Now that we have understood the need for restraint for a human being to bring out an action, we may likewise discern the matter of restraint above, in the Infinite Light. In order for there to be a transition from the infinite revelation of Ohr Ein Sof, to a limited line of revelation, there must be a Tzimtzum – a restraint. The Ein Sof (The Infinite One) concealed the Infinite Light within Himself, so that the central point, as a finite revelation, could be revealed.
This may be understood from the teacher-student relationship. The teacher understands the subject in a broad and deep manner. Because the student is not on the same intellectual level as he, the teacher must remove from his own mind, the entire breadth and depth of it, so that all that remains is an impression of the subject, the central point. Of course, the teacher did not actually forget anything. He merely put it aside, for the time being, and concealed it. He has not forgotten it at all, though he has put it “in the back of his head”, so that it is not at the forefront of his consciousness. However, if someone were to ask him a deep question on the subject, he could answer it immediately and expound on it at great length, even though he is presently teaching the student with brevity. So too, above, in order to create a limited world, G-d concealed the revelation of the Infinite Light into Himself. This concealment brought about the revelation of the finite as a “central point”, so to speak. But this concealment is not an actual concealment, in the way of forgetfulness. Even though He has “set it aside”, so to speak, He knows it totally. This means that even following creation, the entire Infinite Light and revelation of G-d “encompasses” the entire Creation in a hidden way.
We also see, that the Tzimtzum is not a true concealment because its entire intent is actually to reveal, just as a teacher’s true intent is to reveal knowledge to the student rather than to conceal it. Nonetheless, he conceals the way he knows it and reveals it according to the capacity of the student. In the same way G-d did not create the world according to His ability, but according to our capacity. Were a teacher to “reveal” the entire length, breadth, and depth of a subject to the student, the way he himself understands it, it would be beyond the capacity of the student’s vessel to receive. In actuality, this would not be revelation at all, but concealment.
But even more than this, the teacher’s true intention is not merely to teach the student a lesser knowledge, but rather, his ultimate goal is that the student should receive the full knowledge, as he himself knows it. This is analogous to a great mathematician who is teaching small children mathematics. He cannot teach it to them the way he understands it, because he knows geometry, algebra, trigonometry, numbers theory etc., all of which are completely above their heads. He must first remove the way he understands mathematics from his mind and focus on the central “theme” or “point” of mathematics. Then from this point he will “draw out” smaller points, which will be the building blocks for greater and greater understanding of mathematics. First he will teach them to add, then to subtract, multiply, divide etc. In this way, he will move from point to point, on his line of explanation. His ultimate goal, though, is not that they just know to add and subtract etc. Ultimately, he wants then to know mathematics as he does. In the same way, it must be understood, that G-d’s goal in Creation is not just to reveal G-dliness in a limited fashion. Rather, through greater and greater revelation, the ultimate goal is that we truly know G-d, as He knows Himself, so to speak. This will come about in the World to Come. About this Isaiah 64:3 states, “No eye has seen it.”
Furthermore, the entire length, breadth and depth of the subject as the teacher understands it, is implied in the central point that remains. This may be understood by the fact that in the short rulings of the Mishnah, is included, in an implied, hidden fashion, the entire length and breadth of the Talmud. In the words of the brief explanation, the entire length, breadth and depth of the full understanding is implied. Likewise above, an impression of the entire Infinite Light is concealed in the central point that remains after the Tzimtzum. For this reason, this central point is called the Reshimu – “The Impression”, because it retains in itself, in a hidden way, an impression of the entire revelation of the Ohr Ein Sof, which was withdrawn.
We now may summarize several points in regard to the Tzimtzum:
1) The Tzimtzum cannot be understood literally, for this would imply a limitation in G-d, Heaven forbid. Rather, we must say that it is only the Ohr Ein Sof- “The revelation of the Infinite”, which was withdrawn, and not the Ein Sof- “The Infinite One”, Himself. Furthermore, this concealment of his revelation is only in relation to us, the receivers, rather than Him, the giver. From His point of view, nothing has changed, as the verse states, “I HaShem have not changed.” Just as He was one and alone before the creation, so is He one and alone, after the creation.
2) The concealment brought about by the Tzimtzum is for the purpose of revelation rather than concealment. If G-d would reveal his light according to his ability, rather than our capacity, that revelation would actually be concealment, because it would be totally beyond us. Therefore, even this concealment is actually part and parcel of His desire to do kindness, which was the motivating factor of creation.
3) G-d’s ultimate intention is not to reveal a limited revelation of G-d. Though He reveals according to our capacity to receive, nonetheless, the ultimate intention is a full awareness of G-dliness. This will happen in the future, in the World to Come.
4) An impression of the entire Infinite Light is hidden in the central point of the Reshimu.
5) It must be understood that this Tzimtzum (holding back) and Reshimu (impression of the point), are still totally within Himself. This is similar to the teacher who sets aside his own understanding of the subject and concentrates on its central point, before he draws out an actual line of teaching from this point, or in the analogy of the person who is attacked by a mountain lion, this is when he restrains his urge to run in all directions, and concentrates on the point of running in a specific direction, before he draws out an actual line of movement from this point.