Da’at Tevunot -- The Knowing Heart
Section 2, Chapter 10
Let’s begin to delve at last into the main points of this section of Da’at
Tevunot: the resurrection of the dead and the World to Come as we follow the
sure stream of human progress in the process .
The first thing to know is that all of that will only come about in the
process of great stretches of time -- ten millennia, the Tradition offers --
and as a result of great and mysterious, mystical machinations involving our
bodies and souls, G-d’s ever more manifest presence, and the makeup of the
universe at large .
Let’s start at the end, though -- when the universe will have reached its
ultimate goal, when G-d’s presence will be palpable, and when both body and
soul will have attained their full potential. This will all occur in the
last of five stages, which corresponds to the World to Come .
At that ultimate point, the soul will “return to its source” after having
“soared upward as a result of her accomplishments”, as it was designed to do
from the first. Body and soul will be as one then, but the soul will be
decidedly dominant while the body will hardly have a presence.
That’s to say that while the b ody will certainly be there in the mix, it
will “be almost non-existent, and will be utterly and wholly subservient to
the soul” then. In fact, Ramchal states, “it couldn’t even be referred to by
a name” since it would have so faint a presence, and it could “only be said
to exist” and to “have no (other) effect” than that.
As the Tradition explains it, reality as it stands now will only last for
6,000 years, after which all will be undone then redone by G-d in the course
of the seventh millennium (Sanhedrin 97b), when the “righteous will fly
about over the surface of the waters” with the wings that G-d would have
granted them (Ibid. 92a), in fulfillment of the verse that reads, “those who
hope in the L-rd will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like
eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).
Hence, there will prove to be three epochs of time: present reality, the
seventh millennium, and the epoch of utter renewal (which will encompass the
recondite eight, ninth, and tenth millennia ).
That all would have been preceded of course by what we’d term “foretime”,
the era prior to the creation of reality as we know it and of all of mortal
reality. But that doesn’t factor into the subject at hand whatsoever, so
Ramchal doesn’t touch on it here (though he expands upon it greatly in his
Kabbalistic works, as most Kabbalists did).
Ramchal then explains that in terms of G-d’s aforementioned hiddenness and
revelation. Since “the whole issue of the dominance of the body” is a
consequence of G-d withholding His light (i.e., His presence), which defines
reality as we know it now, it follows then that in the end -- when G-d’s
presence will be fully manifest and the soul will be in full bloom -- the
body will be powerless and of no real consequence.
It’s important to underscore that that’s not at all to say that the body
won’t exist then, since as we’d indicated before both body and soul will
ultimately be rewarded for their efforts. It’s simply that the body will no
longer have no consequence, no effect, will exercise no push and pull, and
it will enjoy no significance; instead, it will be utterly deferential to
the soul to which it will cling for dear life and purpose, and to which it
will be wholly subsumed .
We’ll explain the preceding epochs of time next.
 We’d need to retrace our steps up to now in this second section of this
work to explain where we’re going.
We first set out to discuss “the fact that we’re comprised of two utterly
antithetical, seemingly irreconcilable elements: rank physicality and
sublime spirituality” (2:1:2), and we began by delving into “the partnership
of body-and-soul that we are”, in order to “see how our two parts
collaborate” (2:5:1). We explored the relationship of G-d’s hidden and
revealed aspects in this world to our body and soul (2:5:3, 2:6:1, 2:8:3),
then we side-tracked to discuss the realm in which body and soul interact,
the face (Ch. 2:9). We’ll now begin the process of “marking off the various
depths to which body and soul can cling to each other in the course of time”
( 2:8:1) and go on from there to discuss human (and post-human) progress.
 Understand of course that the term “millennium” isn’t to be taken
literally, as time will no longer figure in once the world approaches the
tenth “millennium” and beyond.
 See R’ Shriki’s note 56 (also see there and notes 57-58 for his
Kabbalistic references as well). See his note 57 where R’ Shriki’s cites
from Klallim Rishonim 9 which alludes to an eventual near-erasure of all
traces of the body. Also see20R’ Friedlander’s Iyyun 21.
 In short, the seventh millennium: Messianic Era; the eighth and ninth
millennia: post Messianic, involving the resurrection of the dead, the Day
of Judgment; and the tenth millennium: the World to Come.
See R’ Shriki’s note 59 where he cites the chronology based on Sanhedrin
97a, Klallim Rishonim 9, and Ma’amar HaIkkurim. (But see R’ Friedlander’s
note 186 where he says that the resurrection of the dead will occur before
the beginning of the seve nth millennium. Also see his iyyun 23 which lays
out the chronology otherwise. )
 As we indicated in note 3 to 2:2 above, “the ‘body’ in this context
includes one's mind, personality, memories, and the like -- not just one's
rank physicality”. The implication then is that there’ll come a time when
one’s own mind (or consciousness), personality, and memories -- one’s whole
sense of self -- will be in a state of semi-sleep and near extinction, for
all intents and purposes. There would likely be a sense of
self-consciousness, but it would seemingly be so still and passive as to
Perhaps -- and this is all conjecture -- it would be analogous to the
feeling one has when reacting rapturously to music or lofty thought, when
the sounds or ideas overtake one’s being and sense of self, and when the
body certainly goes on its physiological way, the senses still work, and the
brain still accepts signals, but when the person wouldn’t respond if his or
her name was being called, and would only return to normal consciousness
after some prodding, and after he or she would have to blink a lot and catch
a breath before being able to go on. The point to remember, though, is that
the immortal soul, which far transcends all this, will go on as always, and
will be unaffected by any of it.
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.