Theurgy

Ramchal discusses Divine names in Derech Hashem, too, though in a whole other context. He addresses the issue of “Theurgy” there –our drawing upon the power inherent in Divine names in order to consciously affect changes in the world, or to draw close to God (3:2:6-7). That’s done by either inscribing specific names onto parchment in the form of kamayot (amulets) or by reciting those names (though Ramchal doesn’t discuss kamayot). He assures us that there are specific rules involved in this as well as of the fact that being capable of it doesn’t enable one to do the impossible (3:2:2). But the point remains that this is a force to be reckoned with. This ability enables its practitioner to “bend” nature, if you will, or to bypass it to one degree or another (3:2:5). Ramchal takes pains, though, to underscore that this ability emanates from God, from His intentions for world, and from the mechanisms that He Himself set in place (3:2:6), and that’s its success often depends on the righteousness of the person utilizing it (3:2:7).

In fact, Ramchal addressed this issue in his comments to Petach 23 where he says that “all actions depend on the (power inherent in and the recitation of the) many Divine names to come about … (specifically) by the various combinations and admixtures of lights (that come into play through those names). And it is from them that the angels receive (their tasks and abilities)”.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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