Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Question for Ramchal Fans

I wonder whether the Ramchal's highly logical style of expressing Kabbalah or related topics may have been, among other reasons, part of an effort to restore the glory of Kabbalah in the wake of the ravages of the Sabbatian movement.

What do you think?


  1. FaceBook comments to original post:

    Anat: This is an interesting question; after all, the RAMCHAL spent much of his life fleeing (to Amsterdam then to to Germany) from the fear of those who expound on mysticism, brought on as a reaction to the Shabbatian movement ...

    Choni: He went from Northern Italy to Germany, then to Amsterdam, then to Israel (settled in Tiberius). Yes, he was on the run for trying to publicly teach Kabbalah in a world affected by the Shabbatian movement.

    Norman: Probably many reasons. Very possible Elchonon. Elchonon the Ramchal came way after Shabbti Tzvi's death.

    Choni: Only about 50 to 75 years later. The Jewish world on an international level was still reeling from the effects.

    Shayna: I am a big fan of derech hashem (though some of his opinions in some other works bother me). Perhaps ramchal was simply a left brained, logical sequential thinker and like a good college professor was gifted at presenting high-level esoteric thoughts in an understandable way? But his motivation may have stemmed from your suggestion. Interesting thought.

    Choni: I agree with you. I think he was inclined that way to begin with. However, I wonder whether he would have expressed esoterica differently in a different climate.

    Tovia: Have you seen his books on Talmudic logic with their flow charts?

    Choni: Yes. I am not discussing how he expressed exoterica. There, a left brained approach is expected. The fact that he brought it into the esoteric, where it's a questionable fit, may have been at least partially due to special circumstances.

    Tovia: Yes indeed. So was it just the way his brain worked that 'carried over,' or was it because he knew there were those watching him closely.

    Choni: That right my friend. That's what I am wondering.

    Tovia: My philosophy is ... "Whatever, I just love Luzzatto"

    Choni: Very true, me too!

    Tovia: I tell folks that on the bookshelf, Derech Hashem should be next to their Bible.

    Choni: I wouldn't go that far. However, i would say that it is an enjoyable and indispensable read. My life has been certainly greatly enriched for having read it.

    Tovia: It's just my way of recommending it. Not that I can think of a text I'd place any closer.

  2. I have just read something in the introduction to the new edition of the English translated "Da'as T'vunos" ("Knowing the Divine Plan") which makes me feel more convinced of my hunch.

    The logical styled Kabbalah or near Kabbalah works we have from the Ramchal was from the period after he was already severely scrutinized and humiliated for teaching Kabbalah. In compliance with the pressure he took an oath to restrict what he wrote. He no longer wrote from direct spiritual revelations (as he had earlier) but from his own mind.

    We don't have his earlier works because they were stowed away and buried by the Rabbinical court of Venice. If we had them, we could see how he wrote under less pressure.

    However, the highly logical format could have been a means of clearly demonstrating that there was no revelation involved and everything being related emerged from a cogently rational process.