The vision and its solution

The next thing to consider is something we’d also brought up earlier which most especially comes into play from here onwards — Ramchal’s contrasting what was “envisioned” by the prophets and certain exalted souls, as spoken of in 3:6, and what that was understood to represent, as we indicated there. As we put it (based on Ramchal’s comments to Petach 9), those “rare individuals who were able to ‘envision’ the Sephirot” and  the like, “knew that they were experiencing ‘visions’ all along, and … they understood the import of those visions as well”.

But this isn’t merely an abstruse statement about prophecy: it’s actually Ramchal’s method of explaining Kabbalah. For the sages in the Zohar and those Kabbalists who followed their system were also able to “envision” things, and they too  were able to understand what lie behind what they were privy to. Now, most people aren’t aware of what those individual’s envisioned unless they’re students of Kabbalah; and very few of the latter indeed are aware of the import of those visions (most especially Ari’s). So Ramchal took it upon himself to explicate both what was seen (which he terms “the vision”) and what was meant (what he terms its “solution”).

As Ramchal said in Ma’amar HaVichuach, many of the people who studied Ari’s works, “took them literally and shallowly, which doesn’t amount to much of an understanding at all”. All they had in the end were “names of certain phenomena” which thus served them as “tables of contents”. They didn’t understand “the intention behind all those things or what they were referring to”, and they were merely “memorizing text (girsah) without (understanding the) logic (behind it)” [1].

The point of the matter is that while one should know all the nomenclature when studying Kabbalah, the various “events” depicted , the interrelationship between the parts, as well all the major and minor themes, one should wind up also knowing the point of it all — the various “solutions” to the puzzles that comprise Kabbalistic knowledge [2].

As such, we’ll be offering both the “visions” as Ramchal depicts them here and in other works and his own “solutions” of them. We’ll work “chronologically” if you will (which is an anomalous term, given that we’ll be presenting phenomena that came about before time itself), and we’ll begin with the Tzimtzum.


[1] See Sha’arei Ramchal pp. 36-37)

[2] See Ibid. pp. 38-39.

 (c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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