Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart
Section 7, Chapter 2
1. “Prophecy”, Ramchal declares, “is the knowledge and comprehension of
G-d’s Glory that He grants prophets”, i.e., it is the clearest and deepest
understanding of G-d’s ways in the world that a human being could ever hope
to achieve .
But let’s make it clear that prophecy grants one a profound understanding of
G-d’s interactions with the world, to be sure -- but not an understanding of
His very being, as that’s simply unfathomable to even the greatest of prophets.
In a way we’re being told that while the prophets were privy to G-d’s
actions, mechanisms, demands, preferences, and expectations; to His displays
of satisfaction or dissatisfaction which is to say, to His manifestations of
mercy, judgments, and of life, well-being, as well as all the other traits
attributed to Him -- still and all no prophets were privy to G-d’s “heart”,
if you will, or to His private “ruminations”, which are out of bounds. In
other words, they could “see” Him at “work” if you will, but never at “home”.
2. That’s not to deny that they could actually envision G-d’s complex and
variegated influences upon the world and the principles upon which they’re
based, for they could. And it’s also not meant to deny the fact that they
could grasp the past, along with all of its implications, as well as the
future with all its promises based on that. They could grasp all that, too.
After all, they were acutely aware of all the forces at play all along, and
by thus focusing upon them they could ken how those forces played themselves
out in the course of time, broadly and deeply, within and without. Thus
their reach was vast and profound, and was grounded in G-d’s intentions for
the universe. But He Himself was beyond their ken.
 For kabbalistic references to this and the next few chapters see
Klallim Rishonim 36.
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.