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by Dr. Arnie Gotfryd

The inner intent and purpose of tzimtzum is revelation.  - The Rebbe, HaYom Yom for 27 Adar II.

Abraham Principle

Until now we've discovered that the key to the Are We or Aren't We Paradox is tzimtzum, the "curtain" that separates the human perspective from the Divine. Here we explore why that's important. Part 5.


Hide and Seek

G-d doesn't want robots.

If He did, He wouldn't have hidden so well from His creations. But hide He did, so now we are busy trying to peer behind the veil, to discover the ultimate, to transcend, to awaken.

Or not. Sometimes we are busy with other things and the veil is just a veil, soon forgotten.

The story is told of a rebbe who found a child crying and asked him what's wrong. "I've been playing hide- and-go-seek and I was hiding but my friends stopped looking for me and went away." The rebbe cast his eyes heavenward and said, "Master of the Universe. Your children have been looking for you so long and you have hidden so well, that they have stopped looking for you. Come out of hiding and return to your children!"

Abraham knew that Divine concealment has a purpose. Without it, there could be no free choice. Why would anyone do anything wrong if they knew that the Master of the universe was watching intently, judging our deeds, planning our destiny, awaiting our decisions? If we saw the One Above watching us, what merit would there be in virtue?

British researchers have recently found that a picture of eyes is all that's needed to elicit honest behavior. They randomly varied the posters placed over a common lounge honor box where college staff and students would contribute coffee money in the absence of any cashier. When the picture hung above the box was of flowers or a landscape, the coffee money deposited was fairly token, but whenever a picture with eyes was posted there, contributions went up by a factor of three!

Even the idea of being watched keeps people honest. How much more is that the case when we realize that there really is a consciousness soaking up our actions and calculating the consequences.

The curtain separating Divine knowledge from human awareness grants us freedom and independence, values that we cherish. Abraham knew that freedom is a test, and tradition maintains that he was tested to the hilt. By mastering his mind and heart, he passed his tests, choosing at every opportunity to establish ethical monotheism as the cornerstone of his life.



gestalt (guh-shtält') n.

"A configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts."

Abraham was an ecosystems analyst par excellence. One of ecology's key concepts is that there is a harmony and balance to ecosystems. It's a holistic notion where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Abraham, observing nature, recognized that there's more to nature than its parts, and in this way came to recognize the Creator of all.

Birds too see ecosystems. Most songbirds, rather than homing in on one species of tree or shrub, will respond to the overall look of a habitat consisting of many different vegetation variables, like tree size, structure, canopy cover, shrub density, ground cover, and distance to the woodland edge. In short they form a gestalt, or overall impression, something quite separate from this or that detail.

We are and are not like the birds. A bird sees a nature-gestalt and understands whether it's a place to make its home.

Abraham saw a nature-gestalt, and recognizing the unity behind it, resolved to make it a home for its Creator.


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