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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Letter of the Ramchal -- book report


About 15 years ago this book was called something else (Ramchal and his Generation - I think), less organized and presentable, and not available, In order to read it you had to borrow it from someone, and that's what I did (a guy in Lakewood, he died a few years ago). Today B"H the Machon (institution of) Ramchal (located in Har Nof, Jerusalem) publishes "Igros Ramchal" - Letters of Ramchal, and it is very presentable and readily available (although I don't think they are willing yet to make it free on Hebrewbooks, unlike the predecessor of the publication of the Ramchal, Yosef Spinner, who amazingly, may HY bless him, gave all this material for free download!).

Yesterday I finished rereading this amazing book, which is on the top of the most must read books. This book is a source of strength and encouragement to help one through the tribulations of life. Here are some of my thoughts that I quickly jotted down, to ease the rage and to leave some memory of the torrents of passion which coursed through me from this reading.


True genius often has a facade of simplicity. The most complex equations are often just a few characters. Once I saw a little girl swing across monkey bars with such liquid agility that made it look like it was a simple exercise anyone can do with ease. The Ramchal's writings have such a genius and clarity. The Ramchal himself showed how huge problems and contradictions fall away and are clarified with the few precise words that he set down.

Rabbainu Na Nach Nachma Nachman MeUman reveals in Likutay Moharan that the sicker a person is the greater the doctor he needs, and so too in comprehension and cognizant consciousness, the lower and more murky one's wit, the greater the tzadik he needs to reach true realization of G-d reality. Here to the Ramchal's writings shine out, for even though some of the greatest scholars of his time felt, erroneously, that some of his writings were just drawn from previous works, they failed to grasp the utter genius and power of presentation, which can very well be gauged by the far lower aptitude needed to get a strong comprehension of the matters presented by the Ramchal as opposed to reading the early writings. 

A nice analogy to this is the awesome impact of the book "Shumati" - I heard (originally one small volume, which I read, and reread as a very thick volume, and is now 4 very large ones which I have only seen from a distance), this book is very powerful, but it seems that this is only so for some people who are more comfortable with the writings, who find it to be almost worthy of Breslov. Yet your average Jew, who survives from day to day principally on Breslov, does not appreciate Shumati whatsoever.

In hind sight it is certainly a clear travesty that most of the leading Rabbis didn't have enough sense to appreciate these and other points. Even Rabbis that somewhat defended the Ramchal, seem oblivious to the awesome magnitude of genius not to mention Divine Revelation that was at stake.

In the letters exchanged regarding the banning of the Ramchal's writings, a good percentage start with a full paragraph of adulation for the recipient, sometimes much much more, and rabbis excuse themselves due to their great communal responsibilities that keep them tied up, and how busy they are teaching their students. So they are quick to look for anything that passuls (makes no good and forbidden) the Ramchal, and close him off. Even when they see that the leading prosecution against the Ramchal from the city of Vinitzia is fraught with corruption: they present false witnesses and testimony – even presenting it 5 years later, their rabbis are known power mongers and known to be incompetent, and they openly disparage luminaries of the generation. None of this was sufficient for the arbitrating Rabbi's to put even a halt in their mission to scrap the Ramchal. Even more amazing the lies and animosity of these rabbis were readily believed and accepted by other Rabbis throughout Europe. Even R' Yaakov Emden, readily added his name to the trumped up witch hunt crusade.

Almost every great Rabbi that truly wanted HY, and went personally to the Ramchal to see for themselves maybe there was a chance that they could learn the secrets of HY, were rewarded. The Ramchal's father-in-law – R' Dovid Pintchi - the Rabbi of Manitoba, and the Pachad Yizchok, and R' Avi-ad Sar Shalom, all very top Torah scholars went to see the Ramchal, and merited to learn from his. They testified to the veracity of his teachings and his righteousness (even here it is strange that they didn't go to greater means to defend the Ramchal from the hatred and vitriol against him).

In the letters another strong point is brought out, that against the book Shaagas Aryeh which blasphemes against the sanctity and veracity of the Zohar and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the Rabbis did very little and barely came out against it.

The Ramchal himself writes that it appears to him that there are no true tzaddikim in his generation.

Also the Ramchal says (Letter 99) that he was sent for by a high (French) noblewoman in Geneva, with great supplication, to authenticate the Kabbala. The Ramchal attests that this lady truthfully was proficient in all the writings of the Arizal, to the extent that he was amazed to hear her.

It is interesting that in the last letter we have from the Ramchal to his students he concludes by warning them not to be lazy and not to succumb to the travail of the times, but to remember that this world is just an antechamber before the palace.

Na Nach Nachma Nachman MeUman!

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