The Arizal provided the spark, the Baal Shem Tov the fuel, and Rabbi Schneur Zalman the structure and form. The result was a new paradigm that turned the Jewish world-view on its head. Everything had to be reconsidered.

Just as geophysicists eventually came to accept that continents had torn themselves apart, but have yet to explain how the planet was not blown to smithereens in the process, so in the story before us, it is at least as much a wonder how this new paradigm did not blow tradition out of the water. Somehow, on the contrary, it galvanized that received wisdom yet more.