"The Way of G-d"
Part 1: "The Fundamental Principles of Reality"
Ch. 3: "Mankind"
Ramchal introduces an astounding idea here in an offhanded way.
(The greatest of teachers often slip-in major metaphysical principles in
passing, and leave it up to us to either delve into them or not. Their
thinking is that if the reader is struck by the notion, he or she will
explore it, discover its import, and apply it as a metaphysical rule of thumb
to be used in other instances. Whereas if the reader overlooks the principle
and just takes it as an odd or vaguely "interesting" statement and nothing
more, the principle would have lost nothing in the process, and the statement
will still be there when the next, more acute reader comes along.)
He declares that "there's always more good than bad". Which is to say that
there's always more to be enjoyed or be benefited from than to be endured. To
be sure, this axiom is found in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 100A), and can be found
to be true in all sorts of instances. But it's the context in which Ramchal
places it that makes it so astounding.
In general terms the axiom depicts the fact that, all-in-all, the world is
largely at peace; there are more instances of kindness than cruelty; more
health than disease; more order than chaos; more reason than insanity, and
the like. And while we might not experience that in our lives or
surroundings, the "bigger picture" indicates that that's so. It's just that
our perspective is decidedly narrower, more parochial, and more immature than
We in modernity are certainly subject to the opposite viewpoint. Because
we're suckled, raised, and schooled on the notion that life (i.e., G-d) is
unfair, and we're sent home with pictures, tapes, books "proving" (i.e.,
restating) that day after day. For after all, if life is unfair, life is
meaningless. And if life is meaningless, life's (i.e., G-d's) rules are
meaningless too, and we're free to do whatever we care to do.
Yet quiet, sober, and less self-centered reflection will certainly prove
that, indeed, "there's always more good than bad".
Ramchal uses the principle in the following way. He says that the sublime
period of reward for our efforts (in the World to Come, to be explained in
our next class) is far greater than the period of effort (i.e., our lifetime)
itself, "because there's always more good than bad".
Up to this point we've been speaking of the great and awesome human struggle
toward wholeness and perfection. And to many it may have seemed a
frustratingly unending demand-- almost Sisyphus-like. For if you remember the
Myth of Sisyphus, the poor tragic hero was doomed to push a huge bolder up a
hill only to watch it fall to the bottom again right before he reached the
top, and to experience that for eternity.
We're thus being told here that that's *not* to be our experience. That
there's to be a period of struggle (i.e., a lifetime), then an eternal reward
for one's struggle (i.e., the World to Come).
We even find that alluded to in the verse that reads, "Six days shall you
labor and do all your work..." (Exodus 20:9), which is to say that we'll
struggle and triumph, struggle and suffer defeat again and again (hopefully
taking two steps forward, and only *one* back) for a limited amount of time.
"...But the seventh day is G-d the L-rd's Sabbath, when you'll do no more
work" (Exodus 20:10). Thatís to say that eventually we'll have transcended
time and space, and reached G-d's "Sabbath", i.e., His sanctified domain. And
we'll no longer need to struggle to achieve, but will rather bask in our
Many a poor and weary soldier of growth and wholeness has taken heart from
that fact and been able to forge ahead in light of it.
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