Derech Hashem 1:4:1

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Ramchal termed this chapter “Man’s Standing in This World, and The Specific Ways Available to Him” [1]. It begins with the point that at bottom, man’s standing in this world is dependent on two things: his own makeup, and his surroundings and circumstances [2].



[1]       … to achieve his ultimate goal, which will be focused on in 1:4:6 and 1:4:11.

It could be said that we’re now approaching the more practical core of Derech Hashem since rather than dwelling on abstract notions of G-d’s makeup, the purpose of creation, and our future life, we’ll now be concentrating on the means we have to live out and fulfill our life’s purpose and how some of the above touches on that.

As to our standing being dependant on our makeup and circumstances, it’s important to underscore the fact that G-d’s own will and plans obviously play a role in our station as well, oftentimes despite our makeup and situation. But that is a vast and numinous subject that’s far beyond the scope of this discussion.

[2]       See 1:4:2 specifically for a discussion of man’s makeup and 1:4:3 for his surroundings, though both will be discussed throughout the chapter.

Our makeup touches upon our inner life while our circumstances, of course, touch upon our outer lives. The two are often in conflict, as we’ll discuss below, but they needn’t be. In fact, the greatest among us are characterized by the harmonious interplay of the two.

The greatest classical paradigm of one’s makeup and surroundings affecting his standing would be the situation that Adam and Eve found themselves to be in before their sin, while they were of the greatest caliber and lived in the Garden of Eden, as opposed to their lesser stature subsequent to that when they were no longer in the Garden.


(c) 2014 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman


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You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).

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