Da’at Tevunot -- The Knowing Heart
Section 1, Chapter 13
Given that nothing in this world is as it seems to be, and granted that G-
d Himself is certainly not what we often take Him to be, it stands to
reason that nothing that we could say about His “tools” would be like what
they really are either .
All we could understand about them are the effects those tools have on us,
not their makeup, how G-d “handles” them, nor how they actually function
So, any knowledge we and the Torah might attribute to G-d, for example, or
memory, thought, mercy, anger, willfulness, or the like, is nothing at all
like His actual "knowledge", "memory", "thought", "mercy", "anger",
or "willfulness", which are wholly out of our experience. It’s just that
they’re adaptations of such traits that are suited to our needs and makeup
which we benefit from even though we can’t grasp them, and they’re the
very ones that G-d wants us to be affected by .
All the Torah does then when it attributes such things to G-d is draw
(inevitably poor) analogies from our experience to His so that we could
begin to understand His relationship to us.
So, for example, we’re told that G-d would speak to Moses in the
Tabernacle from time to time. But how could G-d's "voice" -- which is the
tool He uses to express the full power and might of His will -- be
contained in space and time? And how could it only be heard by Moses and
not by everyone in the world (see Torat Cohanim, Vayikra 2:10)? The point
again is that G-d's tools of communicating -- or of doing anything else --
are not our own, and that when He does indeed interact with us He does it
in a way that befits our needs, rather than how He's fully capable of
doing it .
Let this all then serve as a preface to what’s to follow about G-d's
interactions with us.
 That’s to say, “given that nothing is as it seems to be” and that the
more we understand things the clearer that becomes; and “if granted that G-
d Himself is certainly not what we often take Him to be” and that the more
we try to grasp Him the clearer that too becomes; it follows then “that
nothing that we could say about His ‘tools’ here” which He makes contact
with and which are thus connected to His being in some way“would be like
what they really are either”.
 This idea refers to reshimu and kav. See Klallim Rishonim 6, Klallot
Ha’ilan 1:1, and Klach Pitchei Chochma 28.
 See 1:12:1 for the idea of G-d’s traits being suited to us and our
We do n’t usually think of things like knowledge, memory, thought, mercy,
anger, willfulness, etc. as tools so much as traits. The point is that G-
d’s traits are in fact tools in that, like any other tool, they enable Him
to interact with and affect things (us, in this case).
 That is, how could G-d be said to have a voice? In fact, He doesn’t,
since having one would require Him to have a larynx, lungs, etc., and to
breathe air. G-d does though communicate with us voicelessly. But why is
it only some can hear Him? So Ramchal attests that G-d does communicate
with us, but in ways that humans can endure, yet He limits His
communication to those who can endure it indeed. All of this, then, is an
illustration of the fact that G-d adapts His G-dly and infinite tools to
us and our finite capacities.
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.