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Ramchal's - Daat Tevunot

taught by Rav Avraham Brandwein
Rav Avraham Brandwein, Dean
Yeshiva Kol Yehuda Zvi
POB 14056
Jerusalem, Israel
fax: 972-2-5823276



Part IV

Such a person is called Hashem's Partner in Maaseh Bereshit. Why a Partner? Because HaKadosh Baruch Hu prepared the world when He first created it. But the whole purpose of this creation was for Man to merit, to deserve to enjoy creation... So the Tzadikim, by perfecting themselves and the entire world, become His partners in completing Maaseh Bereshit.

The Zohar thus says on the verse, "Ami Atem - You are My People," do not only read "Ami Atem," but "Imi Atem - With Me You are Partners." That is, the Tzadikim work together with HaKadosh Baruch Hu, they are His Partners, in perfecting the world.

The Neshamah now says: This is a foundation with many aspects to it. I am therefore anxious now to hear how you will build on this foundation. Then I will be able to understand retroactively all that is included in it. I would ask one thing before you begin, though. Is there a reason that we can understand as to why the Ratzon HaElyon wanted things to be this way? [Why did HaKadosh Baruch Hu want us to earn our own reward?]

The Sechel answers: The reason in itself is simple, but it depends on the answer to another question [that is, in order to understand it we must first understand the answer to another question], namely, Why did the Creator desire to create human beings in the first place - Lama Ratza HaBore Baruch Hu Livro Nivraim?

That is, now we come to the basic question, the most important question: What is the purpose of creation? Why did Hashem create a world with Man in it? What did He want from the world? Surely, for every action there is a purpose, as we can see in our own lives. People usually do not do things for no reason at all. Everything is purposeful. Anyone who does something for no reason, without a purpose, is considered insane, or a child. They just act, not knowing why they act. [And even then, if we look deeply, we can see that their actions are intended to produce a certain effect, to achieve a certain intended goal.]

Certainly the Creator who created the entire human species, and for their sake He created all the spiritual worlds... For Man is the crown of creation... Certainly the entire physical world, all inorganic matter, all that grows and lives, everything was created for Man. So, for what purpose did He create Man? This is the question posed by the Sechel: Lama Ratza HaBore Baruch Hu Livro Nivraim - Why did the Creator wish to create human beings? Why?

The Neshamah says: Please provide an answer that will apply to both questions.

Yes, the Neshamah says, I want to hear what you have to say.

The Sechel says: What we can understand about this matter is this: HaKel Yitbarach Shemo (The Omnipotent God, blessed be His Name) is the Ultimate Good. Now, it is a law that which is Good gives of its Goodness. This is the reason Hashem Yitbarach created human beings - in order to bestow His Goodness upon them. For if there is no one to receive, there is no possibility of bestowing Good. Now, in order for this bestowal of Good to be perfect, in His sublime wisdom, Hashem knew that its recipients would have to work to receive it. THEY WOULD THEN BE MASTERS OF THAT GOOD, and would never have to experience shame in receiving it, like someone who is forced to take charity from others. In the Gemara (Yerushalmi Orlah One-Three) this is described as [what is called Nahama D'Kesufa, the Bread of Shame]: "One who eats another's bread is ashamed to look in his face."

First of all, we learn that HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself is the Ultimate Good. Since He is Good, He desires to bestow of His Goodness. This means...

First of all we must define a general principle. Any Name we give to Hashem, any Positive Quality or Attribute we attribute to Him, can only describe what He does, never what He is. For example, we can know that the water in a cup is "hot" or "cold" by actually touching or tasting the water, or by seeing certain properties and extrapolating, or by some other means of measurement. However, we cannot attribute any distinguishing quality or name to something that does not act. Therefore, when we characterize someone in this world, in our reality, and we say: this person is good or bad - this means that this person has done something, he has acted in such a way that we can now define him as good or bad. He has done good deeds or the opposite. However, in the absence of Deeds, without some Action, a person cannot be called Good or Bad. A person cannot be called Good unless he does good actions. And vice versa, a person cannot be called Bad unless he does evil actions. The most we could say in the absence of an action is that: if such a person was good, he would have done such and such an action. Even here, however, we are judging by his actions, in this case, by his not having done something. By not having done something, evil resulted. We therefore say this person is bad. Conversely, if, by not having done something, good resulted, we therefore say that this person is good. Actions allow us to define things. [Any definition we give to something is therefore relative to the benefit or harm we derive from it.] Without an action, we have no way of defining something vis a vis ourselves.

Therefore, when we say that someone IS GOOD, this means that this person DOES GOOD. We cannot define a person or even an action as Good unless something Good results from it. Everything is thus judged by its actions.

When we now say that Hashem Yitbarach is the Ultimate Good, it is an incontrovertible law that which IS GOOD DOES GOOD, BESTOWS GOOD. This is what the Sechel says here: HaKel Yitbarach Shemo is the Ultimate Good. It is a law that which is Good gives of its Goodness. And this is His Ratzon, His Will and Desire in creating human beings. He created them to bestow His Goodness upon them. Why? For if there is no one to receive, there is no possibility of bestowing Good.

It is possible to explain this based on the words of the Ari HaKadosh near the beginning of Etz Chaim (Shaar Rishon, Anaf Beth): "When it arose in His Simple Will to create worlds and emanate emanations, LeHotzi Le'Or - to bring to light, to express, the perfection of His Actions, His Names and His Attributes - which was actually the purpose for creating all the universes, [as we explained above in Anaf Aleph], He constricted His Infinite Light, distancing it to the sides around a center point, leaving a Vacated Space in the middle of the light of Ain Sof..." (see corrected version in Breslov/MM5)

[[Etz Chaim, Shaar Aleph, Anaf Aleph reads thus: Concerning the purpose and intention for the creation of the worlds... Behold, the Blessed One is necessarily Perfect and Whole in all His Actions, His Powers, and all His Names, i.e. His Attributes of Greatness and Exaltedness and Honor. However, if He had not actualized or expressed His Actions and His Powers, then, as it were, He could not be called Perfect and Whole, not in His Actions, not in His Names, and not in His Attributes. For behold, the Four Letter Name Yod-Keh-Vav-Keh signifies His Eternal and Everlasting Existence, that He Was (He Existed), before creation, He Is, as long as the world exists, and He Will Be, after everything returns to its former state. If the worlds and all they contain had not been created, the true significance of His Eternal Existence, [of His Being the Same] in the Past, in the Present and in the Future, would never have been revealed, and He could not have been called HAVAYA (Eternal Existence). [This is very subtle. He would have been Eternal, but He could not be CALLED Eternal by us.] The same is true of His Name, Adonai, which means Master, and signifies His Mastery over His Subjects. If there were no subjects, He could not be CALLED Master. The same applies to all the rest of His Names, as well as His Attributes, such as His being called Compassionate, Gracious, and Patient. They could not rightly be applied to Him had there been no human beings to call Him thus. Once the worlds existed, however, His Actions and His Powers were actualized and expressed, and He could be called Perfect in All His Actions and Powers. He is now also Perfect in all His Names and Attributes, with no deficiency whatsoever, God forbid. This is explained beautifully in the Zohar, Pinchas 257b: The Holy One is now called Wise in every way, Understanding in every way... Before He created the worlds, however, He was only CALLED thus vis a vis those creatures He would create in the future. For without creatures [to call Him and relate to Him], how could He be called Compassionate, Judge, etcetra. Rather, He was CALLED these before creation only by virtue of the fact that there would be creatures who would call Him thus after creation...]]

We see here that the actual purpose for creating the Olamot, the universes, was LeHotzi Le'Or, to express the perfection of His Actions, His Names and His Attributes. What is LeHotzi Le'Or? What does it mean to "bring to light"? This can be likened to a person who has a wise thought, but the thought is still in his mind, unexpressed. It is still Potential, not Actual, because only the person himself knows of it. When he writes a book, and publishes his ideas, this is called in Hebrew LeHotzi Le'Or, "to bring to light." He now brings out and expresses, or actualizes in reality what had only previously been in hidden in his thoughts. Others can now also benefit from this thought. Thus, again, we have: "When it arose in His Simple Will... LeHotzi Le'Or - to bring to light, to express, the perfection of His Actions, His Names and His Attributes..."

What are Hashem's Names? We have Havaya, Yod-Keh-Vav-Keh, the Name of Mercy; Elokim, the Name of Judgment, of Law, of Hashgachah; Adnut, the Name of Mastery over all creation. There are also His Attributes, that He is Rachum-Compassionate and Chanun-Gracious. How can He bring to light these Names, and also these Attributes?

And the difference between Names and Attributes is that there are Divine Names that, once written, cannot be erased. According to the Gemara (Shevuot 35a), they are: Havaya, Adnut, Ekeyeh, Kel, Elokah, Elokim, Shadai, Tzevaot. Then there are Kinuyim, Attributes, like Rachum and Chanun, Gadol, Gibor, Nora, Rav Chesed, Erech Apayim.

These Names and Attributes could never have been brought into actuality, so to speak, had Hashem not created human beings.

Take for example the Name of Adnut, Mastery. Hashem is Master only when He has Subjects to rule. Without subjects, there is no Master. In the same way, He is Master over His creations. He is Compassionate, His Gracious, over His creations.

Returning to our text, in order to express His Goodness, His Quality of Tov U'Metiv, that He is Good and He gives of His Goodness, He had to create human beings upon whom He could bestow His Goodness. First of all, He IS GOOD and DOES GOOD. Second, they can know His Goodness, they can experience and bind themselves to His Goodness by immersing themselves in His Torah and fulfilling its mitzvot. In this way, they help reveal His Names, that He is Rachum VeChanun.

This is one thing that is written here. Now, we read that, "In order for this bestowal of Good to be perfect, in His sublime wisdom, Hashem knew that its recipients would have to work to receive it. THEY WOULD THEN BE MASTERS OF THAT GOOD, and would never have to experience shame in receiving it, like someone who is forced to take charity from others."

When a host wishes to invite a guest into his home or to feed a poor man, it is not enough to give him food. Just as important is the feeling he gives the guest or the poor man. If the host is good, he will never let the poor man feel that he is bothering him or causing him disturbance. He will do everything he can to prevent this. This idea is used here as the basis for our relationship with Hashem. Hashem wants to bestow a Perfect Goodness. He therefore wants to make sure that we will feel no shame in receiving this Goodness.

There is a klall, a general principle: Whenever a person receives, when a person is the recipient of a certain kindness, even if he enjoys what he receives, still, he feels a certain discomfort in accepting this kindness. This is what Ramchal quotes here from the Gemara: "One who eats another's bread is ashamed to look in his face." One who eats food that is not his own cannot help but experience a certain embarrassment. Therefore, and we shall see this developed more further on, in order to prevent our feeling embarrassed by the Goodness that He wants to give us, He creates a situation in which we can earn it. In this way, we become masters of the Good we receive, and there is no embarrassment. For this reason, HaKadosh Baruch Hu wanted us to work, so that in the merit of fulfilling our tasks, we would receive our reward as compensation for a job well done, and there would be no embarrassment. This is the deeper meaning of what we saw above: Greater is one who enjoys the fruits of his labor than one who only has fear of Heaven... Concerning one who enjoys the fruits of his own labor, it is written, "When you shall eat the fruit of your effort - you shall be happy [in Olam HaZeh, this world], and it shall be well with you [in Olam HaBa, the World to Come]."

It is important to clarify now: Where does this feeling of shame come from? What is the source of this sense of discomfort that a person feels in receiving something for nothing, without having done anything to deserve it? It seems that there are two contradictory things being said here. On the one hand, a person enjoys receiving. On the other hand, after having received, he feels uneasy, uncomfortable. If he knows that everything has been done for him, and yet he didn't have to do anything for it, he didn't give anything in return, he feels uneasy... (And giving something in return can even be something as subtle as doing the host a favor, making him feel good, by accepting what he is giving...)

But here, HaKadosh Baruch Hu is the Giver, and, we cannot forget, HaKadosh Baruch Hu does not need His creatures. There is nothing we can give Him. If, therefore, we have a feeling that all that is done is for our benefit, it is very difficult for us to accept such kindness. For we have a klall, a law of Human Nature: Whenever something is done for a person, only for him, and he hasn't done anything to deserve it, it is very difficult for him to accept that kindness.

So what is the source for this feeling, for this inability to accept something without deserving it in some way?

It is this: Whatever is intrinsic to the Source, the Root, is also deeply ingrained in the Branch. Meaning: We know that we are Branches, creations of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Adam HaRishon was called Hashem's Handiwork. And this applies to all other human beings. Each human being is created BeTzelem Elokim, in Hashem's Likeness. What then is the Way of our Source, our Root? We explained that Hashem doesn't need anything. He lacks nothing. He is Ultimate Perfection and Wholeness. That is why everything He does is directed solely to Giving, to Bestowing Goodness. He only Gives. He needs nothing for Himself.

Human beings, on the other hand, are created with lack, with needs, with a Ratzon LeKabel, a will and a desire to receive. Of course, they also share that giving quality that distinguishes their Source. They also have the ability to Give, to Bestow.

Thus, if we contemplate Human Nature, we will discern two opposite qualities. On the one hand, Man loves to receive. Although this in itself is not negative, it is nevertheless the root of all negative human traits, the desire to possess that which is not one's own, to steal, to exploit others, etcetra. All this stems from the fact that the need and the desire to receive is so deeply a part of Man's Nature. If this desire is allowed to get out of hand, it causes tremendous damage.

On the other hand, we see that Man loves to give. He loves to create, to do that which is beneficial to others, to love another.

Man's contradictory nature is an expression of this klall. On the one hand, Hashem created human beings who need to receive. On the other hand, they share with Him His quality of giving, of bestowing. They get tremendous pleasure from receiving, but they also get tremendous pleasure from giving.

If we now look closely at Man, we will discern that his first impulse is to receive. At first, when he receives gifts, he loves to receive. This is his first reaction, his "first nature." This is how he was created, with a powerful desire to receive. But, afterwards, after he has received, something else is aroused in him. Since he is a branch of the Ultimate Source whose sole desire is to Give, he also has a powerful desire to give. At a certain point, therefore, a human being begins to feel uncomfortable just accepting (and certainly taking) things from others. This is the result of his "second nature" being aroused in him, at which point he feels uncomfortable receiving anything for free.

[[This parallels the concept of yetzer ra and yetzer tov, the "evil impulse" and "good impulse." The Zohar informs us that Man is born with a fully developed yetzer ra, whereas he does not receive a yetzer tov until he receives the yoke of the mitzvot upon himself. This is exactly what we have said. Man does not fully develop his potential until he transforms his desire to receive into the desire to give, or at least, not to receive without earning his reward. It is only then that the desire to give becomes "second nature" for him. And it is only called his "second nature" because it manifests later on in life, through his own efforts to master his impulses. The truth is, however, that it is really that most deeply ingrained quality that he shares with his Creator. It is really his "first nature."]]

This is the reason Man feels what we have called Nahama D'Kesufa, the Bread of Shame.

Therefore, in order to insure that His Giving is Perfect, Hashem not only gives of His Goodness, He also makes sure that Man can receive this Goodness in the most perfect way.

[[Another way of saying this, which is Ramchal's explanation in Derech Hashem, is that instead of giving us the Shlemut, the Perfection He wants to give us, He gives us the ability to earn that Shlemut, so that it can truly be ours. This, by far, is the greatest gift.]]

This is why He created a world which Man has the responsibility of fixing, a world in which Man must choose to serve Hashem or not, in which he must choose to refine his innate desire to receive and turn it into a powerful desire to give. A person has to overcome his initial impulse to take that which is not his own. He must master his impulses, by making his yetzer ra subject to his yetzer tov. In this way, he will be able to receive the Good that Hashem wishes to give him, and he will not experience Nahama D'Kesufa, he will not eat the Bread of Shame, because he will have earned his own perfection.

When he merits to receive the Goodness that Hashem wishes to give, it will not be spoiled by the feeling of embarrassment that arises when we receive something undeserved. How will this be done? We will see as we go on in the text.

The Neshamah says: This makes complete sense to me. Now continue what you have been saying.

The Sechel says: Our introduction has provided us with a root concept which requires contemplation, namely, the concept of Chisaron, lack or imperfection, and its Shlemut-Perfection [that the world is created somehow imperfect and man needs to correct and perfect it]. Now we must know the nature of this original imperfection and that which derives from it. We must know what this correction is, through which creation will be brought to its perfection, how this correction is to be brought about, and what its consequences will be.

What is being said here is this: From this introduction, meaning, this introduction that Hashem is the Ultimate Good, and that the nature of the Good is to Give Good, and that therefore He created human beings to receive this Goodness... From this introduction, we arrive at a root concept that requires contemplation, namely, the concept of Chisaron-Imperfection and its perfection.

How did we arrive at this root concept from what has been said? Precisely because Hashem wanted to bestow Good and created Nivraim, creatures, upon whom to bestow this Good. For there is a klall: The pleasure that we get from something is proportionate to the degree of lack felt beforehand. Therefore, when HaKadosh Baruch Hu wanted to give, and He created Nivraim... What is the meaning of Nivraim (creations, creatures)? Being created a Nivra means being created with lack, Chisaron, imperfection. For if a Nivra, a creature, would lack nothing, it would have no pleasure or benefit from the Goodness bestowed on it by the Bore, the Creator.

[The word Bara, create, is usually associated with what is called Creation-from-Nothing, creation ex-nihilo. Why is this?] What does it mean that something is created from nothing? We know that everything is included in the Bore, for nothing can give what it doesn't have in the first place.

To understand this, we will explain first of all the verse in Yeshayahu (Forty-Five, Seven), "Yotzer Or U'Bore Choshech - I form light and create darkness." The Ramban explains in his commentary to Bereshit: What is the difference between Yotzer and Boreh? Beriyah-Creation means Yesh Mi-Ain, "something from nothing," while Yetzirah-Formation means Yesh Mi-Yesh, "something from something." The Hebrew word for an artisan is Yotzer. A Yotzer takes something that already exists in order to give it a new form. He has not created anything new, but formed something out of pre-existing materials. No man can create something from nothing in any absolute sense. He must take and use what already exists. Even a creative thought, a completely new thought, builds on previous sense impressions, even something completely imaginary can be seen to be the combination of previously existing ideas. Whereas only HaKadosh BaruchHu can make "something from nothing." This, then, is the concept of Beriyah, of making something that never existed before.

If this is so, however, the question is returns: What does it mean that something is created from nothing if we know that everything is included in the Bore? What could He possibly create that didn't already exist in Him??

The answer is: Chisaron, lack, deficiency, imperfection. There is therefore the Bore, and the Nivra. The essence of Nivra is something that is created imperfect. And imperfection, Chisaron, did not exist before there were Nivraim-Creations. When HaKadosh Baruch Hu existed Alone, and He is the Ultimate Perfection... there was no Chisaron. What does it mean then that He created Nivraim? He created the concept of imperfection. This is the something from nothing that didn't exist before He created the world. The concept of imperfection itself was the Chidush, the only thing that didn't exist in the Bore Himself before He created the world.

[[This then is the meaning of the verse: Yotzer Or U'Bore Choshech: Hashem only formed the light, Yesh Mi-Yesh, "something from something," because the light already existed in His Essence. Choshech, however, which is Darkness, the Darkness of Chisaron, of Imperfection, this was created Yesh Mi-Ain, "something from nothing." This is the meaning of Yotzer Or U'Bore Choshech.]]

Why, again, did He create this Chisaron, this Imperfection, which is like Choshech - Darkness compared to the Light that preceded it? Because, as we said, The pleasure derived from something is proportionate to the degree of lack felt beforehand. Let's take the example of a man sitting in his house, drinking a glass of water. He has a certain degree of pleasure from this. But compared with a man wandering in a desert who has not had a drink of water for hours, and now he comes to a house or an oasis where he is given water, this man's pleasure is infinitely greater. His pleasure from this water is greater than all the pleasures in the world put together. If we would ask him before he is given the water: Would you like a huge mansion, would you like to become rich? He would answer: I don't want anything, just water!

What do we see here? The same amount of water, a man in his house has a little pleasure, and a man in the desert has the greatest pleasure possible. How do we gauge pleasure? Pleasure is not gauged by the thing that fulfills the need alone. It is gauged by the need that was felt beforehand for that very thing.

When HaKadosh Baruch Hu wanted to create Nivraim upon whom to Bestow His Goodness, He created them with a tremendous sense of lack. In this way, when they would receive the Good He wishes to Give them, they would have undescribable pleasure proportionate to the degree of lack felt beforehand. This is the concept of Chisaron, imperfection and lack.

Now we must learn what Shlemut-Perfection is, how we fill the void, correct the imperfection, make up for the lack.

Now we understand how it is precisely this concept of Chisaron that we learn here from the law that states: He who is Good wishes to Give of His Goodness. He therefore created Nivraim with Chisaron in order to fulfill their Chisaron with His Shlemut and His Goodness.

© Copyright 5756, Rabbi Avraham Brandwein, Jerusalem. Translation by Avraham Sutton.
Questions welcome.
Please address all inquiries to:
Rabbi Avraham Brandwein, P.O.B. 14056, Jerusalem Israel.
fax: 972-2-582-3276


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