- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Following is a discussion between myself
and a reader wishing to explain "tzimtzum", a proposed
concept that G-d "contracted" Himself to allow 'place' for
the physical world to exist:
- Reader: "I
think i tmakes perfect sense. i probably am not elucidating myself
clearly. zimtzum didnt take place in the center of everything, since
there is no center of god. now basically, what i smeant by god
removing himself from this circle. which means the place in which the
universe exists in, the realm of the universe and all physical things
(thats the circle, its not to be taken literaly). and the whole thing
with god removing himself from this area is
also not to be taken literaly. if right now, everyone in the world
would see god, in a sense, what happened in har sinai, where the
shechina is present, or they see yam soof split, or anything that
makes GOD 100% visible and
knowable to everyone, even the biggest atheist, will anyone commit a
sin? will any student break school rules RIGHT IN FRONT, FACE TO FACE
WITH THERE PRINCIPLE OF THE SCHOOL? only a moron would, because its
totaly illogical. and if they wouldnt do it in front of a principle,
who would do it in front of hashem!"
- Mesora: G-d
does not prefer miracles, as it is from coercion that a person follows
the Torah after having seen miracles. Rather, G-d desires that men see
the beauty in the perfection of such a rational and pleasing system, a
system where all laws achieve a perfection in man's state of being,
and in his thoughts. This is how G-d desires that men follow the law.
- However, arguing that one would control
himself in front of those who he fears, is no proof for tzimtzum.
Reader: "what is meant by him (G-d) vacating this space
is, that he conceals himself in this world. how many people, even jews
dont believe god, letzarenoo. why is this so? because god is not
directly present in the world. "
- Mesora: But
doesn't the Torah say, "Milo kol ha-aretz kvodo", "His
glory fills the whole world"??
- Reader: "albeit
you and i and every orthadox, or even unorthadox knows god is here,
because we see all the nissim he does for us, but others, atheists,
see them as coincidences. the reason not every person in the world
beleievs in god is because he is not directly evident. i know
personally a person who says, i dont believe in god because i cant see
him. when i can see him, i will believe."
- Mesora: So,
since a fool requires to have physical evidence, this you feel is a
proof that there cannot be proof of G-d's existence without such
evidence? Are you trying to prove from a fool's words that G-d is
really not provable? Have you not read the passages in Deuteronomy
(The giving of the Torah on Sinai) which form the basis of the Judaic
proofs of G-d?
- As the author of the Chovas
Halavavos stated, G-d desires that man
approach the truth - which is provable - by using his mind, and not by
being overtaken by his emotions, which happens upon witnessing
miracles. The proofs exist, otherwise we have no reason to follow G-d,
and we would be as those nations who merely follow by faith, without
using reason. This is against G-d's will, and is His reason for giving
us the intellect. Proof of G-d is the most important concept one can
have. If the mind is not to be used in this area, then it might as
well not to be used at all.
- Reader: "if
everyone saw him, everyone would believe, therefore our free will is
deminished, and thats the essential factor that reward and punishment
is based on. so that deminshes the whole concept of gan eden, because
why should robots get rewards?
- I hope you understand what im saying so far.
now by god concealing himself in this world i.e. not making himself
directly apparent (or else my riend wouldnt have to say, when i see
god i will believe),our free will
remains. becaue we are now not robots. what doesnt make sense about
this? god s omnipresent. he is everywhere, not in the physical sense,
as in that he takes up room, but, i know you agree that he has no
limits, and if he is not
everywhere, that means he is limited to be someplaces and not other.
becuase he if wasnt limited, he would be everywhere."
- Mesora: This
is where your mistake is generated from from. You say that He takes up
no room, but in the sentence immediately following you say if He
wasn't limited He would be everywhere! It is clear that you feel G-d
takes up space. This is impossible, and it is why you entertain the
concept of tzimtzum, i.e., G-d 'removing' Himself to allow for
"space" for the physical world. This is apostasy, i.e., to
hold of the concept that G-d is in anyway physical, or takes up space,
or has to diminish Himself to allow for the physical. Calling this non
literal, or metaphoric does not help your cause, as it makes no sense
as a metaphor. Metaphors need a rational underlying principle in order
that the metaphor makes sense. You have shown no such rational
- To say G-d must "diminish" himself
makes no sense, as how do you use physical terms (diminish) in
application to G-d?
- I feel another germ which causes this disease
is the baseless need for a person to force an explanation upon topics
where we have no ability to comprehend.
- Reader: "........how
can a human understand how He works and creates? our minds cannot
grasp such thoughts, so concepts like tzimtzum are applied, and
are not to be taken literaly, but as comparisons and analogies to
certain godly actions."
- Mesora: This
is my point exactly, man cannot comprehend certain ideas. So I do not
understand why you cleave to this concept of tzimtzum which you just
said describes what man cannot understand. Tzimtzum according to you
is an analogy for something beyond man's grasp. But if that is true,
then the analogy is futile, as all analogies are only worthwhile if
they achieve their purpose of elucidating something which man can
eventually grasp. But as you said, tzimtzum is outside of man's
capabilities. I suggest you abandon entertaining it further.
- To quote the first Mishna in Chap. II , Talmud
Chagiga, "If man ponders four things, it is better that he was
never created (they are) what is above the earth, what is below, what
came before the Earth, and what succeeds it".
- You wish to ponder what came before the earth,
(how it was created) The Mishna prohibits this area from
'"histachlus", pondering, as it is outside of man's grasp.
This is why it states that it would be better if such a person was not
created, as he is not fulfilling his purpose in creation by studying
- Man must admit of his shortcomings and accept
that there are areas beyond his understanding. Regardless of how many
books are written on tzimtzum, if an idea makes no sense, as this
idea, then it should not be followed.
- This mishna teaches that man's goal is to
ponder the attainable, and further, that this area is unattainable.