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Da’at Tevunot -- The Knowing Heart

Section 2, Chapter 8


The world is so stu nningly awash in G-dly light and so marvelously complex that it’s hard for mortal souls to capture all the wisdom and content here succinctly. King David could only say as he addressed G-d: “You have done great things -- You, O L-rd my G-d! Your wonders and Your thoughts are … too many to tell”, for example (Psalms 40:6); “How great are Your works, O L-rd! Your thoughts (alone) are very deep” (Ibid. 92:6), he said at another point; and then he’d said, “How great are Your works, O L-rd! You have fashioned them all with wisdom; the (whole) world is full of Your possessions!” (Ibid. 104:24). Imagine, then, the celestial worlds that the soul and the angels inhabit!

We’ll be referring to that realm soon enough, as well as to our own some more and to the combination of the two as we go on to speak of the interface of body and soul. And we’ll do that by marking off the various depths to which body and soul can cling to each other in the course of time.


The truth is we can only speak in the broadest of terms when it comes to this arcane subject. Both because we’ll be speaking about the relationship between body and soul, which is hard enough to depict in the first place, and also because we’re going to be speaking of eras far beyond this one that go until the end of time as we know it.

In fact, our sages preferred speaking in broad terms about nearly all things (until the person being addressed is equipped to hear out the details, that is). As they put it, we’re to “always take hold of Torah concepts in general terms rather than in specific ones” (Sifrei, Ha’azinu 32:2) [1].


Recall that we’ve focused on the two major ways G-d interacts with us: either clandestinely or openly; and on the fact that His hiddeness is best represented by our having bodies while His openness is best expressed by our having souls.

But we’d need to delve some more into each element of our beings separately, and to show how these two paradigms of hiddeness-openness and body-soul -- and the subtle and far-ranging combinations of the two -- play themselves out throughout the universe and in the course of time.

We’d also need to explore the consequences of these phenomena -- how our being plunged into the darkness of G-d’s hiddenness (and our own overt physicality) affects us, as opposed to the effect our being swept aloft in open G-dliness (and our own true soul-nature) would have on us. And we’d need to be exposed to the steps along the way as well.


[1] Ramchal himself favored short, over-arching statements to close depictions of details. See his introduction to Derech Hashem and his letter 39 in the Yarim Moshe edition of Ramchal’s letters (as quoted in p. 239 of R’ Friedlander’s edition of Da’at Tevunot).

See Klallim Rishonim 8 for Kabbalistic references, as well as R’ Goldblatt’s remarks in his notes 8-10.

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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