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Judaism 101 Lesson on: Introduction For reference: Throughout the course of our study Rabbi Moshe1 Chaim

Luzzatto will be referred to as "Ramchal," which is an acronym for his full name. Story: You buy your child a brand new bicycle. It comes in a pile of pieces; nuts, bolts, screws and other parts. Luckily, you have an instruction manual and a picture of the completed bike. You read the steps, gather the necessary tools and begin the task of assembly. To make your project even easier you begin sorting out the various parts, placing the same type of pieces together, laying out the pieces as best as possible. Following the various steps, the bicycle begins to take shape, and soon it is complete. Proudly you and your child inspect the completed project, no longer the 50 separate pieces you started with, but a working whole, a beautiful bicycle, ready to ride. This task complete, you can now begin the next step, teaching him how to ride it. If one began the process of building that bicycle without a systemized approach and a picture of the completed project (as provided in the assembly manual), he could spend countless hours trying to understand the placement of each individual piece and its proper function. A seemingly unimportant screw suddenly becomes a valuable piece if its purpose is to hold the handlebars on. Just as there are many pieces to our bicycle, Judaism considers the Torah2 to contain 613 Mitzvot.3 When viewed individually, these commands can appear to have no relationship to one another, and the Torah can quickly become a "difficult, unsatisfying burden." The opposite occurs when one ceases to focus on the individual commands and sees them in relation to their proper context. As Ramchal states, "this is what our sages meant when they taught us, words of the Torah should always be in your hands as general principles rather than as individual details." How safe would the bicycle be, if left over was a pile of pieces that there was no place for and were regarded as being unimportant or unrelated to your project? The fact that they were included with the bike means that the manufacturer intended them to be used -- they DO have a proper function. This brings us to one of our favorite quotes: "The details of Scripture are not given to us so we can win at Bible trivia." Rav Shaul (Paul) states, "ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 4 But what about those genealogies or long chapters containing the minute (sometimes redundant) details such as the construction of the Tabernacle, the offerings brought or other accounts given to us in Torah? Did Shaul mean those too? How are we supposed to understand what all that is about? Knowing that God gives all of Scripture to us, none of it is superfluous and this is where our work begins. As Ramchal says, "By its very nature, every general principle includes many details. As a result, when a person grasps a general principle, automatically he also grasps a large number of details. Although at the outset a person possessing a general principle might not be aware of its specific details or recognize them as elements of the general principle, later, when confronted by them, he will be able to recognize them." However, the work of identifying and organizing the concepts contained within Scripture is just the first step (albeit an important and satisfying one). The building of the bicycle did not insure the child could now ride it without a period of learning. Neither does obtaining an understanding of the general principles of Judaism suddenly allow one to automatically comprehend the deepest truths that Scripture holds. To quote Ramchal, "This book provides a basis which will make it much easier for you, its readers, to attain knowledge of God, through the Torah and its exposition, so that all the Torahs secrets will be within your grasp, which is Gods blessing that He bestows upon you." Thus we embark on our study, with the help of God, to accomplish the directive of Shaul to his disciple Timothy when he stated, "rightly dividing the word of truth." 5 1. Moshe Moses 2. Torah Literally, "teaching" , but usually translated "Law" because Greek uses nomos ("law") to render Hebrew Torah. The five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, called the Written Torah. Matthew 5:17. [From Jewish New Testament, Glossary p. 375]. 3. Mitzvot Commandments

4. II Timothy 3:16-17 5. II Timothy 2:15 Lesson on Section 1.1.The Creator Ramchal, following the methodology he established in his Introduction to Derech Hashem, starts with a general principle which he will expand in future chapters. In this case, it is the most "general topic" of all -- "God" -- as all else there is to study and learn comes from God. This is no easy task of course, as Ramchal himself says, and will take some work on our part, going one step at a time. To cite from another work of his: For this is the way of wisdom -- to acquire ideas one after another until, in the end, there emerges one complete concept for which all of the prefaces were necessary.1 1:1:1 The Ten Commandments are enumerated differently in Judaism as compared to the way they have been divided in Christianity. The first commandment as taught in Judaism is "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." 2 This is the beginning of Gods "formal" introduction of Himself to all of Israel (and also to the world). This first commandment is not a prologue as often taught, but a vital foundation for all of the following commands. If Israel did not know that there was a God or who had delivered them for the bonds of slavery (remember, they came from Pagan polytheistic Egypt) here was a clear reminder. 1:1:2-4 One of the first "points of contention" for some of those reading this chapter may be Ramchals statement that: "God's true nature cannot be understood at all..." This may seem to contradict what many of us have been taught (i.e., that we can "know God.") Before aiming our weapons at the author, we have to clarify terms and keep certain things in mind. First, this is only Chapter One, and not everything Ramchal has to say about "us" and "God" is fully revealed at this point. Like a good lawyer, he builds his case, point by point. There is (a lot) more to come. Second, we need to better understand what Ramchal means by "God" in the context of this chapter. Third, we need to realize that there may be more to "God" than what we've been taught. GOD BEFORE GENESIS 1 Genesis 1:1 states: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. That's how our Bibles start, but what about before "the beginning?" The phrase "In the beginning ..." does not refer to the "beginning" of God. The God of Genesis did not "show up on the scene" with this first verse. Although existence as we can know it, ("creation") started at Genesis 1:1, prior to this there was a level of existence that included God, and "nothing but God." (From our point of view, this can also be called "non-existence.") This is "God" as Ramchal is discussing at this point. Words such as "infinite" and "indefinable" are as close as we can come to "describing" God before creation. We cannot apply attributes to the infinite God as such, because attributes can only manifest within creation and creation is finite. To put it succinctly, if we ascribe any quality to the "infinite God," then God is no longer infinite. In this sense God cannot be compared to any "thing" as "things" only exist in creation. As Ramchal states, "God is absolutely simple, having no parts to Him." The Hebrew term Ayin applies to God as being "no thing" (i.e., nothing that we can conceive of). However, just as God was and is "no thing," God also encompassed "everything there was" prior to creation. The term Ayin Sof, meaning "without end," is applied to God as we "view God" before Genesis 1. Ayin Sof represents the absolute and perfect "all," without attempting to apply any specific attributes. Another way to compare/contrast the two terms is by saying that Ayin is to Ayin Sof as zero is to one. Both are true at the same time. (Simple, right?) GOD AS WE CAN UNDERSTAND GOD Ramchal does not address the idea of God as we can understand God in this chapter. That comes later. However, we will briefly touch on this subject at this time, as it may help in understanding what is being said in Chapter One. Beginning with Creation, we have understandable levels of existence that are "separate" from God as Ayin Sof. How and why God caused creation to be, will be discussed later. Time and space were created. Spiritual forces, angelic beings, and mankind (including both soul and physical body) all took their place in these levels of reality, which are also referred to as different "worlds" of existence in Hebraic writings. (See Sidebar on "Four Worlds of Existence.") As Ramchal explains, nothing in creation, including man, is equal to the Creator. Thus, it is not possible for man to understand God as Ayin Sof. However, God does reveal "aspects" (or "emanations") of "Himself" within creation, that

we are capable of understanding. A clear example of this is found in the book of Exodus, where we see God giving Moses the following piece of information: Exodus 6:2-3 - And God spoke to Moses, and said to him, I am the Lord; And I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, by the name of El Shaddai, but by my name YHVH was I not known to them. Here God informs Moses that he has been given a greater level of understanding (of God) than was given to the Patriarchs. As God Himself states, He revealed Himself to Moses at a ("higher") level associated with the name "YHVH," whereas the others knew Him at a level associated with the name "El Shaddai" (God Almighty). Evidence of this can be seen in the miracles associated with Moses and the Israelites in Egypt and in the Wilderness. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not experience such dramatic, nature-defying events on a regular basis. Although there was, is, and always will be but "One God," we have a differentiation between God as Ayin Sof (who is barely mentioned in Scripture), and the "knowable God," who is revealed in different ways throughout the pages of the Bible and who human beings can relate to. (See the comments on - paragraph 2 for more on this subject.) As Ramchal mentions in paragraph 2, all we can know about God at the "level" of Ayin Sof, is that God exists and is perfect. 1:1:5 The last major point made by Ramchal in this chapter concerns the "unity" of God. Every quality exists in perfection "within God" as a unified One. He is not "carved up" in any way, as the human mind is. This creates a problem for us in understanding God. We simply do not have the capacity to grasp God as Ayin Sof. According to Ramchal, we can only understand things (within creation) that our senses can detect and communicate to our minds, and the true nature of God is beyond this. As stated in the Ramchal commentary on, "... we haven't any more capacity to fully grasp the spiritual than fish have the ability to grasp the notion of fire!" Ramchal states that the Torah explains that there is a perfect Creator. This understanding preceded Mount Sinai, and beginning with Adam, was passed along from individual to individual (i.e., Adam, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Eber, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, the Elders of the Twelve Tribes in Egypt.) Beginning with Moses in Egypt, the unbroken chain of transmission continued, through the time of Yeshua, and until today. Ramchal further explains that not only does Torah attest to the Creator, but nature and science do as well. This parallels what another rabbi wrote: Romans 1:20-23 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. The challenge before us is understanding a God who is both "beyond understanding" as well as revealed in Scripture and in our lives. This task is not as convenient as putting "God in a box," as is often done. The latter may seem to make life a little easier, but it isn't what we are here for. Our purpose in this life is to learn of the "image of God" through being "hearers and doers" of the Torah,3 and becoming conformed to this image.4 This is the true essence of teshuvah (repentance). 1. From Da'ath Tevunoth (The Knowing Heart), by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto 2. Exodus 20:2 3. Romans 2:13; James 1:22-25 4. Romans 8:29, 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:4; Colossians 1:15, 3:10; Hebrews 1:3 Lesson on Section 1.2.The Purpose of Creation 1.2.1 The Goodness of Creation The first chapter introduced us to the idea of the "unknowable God" who preexisted Creation as we know it, in a perfectly Divine and unchanging realm, void of any finite concepts such as time and space. As we mentioned, Ramchal began with the subject of the God the Creator, as this was the most "general" topic in his scheme of learning "from the top down." All else follows from this point and will have some association with Creation, just as all the commandments given from God proceeded from the first, the "introduction of God" as Sovereign of the universe, as mentioned in lesson 1.1. Ramchal begins this chapter with the declaration that Creation had a purpose, and that purpose was so that God could bestow His goodness/perfection to something "other than Himself." This is another "general" fundamental principal to understanding God and Creation, and must be understood as such.

By examining the Creation account in Genesis, Chapter 1, we see a two-part process; a) God creates something, and b) God examines what He created and sees that it is "good" (Hebrew: "Tov"). The verses from Genesis, chapter 1 are as follows: 1:4 - And God saw the light, that it was good 1:10 - And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 1:12 - And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 1:17,18 - God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 1:21 - So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good 1:25 - And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 1:31 - Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. God calls creation "good", but good compared to what? As Ramchal states, "Other things may be said to have perfection [goodness], but it is only relative to something less perfect." This correlates to another principle stated in 1.2.2 "God therefore decreed and arranged that creation contain elements of both perfection and deficiency" Therefore, we see that the goodness of creation (before the "fall of mankind") is perfectly balanced with "deficiency". Only God Is Good Ramchal makes it a point to emphasize, that although Gods "intent" is to bestow His true perfection upon Creation, only God Himself is truly good. Yeshua made this clear, emphasizing that God is One (i.e., the declaration of the "Shema," found in Deuteronomy 6:4), and that God alone is good: Matthew 19:17a So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God." Emulating God to Attain Goodness/Perfection Ramchal next mentions a spiritual principle that will be developed further into the study. The "closer" one is (becomes) to God, the more they can "partake" of Gods goodness/perfection and therefore themselves be considered as such. As stated in Deuteronomy, "that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days" 1 Although Ramchal does not get around to specifically mentioning "man" as the subject in this context (until the last paragraph of this chapter), we know that only man has this ability, which is in fact his purpose in life. This is exactly as was instructed by Yeshua: Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Ramchal states in another of his works that this perfection that man is to strive for may be understood through both Scripture and reason. (This is a similar argument to Pauls used in Romans 1): The perfection I speak of is implicit in Scripture and in reason. It is: being joined to the holiness of the Blessed One, and enjoying the apprehension of His glory without hindrance, barrier, or impediment. In Scripture (Isaiah 58:14): "You will then regale in the Lord," (Psalms 140:14): "The just will sit before Your countenance," and many, many others in a similar vein. The Prophets and Hagiographa are replete with these for all to see. "Consult the Book of the Lord and read." And in the words of our sages of blessed memory (Berachoth 17a): "In the World to Come there is neither eating nor drinking but the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and bask in the splendor of the Divine Presence." In reason: The soul is nothing other than a portion of the Lord on high. Being so, its only desire is to return and cleave to its source and apprehend it, just as it is the nature of any generated object to aspire to its source. And the soul has no rest until it has achieved this union. But, as to the exact nature of this attachment and this union, we are powerless to understand this as long as we are in the midst of imperfection. But this very fact permits us to discriminate our imperfections. For just as we understand that perfection is this union, so we understand that imperfection is any removal from it and any barrier that comes between ourselves and the Blessed One which keeps us from uniting with Him as we could in its absence. And this is the defect that we must strive to rid ourselves of in order to attain the aforementioned perfection. 2 "How" man is to strive, for this perfection will be discussed in great detail further in this study. For now however, we will point to the second half of the verse cited earlier: Matthew 19:17b - but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Ramchal further states, "The purpose of all that was created was therefore to bring into existence a creature who could derive pleasure from Gods own good" Adam and Eve did not know either good or evil, as we now do, before eating of the tree. Evil was not created at the "fall" of man, but as we stated earlier, deficiency (i.e., evil) was inherent at the foundation of creation (remember it is the tree of the knowledge of good AND evil). It is for this reason that the work of the Messiah is accomplished at the beginning of creation as is stated in Hebrews "although the works were finished from the foundation of the world." 3 Thus Yeshua is presented in Revelation as the, "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." 4 The inherent deficiency in creation and its remedy are alluded to in the Talmud: "Seven things were created before the world was created, and these are they: The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah." 5 When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree, Scripture says, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened" 6 Opened to what? Before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree, there was a perfect balance of "good" and "evil", there was no distinction between the two. At the moment they partake of the fruit of the tree, "they knew that they were naked" 7 That is, they saw the deficiency in creation, they saw "evil" apart from "good." As stated in the Zohar: "AND THE EYES OF BOTH OF THEM WERE OPENED. Rabbi Hiya says, their eyes were opened to the evil of the world" 8 This of course causes us to consider the idea that the "fall of man" was "built into" Gods plan. This is not simply saying that "God knew it would happen," but rather that it was a necessary and "planned" event (by God), in order for man to become what God wanted man to become. 1.2.2 Ramchal states that, " Gods perfect wisdom, however, decreed that for such good to be perfect, the one enjoying it must be its master." As will be discussed in detail later on, to "master good" one must also "master evil." To better understand this concept, we turn to Scripture. Again, we find an elaboration of this idea in another of Ramchals works: In His sublime wisdom, however, He knew that for this good to be complete it should be received as the fruits of ones labor. For then the recipient would feel himself the proprietor of that good and would not be shamefaced in receiving it, as if he were receiving charity. As it is said: "One who does not eat of his own is ashamed to look at his benefactor" (Yerushalmi, Orla 1:3). That the Holy One Blessed be He, could certainly have created man and the entire creation completely perfect. What is more, this is what He would have been expected to do; for inasmuch as He is the quintessence of perfection, it is only natural that His acts be perfect in themselves. But since His wisdom decreed that man be allowed to perfect himself, He created him imperfect, constraining, as it were, His own perfection and His exceeding goodness from manifesting themselves in full measure vis a vis these creations. Instead, He shaped them in that format which would further the end desired by His exalted wisdom And every particular limitation that we note in His creatures reflects not the extent of His ability, God forbid, but what His will decreed This is the principle: The Blessed Lord, as it were, circumscribed Himself. That is, He circumscribed His ability in fashioning His creatures, so that they were formed not in accordance with His powers but in accordance with His desired end. 9 One of the first people given this insight, was someone who truly needed it, Cain, the son of Adam and Chavah (Eve): Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. The idea of us mastering evil and good, is reiterated in the first of Johns letters in the New Testament. As mentioned, the ideas of good and evil (and thus mastering them) are linked to Gods commandments (His Torah) which in the New Testament is often called "the Law," and its abrogation called "lawlessness." John emphasizes our task in mastering evil and good. He defines the "righteous person" not simply as someone who "believes" a certain way, but as one who "practices righteousness" (i.e., becomes a hearer and a doer of Torah). I John 3:4-9 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. We see the idea of perfecting ourselves reflected in Pauls writings as well:

Romans 6:12-13 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. In the same letter, Paul reminds his audience that those who are "of the Spirit" (Hebrew: "Ruach") are "subject to the law of God" (to perfect ourselves by walking according to Torah as Yeshua Himself walked, i.e., 1 John 2:3-6): Romans 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Pauls letter to the Philippians contains one of his more emphatic statements on how we are to live, making a point to state that we are by no means perfect upon "making a decision" to follow Messiah (i.e., to follow Torah as He taught). Paul explains that we are on a path to "walk" a certain way (Hebrew: our "Halakha"), humbly trusting in God that we will be "saved," and encouraging his audience to follow his personal example. (Compare this to Johns statement of the "righteous person practicing righteousness," in 1 John 3:4-9 (above), as well as the entirety of "James" [Jacobs!] letter in the New Testament.): Philippians 3:10-21 - That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Messiah Yeshua has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Messiah Yeshua. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Messiah: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Ramchal states, "He must be the one who has earned it for himself, and not given it accidentally [or by chance]." This idea is also drawn from the Creation account. Here we are told, that after the "fall", man was dispatched by God, to live in a physical world, where he would be able to know and choose between good and evil, and working toward re-conforming himself to the image of God in which he was formed: Genesis 3:22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" -- therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life." Regarding mans spiritual work, Ramchal adds, " By clinging to the elements of perfection, this unique creature would make itself resemble the Creator" This concept is also mentioned in Johns epistle, where we are told to make ourselves pure, as "we will be like Him": I John 3:2-3 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1.2.3 In this paragraph, Ramchal further discusses the idea of us working on "being perfect" as God is. He says, "Therefore, even though the Root of perfection cannot be attained, all true perfection is ultimately derived and transmitted from this Root." The New Testament points us to Yeshua the Messiah as being the most perfected of beings, and as such is our example to follow. (Note the idea of Messiah being such an example is consistent with Orthodox Judaism. The argument is simply over whom the Messiah is.) Yeshua taught this of Himself. Note the similar use of a plant as metaphor as compared to the language used by Ramchal. God is the Root in Ramchals analogy, He is the vinedresser in Yeshuas. Yeshua is a vine coming from that Root/Vinedresser. We are the branches. Our work in avoiding deficiency and striving for perfection is our fruit. His Words (Torah) are our guide to accomplishing this:

John 15:1-8 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. Paul reaffirms Yeshua as being our earthly example: Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Ramchal comments on the "unique creature which stands balanced between the elements of perfection and the elements of deficiency, which in turn are the result of Gods illumination or concealment." (This creature being man, as he soon states clearly.) Mans work is thus at the same time twofold. He is to avoid deficiency and he is to seek perfection. As we will explore later on, the 613 commandments of the Torah are considered as divided into 365 "negative" commandments and 248 "positive" commands. The former point man away from deficiency, the latter toward perfection. (See Sidebar on Positive and Negative Commandments.) Ramchal further states, "The more elements of perfection (i.e., Torah) this creature (man) incorporates into itself, the stronger will be his association and bond to God." The above statement addresses the concerns of gentile followers of Yeshua, who may wonder why they should take on more of the commands of the Torah. (i.e., "Do I HAVE to do those things?") God gave these commands for the purpose stated above by Ramchal. (Although we may not initially understand "how this works.") This subject will be further addressed later in this study. 1.2.4 Ramchal states, "God therefore decreed and arranged that creation contain elements of both perfection and deficiency, as well as a creature with equal access to both." (See sidebar on the "Four Worlds.") Turning to Genesis we see: Genesis 2:9 - And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:16 - And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Only with the onset of Creation does deficiency (i.e., "evil") appear. Evil did not exist prior to Creation, as there was no aspect of differentiation as only God existed. As such, there was no "concealment of His illumination" as Ramchal defines as "elements of deficiency.") This also brings us to another point. As Creation contains both elements of perfection and deficiency, the Torah given at Sinai was given for man to deal with life in this world to avoid sin ("deficiency"), and to draw closer to God (perfect himself). "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply" 10 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days" 11 1.2.5 Finally (!) Ramchal gets around to saying what weve been waiting for, "This primary, essential creature is man." Again, we turn to the Creation account, where God establishes man alone in this role: Genesis 1: 26 - Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 1. Deuteronomy 30:20 2. From Da'ath Tevunoth (The Knowing Heart), by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto 3. Hebrews 4:3 4. Revelation 13:8

5. Talmud - Mas. Pesachim 54a 6. Genesis 3:7 7. Genesis 3:7 8. Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 36b 9. From Da'ath Tevunoth (The Knowing Heart), by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto 10. Deuteronomy 30:15-16 11. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 Lesson on Section 1.3.Man 1.3.1 The Yetzer ha-tov (also: "Yetzer Tov") and Yetzer ha-ra (also: "Yetzer Hara") Before we begin this next chapter, there are two points that we should review: Evil (deficiency) existed from the beginning of creation in perfect balance with "good" Evil is anything that conceals Gods perfection Ramchal explains how, before the "fall," the physical and spiritual were "on a level playing field." Neither had "an advantage." If this were the case, man would have existed in a state where he would have been unable to perfect himself. It would either be done apart from man (i.e., God making us into "robots" with no free will), or it would be impossible for man to do this (which would make God a bit of a sadist). Evil, as Scripture states, is created and not made.1 That is to say that God did not actively make evil, but that it is a natural consequence of God's concealment of His Presence in creation. It is this concealment that gives man his "purpose" -- that is to try mankind, so as to give them room for Divine service.2 As Ramchal states, "Only man is placed between perfection and deficiency, with the power to earn perfection." This fact necessitates the existence of "free will." Creation existed, prior to the fall of mankind, in a state of balance between perfection and deficiency allowing man to be situated between "good and evil," compelled towards neither. The purpose of "evil" was to provide Adam with the opportunity to exercise free will. Without temptation, the choice of good would have been axiomatic. With "just enough" evil present in creation, Adam could have fulfilled his intended purpose (as Ramchal stated in the previous chapter), "to acquire perfection and avoid deficiency" As stated in our last lesson, "Adam and Eve did not know either good or evil, as we now do, before eating of the tree." That is to say that "evil" was not a part of their psychological makeup - they were pure of sin (i.e., they had no reason to conceal themselves from God until after they ate of the tree). Another way to consider this, is that evil was not "internalized within them as it was after the fall." Man had, "the power to incline himself in whichever direction he desired." He was created with an inclination (or urge) to either good (the yetzer tov) or evil (the yetzer hara) and had the power to choose either side, and possess either one. In this light one may view the yetzer hara as something to be hated and despised, but this is not the case. In fact, the yetzer hara was created not that man would succumb to it, but rather that he would be strengthened by overcoming "temptation" in order to gain perfection. Mankind's task is to labor to eradicate imperfection from himself first, and subsequently from the entire creation, as far as is in his power.3 Here are several interesting aspects to the Yetzer Tov and Yetzer Hara: The Yetzer Hara is not solely associated to what we would "normally" consider as sin. Anything that we do for ourselves ("self preservation," as opposed to Godly service) is "driven" by our Yetzer Hara. This includes "normal" activities such as working for a living, building a shelter, seeking a mate, procreation, etc. These functions are all part of this present life, and as by their nature are not directly serving God. They are considered "necessary evils" associated with our physical bodies. There is an axiom that, "sleep is one-sixtieth of death," which is based on this premise. The purpose of the Yetzer Hara is to serve God Both inclinations give us "energy," and even the energy from the Yetzer Hara can be channeled for Godly use. A modern analogy would be an athlete who channels his negative emotional energy toward his sport, thus improving his performance. A person with a strong Yetzer Hara has a greater potential to do remarkable things for God over someone with a "lesser" Yetzer Hara. Many of the "great people" of the Bible had a "strong" Yetzer Hara. One of the best examples is King David, who was a man who enjoyed earthly pleasures. In Hebraic literature, David is compared to Esau. Part of this comparison is that each man was said to have been born with a "ruddy" complexion. (Ruddy having to do with red -- the color of the "physical" earth.) Whereas Esau was not able to channel the energy from his Yetzer Hara to serve God David was

so much so that he is referred to as being "a man after God's own heart." (1 Samuel 13:14. Note also Paul's comments about himself in Romans chapter 7 -- see below.) The "energy" of the Yetzer Tov can be misdirected as well. For instance, a person may have a great love and respect for the treatment of animals. Because of this, they may read of the animal sacrifices in the Tenakh and view them as being a "bad" thing. Biblical examples of the "misuse" of the Yetzer Tov would be David regarding his son Absalom, and Eli regarding his sons. Both men "leaned too far to the right," and failed to properly deal with situations that needed correcting. Thus, we find instruction in God's Torah about not "turning to the left" (Yetzer Hara), or "to the right" (Yetzer Tov), but to seek out the proper balance in our lives (i.e., Deuteronomy 5:32; 17:11,20; 28:14) in order to move forward toward the "image of God." This is by being a "hearer and doer" of the Torah, praying without ceasing, and performing acts of kindness. (See sidebar on the three pillars of Teshuvah/repentance.) 1.3.2 The dynamic between the soul and the body The soul and body are in a, "constant state of battle." Ramchal says of man, "if he allows the physical to prevail then besides lowering his body, he also debases his soul. Such an individual will be unfit for perfection, and will be kept far from it..." This reflects Pauls message to the Romans, warning them of the dangers of giving into the "flesh," (i.e., the physical) even to the point of "no return": Romans 1:24-32 -Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Paul equates the "flesh" with the "body" Romans 8:13 - For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Paul states very clearly that the "flesh" and the "spirit" are in constant battle with one another. Galatians 5:16-17 - "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." Paul describes even clearer the "war" that occurs between the "flesh" and the "spirit" (see Romans 7:14-25 for full text). He states that in his "flesh" nothing good dwells." Paul further states, "I find then a law, that evil is present with me," and that, "I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." Here is the basic "dilemma" as Paul states, "So then, with the mind (that is the "realm" of the soul/spirit) I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." It is these "opposing forces" within himself that draws Paul to the one conclusion that God intended for man to make. That is the realization of man's true state, and his total "dependence" (i.e., faith) on God. As Paul states, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Messiah Yeshua our Lord!" The test of the righteous, provided by God's concealing His Presence, affords for the dynamic of faith to operate. When God constrains Himself, He leaves room for "doubt." The Talmud refers to the Garden of Eden's "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" as "Ilana d'sfeika,'" the "Tree of Doubt," since it was a mixture of good and evil. Ramchal shows how this is the experience of King David with regard to faith. This is what is alluded to by King David in (Psalms 73:2-3): "And, as for me, my feet almost slippedfor I envied the revelers." And this is precisely the test -- to see if men will remain strong in their faith and not deviate from the firm conviction in their hear, which will enable them to say: "He is certainly a God of faith, without wrong, even though we do not understand His ways." And it is in the respect that it is written (Habakkuk 2:4): "And the righteous one will live in his faith." 4

1.3.3 Eternity This is the first mention of "the World to Come" (Olam Haba), which will be elaborated on later. Ramchal explains that the things done in this "present world" (the time of "earning reward") will impact our status in the World to Come (the time of enjoying our rewards). 1.3.4 The aspects of this world and the World to Come Creation was intended to be a magnificent "garden" of harmony, containing those elements necessary for mankind to bring it towards perfection. With man in the role of the "gardener," he was to actively "subdue and dominate" the physical, and by doing so remove those aspects in creation that concealed the presence of God. This is reflected in the creation account: Genesis 1:26,28 - Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earthThen God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Though creation existed prior to the fall in a perfect balance of "physical" and "spiritual," Adam's ultimate purpose was to "uproot" the physical and partake of the spiritual. If this were the case, why then would the spiritual not have been made more powerful than the physical? As Ramchal states: "in light of man's true purpose and what God desires of him, namely, that he earn perfection through his own effort, it would not be good at all." God did NOT require man's effort to perfect creation; He could have brought creation into existence completely perfect without any defect. However, God's desire was to bestow "the greatest good" upon man, therefore, "His wisdom therefore decreed that the nature of this true benefaction be His giving created things the opportunity to attach themselves to Him to the greatest degree possible." 5 To bring about the greatest "good possible" for man, God created him with free will. As we have already discussed free will cannot operate without the presence of choice which enables man to "live by faith." As Paul states: "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;" 6 So it is not vanity that makes God require man's effort; it is so man will willingly choose to "cleave" to his Creator, having rejected physical pleasures for spiritual relationship. This is the principle behind Yeshua parable of the kingdom of heaven: Matthew 13:44 - Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. The time will occur (in Olam ha-Ba) when the spiritual will have complete advantage over the physical, as this is the time of man's reward. Thus, what we can attain in a limited fashion in this life (through subjugation of the body, or "flesh." i.e., 1 Corinthians 9:27), will be our natural and permanent state in the Olam ha-Ba. 1.3.5 The effects of the sin of Adam Ramchal reiterates a critical issue at this point -- there is a difference between what man was, and was expected of him, before the sin of Adam, versus since that time. Scripture hints at this in a very "plain" level. (Hebrew: the "p'shat" level -- see sidebar on "Pardes - Levels of Interpretation"). Much of the details have been passed along in oral tradition. 1.3.6 Mankind up to "the fall" As a "gardener," Adam was to toil, but only to a minimal degree. This changed after the fall, when his "workload" was increased (i.e., Genesis 3:17-19). Man is not "totally depraved," as God told Cain (Genesis 4:7). We all have the ability to choose between sinning (heading away from perfection) and fleeing from sin (heading toward perfection). The idea of God wishing for man to "work and perfect himself" is found throughout Scripture. Yeshua instructed his followers as follows: Matthew 5:48 - Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Paul's letters to contained instruction in "working out our salvation," "fighting the good fight" and "departing from iniquity" in order to become closer to God (perfecting ourselves): Philippians 2:12-13 - Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 - But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

2 Timothy 2:19-22 - Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Messiah depart from iniquity." But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. The fact that mankind has "fallen" does not make him powerless to uproot imperfection in himself and creation. However, the measure to which he can obtain this "perfection," has been severely restricted in this world (Olam haZeh). As Ramchal states in section 1.3.8, the amount of evil in this world increased due to Adam's sin, and thus necessitates the existence of another world, (Olam ha-Ba) where complete perfection can be accomplished. 1.3.7 The hidden function of the soul The function of the soul regarding man perfecting himself (being conformed to the image of God) is associated with the concept of Teshuvah. An important idea to discuss here is alluded to in footnote 15 in this chapter, which says, "It is furthermore taught that Adam did not originally exist on a physical plane." This teaching views the process of man's creation in accordance with the "Four Worlds of Existence." Man was first conceived in the mind and will of God. He thus "existed" though not in any form we can very well define other than something "in God's image." (This is man before Genesis chapter 1.) Adam was then created as a spiritual being. At this point there is no "division" between Adam and Eve. This is Adam as seen in Genesis, prior to the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 1) The third stage is seen in Eden, where Eve is formed as a separate entity from Adam. (Genesis 2) They do not yet exist as we do however, as they retained a spiritual proximity to the Divine that we do not have. The fourth and final stage comes when they are banished from Eden into the physical world as we know it. (The end of Genesis 3.) Here Scripture says they were clothed in tunics of skin, which in Hebraic Kabbalah is said to be the physical flesh we now have, that enables us to live in this world. (Compare this to Paul's writings in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 on different types of "flesh/bodies" as well as his comments on us receiving a different type of body for "life beyond this world.") To explain further, the Rabbis teach that before the fall, Adam and Eve shined like the sun. This concept is not alien to Scripture, as we have a comparable teaching in the Tenakh and "New Testament": Exodus 34:29 - Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. Exodus 34:30 - So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. Matthew 17:2 - and He [Yeshua] was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. The Light of Adam and Eve's souls was able to radiate through their "bodies." That is to say, their souls were "naked," there was little to conceal their true essence. Their flesh was a medium through which they were able to do the "work" required of them. Teshuva is the process by which man elevates himself from the mundane physical world to the upper worlds, becoming more and more like the "image of God" that he was originally conceived in. It should be noted that this is an ongoing process through life, and as one "ascends" (or "goes back") toward God, there are various forms of "evil" he will encounter along the way, which (from our point of view) are "different" at each level of ascension. (We will discuss the spiritual realm and its affect on man in future lessons.) 1.3.8 Mankind after "the fall" Ramchal states, "When man sinned, though, he caused evil to increase, both in himself and in all creation." His comments once again parallel Paul's, who writes of Adam's sin: Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. Romans 8:22 - For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Ramchal refers to "an increase in evil" as a "concealment of perfection," or to express this another way, "a concealment of the light of God." This is an important concept to grasp at this point. Anything that "conceals God's light" (i.e., aspect of divinity) is seen as evil. Thus, there is an evil aspect to our physical bodies (in this world) which restrict our souls. In the Garden of Eden before the fall of man, there existed an element of "concealment" and "restraint." Before the fall of man, the physical

elements of creation were to be an instrument through which they would serve God. After the fall these same physical elements now became man's prison. The free access to God and His Presence that Adam and Eve once enjoyed was now closed to them. Their souls, once open to God (as He "walked in the garden in the cool of the day") and to each other ("naked and not ashamed"), now had a degree of separation that did not before exist. This separation resulted in further concealment of God, and thus (as Ramchal states), "he caused evil to increase" Their "physical sin" effected a change in the spiritual realm, symbolized by their being "cast out of the garden" with its access barred by angels and a "flaming sword:" Genesis 3:22-24 - Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"-- therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. Ramchal's words reflect what is written throughout the "New Testament." There is a constant struggle against sin that exists between the spiritual and the physical "parts" of man (i.e., Romans 6:12-20, 12:21; Ephesians 6:10-18, 1 Timothy 5:20-24, 2 Peter 2:19-20, 1 John 5:4-5; Revelation 2:7,11,17,26). Paul wrote about this struggle with the Yetzer Hara and Yetzer Tov in his own life, associating the former with "the flesh" (body): Romans 7:15-23 - For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Even the walls of the Temple were considered as being a "necessary evil" in that while they "contained" the presence of God, they also "restricted" it. (Hence the reason there is no more Temple in the World to Come - i.e., Revelation 21:22.) There is therefore a necessary aspect to "evil" (in the sense given above), which includes anything God Himself establishes for His ultimate purpose. Again we refer to Isaiah's words: Isaiah 45:7 - I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. The concept of evil coming "indirectly" from God (who is not evil Himself, nor does He create "evil things" as people often think of "evil things"), is troublesome for some. Nonetheless, it is true, as there is but One Creator, and it is He who restricts His light in people and in situations to bring about His desired result. In Hebraic writings this is often called the "right hand" (merciful) and "left hand" (judgmental) of God. (For an extensive discussion of the left/judgmental and right/merciful hands of God, see notes to Revelation 5:1 at With regard to the above concept, there is a peculiar saying in Judaism regarding the Feast of Purim: A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordechai" 7 What is the meaning of such an instruction that seems to "contradict" Scriptures teaching against drunkenness? Whether or not one takes the command to get a bit inebriated literally is not the main point. The deeper meaning is that in our "normal" mindset (affected by our culture, religion, etc.) we see "good" as serving God's purpose and "evil" as being opposed to it. The statement about Purim is teaching that, "as a drunk does not think as usual with his mind," nor should we with regard to the nature and purpose of good and evil. Both the "evil" Haman, and the "good" Mordechai, served God's purpose and were put in place by Him. (The book of Esther, read on Purim, contains much "hidden" truth regarding God and the Kingdom of God.) A "New Testament" teaching concerning this is found in Paul's letter to Rome, where he speaks of Pharaoh serving God's purpose:

Romans 9:17-18 - For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. As mentioned, the effect of Adam's sin was that "he caused evil to increase both in himself and in all creation." Therefore the effort required to attain perfect was "doubled." This idea is paralleled in the book of Isaiah: Isaiah 40:1-2 - "Comfort, yes, comfort My people! Says your God. "Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned for she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins." 1.3.9 The destruction of the body (and its resurrection) and the world Here Ramchal not only speaks of the need for bodily resurrection, but also for the destruction of the entire world. (Both need to be decomposed and reformed for the World to Come.) This parallels the vision of John as shown in Revelation chapters 21 and 22. Ramchal also introduces the rabbinic axiom that the world (as we know it) has a seven-thousand year "lifespan" which includes a 1000-year reign of Messiah. The seven thousand years of earthly existence mirrors the seven days of creation. This idea underlies Peter's comment that to the Lord, "one day is as a thousand years." 8 Note: As you may know, the secular calendars we use and the Jewish calendar do not have us at the same point in history. There is a 240 year difference between the two. This is not to say we are at least that far from the Messiah's return as Judaism teaches Messiah will come well before the 6,000 year mark. The details of this teaching are beyond the scope of this study. 1.3.10 Mankind in the World to Come The idea of greater reward for those who sacrifice more in this life for God, is found in Yeshua's teachings: Matthew 16:27 - For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. Just as much is given to some in this world, and much is expected from some in this world, so will some be given much in the World to Come. Ramchal states that not only will the reward differ in the World to come, but that; "this will in turn delimit how worthy they are of bringing themselves close to God, basking in His Light and enjoying His true good." This idea is shown in the book of Revelation: Revelation 14:1-5 - Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousandThey sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. 1.3.11 The Soul World Ramchal explains the concept that there is an "intermediary stage" for souls between death and the time of the Great Resurrection (which comes with Messiah and the advent of the Millennial Kingdom (i.e., Revelation chapter 20). This is where the Catholic Church teaching of "Purgatory" most likely stems from. When Protestantism (for the most part), discarded this teaching, it also did away with the Hebraic notion of the Soul World as well. The idea of an intermediary location for souls is seen in a couple of New Testament passages: In Luke chapter 16, Yeshua tells a story of souls who reside (quite consciously) in "Abraham's bosom" In Revelation chapter 6, we see souls (not yet resurrected, nor in the presence of God) calling out to God for justice As things are of a spiritual and not physical nature in the World to Come, we see differences in "lifestyle" such as this: Matthew 22:30 - For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. 1.3.12 The soul in the soul world As stated earlier, a consequence of Adam's sin is that the ability to which man's soul can experience reward has been severely restricted in this world. Even though man may have made himself worthy of perfection, his soul is unable to "shine with the radiance appropriate to the excellence that it actually attains..." A consequence of the physical world is that the soul loses its "power" because it is not fulfilling its original purpose; that being the purification of the body. In the soul world it is no longer constrained by the limitations of the physical

world. It is now possible for the soul to be strengthened by "radiating freely with a brightness that befits it as a result of its good deeds." The soul is now fit to be reunited with its "physical" body and able to fulfills its intended purpose. 1.3.13 The limitations of the soul in this life Concerning the reuniting of the body and soul after the resurrection, Ramchal states, "The soul will immediately shine forth (from the body) and purify it (the body) to a very great degree." This is further explained in Hebraic writings as humans becoming more like "bodies of light." This is said to be the state Adam and Eve existed in prior to being expelled from Eden and given "tunics of skin," which covered the light of their souls. (See note to 1.3.7 above and also sidebar on "Skins of Light and Flesh.") Remembering that God's ultimate purpose for creation is to "bestow His greatest good," we see the realization of this at the point at which the now renewed soul and body are rejoined after the resurrection. Now the body is able to obtain a greater degree of enlightenment and exist at a higher level than it could have otherwise obtained. Man is now at an appropriate level in which he can accomplish the task for which he was created, enjoying ultimate perfection and relationship with his Creator. This is not the end of a journey, but a step to even greater perfection and relating to God. 1. Isaiah 45:7 2. Daat Tevunot - The Knowing Heart, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, p. 143 3. Daat Tevunot - The Knowing Heart, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, p. 141 4. Daat Tevunot - The Knowing Heart, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, pp. 176-177 5. Derech Hashem 1.2.1 (page 37) 6. Romans 8:20 7. Talmud, tractate Megillah (7b) 8. 2 Peter 3:8 Lesson on Section 1.4.Human Responsibility 1.4.1 Man's Makeup and Environment Not everyone begins life (or goes through it) at the same level. People are a product of both their genetic makeup as well as their environment. This applies to the spiritual realm as well as the physical. Environment can mean either positive or negative conditions. This not only influences how a person may develop, but also how God views them. For instance, two people who achieve the same result are not necessarily judged as having done equal (i.e., a dyslexic person who gets an "A" in English as opposed to a gifted reader.) The Biblical figure Noah illustrates this point. The sages debate whether Noah would be considered righteous if he had lived at any other time, or if he was just the "best" of His wicked generation. (i.e., he would not have stood out as especially righteous in another generation such as that of Abraham): Talmud, Sanhedrin 108a - These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations. R. Johanan said: In his generations, but not in other generations. Zohar, Bereshith, 68a - Said R. Judah: Although Noah was a righteous man, he was not so pious that God should think fit to save the world for his sake. Another teaching related to this idea concerns Esau and David. Both men had a very dominant Yetzer Hara ("evil inclination"). Scripture alludes to this when its states both were had a distinctive "ruddy" appearance: Genesis 25:25 - And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. I Samuel 16:12 - So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" Both men, because of their dominant Yetzer Hara, had a propensity towards violence: Zohar, Bereshith, 137b - Now we are told that Esau "came forth ruddy", a colour emblematic of severity (i.e., judgment or harshness). Esau embodied a person living to the fullest of these "negative" characteristics. David, who should have been like Esau, instead exemplified one who channeled his Yetzer Hara to serving God. Midrash Rabbah expresses it in the following manner: Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LXIII:8 - And when Samuel saw that David was ruddy, as it is written, And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy (I Sam. XVI, 12), he was smitten with fear, thinking he too might be a murderer. But the Holy One, blessed be He, reassured him that he was withal of beautiful eyes (ib.) [which meant], Esau slew by his own impulse, whereas he [David] would slay only on the sentence of the court. The "New Testament" also teaches the idea of levels of spiritual advantage. One of Yeshuas parables makes this point as follows:

Matthew 25:14-29 - "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, "Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' He also who had received two talents came and said, "Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' "But his lord answered and said to him, "You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. "For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. Paul specifically cites the "environmental" advantage a Jew born and raised with the Torah has: Romans 3:1-2 - What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. It should also be noted that with the advantage of Torah (and a better knowledge of Gods will) comes greater responsibility and accountability. Paul states that the Jews are not only "first in line" for reward, but also for punishment: Romans 2:8-10 - But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the gentile. Yeshua taught in the same fashion regarding accountability: Luke 12:48 - And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. 1.4.2 The Dominance of the Physical Ramchal begins this section by stating that when a person is born, the Yetzer Hara has dominance, meaning that their inclination is drawn toward the physical. Due to the sin of Adam, the Yezter Hara, which was intended to be an "external force," became internalized and integrated into mans makeup. Mans new physical "condition" causes him to have a connection to evil ("tamey," pronounced tah-may), which draws him away from God. (Remember Adam and Eves first act was to hide themselves). Though mankind, through Adam, has a propensity towards "sin," scripture shows that each individual is responsible for his sin only, and not that of anyone else (i.e. the sin of Adam): Ezekiel 18:1-4, 20 - The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel. "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die. ... The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. The dominance of the Yetzer Hara is a "necessary evil," as man must take care of his physical needs in order to survive in the world. Young children exemplify the "self-centered, immediate-gratification-at-any-cost" nature of the Yetzer Hara. Yet without the Yetzer Hara children would not seek to have their needs met. Mans ultimate purpose, however, is to "bring God" into his daily activities, converting the Yetzer Hara to serve God and thus man becomes "fit to cleave to his Creator".

Ramchal states, "As he matures, his mind continues to gain influence depending on the individuals nature." This is accomplished through constraints placed on the Yetzer Hara, either through the Torah (Gods Revelation) or artificially through the system of the "physical world", which dimly reflects the True system. The Evil Inclination is not itself sinful, it is how this force is directed which translates into sin or service to God. Man has the Yetzer Hara (the "sin nature") as a result of Adams fall, but as Scripture states from the beginning, God has also given him the ability to overcome and neutralize it: Genesis 4:6-7 - So the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." The Yetzer Hara manifests itself in the physical "dimension" of existence. It is the Torah that frees mankind from this deficiency elevating him "above the physical" and allowing him to "rule over it." Using David as an example again, he states about himself: Psalm 51:5(7) - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. David is stating that since his nature is a material one, rooted in lust, he is susceptible to sin, and for this reason pleads for God not to be too exacting in judgement, but to remember his frailty. This material nature is certainly not a justification to allow sin, rather, it should motivate man to elevate himself and not remain in such a lowly state. Ramchal states, "Even after an individual matures, however, the physical does not automatically relinquish its influence and stop inclining the individual toward its way. The only means by which one can overcome the physical is by growing in wisdom, becoming versed in it and living by it." This idea is apparent in Davids life. He should have become like Esau, but instead became known by God as one who had "kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes." (I Kings 14:8) Even David with his "colorful" past was considered by God to have done "only what is right in His eyes." Upon further examination it becomes apparent why God considered this to be so. David states: Psalm 119:97-104 - Oh, how I love Your law [torah]! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. David is not boasting of himself in the above Psalm (or any of his other writings). Rather, he is praising God who gave him the Torah, through which he was able to overcome his "natural" tendencies. As Ramchal states, "By fortifying ones self to follow his intellect, one can overcome his physical nature..." God Himself makes clear that man has a role in this process: Isaiah 1:18 - "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Mans ability to learn from his environment is not unique, it is present in various degrees in all creatures. Man, however, has the ability of reason and other distinguishing attributes not present in other species. Ramchals use of the term, "intellect" does not refer to human intelligence only, but to wisdom that is Divinely imparted as well. Many Scriptures attest to this: Deuteronomy 4:4-5 - "Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' Psalms 19:7-8 - The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; Proverbs 3:13-18 - Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.

Proverbs 4:5-9 - Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you." Proverbs 9:10-12 - "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you will bear it alone." I Corinthians 3:18-20 - Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; and again, "The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." Therefore let no one boast in men. Ephesians 5:15-17 - See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Man is presently a creature divided. His body (i.e., "the flesh" as Paul calls it) is in its true essence "inherently dark and course," causing it to be "impermeable" to the Divine light. Whereas his soul is "intrinsically pure and lofty," receptive to the Divine light (Revelation) that permeates the universe. Its is mans physical nature that keeps him from being able to fully connect with God. Though the soul is "trapped" in a vehicle (the body) that is propelling it away from its Source of "Light and life," it makes every effort to "escape." Man can, through his sin and rebellion towards God, counteract this "compulsion" of the soul to climb towards God. Mans condition upon arrival in the "World to Come" (the "olam haba") is dependant upon his success/failure to overcome and lessen the dominance of the Yezter Hara in this world (the "olam hazeh"). It is for this reason that man must die in order to realize his true potential. In death, the soul separates from the body, and each of man's "parts" goes its own way. The soul goes back to unite with God (regaining the "power" that was lost while trapped in the body -- see pg. 57), and the body returns to dust (undergoing the "Chibut HaKever" -- the punishment of the grave). Ultimately, mans body and soul will reunite at the resurrection elevating man to an even "higher" level than he could achieve in his first life. 1.4.3 Man's Constant Involvement with the Physical Ramchal reminds us that everything in our environment is filled with darkness due to the concealment of Gods "Light." Creation was intended to be a means by which man could obtain union with God. With the fall of man, the effort that should have been directed towards cultivating a relationship with his Creator now had to be directed towards worldly pursuits. This new physical existence restrains man from achieving his true purpose, that being spiritual enlightenment. 1.4.4 Using the Material for Spiritual Gain As mentioned, the physical is regarded as "evil" and considered in its true essence to be "dark and coarse," because it is the polar opposite of Gods true nature. This condition exists only because Gods light is greatly concealed in the physical realm (darkness or "evil" is the absence of Gods Light). However, instead of disassociating himself from the physical, Gods intent is for man to use the physical to achieve enlightenment. All of mans actions have a "spiritual" impact. Every aspect of mans life, from the most ordinary, everyday tasks, to the loftiest pursuits, have potential to either increase or decrease mans connection to God. God has not relegated man to a monastic lifestyle, but desires, to a limited extent, for him to derive blessings and satisfaction from the physical world (Deuteronomy 12:7-18, 14:26, 16:11-14, etc.,) Mans position in creation is unique and powerful. As Ramchal states, because man exists in the "lowliness" of the physical realm, he is in a position to transform darkness into light. Mankind alone has the ability to become "close" to God. It is very frailties and deficiencies that can obscure God, that place him in this position. Mans deficiencies are not present for God to condemn mankind, but that man may in fact become elevated to an even "higher" position than possible if mans faults were lacking. Lastly, Ramchal states that God has set up "patterns" (positive commands for us to follow) and "restraints" (negative prohibitions), as our guide to obtain "closeness" to Him. As we will see, these patterns and restraints make up the commands of Torah. 1.4.5 The Torah A consequence of the amount of evil increasing in the world is that "sin abounds." To help man "get back on the right track," God has intervened at several points in history, raising up righteous people, prophets and giving His Torah to Moses and Israel, at Mount Sinai. The Torah consists of both "positive" and "negative" commandments. (See sidebar.)

As Ramchal states, each of the individual commands of Torah is there for a specific purpose, effecting both the makeup of man as he begins and proceeds to "grow in wisdom." At one level are the "obvious" commands that most everyone can relate to (i.e., not committing murder). At the other are commands that don't seem to have a rationale to them, such as the kosher laws, or the laws of the red heifer. In between those "extremes" are many types of commands, each serving a specific purpose in God's plan for us. No command of the Torah is superfluous; each one is "based on all the aspects of mans true nature." As we stated, mans nature is a divided one, consisting of the Yetzer Hara and the Yetzer Tov. The Torah, with its positive and negative commands, reflects this duality inherent in mankind. The commandments serve a twofold purpose, restraining and subjugating the Yetzer Hara, lessening its influence, and strengthening and increasing the power of the Yetzer Tov. 1.4.6 Living According to the Torah The purpose of Torah is to keep us in the "direction" of God. As King David wrote: Psalm 119:105 - Your Torah is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Paul expressed this eloquently in his Romans letter: Romans 7:12 - Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Through obedience to Gods "Plan" (the Torah) man begins to fulfill his true purpose, that being "cleaving" to his Creator. The power of the Yezter Hara is greatly diminished and the veil of the physical world begins to dissolve, allowing for an even greater measure of "Divine Light". Though we must await the resurrection to "reap" the true rewards of our efforts in this life, man can still, to some extent, reflect the level of "excellency" which he has obtained. Yeshua reflects this idea when He states: John 14:14-17 - I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. Ramchal's comment that man must, "manage all his affairs only for the sake of attaining this goal, having no desire for anything else," mirrors the teaching of Yeshua in His parables: Matthew 13:44-46 - "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. 1.4.7 Ways of Serving God Ramchal notes that although there are specific ways and times to serve God, according to the commands of Torah, there are also ways of serving Him in our "day to day" routines. In fact, this is the essence of the Torah as taught at its deepest levels -- to "bring God" into even the mundane things of life is considered the ultimate accomplishment of man, and brings tikkun (repair) to the world. Ramchal states, "Mans use of the world for his own needs, however, should also be circumscribed by the limits imposed by Gods will and not include anything forbidden by God." The commands are not meant to merely protect the physical wellbeing of man, but to also guard his spiritual wellbeing. This is reflected in the kosher laws (that is, foods that are permitted and forbidden as well how they are to be prepared). The physical protection that these laws afford is secondary, upon further examination its becomes clear that this issue is more than just food, it concerns ones Spiritual sensitivity and the "health" of ones soul. Leviticus 11:43-45 - You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them. For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. Ramchal makes specific mention here of taking care of one's body so that it is in proper shape to perform the commandments in order to elevate his soul. Again, this shows the interrelationship between soul and body in Judaism, as compared to other teachings that cast the body into a solely evil or empty role. Another teaching that shows how the physical actions of the body can impact the spiritual is found in the "New Testament": 1 Corinthians 6:19 - Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?

1.4.8 Love and Fear of God The concepts of "love" and "fear" of God are associated with the positive and negative commands of the Torah. Simply put, the negative commands, associated with "fear of God," are given to "remove evil," and the positive commands, associated with "love of God," are to "add good." As the bad must usually be removed before good can be added, Scripture teaches that Proverbs 9:10 - The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Ramchal teaches that humility is a key attribute in strengthening one's love and fear of God (and thus performing Teshuvah.) Moses' close relationship with God was largely due to this characteristic: Numbers 12:3 - Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. "Godly humility" and human ideas on humility are not quite the same. After all, it was Moses himself who wrote that he was the most humble man on earth! How could a "humble" man make such a statement about himself? Godly humility has to do with coming to a true understanding of your role in Gods plan and acting accordingly, whether that be in a position of leadership or simple servitude. The truly humble person recognizes his strengths and weaknesses relative to himself, to others, and to God. He entertains no false notions about his place in the scheme of things. Speaking of Moses, God says: Exodus 12:8 - I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the LORD. The Talmud says of Moses level of perception: Yevamoth 49b - All the prophets looked into a dim glass, but Moses looked through a clear glass. Ramchal states, "The love and fear of God ... enlighten the physical darkness in man, cause his soul to radiate in all its brightness, and thus elevate him step by step until he attains a state of closeness to God." Moses exemplifies these characteristics, and at the moment when he was the closest to God (at Mount Sinai) Scripture states of him: Exodus 34: 29 - Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. 1.4.9 The Power of Torah Study of Torah is considered the most important of the three steps of Teshuvah (see sidebar) as without an understanding of Who God is, one cannot be as effective in their prayer or deeds. Study of Torah always results in a desired result, as God tells us: Isaiah 55:11 - So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Ramchal mentions that the use of "commentaries" is effective in achieving better understanding. Those who feel that they have no need of the opinions of learned individuals who came before them should consider the story of the "Ethiopian eunuch" from the New Testament. This was a well-off and highly educated man, as he not only could read the Scriptures (in Hebrew or Aramaic), but also had his own copy, something very rare. This man possessed the humility and intelligence to ask for a "commentary" from a learned source, in order that he might better understand the (Hebraic) context of the Scriptures: Acts 8:30-31 - So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 1.4.10 The Power of Torah Ramchal makes clear that God does not withhold His good. Further, the amount of evil that exists in the world is caused by, and is proportional to, mankind's failure to repent and live according to God's ways. When enough of the world turns from God, evil runs rampant, as was seen in the generation of the Flood and as prophesied for the end of days in the book of Revelation and other Hebrew texts. Each person thus has the potential to effect how much of God's blessings (Divine Light) descend from the heavenlies to the earth, and how much is restricted. A person may act as a Tzaddik (righteous one) and increase the flow of blessings, or he may choose to sin and "shut up" the heavenlies. 1.4.11 The Purpose of the Commandments Ramchal closes by making a general statement on the true purpose of the commandments ... to lead us away from sin and toward God, (i.e., being "conformed to His image.) As he mentions, the details of all this will be discussed later in Derech Hashem. Lesson on Section 1.5.The Spiritual Realm

Introduction One chapter of a book certainly cannot address the complexity of the "spiritual realm." Ramchal gives a brief overview of certain fundamentals, some of which he will elaborate on in further chapters. We will offer some additional insight at this time and more later in the study. 1.5.1 Ramchal first addresses the physical world, noting that there are both terrestrial and celestial bodies. His words are similar to those of Pauls: 1 Corinthians 15:39-41 - All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. The physical world is that which is known to us. This is the world that is perceived through mans "natural" senses. The spiritual realm and what we know of transcends mans senses. At this time we should review the Jewish tradition that views "existence" in terms of four "worlds." The "lowest" of these is the physical world that we live in. In Hebrew this world is called "Asiyyah" meaning "making." Though considered the "physical" world, Asiyyah does have a spiritual aspect connected to it. Beyond the physical world is the spiritual world of our souls and angels. In Hebrew this world is called "Yetzirah" meaning "formation." Yetzirah is the "mixed realm," where good and evil spiritual entities are intermixed. It is for this reason that God forbade activities such as divination, which extracts ideas and influence from this realm. Beyond Yetzirah is a higher spiritual world consisting of the "Throne room of God" and the archangels (or "forces" as Ramchal uses). In Hebrew this world is called "Beriah" meaning "creation." These three worlds make up "creation" (everything following Genesis 1:1). Beyond creation (i.e., before Genesis 1:1) there is a purely divine world, one that is apart from concepts such as evil or separation. This world is called "Atzilut" having to do with "nearness." Tradition views the four worlds of existence as being present in Isaiah 45:7. The entities described by Ramchal in this chapter exist in the three lower worlds. In addition to souls, angels and forces (archangels), he also distinguishes a separate category of beings called shedim (demons) which transverse the physical (Asiyyah) and "lower" spiritual realm (Yetzirah). As Ramchal will point out, only man via his soul has the potential to realize all four worlds. Physical and Spiritual Counterparts One of the principles in the tradition of Hebraic Torah study is that of, "as above so below." (See notes on 1.5.2 below for more on "tradition.") The physical world of "animals, vegetables and minerals" is highly complex. As the physical mirrors "that which is above," we can appreciate how intricate these other "worlds" are. These "worlds," and all that exists in them, are not exclusive of each other. As we will see, the archangels and spirits of the throne room are very "close to God." They have a direct relationship with those being we call angels, as well as with our souls. Angels and souls in turn each have their own type of connection to the physical realm. This idea is seen in the vision of Ezekiel, where he describes a "wheel within a wheel," indicative of one world (and its beings) "existing within the next." Thus what happens "down here" can and does impact the spiritual worlds beyond us, potentially to the highest levels. Conversely that which is decreed from God above "makes its way down" to us in the physical realm sometimes via angels ("messengers") and sometimes more directly. An example of this is found in the book of Revelation with the three series of judgments, each emanating from a spiritual realm, yet impacting the physical earth. Among the forces (archangels), angels and demons, there are various "types." Ramchal states that each type has its own laws and distinct nature. Hebraic tradition often speaks of spiritual entities in groups of ten, number symbolic of "fullness" in the spiritual realm. For instance, in the world of Force/Archangels (Beriah) we have in a "descending" order: Metatron (the head of angels) Raziel Zaphkiel Zadkiel

Samael Michael Haniel Raphael Gabriel Sandalphon Each of the names above is associated with the general function of that archangel. Differentiation within the angelic world is seen in Scripture verses such as these: Exodus 25:22 - And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel. Isaiah 6:2 - Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. Jude 1:6 - And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; In the angelic world (Yetzirah) there are "orders" of angels categorized as follows: Chaiot Hakodesh ("Holy animals" i.e., Ezekiel 1) Orfanim Arelim Hasheralim Serafim Malachim Tarshishim Beni Elohim Ishim Kerubim The above grouping may vary slightly within various lines in the Hebraic tradition. One of the sources in this tradition is the "Zohar," which is one of the primary texts in deeper level Torah study. The Zohar depicts the following: Soncino Zohar, Raya Mehemna 43a - All things are in His power, whether He wills to lessen the number of vessels or to increase the light which springs from them, or whether He wills the contrary. Above Him, however, there is no god who could increase or lessen. Then He created ministering beings to those vessels: one throne supported on four columns and six steps to the throne: ten altogether. And the whole throne is like the chalice of benediction, in regard to which ten things are formulated, in harmony with the Torah which was given in Ten Words (Decalogue), and with the Ten Words by which the world was created. Then He prepared for the throne angelic hierarchies to serve Him: malachim (angels), erelim, seraphim, hayoth (living beings), ophanim, hamshalim, elim, elohim, be'ne (sons of) elohim, ishim (supernal "men"). To these He appointed as ministers Samael and all his groups - these are like clouds to ride upon when He descends to earth: they are like horses. That the clouds are called " chariots" is expressed in the words, "Behold the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt" (Isa. XIX, 1). Further, in the lowest spiritual realms there are considered to be ten orders of demons. Conversely, in the highest realm (Azilut) we find ten names of God. (i.e., Ehyeh, YHVH, Elohim, Yah, El, YHVH-Elohim, YHVH-Tzvaot, Elohim-Tzvaot, Shaddai, Adonai.) Ramchal mentions "angels" as having the role of maintaining order and bringing about changes. This occurs according to their position between the world of forces (Beriah) and the physical world (Asiyyah). Thus, nothing we experience in the physical realm is completely "random." (See footnote 37 to this section.) Tradition also teaches certain "rules" regarding the function of angels, including the following: a specific task is given to a specific angel angels are given one assignment at a time there is a link between angels and physical areas/kingdoms angels may be given assignments for a specific or limited period of time Ramchal concludes this section by briefly differentiating between human and animal souls. The idea of the soul in Hebraic tradition and language is not the same as found in the western/Christian world. For one,

there are a number of different words for "soul" in the language of the Tenakh. The soul is in fact considered a "conglomerate," made up of multiple parts. Generally speaking, there are considered to be five "levels" of the soul (each complex in its own right): Nefesh (soul) Ruach (spirit) Neshema (breath) Chaya (living essence) Yechida (unique essence) Of these, only the first three levels are generally considered as functioning/accessible in the present world. The above concepts will be expounded on in Part III of this study. 1.5.2 Tradition An important concept to derive from this chapter is the idea that what we know about the spiritual realm we know from tradition. What does this mean? The pages of the Bible do not give us much detailed information about the worlds of spiritual forces, angels, demons, etc. From the opening story of Creation through the rest of the Torah, the prophets and the "New Testament," the spiritual realm, its inhabitants and powers are mentioned in a way that assumes a pre-existing knowledge. Some instances of Scriptural reference to the spiritual realm include: Adam and Even conversing with God in the Garden of Eden The "evil serpent" in the garden Jacobs dream of angels going up and down a ladder Balaam trying to use spiritual means to attack the Israelites Moses experiences with Pharaoh and his "magicians" "Shedim" (demons) are briefly mentioned twice in the Tenakh (Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 106:37) The Torahs commands against contacting the dead King Sauls experience with the witch of Ein Dor Ezekiels "chariot" vision Daniels experience with angels visiting him Elishas servant having his "eyes opened" to non-physical world about him New Testament reference to "Satan" and "evil angels" Yeshua "casting demons out of people" The young girl in the book of Acts who made money for her master by telling the future Pauls discussion of being prepared for spiritual combat in his Ephesians letter Judes reference to the "angels who left their proper abode." The various "beasts" of the book of Revelation and the "anti-Messiah" (An important example of tradition involves the idea of "The Messiah." Many Christian teachings speak of "Jesus fulfilling several hundred Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament." The difficulty with this however, is that "The Messiah" is nowhere mentioned anywhere in the "Old Testament" (Tenakh). Jewish teachings about "The Messiah" come from Oral Tradition [and there is no one definitive opinion]. When the writers of the New Testament make messianic claims about Yeshua, they are expressing their view of an Oral Tradition of their day.) There are other overt references besides the above list, as well as allusions to the spiritual realm. However, throughout Scripture, we are given little if any detailed explanation about these things. This is not saying that Scripture deems the spiritual realm and its inhabitants unimportant, as they are quite significant. However, the written Scriptures do not give us much information regarding the "who, what, why, where and how," of these things. For the student of Scripture, this leads to an important question. Are we free to "invent" our own approach and answers to the questions regarding these matters or is there a tradition to guide us? The Hebraic tradition (as Ramchal teaches) is grounded in an unbroken chain of transmission going back well before the time of Yeshua. This includes not only the "Oral Torah" given to Moses and developed since Sinai, but even other teachings that are said to go back to Abraham and some to Adam himself. (i.e., What was Enoch teaching everyone?)

The pages of the Talmud as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls show well-developed ideas concerning the spiritual realm from the period just prior to Yeshua. It is such a tradition that the authors and characters of both the Tenakh and the New Testament draw from. As an advisory, many of the ideas presented by Ramchal (here and in subsequent chapters) as well as other we will mention (also from Judaism), will not correspond to those in the Christian tradition. When they differ, one must ask, from where does Christianity draw its ideas? For instance, there are churches today that not only have teachings about the dark side of the spiritual realm, but also how to come against it. (Delivering people from demons, etc.) These Christian concepts and methods came about long after the early Messianic (Nazarene) communities were obliterated by the Romans. At times they differ greatly from what the Jews of Yeshuas time believed. As a simple example, many churches teach that demons are the "fallen angels." That is the "Christian Tradition" regarding this topic. As Ramchal states, demons and angels are very different types of entities. That is the Jewish tradition. More on Tradition and the Oral Torah Many people feel that the written Bible does not need an Oral Tradition to go along with it. After all, if its in writing, isnt that the best method to convey the information from generation to generation? Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan speaks about this in his "Handbook of Jewish Thought" (Moznaim 1979): The Oral Torah was originally meant to be transmitted by word of mouth. It was transmitted from master to student in such a manner that if the student had any question, he would be able to ask, and thus avoid ambiguity. A written text, on the other hand, no matter how perfect, is always subject to misinterpretation... Furthermore, the Oral Torah was meant to cover the infinitude of cases which would arise in the course of time. It could never have been written in its entirety. It is thus written (Ecclesiastes 12:12), "Of making many books there is no end." God therefore gave Moses a set of rules through which the Torah could be applied to every possible case ... If the entire Torah would have been given in writing, everyone would be able to interpret it as he desired. This would lead to division and discord among people who followed the Torah in different ways. The Oral Torah, on the other hand, would require a central authority to preserve it, thus assuring the unity of Israel. 1.5.3 Ramchal elaborates on the spiritual "forces" saying that these were the first things created. This idea parallels modern science regarding the physical universe, which teaches that there are four fundamental forces (i.e., gravity, electro-magnetism, the weak force and the strong force). This is reflected in the creation account of Genesis. Many critics of the Bible point to inconsistencies with the first three books of Genesis. These are resolved when one understands how creation "unfolded" as follows: Genesis chapter 1 is an account of creation at the level of these forces (Beriah). "Adam" at this point is a single "spiritual being" made up of both the male and female aspects of the image of God in which he was created. The "plants" and "animals" discussed in Genesis 1 also exist in this state. Note how Genesis 1:26-30 describes the creation of man, yet this seems to be repeated in Genesis 2:7. Further, Genesis 1:11-12 tells us that plant life "exists" yet in Genesis 2:4-5 we are given a summary statement that no vegetable matter was yet present, as God had not caused it to "rain upon the earth yet." In Genesis 2 we see the next level of creation come about, (Yetzirah/Formation) where Chavah (Eve) is now formed into a separate entity and animals are given distinct names. At this point however, Adam and Eve, as well as all animals and vegetables, do not yet exist in the physical state that we do today. This occurs with their banishment from Eden into the lowest world of creation, the physical realm, beginning in Genesis 3:24, where Adam will now have to "work" the (physical) land. Thus we see that in a sense, the spiritual and physical realms are "images" of each other. As Scripture begins with a "hidden" account of these three worlds of creation, it also closes with such. The book of Revelation depicts three sets of "seven judgments." These mirror the three worlds of creation, formation and physical. (See our online Revelation study for more details on this concept.) 1.5.4 Ramchal stresses the importance of mans free will exists as the exception to the rule that everything in the physical realm is caused by what is dictated by the higher forces. This is reflected in the following teaching: Talmud, Berachoth 33b - Everything is in the hand of heaven except the fear of heaven.

A critical concept brought forth here is the fact that our reality consists of both "deterministic" and "indeterministic" influences existing at the same time. Because man, via his soul, interacts with the spiritual realm particularly the "mixed realm" of Yetzirah (the world of angels) he is in a position to alter events, sometimes even drastically. God created every "point A" and "point B," but allows for much leeway in how we get from one to another. There is an interesting teaching in Judaism on this issue, that being that "no negative prophecy has to come true." This is based on the idea that man has free will to repent or sin. A classic case is Ninevah. Jonah was told by God to tell the inhabitants of that city that they had been judged and would die. The divine message was not, "unless you repent" it was too late for that God had declared his judgment. Yet, the city did repent, and this judgment was nullified (for a while at least!) We see the same with sciences teachings on the physical realm, which speaks of both "linear" and "random" events. In any situation, (from microbiology to world or cosmic events), if we have enough information, we can make an "educated guess" about how things will "play out." Yet because of this "random" factor (uncertainty principle), nothing is 100 percent certain. As stated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan: It is interesting to note that according to the most modern scientific picture of the world, free will is an integral part of creation. Science teaches us that there is an element of indeterminancy or "free will" inherent in the very quantum nature of matte, and this clearly indicates that the universe was created as an arena for a free-willed creature such as man. It is this freedom of will that gives man a wider choice than merely to react to his surroundings. Although an individual's actions may be influenced by his heredity and environment, neither of these absolutely determines his actions. 1 1.5.5 Key here is the idea that man can influence the highest forces (in the very Throne Room of God) in a positive or negative fashion. As with the physical realm, the slightest such alteration at the "cause" can result in enormous changes with the "effect." Sin of any type "energizes" the negative aspects of the spiritual realm. Ramchal points out that even words and thoughts have this capacity. This mirrors Yeshuas teachings: Matthew 15:11 - Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Matthew 5:28 - But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Our existence in multiple worlds and the impact sin can have helps us understand the deeper meaning of New Testament teachings such as this one: Colossians 3:1-11 - If then you were raised with Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Messiah is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God. When Messiah who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Messiah is all and in all. 1.5.6 Everything that occurs, what we consider both "good" and "bad" is "best for creation," as everything that "comes our way" in life, is arranged by God. This is reflected in one of Pauls letters (compare to Talmud, Berachoth 33b above): Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Ramchal hints at the complexity of "how divine providence works." This will be discussed in a future chapter. 1.5.7 Here we may entertain the idea of a "fifth dimension" of existence. We can understand our world of four dimensions. These include the three dimensions of space (up-down, north-south, east-west), as well as the

fourth dimension of time. The fifth dimension extends beyond the physical however, and is a "moral" dimension. (i.e., holy versus unholy, clean versus unclean, etc.) As Ramchal states, the fundamental Forces either exists in a state of "good" or otherwise. An example of these Forces existing in a negative state and the effect this has on the physical realm is seen in the book of Revelation. The "four horsemen" of Revelation chapter 6 are representative of these Forces. The effect they have on the earth (a negative one due to mans sin) is seen in the subsequent series of judgments as mentioned earlier. (See our online Revelation study for more on this.) 1.5.8 Ramchal states that the activity of the evil Forces is tied to the extent to which Gods light is concealed, which of course is determined by mankinds actions. When these Forces are made strong (through mans failure to repent) then the lower worlds of existence (angelic and physical) suffer the consequences. Turning again to the harsh judgments (evil) found in the book of Revelation we see: Revelation 16:9 - And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. 1.5.9 Ramchal describes some of the various results of evil. As we will see throughout this study, the multiple facets and commandments of the Torah are given to us to deal with the battle between good/evil on multiple levels of our existence. He closes by reiterating the specific role of angels as discussed above. 1. The Aryeh Kaplan Reader, Mesorah Publications Ltd., Brooklyn NY, 1985, p. 153.