Derech Hashem 1:5:5

1:5

Indeed, G-d set it up so that everything relevant to our free will would freely affect the Transcendent Forces to the degree and depth He wanted them to [1]. But this isn’t only true of our actions: it’s also true of what we say and think [2]. Still-and-all, we can only influence them to the degree and depth that G-d Himself established — no more and no less [3].

Notes:

[1]       That’s to say that there are times when the Transcendent Forces hold sway in the universe and affect us as well as everything else commandingly, and there are times when we hold sway in the universe and affect everything including the Transcendent Forces commandingly. Yet G-d Almighty still and all rules and utterly so. It’s just that He uses various tangible and intangible things — ourselves included — to accomplish His ends in the physical world.

That having been said, it’s nonetheless true that G-d has placed specific limits on the degree to which we can affect the Transcendent Forces, and He has enabled certain of the things we do to affect them and others not to. Hence, my lifting up a cup of coffee and sipping from it doesn’t do very much to change the machinations of the universe, while my lifting a Kiddush cup and sipping from it on the Shabbos has global ramifications.

[2]       In fact, since our words and (even more so) our thoughts are “closer to the bone”, their effects are often deeper yet than our actions and can do more harm or good.

See 3:2: 1, 5 below and Da’at Tevunot 126. Also see the first gate of R’ Chaim Volozhin’s Nephesh HaChaim which expands upon this idea in depth.

[3]       See the Kabbalistic implications of this in Ramchal’s Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 100.

(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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