Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Da’at Tevunot (Sect. 2, Ch. 1, Part 2)

"Knowing the Reasons"

A Kabbalistic Laying-Out of Who, What, When, Where, and Why

Based on Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s "Da’at Tevunot"

by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Sect. 2, Ch. 1


Now, the whole notion of the dead coming alive is stupendous. No more astonishing in fact than the idea of birth and death in the first place, or of vegetation and the like returning year after year, as some have pointed out, to be sure; but far too beyond our experience to accept outright. After all -- who could fathom the idea of flesh grown fast, full of bones and sinews again, breathing, speaking, recollecting?

“If a man dies, will he live again?” asked Job, then adding that, “throughout the time alotted me I will continue hope (for that) until I pass away” (14:14).

And yet it’s a tenet of our faith that’s cited several times. We’re told for example that, “your dead will be revived” (Isaiah 26:19), and that “many that sleep in the land of dust will awaken” (Daniel 12:2).

The most straightforward depiction of it though was the one that Ezekiel layed out when he reported that, “The hand of the L-rd was upon me ... and set me down in the midst of the valley that was full of bones. He led me around among them. And behold, there were very many in the open valley and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O L-rd G-d, you know’.

“And he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the L-rd: Thus says the L-rd G-d to these bones, Behold, I will have breath enter into you and you will live. I will lay sinews upon you, lay flesh upon you, cover you with skin, put breath in you, and you will live and you know that I am the L-rd.’

“ ... There was noise and behold a shaking, and the bones came together bone to its bone. And as I beheld, indeed, sinews and flesh came up upon them, and skin covered them above but there was no breath in them. And he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath ... and say, Thus says the L-rd G-d: Come from the four winds, breath, and blow upon these dead so they can live.’

“I prophesied as He commanded me and breath entered into them and they lived and stood upon their feet, a very large army. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the House of Israel ... Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus says the L-rd G-d; Behold, My people, I will open your graves and have you come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel ... And you will know that I am the L-rd when I will have opened your graves, My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put my spirit in you and you will live’” (Ezekiel 37: 1-14).

We cite the Resurrection of the Dead in daily and special prayers (Elokai Neshama Shenanatta Bi, Shemone Esrei, Keil Malei Rachamim), and the Tradition cites many proofs for the central role it plays in the Torah world-view (see Berachot 15b, Ketuvot 8b, Kiddushin 39b, Megilah 7b, Sanhedrin 90-91, Shabbat 88b, Yoma 72 as well as Rambam's Commentary to the first Mishna to last chapter in Sanhedrin, and Hilchot Teshuvah 3:6, 8; also see Tosafot, Bava Kama 16b "veHu"). So it becomes clear that Ramchal would need to explain it in order to continue to apprise us of G-d’s ways in this world.

Before he can get to it though, he apparently felt compelled to discuss another major theme: the human situation and mankind's "mission" [2]. For indeed everything other than G-d's direct rule, of course, hinges on us humans, who assume so vital a role in the great plan.

As such, Ramchal set out to discuss three things about humankind: our makeup, what we’re capable of doing, and the consequences of what we do (and don't do). But he delays exponding upon that by first alluding to the following.


[2] The theme had certainly been touched upon already to some degree in chapters 2, 6, 8, and 9 of Section One.

(c) 2007 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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