Rabbi Tzvi Freeman,
I have read many of your articles about soul matters. You often explain that G‑d is somehow “divided” into “sparks,” and those “sparks” are present in everything, including non-animated objects such as sand. How can this idea be reconciled with G‑d’s absolute unity? And what then is the difference between this way of thought and pantheism?


To answer this, it’s first very important that we distinguish between “G‑d” and “that which is G‑dly” (G‑dliness). Everything that exists is sustained by G‑d and has no true reality without Him—as we say, “there is nothing else but Him”—yet not all that exists is G‑dly.

Let me explain G‑dliness: All of the creation is sustained by G‑d’s will and wisdom. However, in our world, 99.99% of the time, it is in a very disguised and hidden fashion. Often it comes to the point that one of those beings continually sustained by G‑dly light will deny the very G‑d who sustains it! How this is possible is beyond the scope of what I am writing here. The Kabbalah describes a process of tzimtzum, contraction of light, in addition to concealment and encoding of the information that light carries—comparable, perhaps, to the way an e‑mail or an image might be encrypted and encoded when sent over the Internet.

What is relevant to our issue is that in some instances, that concealment does not occur. The signal may be weak, but the source of light shines through nonetheless. These are the instances within creation we call kedushah (“holiness”)—or “G‑dly”; instances that point to their Creator and communicate to us His will and wisdom: Torah, mitzvahs, the tzaddikim (enlightened individuals), and any person who is carrying out G‑d’s will on earth.

The doctrine of hidden sparks simply states that, in fact, every creation must contain some glimmer of holiness—or else it could simply not exist. Our mission on earth is to reveal that spark within each thing. In many cases, we do that by using it for a mitzvah. In other cases that is not possible, and the only way to reveal that spark is by withstanding the challenges this article of creation may pose. Each spark has its particular path to be revealed, which corresponds to the path of the soul that comes to earth to live in a human body and to find that spark and reveal it.

For further elucidation on these points, see Fallen Sparks.