It becomes clear early on in the work that Klach Pitchei Chochma isn’t a Kabbalistic text per se. Unlike those works, it doesn’t present the major Kabbalistic themes that the Zohar and most especially Ar”i dwell on (like Tzimtzum, Sh’virat HaKeilim, etc.) in chronological and thematic order, and it doesn’t offer very many of the insights of their major explicators. Instead, Klach Pitchei Chochma offers Ramchal’s insights into the significance of those ideas, while citing enough of their details to help us understand his points.
In fact, Ramchal never claimed that Klach would be a work of Kabbalah per se: it’s just that it has long been published as an independent work and treated as an out-and-out Kabbalistic text because it discusses so many Kabbalistic notions. But that’s a fault of the scholars who published as an independent work and commented on it as such, not Ramchal’s. As we’d said, he originally presented it as a large chunk of a long work known as Ma’amar HaVichuach (‘A Discourse [that serves as] An Argument’)”.
The latter is an extended argument for the study of Kabbalah in which he “determined to lay out what’s important about the study of Kabbalah for those already well-grounded in other areas of Torah-study”. And he offered two full and independent works within Ma’amar HaVichuach to explain the Kabbalistic system: the terse and succinct laying-out of the key Kabbalistic principles in ten short chapters termed Klallot HaIlan HaKodesh (“Principles of The Holy Tree”), and Klach itself which is comprised of two parts: 138 essential principles of Kabbalah set out straight, and a full explanation of those principles which Ramchal himself provided.
We’ll explore the essence of Ma’amar HaVichuach next.
(c) 2012 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.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).