Ch. 4: “Mans Standing in This World, and The Specific Ways Available to Him”
|Its in fact the mitzvah-system that lays out the parameters that were to function within 1. Each imperative 2 is intended to allow one to earn and incorporate within himself a degree of perfection, and each prohibition 3 is meant to withhold a degree of murkiness and imperfection.
Its vitally important to know that each element of every mitzvah has been designed with humankinds true makeup and circumstances in mind, with the degree of ones own and the worlds needs, as well as with each things own needs and conditions for perfection.
Indeed, G-d who knows all of this in fact, and knows all of creation and the role each thing plays in creation, oversees everything and incorporated all of that in His mitzvah-system 4. As its said, G-d commanded us to follow all of these rules so that He might grant us goodness (Deuteronomy 6:24)5.
Many people see mitzvahs as mere good deeds — as ways of earning Divine merit badges, if you will. Others see them as concrete symbols of high ideals, expressions of Jewish people-hood and culture, of uniquely Jewish ethical imperatives, and the like. And others tie them in with Jewish history and past circumstance (and come to dismiss them as irrelevant in modernity). But the mitzvah-system goes far beyond all of that. As well see below, it was instigated by G-d Almighty who took our hearts and minds into consideration when determining its makeup, and who wants to draw us close to Him, and made that its goal.
Ramchals point here is that the only thing that takes the needs of both our body and our soul into consideration and can nourish both (see 1:4:2-3) is the mitzvah-system. For thanks to it I can, for example, eat for my bodys sake and yet have it fulfill my souls needs by reciting a beracha (i.e., blessing) before and after eating, eating to fulfill a Shabbos or Yom Tov obligation, etc.
Ramchal speaks about the mitzvah system in very many of his works. See for example Messilat Yesharim Ch. 1; Adir Bamarom pp. 3, 186; Tiktu Tephillot 267, Daat Tevunot 2 9, 16, 44; Klallei Pitchei Chochma vDaat 8; Introduction to Maamar HaVichuach; Daat Tevunot 70, 126, 158; and Klach Pitchei Chochma 46.
Also see Avodat Hakodesh 3:63; and Shnei Luchot HaBrit, Torah Ohr, Reeih.
2. I.e., each so-called positive mitzvah, which is a terrible translation of mitzvah tasseh, better translated as an act that its a mitzvah to do.
3. i.e., each so-called negative mitzvah, which is an even worse translation of mitzvah lo-tasseh, better translated as an act that its a mitzvah to refrain from.
4. Thus the mitzvah-system in conjunction with the human soul, mind, body, and will could be said to be one huge engine with interrelated parts, along with interrelated processes that can sometimes be explained and otherwise not, that are sometimes manifestly successful and oftentimes only clandestinely so, but which is ultimately meant to move everything toward one end: closeness to G-d.
5. This makes the point that the mitzvah system is part of G-ds means for beneficence (see 1:2:1-2