Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Da’at Tevunot (Sect. 2, Ch. 2, 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. 2


Everyone has to have asked at one point or another why we must die -- why G-d couldn't have created a world in which mankind lives forever. After all, Adam and Eve would have been immortal had they not sinned, so the implication is that immortality was originally the norm. (Indeed, the eternal search for immortality is often taken to be rooted in the wish to return to the Garden of Eden and undo all the harm done by our having been thrust from it.)

In any event, Adam and Eve's having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge did indeed bring death into the world [3]. Had they not, the soul would have purified the body right there and then, and our mission would have been accomplished from the first [4]. Thus, among the very many consequences of their sin is the fact that the soul was forced to carry out its primary task of purifying the body in the new context of mortality and slow progression – that's to say, in the world as we now know it.

For not only was immortality and purity undone with Adam and Eve's sin: instantaneousness was, too. For while the world was created in a linear mode (in seven days, with one thing leading successively to another), that system was to have been undone had Adam and Eve not sinned. Thus everything -- the soul included -- is now forced to succumb to time and to the slow, plodding ways of life ... and death.

Understand, though, that our "death sentence" has nothing to do with our own individual sins. After all, some utterly righteous and pure individuals who deserved immortality still and all died because of Adam and Eve's primordial sin [5].



[3] They were told, "You may eat freely from any tree of the Garden but the Tree of Knowledge ...; for on the day you do eat from it, you (and all of mankind) will surely die (as a consequence)" (Genesis 2:16-17).

[4] See The Way of God 1:3.

[5] See the statement that "four individuals (who were so righteous and without sin that they wouldn't have been expected to die, nonetheless) died as a consequence of the advice the serpent (gave Eve), namely: Benyamin Ben Jacob, Amram the father of Moshe, Yishai the father of David, and Kilab Ben Dovid" (Babba
Battra 17A)

(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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