…G-d, Whose Will [רצון] is the life of spirit and body
and the life of every creation…

This quote is from Rabbi Yonah of Gerona’s “Gates of Repentance.”

In what way is G-d’s “Will” the life of spirit, body and everything created (animate and inanimate)?

Why does Rabbenu Yonah say this, rather than saying, “G-d, by Whose Will all is commanded to live…etc.?”

We must first understand that Rabbi Yonah from Gerona was a Kabbalist.

Then, we must be informed that in early Kabbalah, the s’fira “Keter,” the Divine Existence from which all else emanates, was in Rabbi Yonah’s time also called “Ratzon” — i.e. “Will.”

“At the top of the central column is Keter, the Crown – also known as Delight (Oneg) and Divine Will (Ratzon) [and Wisdom (Chochmah) in Lurianic Kabbalah].” [2]

Thus, to say that G-d’s “Will” is the life of everything created, is to say that all existence has its ongoing source in “Ratzon” or “Keter” — i.e. G-d’s infinite Being; G-d’s Life. The implication here, expounded by numerous rabbinic writers, is that nothing exists separate from G-d — just as the ocean can’t exist separate from the water that is its essence. “Can’t exist” — i.e has no separate existence.

Rabbi Yonah’s book, “Gates of Repentance,” isn’t a manifestly kabbalistic text. Yet, the author’s inspiration is ultimately his kabbalistic learning. Using “Ratzon” in its Kabbalistic meaning, the above quotation “gives it away,” as it were.

G-d is eternally creating, while remaining present in the things created: That’s the fundamental spiritual awakening that Kabbalah provides. All else is details. One does well not to lose the basic idea in the midst of those details.


[1] Rabbi Yonah of Gerona; Gates of Repentance; Shraga Silverstein, trans.; Feldheim Publishers, © 1976; p. 361

[2] http://www.kabbalahandhealing.com/tree-of-life.html
This is also discussed at greater length in Idel, Moshe; The Early Kabbalah; Paulist Press