Imagine God's influence as a radiant light that breathes life into everything. Even as God is vast and boundless, He touches our lives personally and deeply. * On Tanya for 21 Menachem Av.
Have you ever gazed at the vast night sky and felt incredibly small? And in that moment, did you wonder how something as immense as God could possibly relate to our daily lives? This dual perception of God—both as a distant entity and an immediate presence—is a concept deeply explored by many Jewish scholars.
The Tanya presents a unique viewpoint: God isn't comparable to anything we know in our universe. Despite this, God's presence is intertwined with everything. From the moments of tranquility and awe we experience to the tangible world we navigate daily, God's influence is evident. However, God also stands apart, beyond our comprehension and the confines of our reality. The Tanya offers a vivid image for this: envision God's power as a type of light. This light imbues life and significance into everything. Put simply, while God exists beyond and everywhere, He also remains intimately close, affecting our lives in countless ways.
The Tanya asserts, “In truth, the Holy One, blessed is He, is true to His Name..." This indicates that while God's essence is omnipresent, He retains a distinct, unparalleled nature, separate from both our physical and spiritual realms. It further notes, “The energy He extends to everything resembles a light emanating from His Name.” Essentially, this radiant energy serves as a bridge, allowing the boundless God to connect with our finite world.
Given this, how do we reconcile the enormity of God with His closeness?
In his seminal work, *Guide for the Perplexed*, Rambam (Maimonides) notes, “He does not belong to the realm of existence... He is beyond any label or description, for He is limitless... and the limitless cannot be captured in words or definitions." Maimonides emphasizes that while we may not fully understand God, we can certainly recognize His influence in our world.
Hasidic philosophy, centered on nurturing a deep bond with God, suggests, “He embodies both the origin of light and the light itself...” This conveys that God's inherent nature and His actions are inextricably linked, much like the relationship between the sun and its rays.
Additionally, Kabbalah offers another perspective. It delves into God’s relationship with the world through the concept of the sefirot, detailing, "Motivated by a deep longing to be known, He carved out a pristine, untouched space... Within this emptiness, He directed a beam of His luminosity..." These sefirot, or divine channels, mold God's endless glow into shapes and forms that our limited understanding can perceive and value.
Assembling these diverse insights, we envision a harmonious interplay. The immeasurable expanse of God and His intimate proximity to us merge, unveiling a breathtaking interplay between the Divine and humanity. Although we might never grasp God's full essence, these Jewish teachings guide our continuous quest, enlightening our path and deepening our cherished bond with the Divine.