Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Klach Pitchei Chochma -- Introduction

Klach Pitchei Chochma -- 138 Openings to Wisdom

By Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto

As adapted by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman



As I’d indicated in my second article in commemoration of Ramchal’s 300th birthday, “Klach Pitchei Chochma (or ‘Klach’ as we’ll refer to it here) is a work within a work. For Ramchal wrote an argument for the study of Kabbalah -- that also acts as an introduction to it -- entitled Ma’amar HaVeichuach (‘A Discourse [that serves as] The Argument’)” in which he “set out to lay out what’s important about the study of Kabbalah for those already well-grounded in other areas of Torah-study. He supplied three mechanisms within that work for the beginner to approach Kabbalah. The first was a terse and succinct laying-out of the key Kabbalistic principles in ten short chapters …. The second – and third – mechanism is Klach itself.

“We term it the second and third mechanisms within the larger work because Klach is comprised of two parts: 138 essential principles of Kabbalah set out straight and a full explanation of those principles which Ramchal himself provided for the sake of clarity. So, again, what we have is a large work, along with two (or three) others within it, that all set out to explain Kabbalah.”

This work will present a literal translation of the 138 essential principles (i.e., Openings; “Petach” in the singular and “Petachim” in the plural) themselves and not Ramchal's own comments to them and it will explain each one based on those comments and on things he said on the subject elsewhere.

Rabbi Yoseph Spinner divided Klach into twenty-four sections in his edition of the work, and we’ll follow that system. Spinner termed the first petach, “The Revelation of [G-d’s] Yichud and the Matter of [His] Beneficence, which is the Underpinning of [all of] Creation”, and he determined that it consists of the first four Openings.

We’ll look at all four next time for an overview, then get into them one by one.

(c) 2007 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman


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Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason Aronson Publishers). His new work on Maimonides' "The Eight Chapters" will soon be available.
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