Further away yet closer up

The next step downward would involve the body holding more sway indeed, but still not as much as we now experience; and so on downward by degrees.

Finally, there’s our current situation, in which the body and its needs dominate every one of our thoughts, actions, and concerns, while the soul is like a “stranger in the land”, as Ramchal terms it, that “needs to follow the ways of the body”, which is native to the land.

The opposite will be the case in the World to Come, we’re assured; the soul will be the native then who will be well at home and very much in control of things, while the body will be the stranger.

In fact there had been a couple of historical precedents for a point in time when the soul reigned and the body hardly mattered, Ramchal points out: as when Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Torah from God, and he neither ate nor drank for forty days (Baba Metzia 86a). And though Ramchal doesn’t cite them, we could learn the same from the experiences of Elijah (2 Kings 2:1–11) [1], and Enoch, who soared heavenward while alive and in bodily form [2].

This now completes section seven: Adam Kadmon and its Offshoots. We’ll soon begin section eight: The World of Nikkudim which is comprised of Petachim 36-50.


[1] But see Sukkah 5a.

[2] See Ramak’s Pardes Rimonim 24:13.

Ramchal underscore the point there that, of course, the body could be a means of drawing closer to God and not at all a spiritual detriment. For each one of us is advised to “acknowledge (God) in all your ways” (Proverbs 3:6) — to find a way to draw close to His presence in the here and now, no matter what we happen to be doing.

After all, “we need to eat and to drink, and we can’t do without it”, as Ramchal points out, so seeing that we can eat and drink and the like in either a profane or a holy way, it would behoove us to do it the holy way. Thus we’re specifically enjoined to eat and drink, and the like, on the Shabbat on Holydays for the sake of the day and with God in mind then too, not only when we pray to Him and serve Him in other seemingly more sacred ways (see Berachot 63a, Avot d’Rebbi Natan 17:7, Hilchot De’ot 3:2-3).

(c) 2012 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org


AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.

You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).

Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.

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