And lastly comes the fourth, human (i.e., “verbal”) stage. The ratzon l’kabel is fully active and definitive by then, and it includes an awareness of others.
On the one hand, while we humans are able to move about freely and are aware of ourselves piece by piece unlike lesser entities, and we’re also able to sense others’ needs and to commiserate with them altruistically unlike our closest type, animal-kind, we humans are correspondingly imbued with an ironic fierce and overarching need to take-in and satisfy ourselves piece by piece.
In fact, if you’d ask me to succinctly contrast the ratzon l’kabel of the third, animal stage with the fourth, human stage of it I’d say that they were as different as a single being versus all of creation. For the ratzon l’kabel in the animal stage in which there’s no awareness of others can only foster the needs and desires that are specific to that one being, while the ratzon l’kabel of humans who can sense others’ (needs) can also incorporate the needs of everything else.
For not only are we aware of what we need and want, we’re likewise only too well aware of others’ needs and wants, and we’re inclined to want those same things — and more — knowing about them, since we have so potent a need to take-in.
And so we can covet and want whatever others have; and if you were to “give us an inch, we’d take a mile”. Indeed our needs can be so great that we’d want everything!
But while all that seems to damn human beings for our pettiness and to rail against our bottomless self-absorption, Ashlag’s point will be that our natures are God-given and intentional, and they bolster God’s ultimate cosmic goal.
(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.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).