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"The Way of G-d"

Part 1: "The Fundamental Principles of Reality"

Ch. 2: "The Purpose of Creation"

Paragraph 5 (Part 2)

As we said we would, we're returning now to Ramchal's final point of the chapter, since it encompasses so much.

He said that what we'd need to foster in order to draw close to G-d are a developed mind and a laudable character. Which is to say, wisdom and personal excellence. And that what prevents our coming close to G-d are our dependence upon materiality, and a bad character. Which is to say, our settling for appearances and personal mischievousness. We'll do our best to explain that now.

There are very, very few wise people in the world an any one time. In fact, most of us couldn't point to one in our day and age. For while wisdom certainly includes knowledge, native intelligence, and keen insight; and while we can certainly point to sharp-witted, bright, clear-thinking, intellectually poised people in our experience, wisdom goes far beyond that, and comes from a far deeper element of our being than that.

The best way we can put it is thusly.

According to Kabbalistic thought, wisdom is rooted in the pre-creation stuff we have no other words for than the sort of "nothingness" out of which "somethingness" came. That’s to say, wisdom draws its vitality from the awesome, brilliant chaos that existed right before creation.

Hence, wisdom encompasses the ability to take things like knowledge, intelligence, insight, wit and the like; to knead them together with a clear sense of the essential "nothingness" that is the underbelly of the world; and to come up with a sweet-smelling, steaming, rich-textured loaf of fresh and deep insight, perception, and knowledge.

That's the kind of developed mind we'd need to foster in order to draw close to G-d.

As to a *laudable character* and personal excellence, that comes to this.

We all know very many "nice" and "good" people. People who go out of their way to be friendly, who can take a joke, who like a good movie, and who think it's good to be good, and bad to be bad. Yet they may be utterly childish at home, selfish, grumpy, rude, even heartless; they may lose their temper, sulk, berate people behind their backs, cheat in small but nettlesome ways, respect no one, etc.

Which is to say, they're not truly "good" people so much as obstinately mediocre folks who want to please and be liked, but drop all that when they're home and in safe quarters.

Faced with the delicious prospect of drawing close to G-d, such individuals would certainly be "nice" to Him. But they'd probably complain about something He said, once they'd left His presence.

Only the sort of person who's good to the core, who's driven by an electric and driving urge to be good, do good things, help, give, and excel in his or her being could ever hope to achieve the sort of *laudable character* we'd need to grow close to G-d.

What is it, though, that hinders all that? The aforementioned dependence upon materiality, and a bad character, which we've characterized as the habit of settling for appearances, and expressing personal mischievousness.

That's to say that the more we depend upon what we see and take to be true, the less likely we are to incorporate the sort of pre-creation "nothingness" we spoke of into our world view-- and the less likely we are to draw close to the Creator of all that, G-d.

And the more likely we are to lapse into the sort of personal mischievousness that so many of us actually *admire* in a person these days, which is rooted in the horrifying meaninglessness that is the opposite of G-dliness and personal perfection.

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