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Da’at Tevunot -- The Knowing Heart

Section 1, Chapter 7

By Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

1.

So, again, the most erroneous ideas a person could have about G-d are that He’s too transcendent in His Being to interact with the cosmos [1], and that He’s beholden to various physical and metaphysical forces, principles, and values that either outweigh Him or are somehow superior to Him (even though He Himself instituted and authorized them). But all that’s wrong. For G-d hasn’t any “deterrents or hindrances whatsoever”, as Ramchal puts it; “His reign is supreme” and absolute. Nothing else governs the universe along with Him, for example. He alone is the source of both good and evil; as it’s said, “I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I G-d do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7) [2]. There is no other “ruler or governors, as idolaters have thought” [3]; G-d Himself “oversees all of creation personally”. We’re likewise to know that “nothing occurs in this world that He is opposed to, and nothing happens by chance or as a consequence of ‘nature’ or ‘fate’”, for everything is on purpose and on target. As such, G-d alone is the final arbiter of everything and “decrees what will happen”, inside and out, above and below. And “nothing can compel Him” to do anything “or thwart Him” in any way [4].

While He can acquiesce to humankind’s actions and intentions if He cares to, He can likewise overlook them altogether and do as He wants, and thus reward or punish as He deems necessary despite circumstances and apparent paradox [5]. That in fact has always been our people’s sal vation and allowed us hope for our ultimate future, for we’ve been taught that G-d will always abide by the vow He made with our ancestors and will never abandon His people, and that He will indeed bring on the long awaited redemption when He sees fit [6]. For “He is the L-rd”, as Ramchal reiterates, “so He can do that whenever He wants to”.

And no one can oppose G-d, even that person uses the very mechanisms that G-d set up to challenge Him. For since He allowed for those mechanisms He can undo them all the same or change the “rules” as He wills [7].

2.

In point of fact, there’s only one reason why we don’t know this firsthand and must accept it on faith: because G-d’s sovereignty has been hidden away from us [8]. But there’ll come a time when G-d will openly display His absolute sovereignty, His Yichud. For, as we’re taught, it was toward that end alone that G-d established the world and all of its ways.

Indeed, everything but everything will prove to have played a role in the great drama of the revelation of G- d’s Yichud in the end. And once it’s revealed, we’ll be able to understand in retrospect the singular role that each and every element of the cosmos en toto has played in that reality. For each thing and every moment will prove to have served as a clue and solution to the great and dazzling fact of G-d’s absolute sovereignty.

Given that, we can now grasp something of the depth and breadth of the eventual revelation of G-d’s Yichud. It will entail an infinite and utterly unearthly series of revelations of the meaning behind and the processes embodied in this world which will go deeper and deeper, wider and wider ad infinitum.

What that means to say is that we’ll each come to understand G-d’s ways in this world on an endlessly more and more profound level. So for example while we might at first understand how we’d been influenced by our parents’ actions and how we’d influenced our own children's actions in the great course of things at first (which is no small matter), we’d then perhaps come to realize the role our grandparents played on our beings, and how we’d influenced our own grandchildren’s lives, etc. We might then transcend that too by understanding our parents’ thoughts and motivations, as well as our children’s, etc.; then what instigated those motivations, etc., and so one. And then we’d go past all that to the point where we’d understand G-d’s role in all that by degrees [9].

And we’ll also learn that=2 0our having been created imperfect, and our having been granted a way of perfecting ourselves, of being rewarded, and of drawing closer to G-d in the process will all prove to be an offshoot of the phenomenon of the revelation of G-d’s Yichud.

_________________________________________________________________ Notes:

[1] Which would indicate that He’s thus restricted in a way, when our point is that nothing can restrict G-d.
[2] See 1:5:2.
[3] See 1:5:1.
[4] See 1:5:3. We’ll learn later on that free will is to be undone as well (¶ 44).
[5] See 1:5:4.
[6] See Deuteronomy 29:1-30-20.
[7] See 1:5:5.
[8] This harkens back to the point the Soul made in Ramchal’s Introduction that while he accepts certain principles of the religion on faith, he nonetheless doesn’t actually sense them to be true on his own. Ramchal’s point is that he -- and we -- will indeed sense the truth of all of them in the end.
[9] There’s another point to be raised here. We were told early on (see 1:1:3) that G-d’s whole intention for this world was to manifest His beneficence here. We’re told at this point, though, that His intention was to reveal His Yichud, which seems to contradict that. Nonetheless as R’ Friedlander’s said, G-d’s aim is indeed to express beneficence; but the means of doing that will be the revelation of His Yichud (from Iyyun #8, where he also points out, among several other central points, that the Yichud will only be fully revealed in the World to Come as we indicated in the previous note. But see R’ Shriki’s note 20 where he says that this will occur on the great Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgment, before the World to Come).


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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