"The Great Redemption"
The Rectified World: Ch. 5
This has been a very, very long and arduous exile for us indeed, which
hasn't escaped anyone's attention. In fact, the idea that our people have
seemingly been left to its own devices for all these many years has caused
people to doubt G-d's plans for us. The more cynical have taunted, "Their
G-d must be asleep!" (Esther Rabbah 7:12), and we ourselves have asked Him
plaintively, “Why do You stand so far away, G-d? Will You hide Yourself in
times of trouble (like this)?” (Psalms 10:1), because we've almost lost
hope. And those sorts of attitudes tend to embolden the side of unholiness.
But just as we're told that “G-d looked upon the people of Israel and ...
knew (their plight)” (Exodus 2:25) at a crucial point in the first exile,
He'll certainly do the same for us. But with a distinct difference that's
aside from the ones we've learned about until now.
"I still have to explain a certain mystery" Ramchal adds here in relation
to what will set this final redemption apart from that first one. It's the
fact that the greatest event to come about in the days of the
Moshiach "will be the emendation of the body". Which is to say that the
universe will be so rich with radiance then that even what had been
earthy, mundane, and ordinary would teem with holiness. In fact, "much of
the world’s emendation" itself will depend on "this ... very important
principle". "After all," Ramchal adds rather matter-of-factly and
cryptically, "wasn’t the soul sent to this world to emend the body?"
So he starts to lay-out the relationship of the body and the soul in this
world to help us understand the significance of all this. We learn
that "the body had been corrupted by Adam’s sin" in the Garden of Eden,
and that all the other losses and downfalls that humankind has experienced
since then has "followed in its wake". Ramchal adds though (and quite
frustratingly), that "since these things are (already) known to those who
know the truth," and "inasmuch as I spoke about it a lot elsewhere, I
won’t delve into it at length here". So let's take a quick look at some of
what he'd already said about this.
As he'd explained at length in "The Way of G-d" and elsewhere, humankind
was originally to have been an equal mix of the spiritual (soul) and the
material (body), and had Adam and Eve not eaten from the Tree of
Knowledge, the soul would have dominated the body forever and ever, and
humanity would have achieved perfection in short order. For spirit would
have so purified matter that the two would have partaken of the ultimate
reward right in this world.
But the damage was done, and the body was charged to endure death while
the soul was made to separate from it in the Afterlife as a consequence.
As a result of the Great Redemption, though, body and soul will be
rejoined (in the course of the Resurrection of the Dead, which will follow
the Great Redemption), and all will be primed for the ultimate perfection
(in The World to Come, which will follow the Resurrection of the Dead).
It's in the course of The World to Come then that the soul -- which would
have been emended already to a great degree in the Afterlife and The
Resurrection -- will come to fruition and will emend the body and thus
fulfill its raison d'être in this world, as Ramchal said above.
Ramchal explains the subtle and transcendent process of body-emendation
elsewhere in great detail, but suffice it to say for our purposes that all
of that will begin to occur in the course of the Great Redemption.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org.