Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart
Section 4, Chapter 9
When G-d wants Divine Justice to function outright on a day to day basis, He
has it play itself out within the system of reward and punishment that we
fully expect. That’s when good people enjoy peace of mind, well-being, and
some modicum of prosperity for having done all the right things, while bad
people suffer the opposite for having done wrong again and again .
Life itself seems “right”, “fair”, and “just” then, and few of us question
G-d’s ways under those circumstances. The point is to be made, though, that
when that system is in place humankind is clearly open to goodness or
wrongfulness, and is responsible for its ethical decisions.
That won’t be the case, though, when G-d eventually exhibits His overarching
mercy and beneficence. We’d be utterly incapable of doing harm or suffering
the consequences of them when that functions, because wrong and injustice
will simply no longer exist . We’ll be exalted beings then who will be
“beyond” free will and incapable of wrong..
Given these two different realities, it’s clear then that man’s ethical
standing depends on our interactions with G-d’s presence. For, while we’re
capable of lowliness when G-d’s presence is more hidden, we’re only capable
of sure loftiness when His presence is manifest.
Still and all, G-d seems to have laid a trap for us by placing us in this
material world with all of its prospects for wrongdoing. But as we’d said
several times, He did that to allow us the free will we’d need to draw close
to Him of our own volition.
In point of fact, the material world isn’t all darkness and risk. There are
heaps and heaps of Divine Light strewn all about it, to be sure. And many,
many things are a blend of light and dark with enough light in the mix to
make all the difference. After all, there’s honestly motivated intellectual
curiosity and stark wonder here, there’s Torah (which fosters a wholly other
class of intellectual curiosity and wonder), instances of Divine Inspiration
, and there are all sorts of phenomena here that are not altogether in
keeping with materiality (including love).
And so the world is a fulsome concoction of light and darkness, of the holy
and the profane. The essential difference between them is the degree of
G-d’s presence: the more electric and sure the experience of His presence
and beneficence, the holier the event; and the less electric and sure, the
Interestingly enough what we derive from that is the notion that when G-d
wants the world to function under a system of justice He subsumes His own
actions to humankind’s, in a manner of speaking. For when we’re good He
reacts one way, yet He reacts another way when we’re bad; as if it were we
who were leading this dance and He were taking direction from us if one
would dare say as much.
When the time comes for G-d to allow His full mercy to rule and His presence
to be manifest, though, His sovereignty will reign supreme and He won’t
“need” to react to anything whatsoever, and everything will be fully sanctified.
 Understand of course that this is a black and white portrayal; that most
of us are both righteous and wrongful by degrees; and that bad things do
indeed happen to the good and vice versa. The point is that when Divine
Justice holds sway, each and every act of goodness is indeed rewarded and
every act of wrong is recompensed for one way or another whether we know it
For Kabbalistic references see R’ Friedlander’s note 365 and R’ Shriki’s
 It might seem unfair, too “liberal” of G-d to our minds for Him to
manifest so much mercy that wrongdoing would go unpunished at that point.
But the truth is that we ourselves will be of a whole other stripe and would
consider that simply just.
 Ramchal’s himself enjoyed a large measure of Divine Inspiration (aside
from the sort that all gifted and especially astute students of Torah
enjoy). As is widely know, a “Maggid” (an angelic presence) presented itself
to Ramchal when he was a young man who solved many Torah mysteries for him,
and guided his writings and thoughts.
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.