I long struggled with the kabbalistic map of the cosmos, convinced that these mysteries could be grasped in a more relevant way. A single class on tzimtzum opened up an entire world of insight and discovery.
The concept of dirah b'tachtonim ("a dwelling in the physical world") addresses the most basic questions of existence: What is our world? What is matter and physicality? What is holiness? What does G-d want of us? Why are we here?
I was at a chassidic gathering where the Chabad rabbi was discussing overcoming adversity. He used the Yiddish saying of the fourth Chabad rebbe, the Rebbe Maharash: "l’chatchila ariber." What exactly does that mean?
Q. What is Chasidism? A. It's difficult to say. An examination of the internal lieterature addressing this question draws the conclusion that Chasidism is no less than the paradoxical communication of the ineffable core of divinity.