Introduction to Jewish Meditation – Part 30

He is the Place of the World

In conclusion, to appreciate in greater depth the dynamic nature of our meditative Divine space, we turn to the concept of space itself. Speaking to Moses, God says:

Behold, there is a place [literally,”space”] with Me.

Our sages interpret this statement to mean:

“He is the place of the world; the world is not His place.”

Moreover, our sages use the word for “space” (makom) to denote God Himself, the Omnipresent One.

In contrast, we find in Kabbalah that before the creation of the universe, only God’s infinite light existed, allowing no place or space for created worlds to exist. In order to begin the creative process, God “contracted” His infinite light, thereby creating a vacant space for all created reality to be.

We may thus identify God Himself, the Omnipresent One, as the “higher space,” in contrast to the apparent vacuum or “womb” in which creation takes place, the “lower space.” In particular, each of these two “spaces” possesses two dimensions:

The higher, Divine space may refer either to God’s very essence or to His transcendent light that encompasses all of creation. In Kabbalah, His transcendent light is identified with His will to create, also referred to as His “Name” that preceded creation (as our sages state, “before the world was created, only the Holy One, blessed be He, and His great Name existed”).

The lower space includes the apparent vacuum of creation as well as the “ray” of Divine creative energy that permeates the vacuum–God’s immanent light.

Four Levels of Experience

In our Divine service, to experience the omnipresence of God’s very essence is to experience the ultimate, absolute truth that only God exists–“there is no other besides Him”–to know that we are naught.

To experience His transcendent light, His will to create (as ever encompassing every point of reality), is to experience God’s infinite goodness and how all of creation is no more than an expression of His will to be good to all.

To experience God’s immanent light is to experience His Divine providence in every facet of one’s life.

To experience the apparent vacuum in which creation takes place is to experience existential distance from the apparently absent Creator and to long to “discover” His presence and become close to Him.

Why did God create space? The lowest of the four levels of space described above was created in order to make space for the existence of an other. Here, space implies “separation.”

The next level of space above that allows for relationship and sincere concern of one for the other. Here, space is experienced as a continuum of elementary particles of force, as gravitons, that bind reality together.

Yet above that, space is the union of the created in the Creator in absolute love.

Finally, space is no more than the essence of the Creator Himself.

These four levels of space, two “concealed” and two “revealed,” correspond to the four letters of God’s essential Name Havayah.

In summary:

 

in reality

in Divine service

yud

God’s very essence

“there is no other besides Him”

hei

His transcendent light; His will to create

the union of the created in the Creator in love

vav

the “ray” of Divine creative energy; His immanent light

relationship and sincere concern of one (God) for the other (man)

hei

the apparent vacuum or “womb” of creation

“separation”; existential longing for God

In meditation on the space that surrounds us, visualizing and integrating into our consciousness the six continuous commandments of the Torah as the parameters of that space, our consciousness of space itself expands and rises from level to level. From feeling far from God, the “distance” of space itself slowly but surely becomes converted into an experience of spontaneous gravitation to God, becoming encompassed in the embrace of His love, and, ultimately, becoming truly one with Him, the only true existence.

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