Category Archives: Kabbalah

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.

Preview of Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:8

Preview of Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:8

G-d has administrators oversee and govern them in detail albeit under His purview, while He only does so broadly.

That’s not to say that G-d is unaware of them. It’s just that He doesn’t impact upon them in detail.

ח.  והנה בשעה שנחלק העולם כך, שם הקב”ה ע’ פקידים מסוג המלאכיי, שיהיו הם הממונים על האומות האלה, ומשקיפים עליהם ומשגיחים על עניניהם. והוא ית”ש לא ישגיח עליהם אלא בהשגחה כללית, והשר הוא ישגיח עליהם בהשגחה פרטית, בכח שמסר לו האדון ב”ה על זה.

ועל דבר זה נאמר, רק אתכם ידעתי מכל משפחות האדמה. ואמנם לא מפני זה תעדר ח”ו ידיעתו ית’ בפרטיהם, כי הכל צפוי וגלוי לפניו ית’ מעולם, אבל הענין הוא, שאינו משגיח ומשפיע לפרטיהם. ודבר זה תבינהו במה שנבאר עוד לפנים בס”ד:

(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.

Preview of 2:4:7

Preview of Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:7

Their righteous earn a place in the world to come, too. But it will be unlike our own. They’ll serve a subservient role there, like clothing to a body. As that is all they could ever hope for.

ז.  ואולם לעוה”ב לא תמצאן אומות זולת ישראל, ולנפש חסידי אומות העולם ינתן מציאות בבחינה נוספת ונספחת על ישראל עצמם, ונטפלים להם כלבוש הנטפל לאדם, ובבחינה זו יגיע להם מה שיגיע מן הטוב, ואין בחקם שישיגו יותר מזה כלל:

(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

———————————————————-

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 2:4:6

Preview of Derech Hashem – The Way of G-d 2:4:6

Those others aren’t dispensable, though; they were simply assigned a lesser role as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s error. And they too have souls and were likewise bestowed with mitzvahs which are known as the seven “Noachite Laws”.

In any event, the way things would have been had Adam and Eve not sinned and the reverse was all set in place from the first. And the circumstances of those others are like all other instances of retribution for actions taken.

ו. ואולם לא היתה הגזירה להאביד את האומות האלה, אבל היתה הגזירה שישארו במדריגה השפלה שזכרנו, והוא מין אנושיות שהיה ראוי שלא ימצא אלו לא חטא אדה”ר, והוא בחטאו גרם לו שימצא.

ואמנם כיון שיש בהם בחי’ אנושיות, אע”פ שהיא שפלה, רצה הקב”ה שיהיה להם מעין מה שראוי לאנושיות האמיתי, והיינו שיהיה להם נשמה כעין נשמות בני ישראל, אע”פ שאין מדריגתה מדריגת נשמות ישראל אלא שפלה מהם הרבה. ויהיה להם מצות, יקנו בהם הצלחה גופיית ונפשיית גם כן כפי מה שראוי לבחינתם, והם מצות בני נח.

והנה מתחלת הבריאה נזמנו כל הדברים להיותם כך אם יהיה שיחטא אדם, וכמו שנבראו כל שאר ההיזקים והעונשים על התנאי, וכמאמרם ז”ל:

(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 2:4:5

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.