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Derech HaShem: 1.2 The Purpose of Creation

It is, I think, a testament to the genius of the Ramchal that he is able to express entire meaning of life in one short statement:
The purpose of creation is for HaKadosh Baruch Hu to bestow His goodness on another.
That's it; the rest is commentary.  Please take a few moments to reflect on that before continuing.  Just reflect on what it means that HaShem created you and your entire environment (ie, all of creation) for no other reason other than to love you and shower you with His goodness.

The Ramchal now notes that true perfection exists only with respect to HaShem Himself, and as a consequence, the nature and experience of the beneficiary is attachment to the Creator Himself.  This is for two reasons:
  1. HaShem is perfect and therefore anything He does will be in the most perfect way possible.  Since He is the ultimate in good, it follows that the greatest experience of goodness is attachment to HaShem Himself (to the greatest degree possible for a created entity).
  2. There is no real intrinsic good external to HaShem.
The Highest Wisdom decreed that this goodness to be as perfect as possible, it should not just be something that is given to the receiver, but that the goodness is actually something intrinsic to the receiver itself.  That goal is accomplished by providing an opportunity for the receiver to be a partner in its own creation.  The realization of that goal will lead us to a discussion of olam haze vs. olam haba, free will, good and evil, an so forth. There are many (important) details to be discussed, but that is the overview.

I want to stress an important principle that will be helpful in understanding all that follows.  Since I had it wrong for years (and I think it is common to have this wrong), I want to first say the wrong idea and then fix it.  Here is the wrong way to look at what we have said up to now:
Being a beneficiary for absolutely no reason leaves one feeling a bit embarrassed (the term from the zohar hakodesh is "nehama d'k'sufa" -- "the bread of shame").  Therefore, in order for us to enjoy the goodness with which HaShem wants to shower us completely, He gave us Torah and mitzvos in order that we could earn our reward.  That way we can rightly experience the good of olam haba as an earned privilege and not as undeserved (albeit welcome) charity.
Remember: that is wrong; in fact, it is about as wrong as wrong can be.  Why is it wrong?  Because we can ask a very simple question (which I first heard from R' Dovid Siegal, shlita, about 10 years ago, but only recently came to appreciate it): Why didn't HaShem just create us in a way that we wouldn't feel ashamed of getting charity?  There is no "human nature"  that HaShem had to figure out the best way to handle.

The correct approach is just as the Ramchal said it: attachment to HaShem and the necessity of earning one's reward is a decree of the Highest Wisdom.  That is, there is no logical or fundamental reason that is has to be that way.  The Highest Wisdom decreed that is should be so; therefore it is.  To that end, HaShem created "nehama d'k'sufa" (the concept/mida of being ashamed to take unearned charity) and created us with that mida.  The Sifsei Chaim, in fact, says that one must never ask "why" G-d did something, rather one should ask, "what am I supposed to learn from the fact that G-d decided to do it this way?"  There are answers to that question but it would take us away from the topic at hand.  At this point the Ramchal is focussing on the purpose of creation.  The question of how we fulfill that purpose is addressed by the Ramchal in the fourth section (and, in fact, is the main topic of that final section).

In summary:
G-d wanted a beneficiary of His goodness -- that, in fact, is the purpose of our existence.  The Highest Wisdom decreed that the receiver of His goodness should go through a finite/temporary period of earning its reward to be followed by an unending eternity of enjoying the experience of being with HaKadosh Baruch Hu; which is, of course, the most amazing pleasure possible.


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