As you travel Israel or elsewhere and you decide that you want to "get connected," – that is, to be in touch with the One who orchestrates everything - you might ask yourself, why would He want to relate to me? How can this be a personal experience? If He is in charge of the entire universe, why would He relate to me, a small speck in the cosmos. And even if you consider yourself a big speck, or a major player, you still might ask, "why should He take time off to communicate and answer me?"

This isn't a new question. It was asked by the earliest philosophers and kabbalists. The great minds of Jewish learning explained that the One Above brought about an apparent ‘contraction' of Himself in order to create and relate to the world. "Apparent," because it wasn't for Himself that He did it. He did it for us. We, mere mortals in a physical body, can't handle anything close to full revelation of His presence. So, in order to create a user friendly interface for us, He performed what's called the tzimtzum, or great contraction. That is, He dimmed the lights. The infinite light of His presence was shunted aside, and we are granted only the most limited revelation of His presence. That'so that we don't forget that He's the boss, and at the same time we remain aware of our own existence. (Whether we really do exist or not, or whether the world really exists, is the subject of numerous Chassidic discourses, Chabad and otherwise, but here all we have to know is that for our benefit, He hid His infinite light.) But, that was only from our point of view. From His point of view, He remains everywhere, omniscient and omnipresent, Above and below, at all times, just as before the tzimtzum, or great contraction.

If you enjoy philosophy and theology, two questions arise from the annals of Jewish intellectual history: One, where did the contraction take place? Was it a contraction of Him (His very essence), or of His infinite revelation? And two, was the contraction real, or was it only apparent, in the eyes of the beholder? These might sound like academic questions, but they greatly concerned the early kaballists, and they had to be resolved from within the Jewish tradition. In answer, if the tzimtzum was of G-d's essence, it would mean that He removed Himself from the universe. It implies that after creation, G-d's presence was no longer needed, and therefore He removed Himself from the scene. Obviously, this is an untenable position from the perspective of Judaism, which maintains that G-d is omnipresent and omniscient; that is, that He is the boss over everything and nothing takes place without His knowledge. However, it does make sense to say that the tzimtzum, or great contraction, was a cosmic event that took place within the revelation of His infinite light. As the almighty and omnipresent, He has it within His power to turn up or turn down the illumination. And for the good of man, He decided to dim the infinite revelation and make it palatable to us mere mortals. He created a spiritual interface that we can use.

So, the focus of the tzimtzum is upon the revelation of His infinite light. However, we remain with the question of whether the tzimtzum was real or only apparent, in the eyes of the beholder. If it is real, then we mere mortals are in the sorry position of having no available spiritual illumination. That is, if G-d really removed all of His infinite light from creation and we are living in a purely physical world, then we cannot hope to grow as spiritual creatures and reveal the G-dly light within our souls and the world. After all, the light is hidden… But, of course this also is an impossible position to take from the Jewish point of view. The Torah says, "Know the G-d of your father…" That is, get to know, love and fear the One Above. You can't do that without revelation of His infinite light. Everyone accesses it on his level. Some can take a little of it, others can take more. Some of us would be knocked off our blocks by anything spiritual, and then others like Moses and the prophets are so filled with spiritual light that they actually shine with it physically as well as spiritually. So, it's rather difficult to suggest that the tzimtzum was real. Here is how the tzimtzum is described in Chabad Chassidic literature. G-d caused a contraction of the revelation of His infinite light, in order to tune it to our specific individual needs. In other words, all the infinite revelation is there, waiting to be accessed, but we are not granted any more of it than we can take. The tzimtzum is in the eyes of the beholder. If you can't deal with the infinite light, you are not enabled to see it; you are only allowed to see that which you can deal with. But, nonetheless, the infinite light is there.
If you don't like philosophy or theology, try this example, also from Chabad Chassidut;

You're taking a class with your favorite professor or teacher. He's going on about a profound topic that has always interested you, and you are transfixed as he transmits knowledge and information. But, halfway through the class, he all of a sudden stops speaking. He appears transfixed, deeply absorbed in thought. You assume that he is still involved in his lecture, and you wait patiently for him to reconnect his thoughts and continue. But after five minutes have gone by, it dawns on you that this professor is "gone," he's in a different world altogether. His body is in the same room, but his thoughts are elsewhere. It's time for you to pack up.

A couple of days later, you come once again to hear him lecture. You don't know what to think; how will he explain himself, and won't he be so embarrassed that he won't even want to teach? You come to the class, and he apologizes and then sort of sheepishly explains what happened. In the middle of his lecture, in the middle of the fascinating information that he was transmitting to his students, he suddenly gained a new insight and deeper revelation of the subject. He wasn't able to continue speaking because the new insight and understanding was so deep that he was forced to concentrate upon it. He was unable to simultaneously absorb his new understanding and also lecture. However, he explained, the purpose of his concentration and fixation upon the new revelation and insight was in order to later explain it to his students. It was the very pause and interruption in his teaching that enabled him to later transmit the deeper and higher illumination of the subject to his students.

Try considering this: When the professor stopped teaching, was he really there with his students, or not? The answer is that he was present, but the revelation of his thoughts was absent.

When he stopped lecturing, did the lecture really end, or was that an illusion, in the eyes of his students? The answer; the students had the impression that the lecture had been interrupted; however, as the professor later explained, he had been engaged in bringing them a higher level of knowledge that they would only later understand. Ultimately, not only was the professor himself always present, but the lecture never stopped. We just needed some patience in order to hear the professor's higher level of teaching, coming a day or two later.

If you don't hear the teaching, it doesn't mean the teacher's not there. You might just have to come back again in a day or two. If you don't access the infinite light, don't assume it's not there. You may have to work on yourself, meditate, and try again. It's always there, but you have to work in order to receive it.

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