The Ramchal wrote the Mesillas Yesharim in 2 formats. The first version was written as a conversation (seder vikuach) between a chacham and a chasid [the second version is what everyone is now familiar with]. In the beginning of chapter #2 of the vikuach version, entitled ‘chovas haadam el boro’, the Ramchal speaks about a mistaken view, that is that God created the world for some purpose that man is not essentially needed for. Man was created for a secondary purpose, after the fact, in order to benefit from the pleasures of the world and to contemplate the beauty and wisdom found within the world. According to this view the objective of the mitzvos is 2-fold, 1: so that man will know that he is a servant and not a master, a creation and not the/a creator and 2: to give order to the existence of man so that he will not be like the animals.

Although the Ramchal, before presenting this view, writes that this view is generated from a lack of knowledge and limited studies [additionally, after presenting this view he writes that despite the fact that there are many sources that seem to confirm this view, it’s a mistake that comes about due to the heart being seduced after ta’avah] , I want to know if this view was actually held by anyone that we know of? I would be more satisfied with Jewish sources that profess such a view, but non-Jewish sources are welcome as well!

[As an aside, I find it very interesting that in the second version of the Mesillas Yesharim, he does not (explicitly) express that his goal in writing is to deny this view.]

  • IIRC Rambam writes in MN that we cannot know why God created the world; it may be for humans, or for some other purpose. This sounds closer to the first option than the second option. (More accurately it allows for the first option, but dos not preclude the second option).
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 0:20
  • @mevaqesh MN ןןן 14 ,... it was my first answer, I changed it, but the point here is the lack of Sachar Veonesh and praise in OHB
    – kouty
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 6:25
  • @kouty do you mean 3:14?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 6:35
  • III 14 @mevaqesh
    – kouty
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 6:39
  • This view is 100% the Chabad Chassidus view! That's why I love it so much! See Bshaa Shehikdimu 5712, or Lo Tiye HaMashkela 5712 (w2.chabad.org/media/pdf/1026/HoxG10267624.pdf) It's also very connected to what Rambam writes in Moreh Nevuchim 3:13, that man was not created for a secondary purpose, or to be benefited.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 17:18

2 Answers 2


This opinion is rejected as directed by material passions (as described at the end of this post.). The "linear version" of Mesilat Yesharim summarized it in one statement:

שתכלית בריאת האדם הוא למצבו בעולם הזה. ‏

that the purpose of creation of man is its situation in this world.

This is the main opposition between the Ramchal's opinion and this opinion.

This philosophy recognizes no other reality than being in "this" world. This is perhaps an allusion to Tsadok and Baytos, see Rambam on Pirke Avot (1, 3): There were two pupils of Antignos, Tsadok and Baytos. They misunderstood the statement "אַל תִּהְיוּ כַעֲבָדִים הַמְשַׁמְּשִׁין אֶת הָרַב עַל מְנָת לְקַבֵּל פְּרָס, אֶלָּא הֱווּ כַעֲבָדִים {הַמְשַׁמְּשִׁין אֶת הָרַב שֶׁלֹּא עַל מְנָת לְקַבֵּל פְּרָס,‏" and concluded both that there is no Sachar and Onesh.

The source is in Avot Derabbi Natan chapter 5 mishna 2:

אנטיגנוס איש סוכו היו לו שני תלמידים שהיו שונין בדבריו, והיו שונים לתלמידים, ותלמידים לתלמידיהם. עמדו ודקדקו אחריהן, ואמרו: מה ראו אבותינו לומר דבר זה, אפשר שיעשה פועל מלאכה כל היום ולא יטול שכרו ערבית, אלא, אילו היו יודעין אבותינו שיש עולם אחר, ויש תחיית המתים, לא היו אומרים כך. עמדו ופירשו מן התורה, ונפרצו מהם שתי פרצות: צדוקין וביתוסין. צדוקים על שום צדוק, ביתוסין על שום ביתוס. והיו משתמשין בכלי כסף וכלי זהב כל ימיהם, שלא היתה דעתן גסה עליהם. אלא צדוקים אומרים, מסורת הוא ביד פרושים שהן מצערין עצמן בעולם הזה, ובעולם הבא אין להם כלום: ‏

Tsdukim say: The Pharisean tradition is to bruise themselves in this world and in the coming word they have no reward.

It's true that the approach of Tsdukim is more extremist. But their whole philosophy was a consequence of one premise only.

The first hypothesis in Sadducee's theory was the lack of future world. It's true that later this assumption took them deeper into heresy. They found that their new philosophy may be congruent to Scriptures (they do not believe in Scriptures but know that politically, to say that they are agreed by scripture was better.)

The Ramchal intends to demonstrate a cascade of consequences of this premise:

  1. The Mitsvot are for social and general well being in this world.

  2. Ramchal presents conclusive evidences that Chachamim are against this premise.

  3. Perhaps one per thousand would achieve the better use from this world.

  4. The great complexity and details of mitsvot are useless if the intent is only well being in this world.

  5. The human soul is at a very high spiritual level, and it is useless in this world.

It is possible to argue that this reasoning has an inevitable consequence for both, for the supporters of the premise and for opponents.

  • Supporters follow this reasoning up to its logical conclusion. There are no Judge and no Judgment, as Tsadock and Baytos concluded.

  • Opponents refuted the premise and concluded that the goal of man is his situation in the future world.

In his introduction to the discussion, Ramchal started with an analysis of the motivation of supporters of the premise, in the dialog version he wrote:

אין זה אלא טעות ותרמית הלב הנפתה אחר התאווה. ועליהם אני קורא: אם ללצים הורא יליץ. ‏

It's only mistake and a ploy of the heart, which is attracted by desire. The following verse suits them well: "If it concerneth the scorners, He scorneth them". {cunning people are fooled by their own desire}

So the issue here is the starting point of the Sadducees reasoning.

Afterwards I want to add that the opinion of Ramchal is controversial. The Taam Etso disagrees and thinks that the man was created to honor Hashem. See this link.

Afterwards again, i found in the Peri Haarets a passage saying that the goal of creation is for the situation in Olam Haze,

וידוע הוא שעיקר בריאת העולם היה עבור עולם הגשם הזה החומרי אע"פ שהוא גוף קשה אעפ"כ יהיה מלא כה"כ ולכן כל הצמצומים והגבורות היו ג"כ עבור התגלות אלהותו ית' בשפלים התחתונים

I am almost sure that this is the point of the Taam Etso. So, we can say that the goal of the creation has a goal different from the goal of the man, from his subjective point of view. The man has as goal to discover the Creator the best possible. But the Kavod of Hashem is the effort made by men in this world. So, finally, I think that Ramchal is fighting Saduceans, not the point afforded by Taam Etso. I would be happy to discuss this with someone who knows Chasidut about this topic.

  • Very interesting! I'd like to look this up, where is the source of Tsadok and Baytos's misreading of pirkei avos?
    – Gavriel
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 21:02
  • 1
    If this is the case, I wonder why he would want to set them up as the opposing view before arguing, why not just cut to the chase? Was he dealing with tziddukim at the time?
    – Gavriel
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 21:57

the Ramchal brings sources for this in chapter 1 of the common Mesilat Yesharim

Behold, our sages, of blessed memory, have taught us that man was created solely to rejoice in G-d and to delight in the splendor of the Shechina (divine presence). For this is true joy, and the greatest possible pleasure that can possibly exist. The place of this joy is, in truth, in Olam Haba (the afterlife). For it was created expressly for this purpose. ut the path to arrive at our "desired haven" (Ps.107:30) is this world. This is what our sages of blessed memory said: "this world is similar to a corridor before the afterlife" (Avot 4:16)..... When you look further into the matter, you will see that true perfection is only clinging to G-d. This is what King David said "But as for me, closeness to G-d is my good" (Ps.73:28) and, "one thing I asked from G-d; that I seek, that I may dwell in G-d's house all the days of my life, to gaze on the pleasantness of G-d..." (Ps. 27:4). For only this is the good. And anything besides this that people consider good is really emptiness and mistaken worthlessness

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Shalenger comments in his book there.

"Until now his words regarding this world and the next were based on the teachings of the sages. He will now bring two arguments from reason to show that it is not possible to think this world and its pleasures are the purpose of creation."

the Ramchal continues

In truth, no rational person can believe that the purpose of man's creation is for his station in this world. For what is man's life in this world? Who is truly happy and content in this world? "The days of our life are 70 years, and if by strength, 80 years, yet their span is labor and trouble" (Ps.90:10). How many sorts of sufferings and sicknesses, pains and burdens, and after all this death! Not one in a thousand can be found to whom this world has granted plenty of pleasures and true contentment. And even such a person, if he would reach a hundred years, already passes and disappears from the world.

Furthermore, if the purpose of man's creation were for the sake of this world, it would not be necessary to imbue him with such a lofty and exalted soul, greater even than the angels themselves.

Especially so, when the soul finds no satisfaction whatsoever from all the pleasures of this world. This is what our sages teach us in Midrash Koheles: " 'the soul will not be filled' (Koheles 6:7) - What is this analogous to? To the case of a common peasant who marries the king's daughter. If he brought her all that the village possessed, it would be as nothing to her. For she is the king's daughter. So too with the the soul, if you would bring to her all the pleasures of this world, they would be like nothing to her. For the soul is from higher worlds" (Koheles Raba 6:7)...

To summarize what we have learned, the essence of man's existence in this world is solely to fulfill the commandments, serve [G-d] and stand up to trials.

  • 1
    He brings sources (I seem to remember even more sources) in the seder vikuach. But how does that show who he is arguing against?
    – Gavriel
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 21:34
  • @Gavriel he is arguing with the lazy person. see ch.6 "If you ask the lazy person [about his behavior], he will invoke numerous quotations of the sages, verses from scripture, and logical arguments all of which instruct him, according to his distorted mind, to be lenient with himself, and to leave himself in the tranquility of his laziness."
    – ray
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 22:02
  • the ramchal does similar in daas tevunos. a wise man teaching an ignoramus @Gavriel
    – ray
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 5:32
  • Isn't the dialogue in daas tevunos between the neshama and the seichel?
    – Gavriel
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 7:26
  • 1
    see above the neshama is the sechel. the neshama referred there is the nefesh. i.e. the lower self
    – ray
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 19:52

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