Derech Hashem 2:3:2

2:3:2

As we’d said before, each and everything in this world is drawn downward in a cascade from the Transcendental Forces until it assumes a material form in this world [1].

As such, each aspect of the moral challenges we all face that we’d spoken about [2] likewise begins in the Transcendent Realm, and it assumes a function here based on the role it plays in the world’s “repairs” or “damages” mentioned [3].  It’s also true that the way each challenge is meted out to every particular person in this world  is likewise rooted in the Transcendental Forces. And this meting out is determined by every pertinent detail involved on every level.

It’s also clear from the central role played by the Transcendent Forces and G-d’s interactions with them and everything [4] that G-d Himself scrutinizes the entire process and decrees what’s to apply to whom based upon what’s most fitting.

Footnotes:

[1]         See 1:5:2.

It was said in 2:3:1 that “it was G-d who determined what would go into human nature … along with their causes and effects, and everything else connected to them”; we now delve into the mechanics and structure behind much of that.

[2]         See 2:3:1.

[3]         See 1:5:7.

[4]         See 1:5:3.

That’s to say that everything that goes into our personal challenges, circumstances, makeup, surroundings, and more that somehow or another fits into the growth and perfection of the cosmos is rooted in the highest reaches of Heaven and overseen by G-d Almighty Himself. Dare we wonder whether we and our challenges matter in the course of things?

(c) 2016 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

 

Derech Hashem 2:3:1

2:3:1

As we’d said, our role in life depends on the existence of right and wrong, and on our choosing right over wrong [1]. Yet there are a lot of factors in all of this, and it’s also important to know that it’s not only our actions that can be right or wrong but our personal qualities, too [2].

Being egocentric, for example, is wrongful [3] while being humble is a good thing [4]; being compassionate is good while being cruel is bad; being satisfied and happy with your lot in life is good [5], while its opposite is bad; etc.

But know that it was G-d who determined what would go into human nature in light of our ultimate tasks in life and brought about all of these qualities — along with their causes and effects, and everything else connected to them — and it was He who allowed them to exist in the human heart [6].

There’s yet another factor in all of this. People would have to exist in various circumstances in order for these qualities to be played out, which would then become a “testing-ground” for each one of us, in that we’d each be forced to contend with bad traits and yet given the opportunity to transcend them and chose good ones instead [7].

And so if wealth and poverty didn’t both exist, for example, there wouldn’t be an opportunity to express compassion or cruelty. As such, wealth exists so the wealthy can be tested to see if they’d be compassionate or cruel to the poor. And the poor are tested to see whether or not they’ll be satisfied with and grateful for what little they have or not [8].

The wealthy are tested other ways besides. To see if they might become haughty because of their wealth, or overly-worldly and then abandon their Divine service. Or to see if they might be humble and subservient despite their good fortune and reject worldliness, and strive for Divine service and a Torah-based life. There are many other such examples of these sorts of challenges.

The point of the matter is that G-d distributed these challenges among us all as a part of His plans for us [9]. As such, each one of us thus has his or her own challenges in our battles with the yetzer hara [10]. Our task is to meet those challenges as best as we can, and our success will be judged precisely in light of our assigned circumstances [11].

The whole of this can be compared to the successful functioning of a government, with subordinates and superiors [12]. Each subordinate is to fulfill his assignment as best as possible under his circumstances, each superior is to assign them according to the needs of the state, and each subordinate’s success is to be judged according to his actions under his circumstances [13].

Now, while we aren’t privy to know just how all of this is to be carried out as a whole, we’re nonetheless to realize that in the end everything will function as it must [14].

 

Footnotes:

[1]         See 1:3:1.

[2]         See 1:2:5 and 2:2:5 above and Messilat Yesharim Ch. 4.

As was pointed out in 2:2:2 (see note 3 there), there’s a fundamental difference between one’s own personal spiritual strivings and that of all of humankind’s. While the previous chapter addressed humankind’s efforts, this chapter will address the individual’s. It’s also true that while the previous chapter is based on the dynamics of reward and punishment, this one will take other phenomena into account.

[3]         See Messilat Yesharim Ch.11.

[4]         See Messilat Yesharim Ch. 22.

[5]         See Messilat Yesharim Ch. 11.

[6]         See 1:2:4. Also see Klach Pitchei Chochma 81-82 about G-d hiding the factors that go into all of this from humankind.

The point is that none of our circumstances are just par for the course or merely a natural part of the human condition: they were all implemented on purpose by G-d for the reasons soon to be explained. After all, G-d could have created us and the universe any way He cared to — its being what it is now was all part of a purposeful decision on His part.

So while each and every person is born into a vast and cacophonous array of circumstances and phenomena that seem to defy order or purpose, and appear random at best or deliberately and cruelly confounding at worst, yet as every person of faith knows, there’s certainly a plan in place.

[7]         See Shemot Rabbah 31:3; Tanchuma, Mishpatim 8; Petachim 65a, Kiddushin 82b Bava Batra 10a, 16a, and Sanhedrin 100b.

[8]         See Messilat Yesharim Ch’s. 1 and 8.

[9]         This alludes to a more transcendent scale of Divine governance which is largely beyond our ken.

See Moed Katan 28a and 2:7:2 below regarding mazal. Also see Da’at Tevunot 160-164,170 and Clallim Rishonim 34.

[10]      I.e., in the battle of opting for goodness over wrongfulness. See Messilat Yesharim Ch. 1 about life’s many moral trials.

[11]      As such, G-d allowed for situations to exist in our lives that would either vex us and thus challenge us to overcome, or that would tantalize us and thus challenge us to transcend — all so that we’d fulfill His wish that we better ourselves spiritually and ethically. So in a very real sense, everything we see and experience is meant to test our mettle; to act as fodder for our ever-churning self to advance.

The other point is that the fact that we’re each to be judged by our circumstances implies that what would be sinful for someone in his station would not be in another’s, and vice versa; and that G-d factors all of that into His assessments.

[12]      Ramchal actually uses the analogy of a citizenship being subordinate to its king, but we’ve tried to bring the analogy up to date.

[13]      See Messilat Yesharim Ch. 22.

[14]      Since G-d isn’t simply a superior — to hearken back to the analogy cited in the previous paragraph — but an omniscient one at that with a plan.

 

(c) 2016 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

 

Derech Hashem 2:2:7

Somehow this one never made it here, so things are out of order. Sorry.

2:2:7

There’s one other important point, though. The community of perfected beings we’d spoken of [1] will be comprised of people on various levels; not everyone will be equal there [2]. There’ll be the lowest level, consisting of those just minimally capable of attaching onto G-d’s presence and enjoying it, and other, higher levels.

Anyone who can achieve that lowest level at least will be a member of the community and will remain there forever. Somebody who hasn’t attained that level, though, will be turned away  from the community entirely and be undone, while someone who has reached a higher level will be in a loftier community [3].

Now, since G-d has determined that we’re to be the masters of our own destiny by our own actions [4], both in general and specifically, we’re to be on the level that we ourselves strove for. As such there’ll be especially exalted individuals and less exalted ones, giants of the spirit and more pedestrian ones there — all depending on that individual’s own efforts [5] and without any ill-feeling on anyone else’s part.

Footnotes:

[1]         See 2:2:4.

[2]         See Baba Batra 75a, Da’at Tevunot 88-94, Clallim Rishonim 9, Adir Bamarom pp. 188 and 398, as well as 1:3:13 above and 2:3:9 below.

That is, while we might think that just as all of the wholly evil will be undone point blank in one fell swoop, then all in the World to Come should enjoy one sort of experience as well. But apparently that’s not so. The point seems to be that the righteous will retain their distinctiveness, while the wicked will be undone and discarded en mass. But as we’ll see in the following note that that’s not how Ramchal sees it elsewhere in his writings.

[3]         Ramchal explained the makeup of the World to Come in quite a number of his works.  He described it as the environment in which “the human edifice will come to completion” (2:8:4 below); in which “all wrongfulness will be turned around to righteousness” (Klach Pitchei Chochma 42); where “peace and tranquility will reign” and “fear and sorrow will disappear” (Mishkanei Elyon); and where the “final redemption … the ultimate (state of ) perfection” will come about, in the course of which “all damages will be repaired”, i.e., all wrongs will be made right (Klach Pitchei Chochma 30).

But this seems to be a human, this-worldly perspective of things rather than the supreme viewpoint that those who’d dwell there would ultimately achieve. Elsewhere, though, Ramchal points out that we know absolutely nothing about the ultimate level of the World to Come — which will be come about in the course of the Tenth Millennium and onward (see the discussion in Klach Pitchei Chochma 97-98). “G-d’s sovereignty will be revealed … to all of creation” then  (4:4:1 below), all there will “be eternally attached onto G-d’s presence” (2:2:4 above); and “everything will return to the state of supreme oneness” (Pinot HaMerkava).

And he also offers this: “everything will once again be as it had been at the (very) beginning” before the creation of  this world in the presence of G-d then, “with no distinctions between things” (Kitzur Kavanot p. 196). Thus, the depiction of distinctions between the righteous individuals in note 2 above isn’t always true, as there’ll apparently be no such rankings ultimately.

At bottom the point seems to be that while the initial stages of the World to Come will be those in which this world will be perfected and made right and where some of the makeup of this world, like its multiplicity, will be retained for the meanwhile. The latter stages on the other hand will be like nothing we know of, and all will be as one on all levels.

[4]         See 1:2:2.

[5]         See Da’at Tevunot 70.

(c) 2016 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

 

Derech Hashem 2:2:8

2:2:8

There’s another important thing about determining how something affects your being in the community of the righteous in the World to Come and your status there [1].

It’s that there are certain good deeds that are adjudged not to earn you a place in the World to Come but to be rewarded for in this world instead. The situation of those in this category are a lot like that of the mostly wrongful [2] — with one important distinction.

Those we just discussed do make it to the World to Come thanks to their good deeds, albeit only after having been cleansed in the Afterlife for their sins. But because of the nature of their good deeds they’d only achieve the lowest degree of the World to Come, and the majority of their good deeds will be rewarded while they’re alive.

What’s tragic, though, is the fact that if those good deeds would have earned them a place in the World to Come, they’d have achieved a lofty one there [3].

 

Footnotes:

 

[1]         Ramchal said in 2:2:5 that we can’t fathom the very many calculations that go into reward and punishment, and he remarked in 2:2:7 that the community of perfected beings will be comprised of people on various levels. He’ll now delve into both ideas.

[2]         Who’ll be rewarded in this world for their few good deeds but never experience the World to Come. See 2:2:6.

[3]         To understand the significance of this let’s explore the following. Ramchal broke people down into three types in the fourth chapter of Messilat Yesharim: “those who fully understand” (what matters most and what’s expected of us by G-d), “those of lesser understanding” (than they), and “the great majority of people”.

The best of them, “those who fully understand”, would yearn for nothing else but to grow in their beings, while the basest of them, “the great majority of people”, would only want to stay out of trouble, if you will. Their positions are straightforward enough. It’s the situation of “those of lesser understanding” (than the first group but who are still and all more promising than the third group) though, that speaks to the subject above.

As Ramchal explains there in Messilat Yesharim “It’s obvious to all thinking people that the division of spiritual levels in the world of truth, that is, the World to Come, is based upon the performance of righteous deeds. And that one who is greater in such things than his friend will be exalted above him, while one who is lacking in them will be lower”.

Yet, Ramchal continues, “there are fools who only care to have it easy. They say: ‘Why  should we burden ourselves with all this saintliness and abstention? Isn’t it enough that we’re not bad and doomed to Gehenom? We’re not about to exert ourselves when it comes to getting into the Garden of Eden (or the World to Come, the subject at hand). If we don’t get a big portion (there), we’ll settle for a small one, and that will be just fine for us. We don’t plan to overburden ourselves with all this’.”

Ramchal is thus making the point here, in Derech Hashem, that that position is heartbreaking. For had such people gone to the trouble to be more exacting in their expectations of themselves, they’d in fact have achieved a high level in the World to Come. After all, they’re not like “the great majority of people”: they have what it takes to be lofty. It’s just that they’re too lazy perhaps, or not inspired enough to strive for the excellence they can achieve. And they — and those of us on that level — are to be pitied for that.

 

(c) 2016 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

 

Derech Hashem 2:2:5

2:2:5

 

Delving into it even more so we see that while the reward and punishment system we’d depicted above is certainly rooted in Divine Justice [1], it’s also based on the realities of the human condition [2].

For as we explained [3], our actions affect our very beings [4] aside from our spiritual status, making us either more perfect and exalted or sullied and faulty, in perfect proportion to those actions [5].

Now, the mostly righteous person who managed to accrue a lot of spiritual splendor [6] and stature has nonetheless also become somewhat sullied from the few sins he’d committed, and he’s thus not yet ready to attach himself onto G-d’s presence. So G-d mercifully decreed that he’d be purified by the kinds of trials and tribulations calibrated to remove the impurity from him [7]. Then he’d be pure enough to enjoy that great reward.

Just know, however, that one would have to experience the exact degree of purification that would correspond to his status.

Know, too, that sometimes the cleansing process can’t be carried on a physical level so it must be done on a spiritual one [8]. It’s just that we can’t fathom the  very many calculations that go into all of that.

 

Footnotes:

 

[1]         I.e., it’s rooted in the idea that the fair and just thing to have happen is for the good to be rewarded for their selfless dedication to the good and right, and the wrongful to be punished for their selfish disregard of it. The point of the matter, though, is that there’s another, higher aim than that, which is seeing to it that as many individuals as possible be able to bask in G-d’s presence in the world to come, as was pointed in 2:2:3 above.

[2]         This refers to our very human impurities as discussed below.

See 1:4:2 as well Adir Bamarom p. 341.

[3]         See 1:4:4,10.

[4]         … inside and out, in that they affect our physical beings much the way that good or bad food affects our bodies, and good or bad habits affect our personality, and the like.

The point is that being and doing good allows a certain impalpable still point of holiness and perfection to nestle and glow in our being while being and doing bad allows a certain opaque, noisome, and unctuous blemish to fester there.

[5]         See Zohar 1, 24a and 131b; 3, 86b, 99b, and 128a; and Sh’nei Luchot HaBrit 1, 26b.

[6]         See Klach Pitchei Chochma 32 for a discussion of this phenomenon.

[7]         See 2:2:9 and 2:3:8 below and Da’at Tevunot 40, 54 as well as Berachot 5a, Zohar 3, 153a.

That’s to say that, as all-encompassing as it is and touching upon all elements of our being as it does, suffering — both the kind we experience in life or in the Afterlife — undoes all blemishes and utterly scours away at all stains, much the way weeping purges sorrow, and admitting fault unburdens the heart.

[8]         This goes to explain why there needs to be an Afterlife in the first place: to allow for the sorts of processes that can’t be carried on within the physical, emotional, or psychological realms we mortal beings imagine would be enough to purify — as well as to reward — us.

 

(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

 

Derech Hashem 2:2:4

2:2:4

Mercifully, there’s another means of achieving a place in the World to Come.  It comes down to a different way of being purified if you’ve been very wrongful but not wrongful enough to be annihilated [1], and it involves the realities of Gehenom [2].

Those individuals would be disciplined there [3] and then could be a part of the World to Come when the latter comes about. In fact, in the end there’d be very few who’d be annihilated — only the utterly wicked [4].

Thus there are three realms in which we’re judged: the World to Come. this world, and the Afterlife. But the particulars behind all of this are known only to G-d since He alone knows all of the details involved and the appropriate reactions to them [5]. All we know is that at bottom His intention is to allow for a community of perfected beings who’d be able to bask in His presence forever to come about, and that that requires all of these details.

Footnotes:

[1]         As we discovered in 2:2:3, the  utterly wrongful and evil will be annihilated in the end, while the somewhat or even very wrongful will not. But how then would the wrongfulness of the very or somewhat wrong be undone enough for them to be a part of the World to Come?

[2]         That is, by experiencing Gehenom the wrongful could experience the World to Come in the end.

There are two facets of the Afterlife (which we began to explore in note 4 to 2:2:3, and addressed in note 2 to 1:3:4 and note 2 to 1:3:11): “Gan Eden”, and “Gehenom”. Gan Eden (which translates as “The Garden of Eden” since it’s the spiritual counterpart of the earthly Garden depicted in Genesis) is where the soul delights in G-d. And Gehenom (which is usually taken to be “hell” but is actually different) is where the soul suffers the consequences of its misdeeds.

The point is that there’s yet another realm, aside from the world we know of, in which we’re to be judged, the Afterlife.

While punishments will be meted out in Gehenom, to be sure, understand of course that they’ll be spiritual in nature. After all, the body will have been buried in the ground by then, so whatever happens afterwards would be non-physical by definition. The sort of “pain” the soul suffers in Gehenom can perhaps best be depicted as an existential anguish and moral discomfort brought on by catching sight of oneself for the first time.

And while there will be reward in Gan Eden for the righteous that’s somewhat analogous to the World to Come experience of basking in G-d’s light, it’s still-and-all a far more dilute version of it.

Thus, the Afterlife is where the soul goes after death, and the World to Come is where body and soul re-unite after the Resurrection of the Dead (see 1:3:10-11).

See Ramchal’s remarks in Ma’amar HaIkkurim, “Gemul” and “B’Gan Eden v’Gehenom; Klallei Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at (10); Kina’at Hashem Tzevakot (2); Otzerot Ramchal, “Iyov” p. 185; and see Rambam’s introduction to Perek Chellek in Mishna Sanhedrin, Ra’avad’s introduction to Sefer Yetzirah, and Ramban’s Sha’ar HaGamul on Gehenom.

[3]         Notice that the term “being purified” is used above rather than “being disciplined” as used here. The point is that the discipline isn’t an act of revenge on G-d’s part or of a mean-spirited “settling of scores” so to speak. For G-d doesn’t benefit by one being disciplined — the individual himself does, in that he’s cleansed of his sins and thus becomes fit to be in G-d’s presence in the World to Come.

[4]         In point of fact, though he doesn’t say as much here (perhaps because Derech Hashem was intended to be a popular work with fewer fine distinction than others of his works) Ramchal indicates elsewhere that not a single one of us will be annihilated!

He says that, one way or another, we will all be cleansed well enough to be present in the World to Come. See his comments in Da’at Tevunot 38-44 and in Klach Pitchei Chochma 1-4. Also see Leshem Shevo v’Achalma, “Hakdamot v’Sha’arim” from 6:4 to the end of Ch. 9 there which cites numerous classical sources; and Sanhedrin 104b, as explained by Reb Tzadok HaCohen in his Likutei Ma’amarim (16).

[5]         For only He can read and hear out our hearts; only He can catch each and every nuance of good and bad in every choice we make; and He alone knows what will rectify each individual soul in the end.

(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

 

Derech Hashem 2:2:3

The class can be found here.

2:2:3

Given free will, people and their actions can either be wholly good or bad, or mostly good or bad [1]. But that fact would seem to thwart the existence of a realm in which all are good and perfect that we just spoke of. What, then, does G-d do to ensure such a realm? He judges our actions and beings in the different ways, as we’ll see.

Now in fact, it wouldn’t be fair of G-d to judge only some or even only most of a person’s actions and overlook the rest [2].Each and every thing we do, be it momentous or not, a part of the majority of our actions or not, will indeed be judged [3]

But G-d decided to proffer the reward or punishment for each deed both in this world and the World to Come, the minority, mostly out-of-character actions here, and the majority, mostly in-character actions there.

Now, since the latter is the realm in which one’s ultimate judgment is to be carried out [4]. The reward for one’s goodness in the World to Come will be a constant and eternal state of attachment onto G-d’s presence [5], while the punishment there will be the denial of that [6].

G-d made it so that one’s experience of either one of those realms of judgments would depend on the majority of his deeds. So, the few good things that the wrongful will have done in life and the few bad things that the righteous will have done will be judged in this world, and one will either succeed or suffer here accordingly [7].

That way, every action we take will in fact be judged, not just the majority of them, and the World to Come will be comprised of souls that would be utterly free of blemishes [8], and the souls of the righteous there could full bask then in G-d’s presence without the incidence of any wrongful elements which would have no claims to a place there.

Footnotes:

[1]         The latter is true of most of us, for in truth none of us is monolithic; each one has his or her good and bad side, or at least a relatively good or bad one. And there’s not a thing we do that isn’t a veritable cacophony of good and bad intentions and elements at the same time. Who among us, for example, hasn’t donated to charity to impress others? The charity has been helped to be sure, but we’re often still the callous and self-centered person we were when we started. And who hasn’t been insensitive to others when meaning to “help them grow”?

So it’s never quite right of anyone to claim to be wholly righteous or wrongful. Still and all, the great majority of us are mostly good with a smattering of self-serving badness, while some of us are mostly bad, and somewhat good.

[2]         That is, since most of us are an admixture of good and bad, how are we to be judged? If we’d only be judged for some — even for the majority — of our actions, then not everything we do would seem serious enough to be taken into consideration, which simply isn’t true. So, …

[3]         That’s so the wrongful can be rewarded for their few acts of goodness, and the righteous can be penalized for their few wrongful acts, proving that each action does in fact count. After all, wouldn’t it be logical to penalize the mostly-wrongful since they were wrongful over all, and wouldn’t it likewise be logical to reward the mostly-righteous since they were righteous over all?

See Messilat Yesharim Ch. 4.

[4]         That is, while one will be judged in this world as we’ll see below as well as in the Afterlife (see 1:3:4,11 above), one’s ultimate experience of reward or punishment will only come about in the World to Come. That’s because of the nature of the reward or punishment that comes about there, as we’ll now see.

[5]         Indeed, can there be a better reward than that?

[6]         And indeed, can there be a harsher punishment than that?

[7]         That way one will have been cleansed of his few bad deeds if he’d been predominately good in life and he’ll be found to be wholly righteous in the end accordingly. And conversely, one’s few good deeds will have been recompensed for if he’d been predominately bad in life, and he’ll be found to be wholly wrongful in the end accordingly.

This solution touches upon an ancient point of contention that still irks at many people: why do the good oftentimes suffer in life and the wrongful prosper? We’d expect truly righteous people to be blessed and to enjoy life’s bounties as much as we’d expect wrongdoers to suffer right out. After all, isn’t G-d just, and wouldn’t that be the fairest of all circumstances?

This will explored in 2:2:5 and 2:3:8 below and elsewhere in Ramchal’s works.

[8]         By then.

 

(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

Derech Hashem 2-2-2

The class can be found here.

2:2:2

There are two aspects to attaching onto G-d’s presence in the World to Come [1], There’s one’s own personal achievement of that and there’s all of humankind’s. One’s own comes down to his striving for perfection through his own efforts [2] while humankind’s comes down to all of it striving to attain the World to Come as a whole [3].

Now, since humans have a yetzer hatov and a yetzer harah, and free will [4], it necessarily follows that there’d be both righteous and wrongful people[5] in the world. In the end, though, the wrongful will be undone and the righteous will be gathered together in the World to Come as a perfected community where they’ll enjoy the true good. But there’s a lot involved in all of that, as we’ll see.

Footnotes:

[1]         Refer to 2:2:1.

[2]         And to thus attain a place in the World to Come…

[3]         That’s to say that while each one of us is to try to attain a personal experience of the World to Come, all of humankind as a whole is to try to bring about a universal experience of it.

The point of the matter is that while humankind itself has an overarching universal spiritual goal, each one of us has our own that’s aligned with that, to be sure, but separate from it too. For each one of us is alternately a simple single, rank part of the whole of humankind and yet a unique manifestation of it. That paradox — and the struggle it implies touching one one’s place in the whole versus his own individual needs — defines so much of the human experience.

The rest of this chapter will concentrate on humankind’s struggles in all of this while chapter 3 below will concentrate on the individual’s.

[4]         See 1:3:1, and note 2 there.

[5]         One of the implications of this very significant remark  is that wrongfulness and wrongful people prove the existence of free will — they’re not merely products of it. Since free will is a fundamental factor in everything, it follows then that the wrongful must somehow earn a degree of ironic “merit” for being so. Nonetheless, once their role will have played itself out with the advent of the Messianic Era, they’ll still-and-all be undone (as Ramchal will soon make the point).

(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

Derech Hashem 2:2:1

The class can be found here.

2:2:1

As we already pointed out [1], man’s goal is to merit attaching himself onto G-d’s presence in the World to Come. As such, the ultimate goal of everything that occurs is the World to Come. G-d has nonetheless seen fit to have us start off in this world, dependant on its laws of nature, and He saw to it that that would be the first stage in the ultimate goal [2].

Everything that occurs in this world is thus rooted in the idea of it being a stage in what’s to follow it in the ultimate realm — the World to Come.

Footnotes:

[1]         Refer to the entire second chapter of section 1 as well as the first chapter of Messilat Yesharim.

That’s to say that attaching ourselves onto G-d’s presence in The World to Come is our raison d’être laid out plain. For it’s there that we’ll enjoy the sort of repose and tranquility that only someone who had achieved a magnificent, all-encompassing, and long sought-after goal could enjoy. After all, true happiness only comes when one’s dreams are realized and his worst fears averted, and the greatest dream of the soul is to cling on to G-d while its greatest fear is that it won’t.

[2]         Given that we were purposefully placed in this world and its contingencies, it’s thus clear why it’s nearly impossible for us to transcend our physicality.

In fact, some might argue that it would seem better for us to have started out in the World to Come so as to have avoided this so very long and seemingly unnecessary excursion into the world with its many snares and risks. But G-d purposefully deemed it necessary for us to start off here and to be bound first by its exigencies.

 

(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

Derech Hashem 2:1:3

2:1:3

We humans are unique because of our free will and our inherent ability to achieve perfection or not to, and because we’re active, vital agents in this universe rather than passive ones [1]. So the sort of Divine supervision touching on us is necessarily unique, too.

All of our activities are overseen and all of their consequences — everything we do and everything that comes about as a result is scrutinized, and G-d reacts to each one of us in light of all that [2], measure for measure [3].

That’s not true of other beings. They’re reactive rather than active agents and merely exist to maintain their species in ways set out by their roots [4]. So they’re supervised in ways appropriate to that.

But since we humans are indeed active and we affect things on our own, we’re each explicitly overseen [5] in light of our actions. But we’ll expand on this later [6].

Footnotes:

[1]         We discussed free will at length above. See note 2 to 1:3:1 for references.

[2]         Indeed G-d interacts with us, rather than just oversees or supervises us as He does other species as we’ll see. Because we are His “partners” in the universe (see Breishit Rabbah 11:6).

See Ch. 3 of this section below for more on this as well 4:9:3, and Ma’amar HaIkkurim,B’Hashgacha” and “B’Torah uMitzvot“.

[3]         See 4:8:4 below as well as Da’at Tevunot 48, Klach Pitchei Chochma 94, and Messilat Yesharim Ch. 4.

That’s generally understood to mean parallel and equivalent recompense, with an arithmetically equal reaction to each action, tit for tat. But it may simply refer to a generally fitting and appropriate though not exact reaction to goodness or wrongfulness.

See 2:2:3-4 and 4:8:4 below on reward and punishment. Also see Shabbat 105b, Nedarim 32a, and Sanhedrin 90a as well as Sefer HaIkkurim 4:9 and Moreh Nevuchim 3:17.

[4]         That’s to say that G-d merely oversees the actions and experiences of other species and the consequences of them on a broad, more all-encompassing scope.

They often-enough play more vital — albeit passive — roles in the course of things, but that’s only so as to move things along according to G-d’s plans aside from keeping their species going. See Ma’amar HaIkkurim,B’Torah uMitzvot“.

[5]         And judged.

[6]         The difference between G-d’s supervision of humans as opposed to other entities can be likened to how a teacher relates to an outstanding student as opposed to how he acts toward more pedestrian students.

The outstanding student (i.e., humankind) enjoys the teacher’s special attention and he’s allotted certain special privileges. The teacher watches over him and reacts to him proudly, almost dotingly; he duly notes and rewards the student’s contributions to the class, and the teacher may even parry from time to time with the good student. Should the bright student somehow test his teacher’s mettle and go too far, that would be noted too, and the “star” student would then suffer the consequences of that.

The pedestrian students (i.e., other species) are certainly observed in class and encouraged to do what they do best, but because they neither shine nor significantly contribute to the quality of the class, they’re observed only enough to see to it that they get what they can from the class, in order to maintain order and progress. But they’re still-and-all not doted over.

[5]         See Ch. 3 below.

 

(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

———————————————————-

AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

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).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.