Ramchal on Emanations

He actually says quite a lot about emanation and its cohort Divine Providence throughout the second section of Derech Hashem. He speaks there of it occurring on various levels, and of this-world versus other-worldly applications of it (including its role in reincarnation); the place of reward and punishment, human responsibility and potential, Divine Justice, the Jewish Nation, and of Adam and Eve as well as other early Biblical personalities in it; the mechanics of it and its non-human participants; the place of God’s Yichud in the process; human history in light of Divine Providence and the emanation process; and more.

In short it comes down to the fact that while “it’s God alone who maintains the existence of all of creation, both at large and in particular [1]…. (yet) there many and various sorts of emanators” (Derech Hashem 3:2:5) [2].

While many are aware of the place of the angels and constellations in the process, as we laid out above, not many are aware of the role of the Torah.  As Ramchal puts it, “the greatest emanator of all and the one with the loftiest and most valuable makeup … which God apportioned from His own Glory … is the Torah” (Derech Hashem 4:2:2) [3]. We won’t delve into the particulars here about this important albeit mystifying statement other than to offer that on one level it simply alludes to the power inherent in our Torah-study and Torah-sanctioned actions to change God’s reactions to us and thus change the course of history, but a lot more could be said about it [4].

We’re also taught that God’s emanations vary from person to person, moment by moment, and day by day (Petach 138; Da’at Tevunot 160, 174), and that they largely depend on our actions (Da’at Tevunot 130, 168). At bottom, though, “All of God’s emanations … are rooted in and dependent upon His Yichud … so as to bring (everything) to true perfection” (Derech Hashem 4:4:7) [5].

We’ll begin our actual discussion of Petachim 5 and 6 next time.

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Notes:

[1]        See Da’at Tevunot 116, Midrash Tehillim 119: 89.

[2]       Also see Derech Hashem 2:5:3, 2:6:2, 3:2:1, 4:6:10; and Da’at Tevunot 156, 158.

[3]       As it’s written, “God peered into the Torah to create the world” (Breishit Rabbah 1:2). Also see Adir Bamarom pp. 110-111.

[4]       This is partially based on the sublime source of the Torah; after all, the quote just above refers to the Torah as an entity “which God apportioned from His own Glory”. Also see Petach 30 below, and R’ Chaim Volozhin’s statement in Nephesh HaChaim (4:10).

[5]       Also see Da’at Tevunot 116.

See Klalei Pitcha HaChochma v’Da’at 6 on the process itself; and see Petachim 72, 73, 125 for more esoteric references to it.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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