Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart
Section 5, Chapter 2 (¶158 [cont.])
1. We humans are the one element of creation that has the potential for
stupendous personal growth and greatness... as well as for clawing lowliness
and degradation, the truth be told. As we’re taught, “If you (humankind) are
meritorious, the angels will say ‘You come before everything else in
creation!’ If (on the other hand) you’re ignoble, the angels will say
‘(Even) the mosquito comes before you!” (Vayikra Rabbah 14:1). For, while
wildlife and animals could never rebel against G-d and His values, humankind
certainly can . And conversely, we have the wherewithal to cling onto
G-d’s Presence and to be pious.
And our people have the greatest potential of the lot, thanks to our having
been granted the Torah. But we also have the terrible potential to fall to
the ground and debase ourselves, too. That’s why the Jewish Nation has been
likened to both “the stars of the sky” (Genesis 26:4) and “the dust of the
earth” (Genesis 13:16), given that we have it within us to either soar
heavenward or to fall to the ground (see Megilah 15a).
That’s because like the rest of humanity, we too have been granted the
highest promise, yet we have also been granted the catastrophic resources to
lapse (as Adam and Eve did) -- but to eventually raise ourselves upwards and
to assume our rightful high station.
2. If you’ll recall, Ramchal had underscored a number of times that the goal
par excellence that all of history and all of the movements of the heavens
are set to achieve is the revelation of G-d’s supreme sovereignty -- that
supernal era when all wrong and injustice will be overturned to right and
justice . But that could obviously only come about with the introduction
of wrong, and with its being overturned eventually.
Given that, Ramchal offers a profound insight here. As he words it, it’s
“the yetzer harah itself” that allows for wrongdoing, and it also --
ironically -- “allows for its own (eventual) rectification”. After all,
without it, we couldn’t do wrong, and couldn’t ultimately do right by
undoing the wrong we’d have done with the proddings of the yetzer harah. And
so it’s the yetzer harah’s own “(initial) ruination that will prove to be
its (eventual) rectification”, as Ramchal puts it, for the yetzer harah’s
ruinous makeup will have played a role in the great upsurge of goodness and
holiness that will come about in the end.
3. That having been said it’s nonetheless true that while essentially great,
mankind is still and all like the moon that waxes and wanes, and needs the
sun for its illumination. For we need to cling onto G-d's presence to shine
and reach our full potential in much the same way.
There’s just one last point for now regarding our people's spiritual
sustenance, and that’s the following. Ramchal assures us that G-d's
beneficence is directed toward our people most especially; as we have been
charged with G-d's own Torah and thus know how to draw close to Him through
it. Thus a lot of that Divine beneficence is directed toward enabling us to
cling onto Him indeed -- if we take advantage of the opportunity.
 See 1:8:3 (and note 6 there), 1:11(and various notes there), and
elsewhere in this work for lengthy discussions about the free will that
enables us to make either choice.
See Klallim Rishonim 26-27 for the Kabbalistic references contained in this
chapter; R’ Goldblatt’s notes 20, 22 as well as his note 77 on pp. 486-487
of his edition; and R’ Shriki’s notes 130 and 131 (the latter of which is
most enlightening with reference to the subject discussed in the note below).
 See the first note to 1:5 above and elsewhere for discussions
about G-d’s sovereignty. The notion of all bad and evil being transformed to
goodness in the end is a major theme in Ramchal’s more esoteric writings to
be sure, but it’s only cited in Da’at Tevunot at this point (though see
3:6:1 above and elsewhere here for discussions of the undoing of wrong,
which is a separate though an obviously related issue).
We won’t delve into the profound notion of the transformation of wrong to
right here simply because Ramchal doesn’t, for one thing, but also because
of the depth and breadth of its implications which raise a number of serious
issues that wouldn’t abide with just a few remarks.
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.