והנה מכאן

In the light of what has been said above — that G‑d’s knowledge is wholly one with G‑d Himself, for otherwise it would imply multiplicity in One Who is perfect unity,

יש להבין שגגת מקצת חכמים בעיניהם, ה׳ יכפר בעדם

it is possible to understand the error of certain scholars in their own eyes (May G‑d forgive them!) — for even those who have erred unwittingly are in need of atonement,

ששגו וטעו בעיונם בכתבי האריז״ל, והבינו ענין הצמצום המוזכר שם כפשוטו

who erred and misinterpreted in their study of the writings of the AriZal, and understood the doctrine of tzimtzum (which is mentioned therein) literally —

In the writings of the AriZal it is stated that in the “beginning”, before creation, the [infinite] light of the Ein Sof-light filled all “space” and there was no “room” for the creation of finite worlds. For inasmuch as worlds are by definition finite, whereas the Divine light is infinite, there is no room within the infinite for finitude. How, then, did finite worlds come into being?

The AriZal explains this through the doctrine of tzimtzum: The Ein Sof-light “departed” — i.e., it ceased to be revealed, so that infinity was no longer in a state of revelation, and all that remained revealed was the power of finitude. This power does allow for the creation of finite worlds.

The “scholars in their own eyes” misunderstood this mere concealment to mean a literal departure —

שהקב״ה סילק עצמו ומהותו חס ושלום מעולם הזה

that the Holy One, blessed be He, removed Himself and His Essence (G‑d forbid) from this world, i.e., that He literally removed His presence, rather than merely concealing it,

רק שמשגיח מלמעלה בהשגחה פרטית על כל היצורים כולם אשר בשמים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת

and only guides from above, with individual Providence, all the created beings which are in the heavens above and on the earth below.

They thus envisage G‑d as a king who sits in his palace; although his gaze extends beyond its confines, the king himself is not to be found there. In the same way — so they would say — G‑d gazes from Above on all created beings which are found (heaven forfend!) outside His “palace”.

והנה מלבד שאי אפשר כלל לומר ענין הצמצום כפשוטו, שהוא ממקרי הגוף, על הקב״ה, הנבדל מהם ריבוי רבבות הבדלות עד אין קץ

Now, apart from the fact that it is altogether impossible to apply the doctrine of tzimtzum literally — for that would be an instance of corporeal phenomena — to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who is set apart from them by infinite myriads of separations,

One who is subject to the characteristics of a physical body can be said to undergo actual tzimtzum and to depart: previously he was here and now he is not. It goes without saying that this cannot be ascribed to G‑d, Who is infinitely removed from the phenomena of corporeality. Apart from all the above:

אף גם זאת לא בדעת ידברו, מאחר שהם מאמינים בני מאמינים שהקב״ה יודע כל היצורים שבעולם הזה השפל, ומשגיח עליהם

in this thing itself they also do not speak wisely, since they are “believers, the sons of believers” that the Holy One, blessed be He, knows all the created beings in this lower world and exercises [His] Providence over them,

Thus, they themselves admit that G‑d’s knowledge and Providence extend to this physical world.

ועל כרחך אין ידיעתו אותם מוסיפה בו ריבוי וחידוש, מפני שיודע הכל בידיעת עצמו

and perforce His knowledge of them does not add plurality and innovation to Him, for He knows all by knowing Himself.

Were G‑d’s knowledge of created beings not to come from knowing Himself then it would be correct to say that this knowledge adds plurality and innovation to Him; previously He did not know them and now he does. However, since plurality and innovation cannot possibly apply to G‑d, He must perforce know them through His knowledge of Himself.

הרי כביכול מהותו ועצמותו ודעתו הכל אחד

Thus, as it were, His Essence and Being and His Knowledge of created beings are all one.

Since G‑d’s knowledge and Providence extend to this world, and since His knowledge is one with Him, it follows that G‑d Himself is to be found within this physical world. Unlike the king who sits in his palace and gazes beyond its walls, the King Himself is to be found wherever His Providence and knowledge are found.

True enough, it is only through divine service that this world may be transformed into a place in which G‑d is revealed. Nonetheless, G‑d is present in this lowly corporeal world, which feels itself to exist independently of Him, to the same degree as He is present within the higher spiritual worlds.

וזהו שכתוב בתיקונים, תיקון נ״ז, דלית אתר פנוי מיניה, לא בעילאין ולא בתתאין

And this is what is stated in Tikkunim, Tikkun 57: “There is no place devoid of Him, neither in the upper worlds nor in the lower worlds”;

Thus we find it explicitly stated in Tikkunei Zohar that G‑d Himself is to be found within the lower worlds, the lowest of which is this physical world.

וברעיא מהימנא, פרשת פנחס: איהו תפיס בכולא, ולית מאן דתפיס ביה כו׳, איהו סובב כל עלמין כו׳, ולית מאן דנפיק מרשותיה לבר, איהו ממלא כל עלמין כו׳, איהו מקשר ומיחד זינא לזיניה, עילא ותתא

and in the portion of Zohar called Ra‘aya Mehemna, on Parshat Pinchas, we read: “He grasps all and none can grasp Him…. He encompasses all worlds…and no one goes out from His domain; He fills or permeates all worlds...; He binds and unites a kind to its kind, upper with lower,

ולית קורבא בד׳ יסודין אלא בקודשא בריך הוא, כד איהו בינייהו

and there is no closeness in the four elements of which this corporeal world is comprised except through the Holy One, blessed be He, when He is within them.“

It is only through His power that these four inherently contradictory elements are bound together.

עד כאן לשונו

Until here are the words [of Ra‘aya Mehemna].

ורצונו לומר: לית מאן דתפיס ביה, שאין מי שיתפוס בהשגת שכלו, מכל שכלים העליונים, במהותו ועצמותו של הקב״ה

“None can grasp Him” means that there is no one, [even] amongst all the “Supernal Intelligences,” i.e., the incorporeal creatures of the higher spiritual worlds whose apprehension of Divinity is superhuman, who can grasp by means of his intellect the Essence and Being of the Holy One, blessed be He;

כמו שכתוב בתקונים: סתימא דכל סתימין

as it is written in Tikkunim, “[He is] hidden from all the [spiritual worlds which are themselves] hidden from physical creatures,

ולית מחשבה תפיסא בך כלל

and no thought can grasp You at all.“

The point being made here is that G‑d cannot be grasped even by the heavenly thought processes of the “hidden worlds.” There is, however, yet another concept inherent in the word “grasp” — the ability to adhere and thereby effect a change. Thus, the fact that one cannot “grasp” G‑d also means that nothing can effect a change in Him.

When a person makes something he will inevitably be “grasped” by the object of his creation: he will undergo changes in accordance with the particular demands of the object which he is producing. In the case of G‑d, however, His creation of all existing beings causes no change in Him whatever: they do not hold Him (so to speak) in their “grasp”.

From this point of view, the creation of the lower worlds is even more telling, for their creation required a greater degree of tzimtzum and enclothement. Nevertheless, they cause absolutely no change in Him: they too do not “grasp” Him. In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

וגם בתחתונים, אף על גב דאיהו ממלא כל עלמין

And even in the lower worlds there are none that “grasp” Him, even though “He permeates all worlds” and animates them with a life-force suited to each individual created being in particular,

אינו כנשמת האדם תוך גופו, שהיא נתפסת תוך הגוף עד שמתפעלת ומקבלת שינויים משינויי הגוף וצערו, מהכאות או קרירות או חמימות האש וכיוצא

[for this vestment] is not like [that of] the soul of a man which clothes itself within his body, and is grasped within [it] to the extent that it is affected and influenced by changes involving the body and its pain, such as from blows or cold or the heat of fire and the like.

מה שאין כן בהקב״ה, שאינו מקבל שום שינוי משינויי עולם הזה, מקיץ לחורף ומיום ללילה

The Holy One, blessed be He, however, is not affected by any of the changes of this world, from summer to winter and from day to night,

כדכתיב: גם חשך לא יחשיך ממך, ולילה כיום יאיר

as it is written,1 “Even darkness does not obscure for You, and the night illuminates like the day,”

לפי שאינו נתפס כלל תוך העולמות, אף על גב דממלא לון

for He is not grasped within the worlds at all, even though He fills them.