Muted is good, muted is apropos

Now, the fact that we can only discern a muted version of God’s message to us raises a very interesting point that Ramchal addresses here.

“There’s a principle that you must constantly bear in mind” in order to understand both Kabbalah and God’s intentions for us, he says, It is that “everything that occurs in any given place occurs in accordance with that place”, i.e., that’s to say that each occurrence accommodates the needs and realities of the environment in which it’s active.

‘To take an example from the subject at hand,” he goes on to say, “what’s seen of the soul (i.e., of the soul’s radiance) through the face is arranged in a way that’s (best) suited to this phenomena; similarly, what’s revealed through the apertures produced by the soul (as its passes through Adam Kadmon’s face) is arranged in an order that’s best suited to this revelation”. That’s because “this is the (only) order it’s possible for the creatures in the lower realms to apprehend” what’s going on in the upper realms. “This means that those in the lower realm see only the most external aspect of the measure established for the governance of the (lower) worlds”.

That’s to say that since the residents of the lower realms, ourselves, can only perceive lesser perceptions, that is then what they’re exposed to. But doesn’t that imply that we in the lower realms aren’t privy to the truth of things; that we must settle for watered down truths?

Ramchal replies that despite our only being allowed to settle for the lower edges of reality, in the end though “what they see is the truth of the matter according to the way it (really) is in depth” since seeing a part of the hologram is tantamount to seeing the whole of it, so to speak. And so we say that “they were given a complete (enough) and sufficient picture to enable them to understand the matter to the extent they’re able to” which is good enough. He then draws this analogy.

“This can be compared to the case of a sage who wants to teach his wisdom to a student. If the student is unable to receive the full depth of this wisdom, the teacher gives him as much of a conception of it as the student can take in. The picture (that is thus presented) is faithful to (i.e., consistent with) the full depth of the sage’s wisdom, yet it’s (presented in such a way that it’s) concise and comprehensible to the student”, so the gist of what the sage wanted to import manages to come through to the student.

At bottom his idea is that we’re presented with as much of the truth as we can bear, and that’s good enough under the circumstances. We’re not lied to but rather addressed in terms that suit us best which we can thus ruminate about and draw deeper lessons from should we care to.

(c) 2012 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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