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"The Way of G-d"

Part 1: "The Fundamental Principles of Reality"

Ch. 4: "Human Responsibility"

Paragraph 4

Having laid out the conflict between body and soul, we wondered last time whether there was a way to make use of the physical world to our spiritual advantage. The answer as expounded here is that indeed, there is.

It's rooted in a lesson we all need to learn again and again. That G-d is perfect, and by definition He does nothing by mistake or without a motive. It follows then that we were thrust in the middle of a physical world from birth for a particular reason.

It also follows that this situation is somehow or another for our own good. For as Ramchal said earlier on, "G-d created the world in order to bestow good" (1:2:1).

So we'll discover shortly that the spiritual principle behind our living in a world that seems to thwart our highest goals is the following one: "Man's lowliness will prove to be his greatness in the end". But let’s explain.

Suppose there were an utterly ignoble soul out there who'd somehow hit bottom. He became a drunk and a derelict, and brash, mean, wayward, and wanton. Suppose after a time he came to realize what he'd done to himself, turned himself around, worked hard and invested wisely, and became a "mentsch" (a fine, upstanding citizen). Let's even imagine that he became a selfless and ardent philanthropist after a time, and an advocate for all sorts of good causes.

Then suppose there were another individual out there who'd been born into a good family, had a sterling upbringing, was educated in the best of schools, and eventually inherited a great deal of wealth. And imagine they both advocated for and contributed toward the same noble causes.

The first individual would certainly be lauded more than the second one for his benevolence. Everyone would speak in awe of how someone like him, who'd once been such a cur and a dog, had turned himself around so and become so good. And everything good he did would be tripled in value in everyone’s eyes as a consequence. While the self-same acts done by the second person would simply be admired, and no more. After all, people would reason, we would expect as much from him.

This is the logic behind our having been thrust into a world that seems to foil our soul's dream of closeness to G-d. For by transcending our limitations and using the very same environment in which we could easily fail as a base for succeeding (i.e., this physical world) we will have met the greatest challenge of them all. And our lowliness will have *indeed* proven to be our greatness in the end.

It’s important to realize, by the way, that Ramchal is contrasting mankind with supernatural beings like angels with this point. After all, while we have to contend with conflicting urges and inclinations, and we're always threatened with defeat, they aren't. Angels *can't help* but do good and holy things (that's all they’re "programmed" to do, if you will). As such, any goodness and holiness they bring into the world is only to be expected (like the acts of the second person we cited above). While any goodness and holiness *we* bring into the world is a triumph of the human spirit, and a personal victory (like the acts of the first person we cited).

Ramchal makes a couple of other points as well here. First, that G-d fully realizes our complex and imperfect nature. After all, He created it. So He provided a unique worldly remedy for each of our faults, measure for measure. We'll find out next time the implications of that.

Second, that every time we use the physical thing that will prove to be a remedy for us-- and we use it with the proper intentions (which is to draw close to G-d)-- we perfect ourselves to a certain degree. That perfection, though, can't be seen. It lies in abeyance somewhere in the depths of our beings, since it can't manifest itself in this world. But we’re assured that it will come to full flower in the World to Come.

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