It comes to this, and it’s based on reward and punishment, and on God’s ultimate agenda.
As has been indicated in very many places as well as in many of Ramchal’s own works, we’ve each been granted the capacity — and responsibility — to rectify things, the entire universe included. And the means given us to do that is the mitzvah system. Follow that system and thus help rectify the universe, and you’re to be eternally rewarded; breach it and you’re to be penalized. It stands to reason then that God judges each one of our deeds in the light of what we’d contributed to or denied from universal rectification.
But as Ramchal indicates, His judgment is based on the whole of one’s deeds — on past, present, and future ones, and on the past, present, and future of each specific deed. Here’s how he explains that in another work, using much of the same terminology that he uses in our Petach.
God judges each deed, but “there’s no comparison between a rectified deed that follows (on the heels of) a blemished one, or a rectified deed that follows (on the heels of) one or even two other blemished acts, etc.” and an ordinary rectified or blemished deed. Indeed, “God observes all (of that) and takes it all into account when He judges us for reward or punishment .
So, the statement in our Petach to the effect that each deed’s outcome continues to exist even when the deed itself is gone refers to each deed’s past, present, and future components being a part of its makeup and contributing to the judgments made upon it. And the remark that a flaw that has been repaired, still exhibits the trace of the original flaw and it doesn’t disappear — it remains a flaw that has nonetheless been repaired, etc., is identical to the statement that “a rectified act that follows (on the heels of) a blemished one, or a rectified act that follows (on the heels of) one or even two other blemished acts, etc.”, in that its past, present, and future all matter at one and the same time when being judged.
At bottom his point is that nothing is solid or fixed: everything is an ever-spinning brew of past, present, and future, of change, and of progression and regression, and will judged accordingly. That is, God observes and judges us much the way we’re to observe and judge a sweet, shiny red tomato’s present makeup by taking into account its hard dull green immature past, as well as its decimated, mulch brown future as well.
1. Klallim Rishonim 34 (towards the end). Also see Da’at Tevunot 170 and Ma’amar HaChochma (on Zichronot in the Mussaf of Rosh Hashanah).
(c) 2014 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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