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"The Way of G-d"

Part 1: "The Fundamental Principles of Reality"

Ch. 2: "The Purpose of Creation"

Paragraph 3

The last time Ramchal focused on the idea that G-d intended for us to achieve closeness to Him on our own by perfecting ourselves. Ramchal's point this time is that it's not just that we *earn* closeness to G-d by perfecting ourselves-- we in fact *become* close to Him through the very process of perfecting ourselves, as we'll explain.

But first this.

Some of us perhaps wistfully imagine how sublime drawing close to G-d Almighty must be; while the more doggedly material and this-worldly among us haven't even an inclination to do that. But tzaddikim (the righteous holy ones) *dream* about it in the deepest, most vivid corners of their hearts; they set out to do it; and they eventually do draw close to Him (see our discussion of this "d'vekus" experience in 1:2:1).

(In fact, I've long surmised that a person's true self can best be determined by the contrast between what he dreams of, and what he ignores. So I contend that it would do us each well to determine just where we ourselves stand on the "dream to get close to G-d" continuum in order to know our spiritual station.)

Accordingly, tzaddikim sometimes grow benignly impatient in their quest, and yearn for a short-cut, if you will. That's the issue Ramchal is addressing here.

The short-cut comes to this: As we've explained, G-d's Being is utterly perfect. And all other instances of perfection are thus "offshoots" of G-d's actual perfection, much the way a tree's branches are smaller yet corresponding offshoots of the tree itself.

Now, just as one holds onto the tree itself in a certain sense when he holds onto its branch, one "holds onto" G-d's perfection *and His very Being* in a certain sense by taking hold of and pursuing self-perfection (which is a branch of G-d's perfection). Much the way a drowning person who takes hold of a life-preserver is in a certain sense safely aboard the rescue ship already.

Thus, engaging in the process of perfecting oneself, and the process of drawing close to G-d are one and the same, for all intents and purposes. Thus the greatest short-cut to closeness to G-d is starting out to draw close to G-d!

And just as the more tightly one clings to one of the "tree's" branches (or to the "lifesaver"), the closer he is to his goal; the more one perfects him or herself, the more he or she attaches onto G-d Almighty.

Ramchal concludes with one final point. Which is that drawing close to G-d is referred to as the experience of "illumination", while distancing yourself from Him is referred to as the experience of "concealment". And that the more one perfects himself, the more illumination he enjoys. Those two paradigms are sometimes referred to as either "seeing" G-d "full face" or "from the back". We'll come upon these terms again and again in our studies.

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