Before there was a “before” there was …

Let’s back-track a bit and speak of what preceded the Tzimtzum, which was God alone. We already determined in the first section that we’re neither able nor allowed to speak of God’s essential Being itself; but we will delve a bit into something quite stunning that Ramchal offers in his comments to Petach 24 relevant to the pre-cosmic reality and its relationship to God’s Being. Let’s first draw closer into our reality as it stands now, though.

We’re privileged to see far, far deeper down and up, within and without, than we ever could. Thanks to extraordinarily sophisticated and complex tools we’re able to see the smallest of things and the grandest, the simplest and most complex. It has become clear to us that the universe — better, the lot of universes, both those “out there” and the one “in here” — is magnificently huge and tiny, and stunningly variegated. The thought that all of that was created by a single Deity is itself dazzling. But the following notion is nothing if not astounding and utterly humbling.

Ramchal declares here that “we mustn’t think that God created only what He was capable of creating and that He wasn’t able to create anything else. God forbid! He’s certainly capable of (creating or doing) much more; He (simply) didn’t want to.”

That’s to say that, despite what we imagine, it did not take everything that God “had in Him”, so to speak, to create this vast and multifarious universe: He could have created far more, and many utterly different phenomena than what even we know of today, but He didn’t.

For, as Ramchal went on to say, God Himself “encompasses all sorts of infinite capacities”. So, when we address His creation of the universe, “we aren’t referring to His infinitude…. Rather, we’re to that particular capacity among His infinite number of them that He (happened to have) used to create us”.

In fact, as one of his students put in a certain unpublished work, “the capacity (God used to create the universe) is simply a single small” capacity of His. As such, “everything (in the universe) emanates from this single (small) capacity alone” (from Ma’amar Mar Yenukah, quoted in R’ Y. Spinner’s edition of Klach pp. 63-64) [1].

The point to be made is that not only do few of us understand God as He manifests Himself in this universe — few even appreciate the limitations of our understanding of Him! For, He is not only far greater than our universe — He’s far greater than any notion we might have of any possibility in or out of this universe!


[1]       Also see Ramchal’s Peirush l’Arimat Yadi, Ma’amar Harautin, and Sod HaYichud.


(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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