"Da’at Tevunot -- The Knowing Heart"
Section 1, Chapter 4
As we’d indicated, the single thread that runs through the long course of
history from beginning to end is the fact that G-d reigns over absolutely
In point of fact, G-d’s sovereignty, know as His Yichud, is the only trait
of His that we humans can grasp. For, while He is accessible to heart and
soul, G-d is utterly inaccessible to the mind; as the heart and soul can
sense His active presence in the world, but the mind must rely on abstract
conjecture about His makeup.
And so while we might understand for example that G-d is wise, we
nonetheless can’t fathom the makeup of His wisdom with our minds; and
though we can certainly follow that He understands, we ourselves
nonetheless can’t grasp G-d’s level of understanding; and the like. And
that’s because those and other such Divine traits are rooted in abstract
notions, while G-d’s sovereignty -- His overarching command of everything
in the universe -- will be evident in the end.
As our sages put it, “You (G-d) are wise, but not with a discernable kind
of wisdom. You understand, but not with a discernable kind of
understanding” (Tikkunei Zohar, 2nd Introduction). And besides, we’ve been
warned, “Do not search out what is too wondrous for you, and do not delve
into what is hidden from you” (Chagigah 13a), and “if your heart flees
there …” i.e., to an idea that’s utterly beyond your mortal mind,
then ”return to your place” instead (Sefer Yetzirah 1:8) . But while
that’s true of abstract ideas about Him, nevertheless as the psalmist put
it so effulgently, when one catches sight of G-d’s presence in the world
he can “taste and see20that G-d is good” (Psalm 34:8) -- that He’s here in
our world and holds sway over all of it.
But Ramchal’s point is that not only can we discern G-d’s utter
sovereignty now to a degree, it will become perfectly clear to us in fact
in the end.
As such we’re charged by the Torah to detect it and to internalize its
veracity again and again, to the point where it’s unquestionable . As
it’s written, “Know this day and reflect upon it in your heart” again and
again “that the L-rd He is G-d in heaven above and upon the earth below”,
i.e., that He reigns supreme, and that “there is none else” who reigns
(Deuteronomy 4:39). In point of fact, all of our people’s hopes and dreams
as well as all the promises made to us about our ultimate redemption hinge
on G-d displaying His utter sovereignty -- His Yichud -- in the eventual
We’ll discuss this all in more detail in the next few chapters; at this
point, though, let’s just present the various verses that allude to this
phenomenon. < o:p>
G-d Himself expressed it in these terms: “I am He! There is no G-d with
me! I alone bring on death and bring on life; I alone wound and
heal“(Deuteronomy 32:39) ; “I am He; before Me no god was formed and
after Me none shall be. I (alone) I am the L-rd, and aside from Me there
is no savior” (Isaiah 43:10-11); “I am the first and I am the last; there
is no G-d beside Me“(Isaiah 44:6); and “Know … that there is none beside
Me. I am G-d, no one else. I form the light and create darkness; I make
peace and create evil; I G-d do all these things“(Isaiah 45:6-7).
As the prophets Isaiah and Zechariah depicted it, “G-d alone will be
exalted on that day“(Isaiah 2:11) -- the day He reveals His Yichud --
when, “G-d will (prove to) be king over all the earth. And ... G-d and His
name will be one and the same“(Zechariah 14:9) . And as it’s said “Hear
O Israel! G-d our L-rd is the L-rd (i.e., His reign is sovereign)
The point of the matter is that G-d alone reigns supreme -- and that while
there are undoubtedly other entities with wills of their own, ourselves
included, in fact G-d alone will have “the last word” so to speak; His
Will will prove to reign supreme .
In the end we’ll find that the slow, boundless, panoramic consideration of
past, present and the promised future which we’ll be offered in this work
will ultimately have us realize the fact of G-d’s Yichud.
And once we know that, we’ll be able to not only “know therefore this day”
the truth of G-d’s absolute sovereignty in theory -- we will have “reflect
(ed) upon it in (our) heart” and we’ll be able to realize on our own
that “G-d alone is L-rd of Heaven above and of earth below -- none other”
(see Deuteronomy 4:39), despite the whirligig of earthly circumstances
that seem to refute that .
 See R’ Friedlander’s remarks in note 14 of his commentary for another
explanation of how we could understand G-d’s Yichud yet not understand His
other traits based on the notion of “positive” versus “negative” Divine
attributes (for which see Rambam’s comments in Moreh Nevuchim 1:56–60).
Our position is that G-d’s Yichud can be defined because it touches upon
Him as He interfaces with the cosmos.
 Understand that most of us simply don’t sense G-d’s utter
sovereignty. Even people of faith who assume that G-d certainly reigns in
this world don’t actually assume He reigns supreme. And that’s because
they presume that He Himself is subject and subservient to a number of
cosmic laws and limitations (which Ramchal will discuss later on).
 Ramchal calls our attention to the context in which this statement is
made, the great song-poem known as Shirat Ha’azinu, which he
says “incorporates every happenstance and phenomenon ever to occur in the
world” which even “the plain meaning of the text makes clear”.
 This verse would seem to explain why we use the term “Yichud” of all
possible others for His Absolute Sovereignty. For the term implies oneness
(echad); and oneness is characterized in this verse as the unification
(Yichud, quite literally) of G-d’s Essence and His name, i.e., and His
reputation or “public facade” as we worded it in note 3 to 1:3. (Also see
R’ Shalom Ulman’s opening comments to his edition of Klallot Ha’ilan)
The term Yichud also refers to the unification of G-d’s near-highest reach
with His lowest one, as in the common Kabbalistic formula of “unifying the
Holy One and His Shechina”. See R’ Shriki’s essay entitled “HaYichud” of
his edition of Da’at Tevunot for a discussion of this.
 See ¶’s 38 and 40 below as well as Klach Pitchei Chochma 1 (in
 For the Kabbalistic themes tied in with this chapter see Klallim
Rishonim 3 (which=2 0corresponds to ¶’s 36 and 40 ); Klach Pitchei Chochma
2, 4; and Klallot Ha’ilan 1. Also see the aforementioned “HaYichud” on pp.
61-66 of Shriki’s edition for a breakdown of how the concept of G-d’s
Yichud had been understood before Ramchal and of its various implications;
also see his Rechev Yisroel pp. 167-228 for a full treatment of the
concept of Yichud.
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.