Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Da’at Tevunot Sect. 2, Ch. 2 (Part 1)

"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. 2


Frankly, though, the question can be asked, "That's all well and good for the body, but how does it benefit the soul?" How is it to the soul's advantage to purify the body?

The quick answer lies in the fact that at bottom the soul's primary function in this life is just that: to purify the body (by means of the mitzvah system) [1]. And though it certainly has other functions once it leaves this world [2], it would obviously be rewarded for having carried out such a vital mission.

There's more to it than that, though, that touches upon the resurrection of the dead -- which is of course the subject at hand, recall. So let's get back to the resurrection per se, and then return to what the soul gains from having purified the body.



[1] This is consistent with Luzzatto's remarks in The Path of the Just that "Our sages ... taught us that we were created to delight in G-d and enjoy the radiance of His Divine presence ... in the World to Come .... And (that) the means to bring you to this goal are the mitzvot" (Ch. 1), suggesting that the mitzvot act as a kind of "steam" for the locomotion toward the ultimate end.

[2] This refers to the soul's functions in the Afterlife.

See our work on The Way of G-d where we cited Luzzatto's statement that "while in the body, the soul was associated with rank physicality and evil in the natural course of things, and couldn't shake them off. It suffered as a consequence, and experienced dimming and darkening.... And any degree of perfection it attained in the performance of mitzvot in this world was suppressed and made to sit dormant in the soul's inner-core. The soul becomes frustrated, if you will, as a consequence, since it can't radiate the way it's capable of doing.... But the soul's sense of frustration and suppression is alleviated in the Soul World (i.e., in the Afterlife). For there, the soul can radiate freely and to the degree appropriate to it, in light of the mitzvot it performed in life. The soul thus regains in the Soul World what it lost in life, and it also thus better prepares itself for what it will ultimately do and was created to do -- purify the body after the Resurrection, when the two will be rejoined" (1:3:12).

(c) 2007 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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Rabbi Feldman's translation of "The Gates of Repentance" has been reissued and can be ordered from here
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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