Angels (3)

Now let’s see how Ramchal depicts angels in his many of his works, Klach included.

At bottom he terms them “God’s emissaries who bring all of His commands to fruition” (Da’at Tevunot 160; also see Derech Hashem 1:5:10, 2:5:3-4), but there are other things we’d need to know about them for our purposes.

We learn that while the actions of some angels are set, those of others vary widely according to circumstances (Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 111) — either for good or bad. That’s not to imply that angels can do bad things on their own, as they’re too holy to have a yetzer harah (Ginzei Ramchal p. 35). So while there are indeed “angels of destruction” (i.e., malevolent angels) (Derech Hashem 3:1:6) who do harm in the world, still and all angels cannot rebel against or countervail God’s orders (Da’at Tevunot 36).

There are ten main species of angels (Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 110) with many sub-species (Ibid. 108), and all of them occupy four “camps” (Ibid. 111) [1].  The lot of them are under the command of various “Princes” (Ibid. 108-109) commonly termed Archangels. And we’re told that they “derive all of their satisfaction by what’s bestowed upon them by and their attachment to their source” in the upper worlds (Ginzei Ramchal p. 132).

That last point begins to explain their relationship to the Sephirot (which is our actual subject at hand, remember). At bottom, the angels are products of and subsidiary to the Sephirot. As Ramchal words it, “The illuminations (i.e., Sephirot)…. produce angels” (Ginzei Ramchal p. 131); and “the Sephirot decree, and the angels carry those decrees out” (Assarah Perakim 9:1; also see Derech Hashem 1:5:10, 2:5:3-4 and Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 125). He says much the same, though much more arcanely here in Klach [2].

What role do the constellations play in God’s governance then? We’ll soon see.

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Note:

[1]          We’ll need to present a Kabbalistic theme here which we’ll go into great detail later on in order to offer more about them here: the idea of there being various spiritual realms or “worlds” (also termed “camps” here). The Ari speaks of five of them, though we needn’t be concerned about the terminology at this point, which in descending order are termed Adam Kadmon, Atzilut, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah.

Ramchal offers that three of the ten main species of angels are centered in Briah, six in Yetzirah, and the other species is in Assiyah (Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 108). And thus while angels are commonly said to be located in Yetzirah, he maintains that while they’re centered there, they also touch upon Briah and Assiyah (Pitchei Chochma v’Da’at 104, 109).

[2]       Angels are said to carry out the commands of the Shechina (Petachim 38 and 137; also see Da’at Tevunot 160), which represents the last of the Sephirot; and we’re told that they “derive their power from the illuminations”, i.e., the Sephirot (Petach 23).

For further discussion of angels in Ramchal’s works see Derech Hashem 2:5:3-4; 2:6:3; 3:1:6; 3:2:4, 7, 9; 4:4:1, 7, 11-12; and 4:8:5. Also see Da’at Tevunot 115, 118, 160; Ginzei Ramchal pp. 27, 33, 35, 41, 131-132, 153, 277; Derech Eitz Chaim; Messilat Yesharim Ch. 6; and Adir Bamarom pp. 2, 9, 111, 260.

(c) 2010 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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