The section starts out by situating Radlah in the continuum we’ve been dealing with until now, saying, The realm in which all of the governance having to do with the conjunction of MaH with BaN we discussed in the previous section occurs is termed “The Unfathomable Beginning” or Radlah. And what happens there affects a great deal of the governance within the Partzufim.
We then get into the major theme of this section — the absolutely inexplicable nature of Radlah, offering that, While neither The Unfathomable Beginning nor its offshoots within the Partzufim can be at all grasped or known because of various contradictions, it’s nonetheless true that at times certain movements can be detected in the Partzufim whose sources are unknown but which still and all actually derive from The Unfathomable Beginning. (Petach 85)
Then we’re introduced into variations of MaH and BaN that could have existed which still-and-all only occur in Radlah with the remark that All the possible combinations of MaH and BaN did indeed occur in Radlah, and the primary order of covert governance occurred thanks to those combinations. Now, there are other ways of combining MaH and BaN too, and both sorts exist within Radlah because that’s the way Partzufim are combined, and because both produce particular qualities in Partzufim.
While again accentuating the inscrutableness of Radlah it’s pointed out that while It’s important to know too that the way these combinations govern up above in Radlah determines what happens in the Partzufim down below, in Atzilut. It’s just that this, i.e., which combination is governing at any point, simply can’t be grasped or seen. Yet when variations in the Partzufim come about in various states of being and when certain other changes suddenly take place in them, we know in hindsight that they derived from Radlah, though in fact no one can see them for what they truly are. (Petach 86)
The fact that the connection between the upper and lower realms is made possible by Radlah, too, is pointed out here with the remark that Everything done or being done in the universe is subject to these connections, i.e., the various connections between MaH and BaN, for there is nothing here that is not rooted there in Radlah, be it a repair or a flaw.
And everything in the worlds of Atzilut and downward is governed in accordance with all these combinations as based on the actions of the lower creations. Likewise, everything is to be fixed in eternity in the great Day of Judgment in accordance with what has already been done, whether they’re, i.e., whether those are actions are, identical, contradictory, or the opposite of each other.
As such, these combinations rule all of the time, and God’s governance turns from one combination to the other in all instances, be they either identical, contradictory, or opposite, since God’s governance functions in every aspect. In addition, the states of the Partzufim shift from one to the other in the mode of “running and returning”.
We know this all to be true, nonetheless, that no one can understand or grasp anything other than what’s revealed through the order and rules that are visible in the Partzufim. But the source of the matter actually lies in these combinations in Radlah which are not at all revealed or known. (Petach 87)
The inscrutableness is underscored here as well with the remark that Radlah is a single emission that nonetheless contains all the aforementioned combinations of MaH and BaN. Yet it’s an emission that’s impossible to grasp or understand. Looking at it leaves us with all sorts of often contradictions, because it doesn’t seem able to contain all kinds of combinations but rather to be an emission that’s simply impossible to fathom.
In truth, we can’t see what’s in it, because sometimes a certain combination seems to be there and at other times another one that may even be its opposite seems to.
Thus even though we know it contains all the various combinations of MaH and BaN cited above, the emission itself exists in a way that’s impossible to understand, since it first appears one way and then. So at bottom we really can’t understand the rules of Divine governance on this level.
For if we were to try to follow something below this level, in Atzilut, and try to follow its root in Radlah, we “wouldn’t be able to find our arms and legs”, i.e., we couldn’t establish where we were standing, since we couldn’t judge anything about it. For, first it looks like this and then it looks like that, making it utterly impossible to understand. That’s in fact why it’s called the “Unfathomable Beginning”. (Petach 88)
Ramchal then differentiates Radlah from something seemingly similar to it with this final Petach, saying that, There’s a difference between “The Dew of Bedolcha” — “in which all colors can be seen” — and The Unfathomable Beginning. For while The Dew of Bedolcha presents all of the colors together, the Unfathomable Beginning presents itself as one thing in one instance and then it instantaneously presents itself as its opposite.
In fact, though it stays in this transformative state in which an instances of ”yes” and one of “no” i.e., one thing and its opposite, appear at the same time, we simply can’t grasp how both a “yes” and the “no” could exist at that same time. That is, we simply can’t understand how it seems to be an instance of “yes” and then immediately afterwards it seems not to be that at all. (Petach 89)
We’ll now go on to explain each Petach in depth.
(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com
AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.
You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).
Rabbi Feldman also offers two free e-mail classes on http://www.torah.org entitled “Spiritual Excellence” and “Ramchal”.