Da’at Tevunot 3:5 (¶s 116 [end] – 117)
Ramchal says that he’s going to expand upon things he’d said above 1 and reveal things that are “deep” about “the very makeup of the universe” which will prove to be true “throughout its various time-frames” 2.
The overarching principle is this, he says: At bottom G-d wants to emanate His goodness upon us, so He brought about a mechanism for the emission of light and emanations from His being that would be appropriate for us 3.
G-d originally meant for it to be an emanation of sheer holiness 4 and for the eventual consequences of it to be holy, too, like angels. Thus, Ramchal remarks, the main reason why G-d brought about this emanation was for us to eventually enjoy an element of His own holiness 5.
But, since G-d specifically wanted a lesser, lower world to exist, He saw to it that that emanation would be diminished and would bring about lower, material phenomena 6, despite the fact that that’s clearly a downgrading of the emanation’s nature and was not the reason it was created in the first place 7.
Thus ironically, the coarse and material things that we see in the world that were produced by these emanations are in fact a diminution and a degradation of this mechanism which is from G-d Himself, who is the source of perfection and holiness.
Nevertheless, it was G-d’s plan to cover-over His emanations with darkness for the meanwhile, until He will see to it that the emanation will no longer be covered-over, and reality itself will prove to be “holy to G-d” 8. That is, the emanation will continue to be covered-over that way as long as we function in this realm 9. But that those covers will eventually be stripped away.
Thus we learn that the impetus behind all of the various twists and turns of time and human history is to vary and to eventually fully elevate it until the world will achieve its ultimate goal of allowing for all of creation to be holy.
The point of the matter is firstly that G-d allowed for an emanation to emit from Himself to us whose purpose was to draw holiness down to us from Him. Secondly, that He created mechanisms that were to allow for lesser and lower emanations despite the emanations’ inherent holiness 10. And thirdly, that He created within this emanation itself the various instances of ruination we’d mentioned, and He rooted all of this in the eventual revelation of His supreme sovereignty as we’d cited 11.
Thus, all of these lesser things are a product and fundamental element of G-d’s having hidden His “countenance”, while His eventual revelation of His supreme sovereignty will ultimately result in the stripping away of these limitations 12.
1 About the place and makeup of wrong and injustice, and specifically about its being a product of the “emanation” cited above (albeit a weakened version of it as we’ll see).
2 Frankly, could any student of truth, meaning, and ultimate purpose turn his or her head away when someone of Ramchal’s caliber says something like that?
3 One point is that this mechanism has to be tailored to our beings, as too much light and goodness would obliterate us and too little would barely maintain us. The other is that this mechanism isn’t at all intrinsic to the universe: it had to have been created. For, everything but everything — each moment, each phenomenon, each life, each spectacle, each wilt — each and every instance of this and that from time immemorial to time immemorial is rooted in and sustained by emanations from G-d’s own Being.
It’s also important to understand that this discussion purposefully follows the one in 3:4 above about G-d having created “potentials” and “actualizations”, as his overarching point here is that wrong, evil, injustice, and the like were always potential in the creation of the universe and in G-d’s plans for it; and that what can’t be denied either is that G-d allowed for it to be actualized (for His own good reasons and by means of the diminished emanations discussed below).
4 See 2:5 above about the fact that holiness is a consequence of G-d’s shining His “countenance” upon us, which is spoken of below.
Also see Clallim Rishonim 1.
5 See 3:10 below about this occurring in The World to Come.
And see Ch. 1 of Messilat Yesharim.
6 That are oftentimes un-G-dly, wrongful and utterly unholy.
7 Which was to allow for a full-flowering of His beneficence.
That is, despite the fact that G-d’s beneficence is boundless and lush, He still and all tempered and curbed it — and left it on what we might call a “brown-out”, a less than optimal level — in order to allow for some simply earthly and mundane, and even wrongful and unjust things to go on, which is our concern here.
See 1:15 above.
8 See Leviticus 27:30 and especially Deuteronomy 14:2. Also see 4:10 below.
See Ramchal’s Ma’amar Hareusin, Ma’amar Hayichud, and Adir Bamarom pp. 440-441 for a fuller, kabalistic discussion of the implications of this all, which helps to explain just why Ramchal refers to this all as a “deep” phenomenon that’s true of “the very makeup of the universe” throughout its “various time-frames”.
9 I.e., the realm that Ramchal refers to in the text is termed the era of Divine service, which is to say, the realm in which we continue to serve G-d through the mitzvah-system
10 Which are nevertheless appropriate to our world’s needs.
11 See 1:3 above, etc. Also see Klach Pitchei Chochma 39.
12 See 3:3 above about G-d hiding His “countenance” as well as 3:8 below.
Some unnecessary repetition and redundancy follows in the text of this chapter which Rabbi Yoseph Spinner has discovered isn’t found in the first edition of Da’at Tevunot, so we’ll end this chapter here.
(c) 2019 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com
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.