"The Way of G-d"
Part 1: "The Fundamental Principles of Reality"
Ch. 2: "The Purpose of Creation"
Since the polar opposite phenomena of spiritual “perfection” and
“imperfection” we’d cited both need to exist 1 in order for
humankind to freely choose between them (and to preferably choose
perfection, of course), and since humankind had to have an environment in
which to make that choice, it stands to reason that it became necessary to
create such a setting. The point of the matter is that our universe, with
all of its very many components where all of that is to be played out, is
just that 2.
In a sense then, all of reality as we know it is the stage upon which
humankind’s great moral-spiritual drama is to be enacted 3.
Humankind is thus the central character and focus of that reality since it
alone can draw close to G-d by its own actions, while everything else is
either a member of the ”supporting cast” or a “prop” 4, as we’ll
1. That is, since the ability to achieve spiritual perfection and to
draw close to G-d by pursuing the good and the right, or to settle for
spiritual imperfection and to avoid G-d by pursuing the bad and the wrong,
had to exist...
Notice that contrary to common practice, Ramchal doesn’t speak
in moral terms here so much as in utilitarian ones, saying in effect “if you
want to succeed at what’s good rather than failing at it, then …” rather
than “if you want to be good rather than bad, then ….”.
2. Also see Ma’amar HaIkkurim, “b’Torah u’Mitzvot”.
3. We purposely worded it ambiguously, saying, “in a sense then, all of
reality as we know it is the stage upon which humankind’s great
moral-spiritual drama is to be enacted” because Ramchal might have made
another point here, as he did elsewhere.
For as we said in 1:2:1 note 4, Ramchal posited several reasons
for the world’s existence. While he suggests here that it exists to allow
for the playing out of human free will and for the chance to draw close to
G-d, which we addressed in that note, at other points -- as we also said
there -- he indicated that the world is more than a battlefield for
humanity’s spiritual struggles: it’s where G-d will reveal His Sovereignty
in the end despite humankind’s efforts, and regardless of the shifting,
swaying, confounding, and often inexplicable sway of earthly circumstances.
See statements to that effect in Da’at Tevunot 17, 36, 48, 54,
80, etc.; Klach Pitchei Chochma 30 (in Ramchal’s own comments); Adir Bamarom
pp. 80, 148; etc. And while the point isn't
accentuated here, in Derech Hashem, nonetheless see 4:4:1, 7 below. Also see
Zohar 1:70b (“Amar R’ Chizkiyah”) and elsewhere.
4. The idea of humankind's centrality is a subject of great and contrasting discussion among our rabbis. See Kohelet Rabbah on Ecclesiastes 7:13; Sanhedrin 37a; Zohar 1:134b; Emunot v’Deot, introduction to Ch. 4; Ikkarim 1:11; Moreh Nevuchim 3:12; Avodat HaKodesh 3:3 and onward; Pardes 24:10; Eitz Chaim 26:1 and 39:4; Sha'arei Kiddusha 3:2; Shelah, "Asseret Hadibrot" 2; Leshem, Sefer HaClallim 15:11; R' Tzodek HaCohen, Sichat Malachei HaShoret 2; etc.
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason
Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various
locations on the Web.