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What is “tzimtzum”?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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According to the teachings of Kabbalah, before the creation of the universe, G-d’s infinite glory was omnipresent. This was somewhat problematic because G-d desired a world where His presence would not be evident, a world which would be inhabited by creatures who could freely choose to deny His existence – a situation which would be unachievable if G-d’s presence was apparent.

The ultimate purpose of the tzimtzum isn’t concealment; its goal is to realize a more profound revelation
So G-d devised a tzimtzum (literally: a “contraction” of the divine energy), a concealment of the Divine reality which allowed the creation of the world as we know it.1

The ultimate purpose of the tzimtzum isn’t concealment; its goal is to realize a more profound revelation. When the human being sees through the disguise of nature and recognizes G-d, when He is thus expressed even in creations which seemingly have no spiritual or divine bent whatsoever, this is a demonstration of His all-pervasive nature--greater than was possible before the tzimtzum when all was grand and G-dly.

It is our job to see past the disguise and thus accomplish its purpose.

In hindsight, tzimtzum is not a step backward; it is a rung on the ladder upwards.

Footnotes

  • 1. Actually, the process of tzimtzum repeats itself many times throughout the process of creation. Between every spiritual world and the one beneath it there is a tzimtzum. This allows the intense divine energy present in the higher world to be filtered sufficiently to be expressed in the lower sphere.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Philosophy » Creation
Chassidism » Chassidic Concepts
Torah » Kabbalah » Kabbalistic Concepts

Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.