Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Way of G-d


What Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s The Way of G-d is in its original form is a laying out cold and clear, layer by layer, the very most fundamental cosmic principles of the universe, and the most exhilaratingly profound and mystical things expected of us as a consequence of them.

For as he put it in his introduction, what he set out to do was to simply “lay out the general principles of the Jewish Faith” as “revealed by G-d’s prophets and taught in His Torah” in an orderly, clear, and unambiguous way, which he did by first setting out the general principles of the faith, then expanding outward from there, step by step.

He assured us that ... somehow ... all the “secrets (of the faith) will then be within our grasp” and that all we’ll need to do to realize them then would be to study his work carefully and earnestly.

He ends his introduction by wishing us, his “brother (and sister, fellow) seekers of G-d” good fortune, and prays that G-d grant us the “eyes to see and ears to hear the wonders of His Torah”, which he then sets out to present.

Who’d dare make such a claim -- and manage to fulfill it? Only someone of the caliber of Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (whom we’ll be referring to as Ramchal, which is a Hebrew acronym of his name), who was a major Kabbalist, philosopher, and moralist.

Ramchal was born in Padua, Italy into a well known and distinguished Italian-Jewish family in 1707, and was quickly recognized as an illuy (genius) since he became adept at Biblical, Rabbinic, and Kabbalistic literature at an early age (in fact, we’re told that he’d memorized all the writings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria by the age of 14!), as well as at the science and literature of his time.

In response to an unwarranted polemic raised against him in a highly-charged anti-Kabbalah era (hot on the heels of false-messiah Shabbatai Tzvi’s heresies), Ramchal eventually settled in Amsterdam where he wrote and published his most famous work, The Path of the Just (“Messilat Yesharim”) as well as The Way of G-d (“Derech Hashem”) among many others. He and his family settled in Israel afterwards and all died there in consequence of a plague in 1746.

The original work is divided into four main sections which all delve into some very, very weighty and esoteric notions. And the four are subdivided into numerous sections.

The chapters that make up the first section, “The Fundamental Principles of Reality”, are entitled “G-d”, “The Purpose of Creation”, “Humankind”, “Human Responsibility”, and “The Spiritual Realm”

The second section is entitled “Divine Providence”, and it’s chapters are “Divine Providence, in General”, “Humankind in This World”, “Personal Providence”, “Israel and The Other Nations”, “How Divine Providence Works”, “The System Behind Divine Providence”, “The Influence of the Stars”, and “The Details of Divine Providence”.

The third section is entitled “The Soul, Inspiration, Prophecy, and the Supernatural”, and its chapters are “The Soul and Its Influence”, “Theurgy”, “Inspiration and Prophecy”, “The Prophetic Experience”, and “Moses as a Prophet”.

And the fourth section is entitled “Divine Service”, and its chapters are “Serving G-d in General”, “Torah Study” “The Love and Fear of G-d”, “Sh’ma Yisroel and Its Blessings”, “Prayer”, “The Sequence of the Day”, “Intermittent Observances”, “Seasonal Mitzvot”, and “Incidental Observances and Blessings”.

Now, there’s a world to be said about this layout, but suffice it to say that it goes from discussions of G-d’s Being and what that implies (“The Fundamental Principles of Reality”), to the ways G-d interacts with us in the world (“Divine Providence”), to the mechanisms within us and the universe that allow us to interact with Him (“The Soul, Inspiration, Prophecy, and the Supernatural”), to how we’re to do that (“Divine Service”).

The present work itself is a paraphrase of and a stealth running commentary to the original The Way of G-d rather than a new translation of it, and it oftentimes takes liberties with its contents (and its numbering-system as

well, which we veer from once in a while) for the sake of the modern reader.

That’s both because my beloved teacher, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (of blessed memory), already provided a masterful translation which I wouldn’t dare argue with; and also because I realized that an adaptation would allow me to explain Ramchal’s thoughts as we’d go along, rather than quote, explain, quote again, etc., and muddle things in the process.

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.



View Complete List

Holy Eyes
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Alas! The Therapeutic Anguish Could Not Be Completed
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

Sparing Embarrassment Of His Brothers Was Worth The Risk
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

> Success by Whose Standards?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

The Meaning of Miracles
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Getting Together Again, For Good
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767


An Escort for Life
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

Growing in Exile
Shlomo Katz - 5763

To Fergin Or Forget
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5763

Feel My Pain
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

Yehuda, Yosef and Chanukah
Shlomo Katz - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Many Routes, One Destination
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

It's All in the Delivery
Shlomo Katz - 5762

My son, the Prime Minister!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

Good and Bad Company
Shlomo Katz - 5768

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information