A Quick Aside: God and the Meaning of Life (3)

In point of fact, we matter very much in the functioning of the universe [1]. At bottom, we were created as free agents — as Ramchal put it in Petach 1, God “created independent creatures possessing their own will” [2] — who were charged by God to do His bidding in this world, to execute His plans, and to experience His Yichud.

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Notes:

[1]       Mankind’s key role in creation was discussed widely: arguing for it, aside from the Kabbalists, was R’ Saadia Gaon in Emunot v’De’ot (end of Part 1 and beginning of Part 4); arguing against it include Ibn Ezra (near the beginning to his comments to Genesis) and at Exodus 23:20 (in his condensed commentary), Maimonides in The Guide for the Perplexed (3:12-13), and R’ Y. Aramah in Akeidat Yitzchak (Gate 5).

[2]       Ramchal discussed our free will in a number of other places in Klach. See for example Petachim 27 (p. 76), 30 (p. 93), and 81 (pp. 260, 262). Also see Da’at Tevunot 14, 158; Derech Hashem 1:3:1, 1:5:4; Ma’amar HaIkkurim, “BaHashgacha”; etc.

Also see Deuteronomy 30:15–19; Pirkei Avot 3:15; Emunot v’ Deot (Ch. 4); Chovot Halevovot (3:8), Moreh Nevuchim (3:17), Hilchot Teshuvah Ch. 5, and the statement that “All is in the hands of Heaven but the fear of Heaven” (Berachot 33b), which is to say that humankind is free to offer any sort of ethical response to whatever Heaven offers.

(c) 2010 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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