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Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart

Section 3, Chapter 10

1.

Enveloped as we are by the sure veneer of our bodies and forever swayed by everything else covered-over, we’re blinded to much of the truth. We see this, that, and another thing but we never catch sight of the thread running through them all -- which is G-d’s will.

Fortunately then we’re assured here that despite our doubts and misgivings the truth is that all pieces of the “great and mighty clock” of the universe fit within G-d’s will for the cosmos without exception. And it’s our souls -- connected as they are to all the celestial phenomena that also go into it -- that will activate all that and contribute to the slow, steady, single-minded uplifting of the universe. When it’s no longer encumbered by the shielding though enveloping body, that is.

Included in all those things, though, is all the wrong, injustice and evil in this world. For it too is part of the plan.

2.

All of it, the good and the bad, plays a vital role in the eventual revelation of G-d’s Yichud -- of His full and overarching sovereignty [1]. For as a consequence of all of it, “light will be disclosed within the darkness”, and the hiddeness of G-d that we experience now along with everything that comes about because of it will be reversed.

For G-d wants His sovereignty to be fully manifest in the world, as we’d said before; and it will be, through all the mechanisms G-d has set in place to do just that -- all so that we can fully know that “I (G-d) 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), and that “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) [2].

Once His Yichud is manifest, we’re assured, we’ll “cling onto and grasp His being …, luxuriate in His perfection that would have become revealed to us, bask in the light of His presence, and we’ll fully and always comprehend all the profound things (that had alluded us) …, forever and unto eternity”. As our sages illustrated it, “the righteous will sit with crowns upon their heads and bask in the glow of the Divine presence” (Berachot 17a) [3].

The truth be told, despite these depictions and citations, we really can’t grasp that phenomenon at this point in our experience. To begin with, there’ll be many, many particulars we can’t now fathom [4]. We know about pleasure, of course, and about craving other sorts of pleasures that we don’t now enjoy in our day to day life, so we might be able to extrapolate the sorts of pleasures we’ll enjoy then from what we know of now. But there’s really no comparison, since the sorts of experiences we’re promised in the future will be wholly spiritual and abstract delights [5].

3.

We thus find that there are two distinct epochs in which G-d interacts with us. The second one will come into play after He will have revealed His sovereignty to us, and we will have fully ingested it. And it’s within that epoch that the whole phenomenon of ultimate reward we’d cited above will come into play.

The first epoch, though, is the one we’re in now, in which the revelation of G-d’s sovereignty is still in process and hasn’t yet come full flower -- which is to last from the beginning of time until the ultimate redemption. It’s the one in which all pieces of the great “clock” -- wrong and injustice included -- contribute to the give and take of this world.

Wrong and injustice are of course negative elements of the mix, to be sure; but while all the good in the world contributes to our service to G-d and plays a role in our reward [6], wrong and injustice will fall aside after they will have served their ends, like marks we might leave behind on a path not to lose our way which we’d easily do away with once we’d arrived.


[1] We’ve discussed this theme a number of times until now. See for example Part 3 of the Prologue, notes 2 and 4 to Ramchal’s Introduction, as well as the first section’s Chapters 4-11, 14, and 18.

See R’ Friedlander’s cogent remarks (in his note 233) about the two sorts of clock-mechanisms there are at play at one and the same time. There are the gears that move the hands forward, and the sort of gears that act as a resistance to the former which contribute to the mechanism just as well. His point is that while the former, like all the goodness and righteousness in the world, are certainly necessary, the latter which are like all the wrongfulness and injustice are equally necessary.

See R’ Goldblatt’s kabbalistic insights in his notes 12-13, 15 here, as well as his notes 51-54 on p. 483 of his edition; and see R’ Shriki’s note 79 (both for its kabbalistic and important non-kabbalistic insights).

[2] These two verses are cited in 1:4:2 as well, along with: “I am the first and I am the last; there is no G-d beside Me“(Isaiah 44:6); “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); “G-d alone will be exalted on that day“(Isaiah 2:11); “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 “Hear O Israel! G-d our L-rd is the L-rd (i.e., His reign is sovereign) (Deuteronomy 6:4).

[3] See note 9 to 1:6.

[4] Most especially, how we ourselves will experience that. Some for example, might imagine themselves being off-put by such an experience because they don’t tend toward spirituality here in life.

[5] This is like the difference between love and the idea of love. While the latter is less delightful than the former, abstract love is still and all endless, total, and perfect in effect.

[6] Since we are the great initiator as well as the greatest beneficiary of all that happens here.


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.


 






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