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"Da’at Tevunot -- The Knowing Heart"

Section 1, Chapter 3


Some individuals are said to enjoy “global vision”, in that they seem to see things from on high and take the whole into account. Others, though, including Ramchal, experience what we’d term “cosmic vision”. For while also seeing things from on high, these more exalted soul s also see them from beginning to end, and with a clear view of ultimate consequences.

And so we find Ramchal making certain “cosmic” statements like the following here: “If we were to dwell on the whole array of G-d’s actions (including) every major deed He has brought about since He placed man on earth to (every deed that) He assured us through His holy prophets that He would (eventually) bring about, it becomes entirely clear (that)”; “what we can gather overall from all the great seminal events that G-d has fostered onto the world (is that)”; and “when we delve into everything done under the sun we see but one ongoing process (which is)”. So let’s see what we’d notice if we too could take all that into account since it will explain so many things to us about G-d.


Before we get to that, though, there’s something we’d need to understand clearly.

Even though we’d said in the last chapter that G-d wants us to grasp His being and that we’re capable of doing that, it’s vitally important to know that we cannot grasp G-d’s full and infinite being. That’s simply beyond us. What we can understand though (and will experience in the end) is a fragment of G-d’s being -- that aspect of Him that He displays in this world [1].

After all, as Ramchal reminds us, “can you fathom the mystery of G-d? Or can you probe the limits of the Almighty?”(Job 11:7); and indeed, “who can utter the mighty acts of G-d or fully declare all His praise?” (Psalms 106:2) [2].

As such, while we’ll be discussing the overarching pattern of G-d’s ways in the world, the direction His actions are going in here, and His over- all goals -- which is all very buoyant and electric unto itself -- we nonetheless won’t be discussing G-d Himself [3]. In any event, it’s clear that our grasping even that relatively “small corner” of His being is what Ramchal and others assure us will bring us the great soul satisfaction we’d spoken of [4].


And so Ramchal now depicts what one would come to realize if he “were to dwell on the whole array of G-d’s actions”, if h e were to reflect upon “all the great seminal events”, or if he were to “delve into everything done under the sun” as cited above.

It would be the fact that G-d’s rule is supreme [5].

That’s to say that the one over-arching theme we’d see playing itself out in the long course of time from creation to the end of time is the fact that G-d is fully in charge of everything -- despite an almost endless array of paradoxes that seem to contradict that. We’ll expand upon this phenomenon shortly again and later on, as it will prove to be one of the major themes of Da’at Tevunot.


[1] See R’ Friedlander’s note 13, pp. 9-11 as well as ¶’s 36 (beginning) and 40 (middle of paragraph beginnin g on p. 39 entitled “v’nashuv l’inyanneinu”).

Some argue that the idea that we can understand some aspect of G-d’s being though not all of it refers to the Kabbalistic theme of kav (though see our last note to the last chapter). See Klallim Rishonim 3.

[2] The truth be told, we0ll seem to touch upon many “hidden” and “secret” things in the course of this work. But let that serve as a lesson as to just what’s hidden and secret in the world and what’s not; what’s really beyond us and what only seems to be.

[3] In a manner of speaking, the one and only G-d can be said to have two “faces”, if you will. There’s His “private side” -- the way He is in His own element, where He’s free to be Himself and where no one other than He ever experiences Him. And then there’s His “public facade” -- the way He presents Himself outside of Himself, in the world.

The point is that while He’s not really Himself under the latter circumstances and is somewhat “restricted” there, nonetheless since we could potentially relate to Him under those circumstances rather than in His own element, and since His assuming His “public facade” best serves His ultimate purpose, He presents Himself that way to us.

[4] See 1:2:2. Though this is a decidedly esoteric point, Ramchal alludes elsewhere to stages of human attainment beyond the one spoken of here in Da’at Tevunot which will occur in the so-called eighth, ninth, and tenth “millennia” (i.e., after the Messianic Era) which will far surpass the dimensions we’ll be addressing here. But that discussion is far beyond the reach of this work. See R’ Shriki’s lengthy discussion of it in Rechev Yisroel pp. 137-164 which draws upon many of Ramchal’s works.

[5] This is termed G-d’s “Yichud”. See section 3 to our Prologue, note 4 to Ramchal’s Introduction, and note 2 to 1:1. See R’ Shriki’s note 11 for more about G-d’s Yichud as it is dis cussed in Da’at Tevunot and Klach Pitchei Chochma. Also see his Rechev Yisroel pp. 167-228, and his essay HaYichud in his commentary to Da’at Tevunot pp. 61- 66. See 1-4 of Klach Pitchei Chochma for a definition of the concept as well as a discussion of its dynamics.

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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