Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ("RaMChaL"):
138 Openings of Wisdom
His desire to bestow good to perfection through the revelation of His oneness is the cause of the deficiencies in the world, which create the conditions for man's service. The revelation of His oneness is itself the reward.
The Eyn Sof, blessed be He, wanted to bestow complete good, so that its recipients will not even be ashamed. He planned and calculated how to reveal His perfect oneness in actuality, for before Him there are no barriers or deficiencies. Accordingly, He established the system of government that He follows, in which eventually evil actually turns back into good. Initially, He gave a place for evil to do what is in its power, but at the end of everything, all the damage is repaired and all evil turns back into actual good. And thus His oneness is revealed, and this itself is the delight of the souls.
The proposition consists of four parts: Part 1. The Eyn Sof, blessed be He... This is the underlying principle of the order that was instituted to serve the ultimate purpose that I mentioned in the previous Opening. Part 2. He planned and calculated how to reveal... This is the plan that lies behind this order. Part 3. Initially, He gave a place... This discusses how evil turns back to good. Part 4. And thus His oneness is revealed... This tells us what comes at the end of the cycle.
Part 1. The Eyn Sof, blessed be He, wanted to bestow complete good. As explained earlier, He wanted to bestow good to the utmost degree of goodness and perfection so that its recipients will not even be ashamed, for, as the rabbis stated, "One who eats what is not his, feels ashamed to look in the face of his benefactor" (Yerushalm, Orlah 1:3). In order to avoid this, He wanted that people should have a way of working in order to thereby earn the good which they then receive as their reward. Accordingly He created good and evil and gave man free will, placing him in a situation of reward and punishment until the intended goal is achieved.
Part 2. He planned and calculated how to reveal His perfect oneness in actuality... For the actual method of man's service also had to be fitting and not merely arbitrary. For clearly, whatever the commandments that He might have instituted, they would all have been to men's merit when duly performed by them, and they would receive a reward for all of them. But true to His exalted wisdom, the Master of the World wanted that the method of service, rather than being merely arbitrary, should itself be a single system, consistent in all its parts and constructed according to a deep plan. He wanted one root for the entire system. The Supreme Will calculated that there could be no more fitting and logical focus for man's service than if He were to reveal His oneness in actuality. This would provide a suitable area in which man could serve, and the revelation of God would itself be the benefit man would receive, as will be discussed below.
For before Him there are no barriers or deficiencies His unique perfection surely lies in His total and absolute power. No possible barrier or deficiency can stand in His way. This we will come to know from the side of God's perfection, not from the opposite side. For this is only revealed when it is not the deficiencies and the repair that comes to them through the power of His perfection that are seen, but only His perfection alone is seen. This was a suitable area within which service could exist. In His wish to reveal His oneness in actuality, His plan was first to reveal the deficiencies, after which His oneness and His power over them would again be revealed, and He will rectify everything.
When perfection holds sway, there is certainly no need for service at all, for nothing could be better than His complete perfection. If so, fulfillment of the commandments would not add anything to it, or to His government of the world. But in a situation in which deficiencies exist, fulfillment of the commandments is of benefit, because through them, that which is imperfect and deficient is able to attain perfection. If so, only a realm of deficiency provides the appropriate arena for service in this way. For service is very applicable in a realm of deficiency. For it is impossible to speak of oneness and unity unless we speak of absolute power and control without any limits. It follows that if He desires to actually reveal this unity, He will create a limitation and then remove it.
Here we have the concept of the "centre" of Eyn Sof mentioned in Kabbalistic literature (Etz Chayim, Drushey Igulim Veyosher 11:3), where the Tzimtzum ("contraction") took place. This "center" is the central "point" on the basis of which the worlds were created and the service within them. The act by which they came about was the concealment of perfection, which left a realm governed by the principle of imperfection, a realm in which service is relevant. However, what He wanted to reveal is how the realm of deficiencies becomes rectified through the power of His oneness. If so, the work is not complete unless perfection is initially concealed, to make it possible for deficiencies exist. In this phase, the possibility of service exists - until the perfection of His oneness and unity is revealed and He rectifies all the deficiencies.
Indeed the service itself includes the actual revelation of His oneness, for it is the people who serve who draw down and reveal this unity so as to rectify all that is lacking. And now see what is their reward: the very unity that is revealed, which will be revealed to them, and they will attain it. This itself is the perfect goodness that He wants to bestow on them. For the reward for the fulfillment of the commandments is only in the world to come, when the souls come to their root, which is the root of the entire creation. Their delight will be according to their level of attainment. When they attain the revelation of God's unity, their delight will be perfect in every way: no barriers will stand in the way of the recipients, and they will attain the light of perfect unity - the greatest possible delight the souls can enjoy.
To summarize: When Eyn Sof, in His perfect wisdom, wanted to institute a system of service, he calculated in what arena it would be applicable. He knew that there was no aspect of His perfection in which there was any need at all for His creatures or any place for their service except in the bestowal of good, whereby evil itself turns back into good. This is the fundamental concept of perfect unity about which I wrote. In God's aspect of complete perfection, there is no place whatever for service. However, because the very concept of oneness and unity involves the hypothetical possibility of imperfection (not that it exists, but that it is negated through the power of perfection) it was therefore pertinent that in order to reveal His goodness, He should conceal His perfection - in order then to reveal it in actuality. This is like "damaging in order to repair". On this foundation He did all His work: He made a place for independent beings and a place for their service, and fixed a very precious reward for them.
Part 3: Accordingly He established the system of government that He follows... namely, the system of government that exists now, in which eventually evil actually turns back into good. In this way, what existed within His unity in potential becomes revealed in actuality, in that, Initially, He gave a place for evil to do what is in its power - He concealed His perfection - but at the end of everything, all the damage is repaired and all evil turns back into actual good, quite literally, and this is the end of the cycle through which His oneness is revealed.
Part 4: And thus His oneness is revealed. Several things are involved here. First, His oneness itself is actually revealed. Since this involves evil turning back into good, it could not actually come about until evil was actually revealed in the lower realms. Secondly, the revelation of God's oneness is so precious that they will have the greatest delight when they attain it. Thirdly, this revelation, which involves initial concealment, provides a place for service and, when attained, for reward. Since evil exists only during the phase of service to reveal His oneness, the service does not need to last forever. " 'Today to do them' and tomorrow to receive their reward" (Eruvin 22a on Deut. 7:11). For as soon as His oneness is revealed, there is no further need for service, because this itself is the delight of the souls - the revelation of His unity is itself precisely the goodness that, as we have said, He wants to bestow.
Thus we see how the Supreme Will calculated and planned something intrinsically perfect and logical in all its parts. The goodness which He bestows is in itself complete: it is very great and precious, for His oneness is something most glorious and precious. Further, the mode of bestowal is also perfect, because the recipients will not feel any shame, having worked to earn their reward through service. Moreover, it is the actual bestowal of good itself that creates the possibility of service. For it is the way in which the intended bestowal of goodness comes about that provides a place for man's service. The purpose of the service is to reveal God's unity, which is the intended benefit, which comes about through turning evil back to good.
Thus the complete path of government in its perfection involves the initial concealment of His perfection followed by its revelation. This very pathway is what creates the possibility of service. The entire creation and the system through which it is governed are built on this foundation. Thus the system through which the world is governed is a law that will eventually reveal, through all its cycles, the truth of this oneness. And the creation itself is built othe foundation of concealment followed by revelation - in the sense that the created realms and beings themselves contain allusions to the laws of this system of government. This is what was stated in Opening 1: "On this foundation the entire structure is built".
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by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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