Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart:
Section 7, Chapter 8
1. An obvious question that needs to be asked is what exactly was the point
of prophets being shown images: why didn’t G-d simply tell His prophets
right out what He wanted them to pass along to the Jewish Nation?
On one level it comes to this, Ramchal says: “G-d wanted to reveal (things)
to people in human terms” -- that is, in ways that would be understood by
all, not just the most sophisticated of us, and in ways that would touch us
emotionally. And since “people would (best) ‘see’ (i.e., understand) the
celestial influences and G-d’s (generous) ways by means of the images” that
the prophets told them about, He granted them just those sorts of depictions
since they would exemplify the message being sent.
That’s to say, if G-d would have had His prophets simply report that He
loves us and is bounteously generous, the best of us would accept that at
face value and be moved to change. But most of us simply don’t function that
way. We need to be stunned into action, and are thus best moved by dramatic
images (which artists, writers, and advertisers know only too well). So we’d
be far more affected by being told about a fountain or a wellspring in
Heaven that would gush forth fresh water, for example, than by a statement
of Divine love and effulgence.
So G-d “translated” His “influences and ways into mundane images that stand
for and symbolize” His ways, since that’s what would work best. But that’s
just one explanation.
2.Ramchal says it’s also true that “the very way that G-d chose to
‘translate’ His influences into mundane terms affects our very existence”
and makeup, and he offers examples of that. G-d chose to grant us actual
eyes so as to have us understand that G-d observes us. That explains why the
Torah often speaks of G-d’s eyes (as in, “And Noah found favor in the eyes
of the L-rd” [Genesis 6:8], “His eyes are on the ways of mortals; He sees
their every step” [Job 34:21], etc.).
And along the same lines, G-d saw to it that our eyes would be comprised of
different shades and hues -- to illustrate the subtly various ways He
governs us (as such, the whites of our eyes represent G-d’s graciousness,
the dark represents His judgment, and the more colorful band represents the
more nuanced combinations of graciousness and judgment).
“The same is true of the content and quality of all things in this world, as
well as of their taking one form under one circumstance and another in
another” he adds, “they’re all beholden upon G-d’s decisions to ‘translate’
transcendent matters into mundane phenomena”.
As such, “this principle is a major source of human reality” and helps to
explain, for example, why we’re comprised of left, right, and center
aspects; why we stand on two feet, have doubled limbs and organs for the
most part; and it goes a long way toward explaining everything else about
our physical makeup (to say nothing of our spiritual makeup). It’s all there
to express cosmic truths .
(So, rather than the opinion that the sages drew examples from our
physiology to explain Heaven, the truth of the matter, it’s now clear, is
that our physiology explains things about Heaven.)
 For Kabbalistic references to this chapter see R’ Friedlander’s
Iyunnim 60, R’ Shriki’s note 183, and R’ Goldblatt’s note 44.
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.