"The Way of G-d"
Part 1: "The Fundamental Principles of Reality"
Ch. 3: "Mankind"
Ramchal starts off this chapter, entitled "Mankind", with a short review of
the human situation.
He reminds us that we alone among all beings (either more exalted than we or
less so) are able to attach onto G-d's Being. That while we're capable of the
sort of moral wholeness that would allow for that-- *as
well as* moral deficiency-- we're nonetheless perfectly capable of achieving
And that we're to consciously and willfully strive for it (rather than
passively accept it) if we're to live out G-d's plan.
He then introduces three essential elements of all that: free-will, and
what's called the "yetzer harah" and the "yetzer hatov". He then concludes
that we're to use that free-will to opt for "yetzer hatov" type decisions
rather than "yetzer harah" ones.
Some definitions. "Yetzer harah" is usually translated as "the evil
inclination", and "yetzer hatov" is usually translated as "the good
inclination". I've written about this at some length in my books, but allow
me this brief explanation. Most of us (with obvious exception) aren't
"inclined toward evil". In fact, most of us naturally incline toward fairness
and kindness, and can be said to be "inclined toward good". (The truth be
known, though, it's not quite that simple, as we'll see later on.)
Every once in a while though, we *do* do wrong-- we treat others horridly
perhaps, lapse into petty immorality, etc., etc.
Why? Because of the *pull downward* implanted within us known as the "yetzer
harah". For that's exactly what the "yetzer harah" is-- a pull toward the
mundane rather than toward the exalted, toward the banal
rather than the transcendental.
In short, it's the idea we have that at bottom we're OK. That (as depicted in
Ramchal’s "The Path of the Just") while we might not reach the highest
Heavens, at least we won't fall to the lowest depths.
It's settling for an existential B or B-.
What we're to do then, is to strive to live up to the demands of the "yetzer
hatov", the inclination to be *truly* good (even great) on the deepest
levels, and to thus attach ourselves onto G-d.
(Are we all capable of achieving that? Frankly, no. Are *many* of us capable
of it? No again. What's being asked of us, though, is to step onto the path--
onto "The Way of G-d"-- and to move in that direction, which
we can *all* do.)
But what is it within us that allows us the wherewithal to fight the fight,
and to better our very beings? Our free-will.
A few words about that, though. We in the Western world consider ourselves to
be quite free, quite at liberty to do and say as we please. But that's
*political* freedom rather than the sort of primal, transcendent, moral
freedom which we're granted in order to achieve the sort of wholeness we're
But our real power lies not in the externals, for G-d alone controls them
(despite our delusions of grandeur). It lies in the freedom we have to
fulfill ourselves on a personal, existential level.
That's what free-will is all about. It touches on your essence rather than on
your trappings, your soul's place in the cosmos rather than your personal
place in the food chain.
In short, we're given a choice, along with the capability, to do as we will,
as far as our spiritual status is concerned.
If we're wise, we'll heed the advice of the "inclination for good". And we'll
do so willfully, consciously, and with vision. For that is the human
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