential to be good or bad, etc.

3                 When Shakespeare’s famous Jewish character, Shylock, protested anti-Jewish discrimination by intoning, “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?” (“Merchant of Venus” Act 3, Scene 1) his point was that we Jews are just like other people in many, many ways, and that we’re not to be feared or loathed. But in a certain sense, Shylock was off-the-mark (for he was mouthing Shakespeare’s admirable indictment against anti-Semitism and wasn’t addressing the themes we’ll be dwelling upon here.)

For despite all appearances — despite the fact that most people would be hard pressed to pick a Jew out in a crowd with any certainty (unless someone was wearing the tell-tale outward signs of a Jew) — we Jews are different. Take away one fold after another, one layer after another of physical, emotional, and social likeness to others, and somehow all that gives way to a different breed.

For like every other one, the Jewish Nation has its unique national genius which sets it apart from the others. The point is though that our national genius touches on a very special phenomenon: the ability to draw close to G-d through His Torah. For we Jews can draw close to Him in ways no one else can, thanks to the Torah. The fact that we might be attractive, intelligent, gifted, and the like isn’t what sets us apart: it’s that all-important potential to draw close to G-d that way.

Many of us — Jew and non-Jew — will squirm at the idea and grow ill at ease, since it’s a decidedly un-modern one that’s awash in political incorrectness. But be that as it may, the idea isn’t our own; it’s stated outright in the Torah.

We’ll thus spend time exploring the implications of our distinctiveness, including the ideas that every other nation could have wound up being “the Jewish Nation” had things worked out differently in antiquity; the idea that Abraham alone deserved to be the root of the Jewish Nation, and no one else; the fact that other nations had been given a “second chance” later on but didn’t take advantage of it; that other peoples thus function differently on a cosmic level; and more.

At bottom there’s no reason to grow arrogant at our standing. It has nothing to do with us per se and everything to do with our G-d-given task in this world.

(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.

Preview of 2:4:1

Preview of Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:1 “Israel and the Other Nations”

One of the most profoundly vexing ways G-d displays His interactions with humanity is by differentiating between ourselves and other people.

We’re all the same on the surface, of course, but somehow our people is set apart from all others. We’ll do what we can here to explain this.

א. מן הענינים העמוקים שבהנהגתו ית’ הוא ענין ישראל ואומות העולם, שמצד טבע האנושי נראה היותם שוים באמת, ומצד עניני התורה הם שונים שינוי גדול ונבדלים כמינים מתחלפים לגמרי. והנה עתה נבאר בענין זה ביאור מספיק, ונפרש מה שבו מתדמים זה לזה, ומה שבו מתחלפים זה מזה:

(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.