Diving Through Dimensions
Creative 2020 / Finalists
A Lesson Plan geared for 6th-8th Graders
This lesson covers the concepts of the 4 worlds (or dimensions)- Atzilus, Briah, Yetzirah and Asiya, Seder Hishtalshlus (the “cause and effect” funnel-like system with which G-d creates the world) and Tzimtzum (how G-d contracts His light to create the various dimensions with different levels of G-dliness revealed in each). These are all basic concepts in Kabbalah and Chassidic philosophy. Though these concepts may seem deep and lofty, they are not meant to remain in the intellectual sphere. Rather, the knowledge of these ideas is essential to living day-to-day life in the most meaningful way, and being able to recognize that Hashem is in this world.
Based on the Maamer: Pesach Eliyahu from Torah Or
With references to Seder Hishtalshlus as explained in Shaar HaYichud V’Haemuna of Tanya
After this lesson, children should be able to grasp the general concepts of Seder Hishtalshlus and Tzimtzum and how it relates to them.
Show the children a fancy foiled-wrapped chocolate. Ask: Who likes chocolate? Start conversation about how chocolate is made:
How is chocolate made? In the factory there is a huge pot of chocolate that most people can’t benefit from -it is way too big to reach. How does it become the yummy mini chocolates that we love? There are different tubes/machinery from the huge pot through which the chocolate is shaped. Let’s imagine that our factory has 10 different shapes – which shapes would you want?
EX: Hearts, swirls, double layered, circles…
After they are processed each individual chocolate is wrapped with parchment paper, then wrapped with a special foil wrapper and then put into a box for mass distribution. When we see the box we don’t see the chocolate, we only see the barcodes and initials, but those who know how to read these codes can appreciate what’s inside the box and tell us about it.
We were discussing how chocolate is made so we can understand a really cool deep idea- so get your minds ready for a dive through the other worlds!
Wait- Judaism believes in other worlds? Yup- and we’ll tell you all about it- hang in there!
We all know about Hashem- G-d. He created this world and creates the world and nothing exists without Him. He sees everything we do and He is our Father and King. But how does such an unlimited, infinite G-d create such a finite world and have a relationship with little people like us?
The answer, in Hebrew is TZIMZTUM, which literally means contraction. In short, Tzimtzum is a line from Hashem down to us, kind of like a funnel. Hashem so to speak “makes Himself smaller” to reach us. Obviously, we’re not talking about the essence of Hashem that never changes, rather we are talking about the light of Hashem. You can imagine it like the actual sun being Hashem’s essence, while the rays are the light- the part we can interact with!
Now we can explain with the example of the chocolate. Imagine the big pot full of G-dly light. But it’s too high for most people to reach! So it needs to come down in order for us to enjoy it. The 10 shapes it comes down in are the 10 Sefiros of Atzilus- ten “tools” Hashem uses to start creation, starting with the first, highest spiritual world- called Atzilus!
Can you guess what these tools are?
Not hammers and nails, but rather characteristics- like wisdom, understanding, kindness, strictness, humility…
Atzilus resembles G-dliness more than any other world- like the chocolates without wrappers. This world is so high- only souls of really special people reside in this world not even angels!!!
Then comes Bri’ah- a small see-through wrapper. In this spiritual world there are angels and souls. G-dliness is revealed, but less than in Atzilus.
Then comes Yetzirah- another wrapper. This is the spiritual world where lower-level angels and souls reside. But even in the foil wrapper, we can see the resemblance of the chocolate.
Then comes our physical world Asiyah. This is like that huge box with codes and letters. It doesn’t look like chocolate at all! The world of Asiyah, where we live, doesn’t really have any resemblance of Hashem. We don’t see spiritual things around us, rather we see tables, chairs, people- physical stuff. Special people, like Tzaddikim-holy Rabbis can read these barcodes- meaning they can actually see G-d inside the physical things.
MAKING IT PRACTICAL:
So why is it important to know about this? Well, without knowing that there’s chocolates in the box, we can’t benefit from what’s inside. We might just throw around the boxes and disregard them and let it go to waste.
On the other hand, if we know that there are chocolates in those big boxes, we can recognize that these are not just boxes, but there’s good stuff inside. We will appreciate it for what it is, and be able to benefit from it. We will treat it properly, and we will be able to thank the people who made it.
So too, we can look at this world as physical stuff. We can see the trees, the people, the food, the buildings… We might forget to thank G-d for these things, we might not respect the world and we might waste resources- because after all, it’s just stuff. But, when we realize G-d is in the stuff, if we know that Hashem is here in this world, we will realize that beneath the “barcodes” of physical things is something amazing, and we will realize G-d is behind everything in this world, so we will appreciate it. We will be able to use the knowledge that G-d is in this world to help us deal with disappointments or give us comfort when we don’t understand something. We’ll be able to say “G-d is doing this, and G-d is good, even though I don’t understand all His ways, I do know that everything He does is for good even if I don’t realize it now”. We will treat this world properly and not waste anything- after all, G-d wants it to exist! And we will be able to thank Hashem for everything that happens to us. Knowing what this world really is will help us live a more meaningful life every second!