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As Divided for a Leap Year
Tanya for 24 Sivan
[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], 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], 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] - 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], 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"].
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, [in this thing itself they also do not speak wisely].
[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]:
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], 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 can not possibly apply to G-d, He must perforce know them through His knowledge of Himself].
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].
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