L'Iluyi Nishmat Maras Menya bas Hertzel
Last time I introduced the concept of tzimtzum as a way of reconciling the differing views of the Rishonim. However, there are differing views about the meaning of tzimtzum as well. It is my contention that these are not only abstract philosophical differences, but that they can lead to differences in education, relationship with G-d and others, and how we see our role in the world.
Yosher Levav claims that tzimtzum is to be understood literally - that the essence of G-d is not in the world. This view is criticised by the chasidim as both dangerous, and bordering on heretical.
The Vilna Gaon claims that tzimtzum was literal in terms of G-d's Essence, but that His Will never left the world, and through this we can connect to him (because ultimately His Essence and His Will are One).
The Baal HaTanya attacks this appraoch, and presents the view which has perhaps become the most widespread today - that tzimtzum is essentially an illusion from our vantage point. From G-d's viewpoint nothing has changed, He never left the world, and we don't really exist. The goal of existence is to understand that "there is nothing apart from Him" and that we ourselves do not really exist.
The implications of these differing views lead to many practical differences (though most people will find a middle path, or actually do both):
Do we shttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifee cause and effect as real, or illusory? When a tragedy happens in the community, do we try to take practical steps to prevent it happening again, or do we say it is the Will of G-d and recite Tehillim? Do we teach our chidren to perceive G-d through science and the world, or is G-d to be found primarily through Torah? Do we require a Rebbe or Torah scholar to tell us how to think, or can we make decisions for ourselves?
Many of these ideas are developed further in an article I wrote for Reshimu entitled "The Perception of Reality: Contrasting Views of the Nature of Existence"
Here is the shiur. I welcome your views and comments.
Or if you prefer to download it here is the link:
Differing Views on Tzimtzum (right click and 'save as')
and here are the source sheets to go with it
Download Source Sheets
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