Da’at Tevunot -- The Knowing Heart
Section 1, Chapter 14
We would have expected G-d Almighty to produce a perfect, utterly and
unimaginably effulgent, fecund, boundless, wholly good, G-dly world. After
all, the more gifted and inspired the artisan, the more suffused with
being, quality, presence, and artistry his creation. But He clearly did
not create such a world .
Instead, simply because He’d wanted to interact with us in a particular
way before He revealed His Yichud, He uncharacteristically formulated an
utterly and radically original other sort of reality: im perfection. And
it is that imperfection which forms the crux of our universe and the epoch
of time we’re in .
So, let’s characterize this epoch of time in which we play so active a
role and where G-d hides His presence . We’ll delve into the time when
His Presence is made manifest and the transition period between the two as
well later on.
The current epoch is the one in which good and bad choices are there for
the taking and in which the righteous are to be rewarded and the wrongful
punished. It’s also the realm in which we’re either drawn to G-d, which is
our goal, or distracted from Him; the one wherein the Jewish Nation, the
people chosen by G-d Himself to execute His plan and make the whole of it
right and just-so, can somehow be exiled20and quashed for thousands of
years; the one in which humankind is sometimes lofty, other times base;
it’s where all the unholy, polluted phenomena like idolatry and the like
which the prophets promised would be undone in the end now function ;
and it’s where the principle that "everything is in the hands of Heaven
but the fear of Heaven" (Berachot 32B) holds sway, by virtue of the fact
that G-d who indeed controls everything nevertheless allows for
wrongfulness and injustice .
What's not to be denied, though, is that this world of right and wrong is
also the one in which the righteous cannot rest, where each and every move
the piou s make is scrutinized; where we're sometimes soiled and other
times cleansed; where destructive forces are loosed and our people are
subjugated to foreign, even idolatrous values and control.
The bottom line is, though, that had G-d wanted to, He could certainly
have created the world otherwise by revealing His Yichud from the first
and disallowing for wrong and injustice. But He did not. Instead, He
purposefully and willfully created the one we’re in now, and will undo it
after His goal would have been met .
Understand, though -- and this is an important point -- that that’s not to
say that He has abandoned this world (G-d forbid) so much as “turned His
back” on it. He still bestows us with existence and vigor by means of
what’s referred to as His “emanations” . It's just that those
emanations don't cascade down to the world as they would be inclined to so
much as flow (perhaps even only trickle) down.
He nonetheless sees to it that the world is sustained all the time, by
spurring it on and granting it vigor. It’s just that the degree of vigor
He allocates for it at this point is nearly nothing compared to what His
own abilities would ordinarily allow for. Hence, the force pulsing
throughout this universe is “like a shadow of someone, rather than
himself”, as Ramchal puts it, like “the smudge left behind after letters
are erased” rather than the letters, “more darkness than light” compared
to the full vigor it could enjoy.
G-d’s emanation would have to come to us to that degree at least, though,
or we'd simply be undone -- not as if our batteries had suddenly died, but
rather as if we’d simply vanished without a trace . Nonetheless, what
remains as a consequence of this constricted level of emanation, which is
a by-product of G-d hiding His Presence from us, is our world, and our
life -- the reality and mother-substance we've been thrust into, depend
on, trust, and have come to accept as all of reality.
 See 1:2:4.
 See ¶ 96 which speaks of the originality of wrongfulness; but also see
R’ Shriki’s note 36 where he understands a reference to the sephirot and
to G-d’s institution of a “seder hapaulah b’hadragah” (gradual (managed)
 Recall that Ramchal cited three epochs of time in Ch. 1 above: the one
within which G-d's presence is hidden, the one in which His presence will
be revealed, and the transition stage between the two. He stepped aside
for a while to focus on the various “tools” G-d uses to interact with us
here in Ch’s 12-13, and he’s now returning to the three epochs.
 Ramchal cites the following verses that depict this epoch as the one
in which "the haughtiness of man will be bowed down, and the arrogance of
men will be brought low; when G-d alone will be exalted .... and (when) He
will completely abolish the idols" (Isaiah 2:17-18), when "it will come to
pass ... says the L-rd of hosts, that I will cut away the names of the
idols from the land, and they will no more be remembered" (Zachariah
13:2), and when G-d "will destroy death forever; ... wipe the tears away
from all faces; and will remove the insult of His people from all the
earth; ... and it will be said on that day, 'Behold! This is our G-d for
whom we have waited!' and He will save us" (Isaiah 25:8-9).
In point of fact, all the citations clearly refer to the conclusion of
this epoch or perhaps to a certain point along the transition stage before
the third epoch.
 The idea that "everything is in the hands of Heaven but the fear of
Heaven" also implies that G-d's sovereignty can apparently be undone if we
decide not to "fear Heaven”, i.e., not to take G-d seriously. The point
is, though, that since it's G-d Himself who has granted us that freedom as
well as the wherewithal we would need to follow through on it (see
beginning of Tomer Devorah), His sovereignty is not only not undone, it's
 That's to say that the world of right and wrong and of exile will
eventually be undone and replaced by a newer, transcendent reality that's
beyond right and wrong, reward and punishment; for none of that will be
necessary once G-d's Yichud will be revealed. As the only purpose all of
that serves is to point out how hidden G-d's Yichud was to that point,
which will then cease to be relevant. (But see R’ Friedlander’s iyyun 13
where he addresses Ramchal’s idea of perfection lying in the depths of the
imperfection waiting to blossom.)
But, consider the wondrous and daunting implications of all that! For one
thing, it categorizes everything we now know of as temporary and a means
to an end rather than an end unto itself. And it underscores G-d's ability
to turn everything around in an ins tant.
 This "emanation" or what’s often described as an "overflowing of G-d's
superabundant greatness" is termed shepha in Hebrew. See Job 22:11 and
38:34 which speak of an "abundance (shepha) of water over-covering you";
Vayikrah Rabba 27, where G-d is depicted as providing plentifully
(mashpia) when He gives; and refer to Derech Hashem 2:8:3.
The reshimu w e spoke of in the previous chapter (see note 2 there) comes
into play here as well. See R’ Shriki’s note 37 as well as Klach Pitchei
Chochma 26-27 and Klallim Rishonim 5; also see R’ Greenblatt’s notes 6 & 8
(and 10) and p. 475.
 Moses spoke to G-d about the Jewish Nation’s grave sin of having
constructed the Golden Calf and pleaded with G-d to forgive them, then
asked Him quite spectacularly to just, "blot me out from Your book"
(Exodus 32:32) if He wouldn't. G-d clearly didn't acquiesce to that, but
we have to wonder if anyone (significant or not) might have been blotted
out of the Torah, in fact, without leaving a trace. In any event, this
seems to serve as the paradigm of just how things would be if G-d were to
utterly remove His shepha, G-d forbid: all records would be gone about
this world and it would be as if it had never existed.
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.