Ramchal on all this (3)

There’s one final theme to touch on in this Petach, found at its end. It reads (with corrections):

The second sort (of “forward” and “backward” movement of the light) is (rooted in the fact) that a light doesn’t achieve its purpose until it emerges from its Source and then returns to it. That’s to say, (until) the light descends vigorously to the bottom (of the “empty space”) and then ascends (back to Ein Sof), and until it leaves something of itself behind when it ascends. That portion (left behind) then remains behind in the structure, and that (process) holds true throughout the structure.

Ramchal explains the difference between the two sorts of “forward” and “backward” movements of the light in his own comments here. While the first sort discussed above “is on-going”, the second kind “has to do with how the lights emanate from each other” in order, and it’s as simple as that.

And he offers there that the latter sort comes to illustrate that “what moves ‘forward’ is the actual light of Ein Sof”, and that after it returns to its Source, the light that’s then formed in the process “takes on an existence of its own” and “remains behind” as a sort of independent remnant of the original.

In Adir Bamarom (1, p. 351), though, Ramchal explains the second sort of back and forth movement differently. He says that the light being spoken of here as “emerging from its Source” is the Kav, which we’d cited before and will explain in detail later on. In short, it’s a thin, long “line” of Godliness which re-enters the “empty space” left by the Tzimtzum in the process of creation. It then is what initiates the whole “forward”, downward movement of Sephirot. It descends vigorously to the bottom (of the “empty space”) and then ascends to return to its Source.

But the process doesn’t happen in one fell swoop but rather by degrees, and the Kav doesn’t work alone. Instead, the Kav mixes in with the Reshimu (which we’d also cited and will explain in more detail later on) in order to initiate the Sephirot. In short, the Reshimu is the “remnant” of Godliness left behind in the “empty space” (which is why it isn’t actually empty). It’s alluded to by the idea here of a portion (left behind) then remains behind in the structure.

His point then is that the Kav and Reshimu in tandem interact on a “forward” and “backward” level in their role in the formation of the Sephirot which reduplicate that process, though in different ways.

Over all, then, Ramchal has managed to turn an abstract depiction of the machinations of the Sephirot at the very beginning of creation to an ongoing mystical process of change, adjustment, interaction within and between all parts of the metaphysical realm leading to ultimate perfection.

This then completes Section Four of Klach Pitchei Chochma.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org


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”.

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