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The Ramchal says in Derech HaShem that the greatest good imaginable is HaShem himself. Does anyone know an earlier source for this statement?

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  • Isn’t Bereshis the first source?
    – Turk Hill
    Jun 27, 2019 at 21:07
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    Ramchal cites טוב ה׳ לכל ורחמיו על כל מעשיו as the source for that assertion IIRC
    – DonielF
    Jun 27, 2019 at 21:23
  • @DonielF I didn't find that in Derech Hashem, but a similar idea is found in his work called תקט"ו תפילות (end of 151): בזמן שאתה מתגלה נראים כל מעשיך שאין אתה פועל כי אם טוב שנאמר בך טוב ה' לכל Jun 27, 2019 at 21:55
  • Tehillim (34:9) 'טעמו וראו כי טוב ה. Jun 27, 2019 at 21:56
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    Where in Derech HaShem does he say that?
    – Double AA
    Jun 28, 2019 at 0:37

1 Answer 1

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There might be a misunderstanding about what the Ramchal is saying. I don't believe he writes the greatest good is Hashem. He writes that Hashem wants to bestow the true good on man which means allowing man to attach (dveikut) himself to God through commandments (mitzvot).

Ramchal writes (Derech Hashem 1:2:1) (translation R Abba Zvi Naiman here)

Therefore since Hashem's will is to bestow good upon others it will not suffice Him to bestow only a small amount of goodness. Rather when He is bestowing the ultimate good possible for created beings to receive. And since Hashem alone is the true good, His desire will be satisfied only when He is benefitting others of that very selfsame goodness that is intrinsically a part of Himself, i.e., goodness that is perfect and true.

Ramchal further explains in the beginning of Mesilas Yesharim (ch. 1, translation artscroll)

When you look further into the matter, you will see that true perfection (artscroll: which is the ultimate good) lies only in clinging to G-d. This is what King David said "But as for me, closeness to G-d is my good" (Psalms 73:28) [...] For only this is the good, while anything besides this that people consider good is really emptiness and mistaken worthlessness. For a person to attain this good, it is proper that he first exert himself strenuously to acquire it, namely, to exert himself to cling to the blessed G-d through the power of deeds whose consequence is this end. These deeds are the commandments.

See also this related answer: what is good and what does it mean that God is good?

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    I don't understand how you are getting that he doesn't write that "the greatest good is Hashem," only that he bestows good, when he says in your quote itself (and many other places) "since Hashem alone is the true good." None of these quotes support saying that God isn't essentially good. The linked answer does, but even if you accepted that (and I don't think it fits the Ramchal's words), the Ramchal does say that God is good, and the question is for a source for that statement, however you explain it
    – b a
    Jun 28, 2019 at 9:07
  • I understand Ramchal as saying the greatest good is to attach oneself to Hashem. It is not same as Hashem being the greatest good.
    – mbloch
    Jun 28, 2019 at 10:14

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