Be You. G-d Wants You.

By Chana Rachmani, Boston, MA
Essays 2017

MyLife Essay Contest 2017

“Hey God,
I’ve been feeling really frustrated recently so I figured I’d reach out a bit. That’s what Fathers are for, right?
God, I really want to connect to you. I just sometimes feel like You are so far away. Yes, You give me all these mitzvos to reach you with, but to be honest, I’m just not feeling the connection. I feel like the only way that I could really connect to You is if I get beyond myself. Because how could someone as selfish and utterly human as me connect to a God like You?
I just feel such a divide between where I am and where I could reach You.
What am I, if not one speck of limitations in the vast backdrop of infinity?”

In the late 1700’s the Jewish World was in the midst of a depression. With massacres left and right and all hopes of redemption crushed to the core, the Jews were completely broken. If you were to ask an average person from that time about their religious beliefs, they would tell you something like this: “Well. I guess there’s a God but I don’t know Him at all. Because I am just a simpleton on this physical Earth and God is infinitely greater than me, so I’ll just do what He says, because I don’t want to go to hell.”

Nothing too Godly.

Then, in 1734, the Baal Shem Tov revealed a light that the world had never seen before. Reb Yisroel Baal Shem Tov danced around from village to village singing out songs of truth to these simple people “You, are as precious to God as an only child born to parents in their old age!” His words aroused the hearts of the simple people; ”Hey God is actually a part of my life. He loves me.” And they all sang and danced, together.

This worked for a long time. The Jews were breathing a new life, a God- filled life

And then, the Alter Rebbe came along.[1] The Alter Rebbe saw what was happening and realized that the Jews were in the middle of a high. The Baal Shem Tov brought them to a place where all their emotions were caught under a trance of love for god but the Alter Rebbe realized that unless it is brought down into intellect and explained, it wouldn’t last.

And so began Chassidus Chabad.[2]

The Alter Rebbe went straight to the source of the problem at hand. As much as the Baal Shem Tov was warming their spirits, these people continued to believe that there was an unbridgeable gap between them and their God. They believe that He is there, and they are here. And there is nothing they can do.

So, you are not the first person to feel this way. In fact, God created us to naturally feel this infinite separation. But, there is a truth beyond it. A holistic truth that can affect our entire lives if we only let it.

Through understanding the chassidic perspective of the creation of the world we can begin to bridge the seemingly infinite gap separating us and God, gaining clarity on what our purpose in life is really all about.

We will be exploring the concept of ‘Tzimtzum Lo Kipshupto’ [3]and how it affects the way we approach our relationship with God.

Creation- Take One
There was once a time that time did not exist. It was a spaceless theory of reality in which all that existed was God and the souls. But then, somewhere in the midst of His infinitude there arose a desire to create. “Nisave Lo Hashem Dira Betachtonim”[4] God wanted a world. A world that would express His relationship with the precious neshamos. [5]

But think, how could this be? How could there ever be a space where beings could feel their own identities if all is simply God? In the presence of the one God, how could any colors other than the simple light of God Himself even dare to exist?

The Arizal tells us clearly. God took Himself away[6]. God wanted this relationship so badly that He sacrificed His own complete Being for the sake of His creations. God created a tzimtzum, a contraction of Himself. He made a space, void of Himself and within that space He was able to emanate, create, form and ultimately build a color filled, independent existence.

Or so it seems.

For generations, this is what the mystics were believing. It made sense.  But the Alter Rebbe saw it differently. He provided us with a deeper reality within the Arizals words that would completely alter our entire perspective on life.


Creation- Take Two
The Alter Rebbe tells us that we cannot take the Arizal’s narrative of the tzimtzum process literally; tzimtzum Lo Kipshuto.  It cannot be that Gd is not present here within creation, for all is Him. Ein Od Milvado.[7] The Alter Rebbe tells us that the tzimtzum did not touch God Himself at all. From God’s perspective He sees His light shining all over all of creation. The whole point of the tzimtzum was simply, to take away the revelation. The space that God created is a space in our perception, “to conceal from created beings the activating force within them, enabling them to exist as tangible entities, instead of being utterly nullified within their source”.[8] But, in reality, all is only God. It is only a matter of revelation.

And in truth, revelation is created by your sensitivity towards something. If you walk into a room and all the lights are off, you’re going to think that tables are toes and toes are tables but in reality, the table doesn’t stop being a table just because you stop being able to recognize it as a table. You have just lost your sensitivity.[9]

There is no unbridgeable gap between creation and Creator, for there is no gap at all. Hashem’s most transcendent self is eternally embedded in every single aspect of creation. Yes, every single detail of existence is surging with divine energy. It is overflowing with God’s Infinitude. All is God, there is nothing else.

Now, we just have to become sensitive to Him.

“Seriously, God? What’s the point? You put Your creations through all this pain of having no idea where You are, when you’re really here the whole time? What’s that about?”

If there is a teenager that is going through a rebellious stage, any therapist or psychologist would tell the parents the same thing; “give your kid some space”. At face value, it seems like the doctors are telling the parents to leave the child alone. To let him fend for himself until he can learn to grow up. But in truth, the doctors are not telling the parents to leave the child’s life. On the contrary, they are telling them to be present, just in a different kind of way.

To be present in the child’s life in a way that does not overwhelm him, but that gives him the room he needs to be able to make his own choices and become an independent person. And then, once the child has reached a place where he feels content in himself, he will then reestablish his relationship with his parents.[10]

And so it is with God. The reason He has made this space, is not because He does not want to be present in our lives, but specifically because He wants to be. But God does not want to be a master of a religion. He wants to be a partner in a relationship. A relationship in which each side expresses and finds expression in the other.

“Wow, God, You must really want this relationship with me. But, I’m confused. I heard that You can only shine where there is room for You… And I take up a lot of room.”                                                                                         

You want to make room for God. Well, God shows us exactly how to do that. Make a space, but not the space that removes you. Make the kind of space that gives room for another to live with you.

We usually think of bitul as nullification; subjugation.

When you take your life, and say:

“God, I know you exist. And I exist too because I see myself. But You’re bigger and better than me so I’m going to give up on the things that I love and the things that I want to do and bow to you. Fine God, I won’t eat that not kosher, delicious looking sandwich. Fine.”

But think, if there is no space in all of existence devoid of God and so everything in this life is truly complete godly expression, bitul has a completely different connotation.

God wants a relationship in which we express Him and He truly finds expression in us.

From this perspective, bitul is given a whole new identity.

Bitul now means transparency. [11]

“God, I know you exist. And I exist too, because you want me too.[12] And God, I know that everything that I encounter in my life, all my interests and all things I love are really all expressions of You. So God, I will find You in them. I will let Your light shine through every single aspect of my being. I will be transparent to You”.


Life is One Great Balancing Act[13]
If you have ever seen a chosid, you have probably noticed that chassidim don’t walk normally. Chassidim walk dancing. Chassidim walk dancing because they know that their entire existence is a dance between being here and not being here at all. So, they end up dancing, their feet constantly coming back to the floor, because they know that their true purpose is down here on earth. Chassidim dance as they try to juggle all the aspects of who they are.

We all live this dance. It is the dance between Yeshus, the feeling of I, and complete Bitul, nullification to God. On the one hand, we must be humbled before God, and on the other hand, we must stand up tall, declaring our pride in who we are.

A soldier is the perfect analogy for this paradox.  A soldier must wear the most expensive of all gear and must maintain the highest standard of physical fitness but these qualities do not define him. His entire life is on constant alert for his next mission. A soldier is a soldier, only for the sake of the army.

You may not think your capabilities and talents look Godly but imagine if a soldier said that he does not want to wear the boots needed for his mission because he doesn’t see his general wearing them.

The ‘boots’ that you were given, were given to you so that you can use them to fulfill your mission. If the talents and interests that you were given did not have the power to be used for your purpose, you simply would not have them.

But, you do. So, soldier, wear your boots.


Let’s Get Practical
Becoming sensitive to something is a personal journey.  So, take some time, and think about it. Fill your mind with the knowledge that God is present and waiting to be found by you, in every part of you. Let the knowledge that the purpose of all of creation is dependent on you becoming transparent to God bubble over into your emotions. Think it. Feel it.

And then choose something to do about it.

Perhaps make a resolution to wake up in the morning and say Modeh Ani out loud, letting God be your alarm clock… wake up your kids in the morning singing… “Modeh ani lefanecha! Thank you Hashem for this new beautiful day!”, bringing a sensitivity to god from the moment your children open their eyes.

Maybe start davening. Learn the meaning of the words. Daven the kind of davening that stirs up your insides.

Just talk to God. You lost your favorite sock… Ask God for some help. That one person at work is driving you crazy… Vent to God about it. Realize that He is listening.

Do you spend your day in business? Use the opportunity to introduce God to the people you come in contact with. Keep a pair of tefillin in the back seat and stay on the lookout for other people who may want to join in this relationship as well.

Or maybe, next time you sit down for dinner, take a moment. Think. God is here. Make your brachos out loud. Invite Him into your conversations. Go around the table and share the moments from your day that you really felt his presence.


God Really Wants You, So Be You
Keep doing all the things that make you who you are. And while you do, invite in God. See him everywhere you go. Be sensitive to His presence in every minute detail of your life. And that will be building a true relationship, where two complete individuals become expressions of one another.

Hashem does not need us to do this for Him, He wants us to do this with Him. For us, for our relationship.

Don’t nullify the colors that He has blessed you with. Paint with them. Use them to build the palace that He is waiting for. Remember that God does not only want your mitzvos. He wants you. So, invite Him into your life. Into every part of your being that makes you, you. Into your art and into your opinions and into your relationships.

Our lives are built on a mission to express our relationship with God in every single aspect of existence. So don’t subjugate yourself. Express yourself. Don’t bang yourself up for all the things that you are doing wrong, add in light. Add in so much light, that the world will have no choice but to see the truth of the reality that is before our eyes. The veil will be gone and at last, the world will see the truth of God in every single detail of creation. The universe will proclaim with their fingers pointing: “Yes, This is My God”.

And with such a clear revelation of the truth of God, you will have no choice but to acknowledge the inherent truth of You as well.

You are not one in infinity.
You dear friend,
are an infinite expression of the One.





Sources and Footnotes

[1] The Alter Rebbe, Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad Chassidic movement.
[2] Chabad, stands for chochma, bina, and daat; wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Unlike other chasidic groups, chabad chassidus focuses firstly on the intellect, bringing our mind to a place where we can understand that there is a god that is beyond our understanding, instead of just accepting it on blind faith. This process may take longer but the Alter Rebbe assures us that the effects are long lasting and internal, so it is very worth it.
[3] Literally: the tzimtzum is not literal. (tzimtzum: contraction of God)
[4] “God desired a dwelling place in the lower realm” ( תניא, פרק ל”ג)
[5]When a couple gets married, they buy a house. Obviously, they do not get married in order to buy the house. They love each other, and now the house is a place where they could express their relationship. And so it is with God and the world. The whole point of this world and all the supernal worlds is to express the relationship between us and God.
[6] “Then… this light was contracted (tzimtzum)… and drawn aside… leaving empty room, a hollow space … After this tzimtzum there was now space where emanations and creations could be formed and made.” -The Zohar
[7] “Ani Hashem Lo Shanisi”- Hashem did not change at all from before creation to after creation, so it is impossible that the tzimtzum could have affected God Himself. (תניא, פרק כ,)
[8] Tanya, Shaar Yichud VeHaemuna, Chapter 4
[9] And yes, you have the power to turn on the light. Because the light is in you. Once, a group of teenagers came to the Rebbe and asked, “Rebbe, what are you doing?” The Rebbe smiled as he responded, “I am turning on the lights” Because the Rebbe was a living example of this idea. He was sensitive to the reality that God was here within this corporeal realm, so in his life, God was revealed. His job then, was to turn on the lights for others. To help them become more sensitive and more aware of the ever present God, in effect, revealing God here in this world.
[10] This idea works the other way also. Why do teenagers rebel in the first place? It is not because they want to hurt their parents. On the contrary, they want a relationship with their parents. But they know that in order to have a real relationship they cannot just be “their parent’s child”. They must become an independent individual who will then be able to choose the relationship. And so it is with us. When your soul was in heaven and reveling in God glory, she herself said to God, “please! I want to have a relationship with You. Let me go down to the world, give me a little bit of space to fulfill my potential and then, I promise I will choose you.” And now, it is incumbent on us to fulfill that promise.
[11] For more explanations on bittul meaning transparency see “Eli Rubin, making space”.
[12] Chassidus is not satisfied with proving our existence by the empirical evidence that we see. Chassidus revolutionizes the way we see reality telling us: we exist because God told us we do. “Bereishis Bara Elokim Es Hashamayim Vees Haaretz”.
[13] Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go