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Through the Void: The Absence of God in R. Naḥman of Bratzlav's "Likkutei MoHaRan" Author(s): Shaul Magid Source: The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 88, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 495-519 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Harvard Divinity School Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1509839 . Accessed: 21/06/2011 05:12
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lNhrough in R.
A lthoughnot usually viewed as a manifestation modernspirituality, of hasidism strikinglyresemblesa productof the spiritualandideological reorientation Westernreligion in the post-Copernican of world.2Largely unawareof the philosophicaland theologicalchangesin European intellectual culture, many of the hasidic masters exhibited a sensitivity to the existentialplight of humankind the modernworld. in
tUnless otherwiseindicated,translations italics throughout articleare mine. and the 2Martin Buber, SamuelAbba Horodetzky,and Hillel Zeitlin introduced hasidismto the modernworld.Buber'searly studieson hasidicthoughtwere directedat the largerscholarly audiencein Europewith the hope that hasidismwould serve as a Jewish componentin the mysticalrevival at the turnof the century.This is trueto a lesser extent for Horodetzky and Zeitlin.See, for example,Horodetzky's comparative studyof R. Nah. andSchleiermacher, man "Rabbi Nachman Brazlaw:Beitragzur GechichtederjudischenMystik,"in StevenKatz, von ed., Studies by Samuel Horodezky (New York:Arno, 1980);Hillel Zeitlin,Rabbi Nah,man miBratzlav: ,Hayavu-Torato (Warsaw:n.p., 1910); and idem, Reb Nakhman Braslaver (New York:Harper,1952). See also MartinBuber,The Legend of the Baal Shem Tov (1908; trans. MauriceFriedman; New York:Harper,1955);and idem, The Tales of Rabbi Nah.man (1906; trans.MauriceFriedman; AtlanticHighlands,NJ: Humanities PressInternational, 1988). On the contributionof hasidism in general and R. Nahmanin particular modernWestern to spirituality,see idem, "Spinoza,SabbataiZvi, andthe Baal Shem,"in idem, The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism (AtlanticHighlands, Humanities NJ: PressInternational, 1988)89-112; idem, "ThePlace of Hasidismin the Historyof Religion,"in idem, The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism, 219-39; and JosephWeiss, "Sense and Non-Sense in Defining Judaism The Strange Caseof Nahman Braslav," idem,Studies in East European Jewish Mysticism (ed. of in David Goldstein;Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress, 1985) 249-69. HTR 88:4 (1995) 495-519
Tormented Master: A Life of Rabbi Nahman (Woodstock. R. 1963).3Thus. . His mother Feige was the granddaughter of the Baal Shem and his two uncles.R. R. Moshe Hayyim Ephraim of Sudikov (1737-1800) and R. sFor a general discussion on this shift in modern theology. The hasidicmovementcontainedand still containsnumerous strains. man was born into the family of the Baal Shem Tov (Besht). Studies. the founder of hasidism. 4R. and John Wild and James M. Nahmansquarelyin the companyof some of the more provocativetheistic existentialistsof the eighteenth. In this sense he is unique among early hasidic thinkers. of Bratzlav(1772-1810). see Anthony T. see Arthur Green. Yet even as he was influenced by his uncles and their disciples. should not be viewed as a statementregarding hasidismin general.The paradigmshift from the medieval period's sense of the incomprehensibility God to the humanestrangement of from God may be seen in light of the shift in orientation early modernthought of from the cosmos to the individual. eds." While this is perhaps too simplistic." in idem. Existentialism and Religious Belief (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1967). Ralph Harper. many of whom adopteda more acosmic stance. David Everett Roberts. Padovano. where God'sabsence was viewed as an illusion to be overcomeby meansof devotion.. any conclusions drawnfrommy analysisof one very provocative hasidicthinker. it does point to a useful distinction.5 Perhaps most strikingcharacteristic the 3Joseph Weiss's typological analysis ("Contemplative Mysticism and 'Faith' in Hasidic Piety. Barukh of Medzhibozh (1750-1812) were leaders of Ukrainian hasidism at the end of the eighteenth century. IL: Northwestern University Press.differentiatedby various schools of thoughtthat flourishedin EasternEurope from the mid-eighteenth centuryuntil the present. The life and thoughtof R. The Estranged God: Modern Man's Search for Belief (New York/Kansas City: Sheed & Ward. Christianity and Existentialism: Essays by William Earle (Evanston. is therefore surprisIt not ing that. 1992) 23-62. whereasmost hasidic mastersat first attainedlegitimacyby being disciples of a particular master.4 of This themeof divineabsenceandthe struggle to overcomeit places R. of Contemporary scholarship has renderedany overarchingstatementabout hasidism obsolete.nineteenthand early twentiethcenturies. 1966). Nahman R. Nah. Nahmanof Bratzlavis particularly strikingin its sensitivity to the struggleof one who seeks God in the very realm of God's absence.496 HARVARD THEOLOG ICAL REVIEW It must be stated at the outset that any analysis of hasidism and its ideological symmetryto modernthought must begin by recognizing the divergent multifarious and nature hasidicspirituality. Much of this theory rests on how much each hasidic school integrated and interpreted the medieval kabbalistic tradition. 47-55) maintains that hasidism can be divided into two trends: "mystical hasidism" and "faith hasidism.culminating in an experienceof communion with God (devekut). On Presence: Variations and Reflections (Philadelphia: Trinity. Edie. Vermont: Jewish Lights. He often portrayed himself as a self-made gaddik. For more on his early life. Nahman did not consider himself to be a disciple of one particular master. Nahman's reputation based largelyon is the originality this thought. 1991). His family lineage was important to him and he used it to legitimate his place in the annals of hasidism.
unlikeBrenner. to God'spresenceis nowherein evidence."' his Althoughone can surelyarguethis point for the hasidictradition of early Habadandthe Polish school of Kamarno. Nahman's"existential" stance. not even tangentially.whereasevil is mighty. . 'indwelling.makinghim a model of the modern struggleto come to termswith a world from which God is absent.Both Scholem and Buber agree although fromdifferentperspectives-that earlyhasidismcontributed little to furthering the kabbalisticagenda. Nahmanintegrated kabbalistic this worldviewis a topic for anotherstudy.Referringto R. I illuminatethe hasidic treatmentof divine absence in orderto show how it offers a creativetheistic Jewish responseto the existentialistposition of alienationrootedin traditional piety.The state of 'hester panim' the eclipse of God which is endemic to Exile has deteriorated a full-blown severancefrom God. Nahman's personalistapproach.is readingtoo muchof JosephHayyimBrenner's pessimisminto R. Nahman's position in the context of other moderntheistic existentialistswho grappledwith similar issues. D. Nahman. by studieson R. "The picture which emerges from his stories is one of unbridled apostasywheredemonicdepravityreignsthe world.7The first part of this article includes an analysis of the theory of divine absence in R.Westport. Nah.. 7Sucha theoryis impliedby Eliezer Schweidin his Jewish Thought in the 20th Century: An Introduction (trans. Nahman.CN: Greenwood. WhileScholemsuggestedthathasidismadopted kabbalistic ideas withoutoffering anything"new.GA: ScholarsPress.Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York:Schocken. Gordon. Nah. Nahman's existentialpersona.6 In this article. IsaacLuria. does claimto resolvethe crisis. This overcomingof Kabbalais the important work of Chassidism."MartinBuber argued("The Faith of Judaism. both existentiallyas well as mystically. which is depicted as the divine void (halal ha-panui) the in theosophickabbalism the sixteenth-century of Jewishmystic. Buber'ssweepingclaim resonatesin R. and two influentialthinkersin early twentieth-century Israelithought.1941)338. Moreover. Nahman.See GershomScholem.SHAUL MAGID 497 of R. Nah.. The sovereigntyof God is at best a distantdream.it is difficultto determine how much his thinkingreflects this medieval mystical tradition.1970] 13) that hasidismhad overcomeKabbalain the same way he felt it had overcometalmudism: "The Kabbalah overcome[in hasidism]becauseit was takenup into the ur-Jewish was conception of the dialogical life just as it was.emergedout of a theosophicworldviewthat did not easily lend itself to such an existential interpretation.R. Atlanta.Althoughhe used kabbalisticcategoriesandjargon. Schweid places R.a willed vision. I shall then attemptto place R.whichhas remained largelyinaccessibleto the generalschol6Thequestionof how muchR. R. man'stheoryof divineabsencebetweenthe quasi-Nietzschean pessimismof the Jewishpoet Yosef HayyimBrenner the positivisticTolstoyianideologyof A. even as they reacheddifferentconclusions.only to be called 'the limitless'with the suspensionof all limitedbeing.GretaHorn.in total agreement with Schweid'sjuxtapositionof R.AmnonHadary. Mamre: Essays in Religion [trans. which was rooted in the sixteenth-century Jewish mystical traditiontypical of early hasidism.. Schweid states."in idem. left all middle-substances fade beforethe relationship it to betweenGod'stranscendence. Nahman.palpable andinescapable" 328).possiblyinfluenced JosephWeiss's (p. 1992) 327-33.R.I am. man's stories. a groundless chimera. Nahmanis thathis outlookreflectsthis shift withouthis being aware of its existence. and his immanence.I hope thatthe creativespiritualstruggle of R. nonetheless. man betweenBrennerand Gordon.. I wouldsuggestthatSchweid.
one must first addresshis readingof the Lurianicconcept of gimzum. Essential Papers in Hasidism.8 Besht'semphasison God as the The "fillerof worlds"has been viewed as the signpostfor hasidic ideology. Heschel. and Gershom Scholem. "Hasidism. 9This was particularly true of early Habad hasidism.498 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW arly audiencedue to its intricateexegeticalframework. "Devekut or Communion with God. See Rachel Elior. 25-58.His theory of divine presenceand the humanexperience of it (devekut) based upon overcomingthe ontologicalabsence of is God depictedin the void thatprecededcreationin the Lurianicscheme set forth by R." in idem. Luria.presupposesthe omnipresenceof God in the world. absenceof God. 7-8: "There is no room for mysticism as the link. 1985). "The Origins of Hasidism and its Social and Messianic Foundations. NY: SUNY Press. Althoughsuch a principleindeedexists in hasidism. 1991). as the abyss between man and God has not become a fact of the inner consciousness. The Messianic Idea in Judaism (New York: Schocken. hasidismhas often been viewed as a religiousideology foundedon uncovering the presence of God in the world.God'shiddennessis thereforeepistemological ratherthan ontological. Nahman For the most part. 197 1) 203-27. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. 1993) 49-78." EncJud 7 (1972) 1403-7. The notion of revealingthe divinity hidden in the recesses of nature. Scholem." in Gershon David Hundert. The Circle of the Baal Shem Tow(Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Simon Dubnow. divine contraction." .however. Mysticism does not deny or overlook the abyss. Essential Papers in Hasidism: Origins to Present (New York/ London: New York University Press. Louis Jacobs..classical scholarship the ideologicalfoundations on of hasidism has worked under the assumptionthat hasidism is preoccupied with the notionof divine immanence. In both its mystical formulationsand its more faith-orientedpresentation. on the contrary it begins by realizing its existence. Abraham J. See. W An Explicationof R.. or the void. Zimzum. offer an authencan tic Jewish response to the idea of divine absence which challenges the modernseeker of religious meaning.l°In order to understand Nahman'sposition on the R.9 Nahman's R." in Hundert. ed. for example. see Ben Zion Dinur. is overcome by a new influx of divine 8Forsome classical articles in English on the social and ideological foundations of hasidism. philosophy is different.. "The Beginnings: The Baal Shem Tov and the Center in Podolia. 10Theimportance of the recognition of divine absence has been addressed by scholars of Jewish mysticism. the kabbalisticsolutionto the or is perennialproblemof how the finite world could emerge from the infinite God. The Paradoxical Ascent to God (Al?rany. Even as the Lurianicreadingof gimzum suggests the creationof a void a place of divine absence that becomes the space of creation-this absenceof God is usuallyviewedas one stagein a dynamicprocesswhereby the absence of God.. This uncoveringis seen as a personaland collective process of redemption.
ll Nahmandid to attempted theosophizeor rationalize on the emotionalangst of not focus on the cosmic movementof God. which is then filled with a finite form of divine presence that culminatesin humanbeings. in in earlyhasidism.Paraud ha-Yih. as far as I knowsR. also IsaiahTishby. "Two Interpretations T. Nahman's kabbalisticnotion of God'spresencein creationdoes not fully supplantthe as initial creationof the void. which may have influencedR.The Doctrine of Evil and the 'Kelippah' in Lurianic Kabbala and Magnes.umin post-Lurianic X XThe issue of literalandnonliteral Zalmanof Liady. ve ha-Emunah (2 vols.1982) 1. Nahman.um: R.see Mehkarei Yerushalayim of of "TheKabbala the Ariin theTeachings R. Scholem.particularly Habadhasidism.) Sa. p..for example.One Hundred and Thirty-Eight Openings of Wisdom (Bnei Brak:n.when the absence is infused with a renewedstate 0t c . 261-64. 1992) 58-72 See [Hebrew]. On Luzzatto'sinfluenceon hasidism. . A systematicappraisal "Sha'ar Lurianicgimzum. is majorthemesin Kabbala... 1979) 104-6."See also It is emptyof the eternaleyn sof."Mehkarei Yerushalayim 2 (1982) 152-69 [Hebrew].l3 The void is interpreted the empiricalexpeis Kabbala central readingsof . 1984) 297: Luzzato's whichremains "Thevoid (halal) is thatwhichis emptyof eternity(bilti takhliot). see AryehKaplan. for example. 79-91." 43 (1978)201-34. divine contraction.Major Trends in Jewish Jerusalem: (reprinted Mysticism. a large part of the chapteris devoted to R. betweencreationand that which precededit.Sha'arei Likkutei Torah (Brooklyn: Mekkor. Ben-Shlomo." Y. Hayyim (n. This space is called halal ['void']. but the one who seeks God's presence.im. of Jewish proponents the gimzum theory While some easternEuropean R. 1991) 13-20 [Hebrew]. andAharonha-Leviof Starosielce. Fora moretraditional be-Mishnat Moznaim. of in ha-Kelalim" E..See..Shneur Kehot. Ogrot Hayyim. d. 10 (1992) 449-57 [Hebrew]. Hayyim of Volozhin and R. 3The notion thatthe void remainsaftercreationis. Jerusalem: of doxical Ascent.l2 thereforefirst createdis the void. Nahman's alone. HayyimVital.R...n.becauseit gives [life] to all of that which exists. 42a-43b. See also Elior..1990) 120-31. This notionof gimzum. who serve as a bridge the approach.Inner Space (Jerusalem: It mostlyfromthe Lurianictradition. Nahmanfocused his attentionon this part of the process rather than on its culmination. "IkvotRamhal of rendition thekabbalistic Zion ha-Hasidut.can be found in Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto. For an alternatereadingof the use of gimzum in postmedievalJewishmysticism.1andidem. p.: MekorHayyim. ShneurZalmanof Liady.see IsaiahTishby..1. . Nahman's A more conventionalview is expressedby Luzzatto(One Hundred Thirty-Eight Openings. R.Initially. part1:Mevo She'arim 1.lvlnlty. readingof gimzum and the void.p. I2See. Theremnant .im. SHAUL MAGID 499 the light into creation. and TamarRoss.While the notionof gimgum introduces possibilityof phase in the dynamicprocess of credivine absence as only a temporary ation. light whichexistedbefore.. The secret of light is called a rishimu ['remnant'] the primordial 66): "Theemanated is of this remnant whatis called the spaceof all existence. which the eternallight could not have given. light. In R. Kook. to book attempts introduce interestingthat in the discussion of gimzum.he followed the classic kabbalisticview that God creates Whatis his own absencein orderto allow for the possibilityof creation. His position emerged slowly as he attemptedto integratethe conventionalnotion of gimzum into his radical reading. whichis the primordial to commentary Vital'sOgrot Hayyim in Ginzei Ramhal (Bnei Brak:n.
Sha'ar hasee Hakdamot (Jerusalem: n.and heresy.1785) 23a.'[Yet] thereis no void withouta remnant divine light].. What interestedhim was that the void may serve as a foundationfor the emotionalresponseto the perception of divine absence in human experience. ShalomSharabi's of Nahar Shalom printedin the MekorHayyimedition of theE.500 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW rience of God's absence that becomes. Nahmanhad little interestin the ontology of the cosmic void.ls Whereastraditionalreadersof R. To complicate matters further. He was not willing to turn away from the heresy of divine absence by calling it an illusion. I6See.When he firstarrivedin Umanhe stayedin the houseof a well-knownmember theJewishEnlightof enmentratherthan in the residenceof the local rabbi. Hayyim Haikel Eliashuv. Albanv:SUNY Press. 1948) 35ff. See.Traditionalinterpreters explain this strangephenomenon arguingthat R.R.for example. Rather.if left unattended. however. godliness is hiddenandconcealedthereso muchthatit is likenedto an 'emptyvoid' in order . the hereticalnotion of faithlessness.l6 kabbalistic The formuis called 'emptyair. yet R. I would argue that R. Nahmandecidedto settle in Uman.Zohar ha-Raki'a (Koretz:Kriger.aftera fire destroyed housein Bratzlav. Nahman apparently could not let go of the very notionthathe deemedso dangerous.l4Faithlessnessis the outcome of giving credence to the observationof a world empty of God. Nah. "Drosh Igulimve Yosher."The notionof [of the remnant light left afterthe gimz:um of serves as a sourcefor the panentheistic idea in the hasidic readingof Kabbala. p. 1993) 115-48. 14The classic Lurianicstance on this is that the productof gimzum is the emergenceof Judgment (middat ha-din).in this place thereis also divinity since therecan be notbingwithoutHim. Shlomo b. of Bratzlav man and its Sabbatean Links.For a discussionon the similarities betweenthesetwo figures. Nahman infatuated was withheresy. in R. a commentary R. Nah. who proclaimedhimself messiahin the seventeenthcentury.Leshem Shevo ve-Ah."Da'at 18 (1987) 59-90 [Hebrew]. 1ld. BatyaStein.see MordecaiPachter."This ideabecamea centralfeaturein the thought Sabbatai of Zvi. For a scholarlystudy on this idea in Kabbala.see Yehuda Liebes. fulfilling the Lurianic directiveof "descent for the sakeof ascent. Hakdamot ve Sha'arim (Jerusalem: p. R."in E: Hayyim.R. n. Nahmansuggestedthat the void or emptinessof God is not supplanted the divine light ('or yashar) that is injectedsubsequentlyinto the void. by man intentionallyengagedthese hereticsto redeem the divine sparksembeddedin their souls.p. In truth."Ha-Tikkunha-Kelali of R. Nahman'sunderstanding. HayyimVital. 1850) 17-23. faithlessness. Iamah. his R. Hayyim p.HayyimVital. X5Mendel Piekarzargues(Studies in Bratzlav Hasidism [Jerusalem: MosadBialik.Both representthe unbridled passion of humanemotionsand desire that yield spiritualimpotence.."Circles and Lines The Historyof an Idea.a Ukranian town knownfor its Jewishheretics."in idem. Studies in Jewish Myth and Jewish Messianism (trans. Nahmanstress that his interpretation the void is in concert with the cosmic void of of creationin the Lurianicscheme. 49c andJacobb.. 2. suggestedthatthe absenceof God and the eternalnatureof God he (as eyn sof) are identical vis-a-vis humanexperience. HayyimZemah. 1972] 21-55) thatR. 1976] 37a) who comments:"Weare forcedto state that God removedHimself fromthat place [thatis. the place of the gimzum]. for example. For by moreon the sourceof this remnant light in Lurianic of Kabbala. Nahmanof Cheryn(in his commentary Likkutei MoHaRan ento titled Parpera'ot le Hokhma [Brooklyn:n. Shemen Sasson no.
Nahmaninvitedhumansto reproemotionallythe entirecreativeprocess and thus to utilize the void. the breakingof the vessels. it deviates sharplyfromthe way this void is used by R. Thereforeit is said.64). .Romano & New York:Herder Herder.. Thompson. inside all them. 'Abot2... 79d (§1. I8Thenotion that the affirmationof the void can lead to a renewedsense of religious meaningis strikinglysimilarto Nietzsche'sstancethat nihilism can be restorative. Of course.l7Rather than of to succumbing the temptation fatalism.64.. 48).In such a manner.. Nahman's tuality foundedupon the real possibility of unbelief.R.As betweenhasidismandexistentialism. if one looks for Him and seeks Him out. for example.B. Universityof AlabamaPress.Rather....Zohar ha-Raki'a. as duce was the case in creation.however. the world of This readingindeedreflects the classical interpretation to createa place for the creation... God can be found there.' and finds within a second that Nietzsche regardednihilism as a dangerousinnocence. experiencearisesonly throughfaith. all theories man in Likkutei MoHaRan ever. yet he surrounds for between His immanenceand His transcendence.im:um.fromsuchseveresickness. wherehe describedhis typolthoughtappearsin Likkutei ogy of heresy: Knowthat thereare two types of heresy. psychoanalytic teachingsas indicativeof a JewishspiriI find the spiritualstruggleimplicitin R. 1965). Nah.the healingqualityof and nihilismis thatit finally liberatesmanfromthe "sick"stateof dependence impotence. Nah. 1992).fromsuchabysses. accountof creation. Nahmansaw in the process of creation an antidote for his own situation. Our Time (trans.Carrstates.14]. most explicit and developed statementof the void in R.humanbeings can and move beyond the void by first recreating then possessingit. In my view.for R. for example. for example. tioningof truth]. Nahman's The MoHaRan§1.Thus we see here confirmation event. Nah.See.Thereis one heresy which is wisdom. if not.. In my view. andJeanMesnard..NY: SUNYPress.See.SHAUL MAGID 501 lation of the cosmic void reflects R. "Knowwhat to answerthe heretic"[m.accordingto Carr. But there must remainsome space the worlds. retreating from our own creationas God did in the kabbalisticreadingof the biblical R. 17Although of appraisals his personality. [The claims ofl this heresy may derivedfrom extraneous wisdom. God is." See.however. as by his biographers psychoticor depressive. howof .is a temporary one returnsnewborn.broughtaboutby for they come fromextraneous be answered.I do not intendto take a similarstance. Nahman'sempiricalfindings. as it were. 23a-b. his strugglemirrorsthe spiritualstrugglewere not deemed spirituallife of Pascal. in theirresolutions. placing him constantly on the verge of faithlessness and despair. Alabama: Pascal (trans.Claudeand MarciaAbraham." One requiresa more'delicatetaste of joy. somethingnot only useful.."Suchquestioning[thequesstate. KarenLeslie Carr. butnecessaryfor the and potentiallyrestorative redemptive as man.restoration mystical renewedexperienceof the world"(p.theircommonbond is the case with most comparisons not is only in their sharedassumptions. ForNietzsche. man'steachingsas the basis for theirrespective GreenandWeiss used R. as a constructivetool in the search for divine 18 presence. whose conversionand subsequent Pascalfor Guardini.Zemah.The Banalization of Nihilism: Twentieth Century Responses to Meaninglessness (Albany.1966)45-88.
109-49 [Hebrew]. 2IR. made up of wisdom." in Piekarz. There is [thus] a second type of heresy. languagedefines all things.revealingthat it is not heresy at all. The question of the first heretic is resolved by coming to understand apparentabthe 19Theterm '4language"here refers to the noncommunicative language of the Sefer Yegirah." On the nature of language in Sefer Yegirah. Creationcame about throughthe word.. The challenge is to uncoverthe divine element hidden in the shardsof the apparently hereticalquestion.. 1984) 16-24. There is also a question. where the Hebrew letters are viewed as the fabric of the cosmic world.20 . because no intellect nor languagecan resolve them. . "Thereis a difference betweenthese [two] questions.. Nahmanintroduced the basic elements of his readingof the void." REJ 132 (1973) 475-512. Nah.Apparently unsatisfiedwith uncoveringthe divine in the first question. 1976) 78b-79c. "The 'Question' in the Teachings of R.they are silent. But in the void which surrounds worlds and is completelyempty. man of Bratzlav.502 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW could not exist. God exists.however. Nahman stated. This search for the transcendent God forced R. Therefore questionswhich arise. p.They have about them the qualityof silence. "With ten utterances God created the world.The first challengeconfrontingthe one who seeks divine wisdom is the heresy rootedin the finite creation. see Ithamar Gruenwald. Likkutei MoHaRan l9d (§1.In this heresy. as in the finite world.the productof the breaking of the cosmic vessels in LurianicKabbala(shviratha-kelim). Nahman of Bratzlav. R.R. The person of faith faces two challenges. Nahman believed that this type of heresy was not compelling for the seeker of divine truth. which is really no wisdom at all..Thereis a questionto which one can understandthe answer. Studies in Bratz. See also 20b (§2. Nahmanset for himself a muchmoreformidable task: he soughtnot only the God in creation the immanent God but the transcendent God as well. 'Knowwhat to answerthe heretic'[m.but only satisfyingfor one whose spiritualjourneyis limited to this finite world. . Nahmanto confrontthe initial perceptionof God's absence.14]. R. 'Abot 5. Three Types of Ancient Jewish Mysticism (Cincinnati: University of Cincinnati Press. He drew his notion of language in this case from m. Nah.. and by finding the divine element in the philosophicalquestionone can resolve the crisis of faith.lawHasidism. "Some Critical Notes on the First Part of Sefer Yezira.. Therefore. 20See R.19.''2l This is the second challenge. R. For a study on the implications of the "question" in R.. Nahman suggested that the void is the remnant of divine contraction (gimzum) that was not filled with the finite form of God in the supernal worlds. the In this synopsis of a much more complex text.. see Joseph Weiss. Likkutei MoHaRan (New York: n. I used portions of Green's translation (Tormented Master.62). 'Abot 2. to which it is impossiblefor a humanbeing to find an answer.. R.12). In language there is intellect. The perplexitiesand questionsof this heresy come from the void (halal). man. On this.On this [type] of questionthe mishnastates. man.1.. and Joseph Dan. Nah.. 312). there is no lanall guage..
man Bratslaver and the Maskilim in Uman. one theory is that he was drawn to the Jewish heretics in the city.Althoughthis may very well be the position of R. Nahman. Werblowsky.. see Hayyim Lieberman. Alan Arkush." in Robert K. 1987] 431) states. however. "Onthe Concept of Zimzumin Kabbalaand its Research"MekhkareiYerushalayim 10 (1992) 59-l 13. Regardingthis.man's relationship to the Maskilim. "Ayin: The Concept of Nothingness in Jewish Mysticism. esp. Nahman of Bratzlav. but the experienceof divine absence. The Problem of Pure Conciousness (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press. the thatseparates eternalGod (eyn sof) fromthe immanent all of creationis divine. Piekarz. 23R. The anguish and anxiety that permeatedhis life as well as his discoursesuggestedthat his experienceswere not of the absenceof God's presence but the presenceof God's absence. "Whena man follows his intellect and 22This was not so in the earlier Kabbala. For studies that deal with the move to Uman and R.close readingsof his teachingsyield anotherpossibility. 1990) 121-59. is not their concern. Nahman to attempted avert such heresy and disbelief. ed. but the possibility of the nonexistence God an illusion. R. only the result of humanlimitations. which makesthe immanent of the transcendent came to such a conclusion.Nah. or merely organs of its manifestation. Gershom Scholem (in R.only by confronting questioncan one achieve an God. For example." This was not the case for the Lurianists. with whom he developed an ongoing relationship. The questionof the second hereticcannotbe resolved rationally.. Nah.but is only a psychologicalor empiricalbarrier the void God of creation.his life's work is not to say that R. whose question is rooted in this void. Although his desire to settle in Uman at the end of his life is shrouded in mystery. 21-55 [Hebrew]. or eyn sof. He began. 25 1-65. This God. a degree of uncertainty existed among kabbalists with regard to such important questions as whether the first sefirah itself was not to be considered the transcendent diety.22 transcendent has no ontic status. and Green." Yivo Annual of Jewish Social Studies 6 (1951) 287-301. Forman. 60-68 [Hebrew]. "Rabbi Nah.SHAUL MAGID 503 sence of God as an illusion.Moreover. "From 1250 onward. and Moshe Idel." Studies In Bratzlav Hasidism.23 experienceof the transcendent Whoevercontemplatesthe void not as the absence of divine presence. In this case. see also Daniel Chanan Matt. C. J. "The Episode of Uman in the Life of R. The distinctionbetweenGod and worldis Thatis. for whom eyn sof is clearly beyond the scope of human inquiry. is confrontedby the second heretic. .man's interest in heresy was not limited to the theoretical. the humanintellect is rendereduseless as the question is no longer intellectualbut experiential.with the that the hereticalquestionmust be takenseriouslyif it is to be assumption this overcome. Tormented Master. Princeton: Princeton University Press. both rationalistand mystical.the void is not a lacunabetween the two dimensionsof God. or whether the sefirot were to be regarded as identical with the substance of the diety. Nahmanstated. ed.the dichotomybetweenthe immanent transcenThroughout dent God permeatesJewish theology. the mystics of the Lurianicschool have openly stated that the One could argue that God. Origins of the Kabbalah [trans. Z. and history.
adheresto simplefaith mustdiscardreason:"Truly.reasonoughtto be cast aside and all cleverness discarded God must be worshippedin simplicity.65]) of the "master of the garden" (the gaddik)who must nurture the "trees outside the garden" (the Hasidim). 285-330. Nahman's view of faith is complex. Monsey. and Joseph Dan. Nahman. R. . "Hafor Tikkun Ha-Kelaliof R.man see Green. the first a "simple" faith. Likkutei MoHaRan15 (§2. God forbid. NY: Breslov Research Institute: n. this mustbe but understood practicallyin terms of what R.8). 124.a group that includedR. Likkmtei MoHaRanl9d (§2. Nah. Nahman of Bratzlav. 9b-c (§1.one presumes.. The second type of faith requiresinteractionwith the heretic." 1 15-51.504 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW mindhe can fall prey to manymistakesand barriers can come to great and evil. Nahman's image (Likkutei MoHaRan 80a-81b [§1.d. Nahman of Bratzlav.and a full treatment his highly of nuancedapproach beyondthe scope of this presentstudy. 25Ibid. Nahmanmaintained that the first type of faith should be that of everyoneexcept the zaddikof the generation. 1961) 141. dialecticaltype of faith brings forth sufferingand anguish. See also R.who exhibits the second type of faith. Nahman of Bratzlav. This lesson has been translated and published as a pamphlet by the Breslov Research Institute. esp. 1975) 144-71 [Hebrew].it is the faith of the zaddik. This battle against reason for the masses and the interaction with reason (tikkun) the gaddikis developed in Liebes. in my view.26 Nahmanstronglyarguedthatthe one who R. Nah.a knowledgeof philosophy. Nahmanvied To for a retreatto "simplefaith"as the only solution to the humanepistemic dilemma is. 27R.). Avraham Greenbaum. Yet one's desire for God should not be destroyedby this ominouschallenge. See R.It is a faith that rejectsphilosophicalspeculationand negates the use of reason as the matrixof religiousworship. Nahmanstatedthatthe generalsolutionis faith ('emunah). the quest for the transcendent God remainsunanswered. to redeem him from his spiritual malaise.12). to note that he spoke of two distinct types of faith. premature. Sihot ha-Ran(Jerusalem: Breslav Publishers.R. the second a "dialectical" faith.It is important. Tormented Master."24 concludefrom this statementthat R. see Gardenof the Souls (trans. even in the devotionalworld of hasidic piety. R. The challenge of the void poses a particular dangerto the spiritualseeker.and thus the constantstruggleto overcome the hereticalquestion.28 This second. Nahmanin other places called silence and the primalwordless scream25 two appliedmethodsof attaining the necessaryemotionalstate in orderfor the languageof faith to be constructive.5).unless one passes throughthis dark forest.man of Bratzlav. whom the zaddik ultimately brings back to the garden from which they have been exiled. 28Fora discussion of the notion of dialectical faith in R. is however."27 This simple faith is highly antirational. TheHasidic Story:Its Historyand Development (Jerusalem: Keter. 26The simple faith of the Hasid is perhaps the faith in the zaddikand the ability of the gaddik.for only he can truly overcomethe absence of God and reach the experienceof the tran24R.
Jacob Hayyim Zemah'sgloss to Mevo She'arim 12a (§2.R. lessons is a dialecticalone and not a simple faith that would retreatfrom of with the void.an AnnotatedChronology man'sfirst son. in ha-Kelalim. ha-Ran. wherethe author felt man'sson.days before his untimelypassing.however. For a developown sufferingis due to his lack of vision (Likkutei'MoHaRan mentof the notionof sufferingandthe tragicfate of the gaddikas a necessarycomponentin MoHaRan 37c Parpera'otle Hokhma on Likkutei of healingthe world. see R. Accordingto this source.and idem.these are bornas "new"stages of conciousness See.. .they say to him 'go forward. as is the possibilityof experiencing God. Nahmanstressedthat the nonverbalscreamhas the potentialto breakthroughthe silence which is the experientialconfrontationwith divine absence of God and thus yield an experience of clvlne presence.2) no.whetherin prayer or study. But this does not mean you..thateven the . Sometimesit is thatconsciousness(mohin)anddivine everflow(shefa) are hidden in the dimensionof pregnancy(ibur).3.but this patternis only relevantfor the one who dares to take the road of the dialectic. Mordecai in discussionon the notionof pregnancy Lurianic 10 Yerushalayim (1992) 171-210 [Hebrew].3.should open one's consciousnessto the new dimensionof God'spresencebeyondGod'sabsence. the whole any confrontation is exegetical enterprise largelyuseless. Nahman's 29For Breslav (Jerusalem: of dialecticalfaith. Nahman can himself stated. David Shapiro..198):"When manof Bratzlav. For the adherent simplefaith. 'thenthe Lord Interestingly. Mekhkarei andGreatnessin LurianicKabbala.30 At that time.21). Mevo She'arim12a-b (§2. see Kabbala. the brokenfragmentsof the supernalworld.Until the Mashiach:RabbiNachman'sBiogBreslov ResearchInstitute.9c. each serves as a gestationperiodfor tikkun. Nahmanapparently thathis son's sufferingwas of R. See "Sha'ar also R. Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelitesto go forward. Nah. Nah. thatpoint. the patternof using the primal scream and the transcendent prayer." E. since you always must be joyful. said to Moses. . version the fate of the gaddikwho hadto perishin orderto redeemthe world. 2. (mohin) and then nurtured(yenika) until they reach maturation." R. For a scholarly "Smallness Pachter. ShlomoEfrayim. Nah.3l explicit directionsnot to becomeinvolvedwith this some examplesof R. Nahman Cheryn."175-76): "Andhe spoke to me aboutthe ways of servingGod. See also 11lb (§ 1.A moreelaborate of this episode can be found in AryehKaplan." 30b MoHaRan (§ 1..'" . The lesson on the tuberculosis. for example. stated("Devotionto God. Jerusalem: (ed.which I shall now address.2). of springof 1805 anddied the summer 1806 aftercontracting necessity of the sufferingof the gaddikwas said beside his son's deathbed. Hence.SHAUL MAGID 505 in however.thatthe faithpresented R.65])..65). raphy. Hayyim. Nathan(Sternharz) NemerovHayyeiMoHaRan man ot Publishers. He then said.R.the [hidden]mohinare born[revealed]. lOa.Likkutei 31R. is ('ibur)in LurianicKabbala a centralprinciplein the processof idea 3()The of pregnancy and Thereare threestages of cosmic pregnancy. andSih.was bornthe 1985) 121-23.addik experiencejoy once he recognizesthathis 80c-d [§ 1. notes thatthe lesson in questionwas deliveredjust beforethe death (§ 1. Nah.see R.29 appears. ShlomoEfrayim. screamis in the place of the screamof the shekhina.1976) 48-55. whichusuallyentailgreatsuffering.R. Vital. In numerousplaces R. as one screamsto God.' it is written(Exod 14:15).. Nahman's It scendentGod.as if the shekhina At is screaming.. the This human scream is wonderful.
22) 50d (§1. where he stressed the impossibility of apprehending the light of eyn sof. 302-4) that the term makkifim in R. Palace of Adam Kadmon. 33Ibid. Nahmandefinedas a level of consciousnesshoveringoutsidethe realm of humanexperience. By which meansof the sanctityof the seven lights of the Templemenorah of representthe sanctification our eyes by not gazing upon forbidden things. Nah. which faces each individual. . each time building the vessel until it will be able to sustain a total integration of the light.the nose and the ears we can inside. Seventh Gate.21).24]). in Lurianic Kabbala this term generally refers to light that first retreated from vessels of creation before they shattered and then descended into the depths of the void. 24-30. Nahman used this concept to illuminate the slow development of human consciousness. 32R." that is.33 drawthese makkifim case.the screamdoes not containwordsbut opens up the possibilityfor words.he stated: question[whichconcernsus] is how do we birththis The fundamental from its concealed state? Afterward. That is. see R. In Lurianic Kabbala the "dialectical" phenomenon in the cosmic process of tikkuncan be found in Et: Hayyim Palace l. as it were.32 In a complex discussion concerningthe makkifim which R. R.how can we integrate makkifim has How this is accomplished alreadybeen inside [ourconsciousness]? well explained. by way of the scream of Torah study and prayerwe can birth this consciousnessfrom its concealed place.36) 89d-9Ob (§1.This then becomes integratedinto the indiwhich then must be integratedas vidual only to introducenew makkifim. Nahmanstated: R.man's thought serves as the core of his dialectical faith as opposed to simple faith. For other examples of this. Nahman used this motif explicitly in one instance in Likkutei MofiIaRan (36d [§1. reflecting the exilic character the shekhina. Nah.when it consciousness(mohin) consciousness"] the ["external emerges. which. Lukkutei MoHaRan 32d (§1. In anotherinstance. R. Nahman of Bratzlav.yields a new level of consciousness. ("hoveringlight"). to give birth to conciousness (mohin) and thus pray. Discussing the trial of sexual desire. even by means of the dialectical process of mate be lo mate except via simha ("joyousness").506 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW The scream serves as a midwife. the scream is not wordless but rathera mode of In this particular verbalexpressionthat allows the wordsof study or prayerto give birthto a new state of consciousness. These lights remain undamaged and subsequently are utilized in the process of tikkun by slowly entering and exiting the broken vessel. This new of by mohin diminishesthe alienationof the worshipper revealingthe divine overflow (shefa). 31d (§1.75).man's use of makkifim is quite complex. the Gate of Mate ve lo Mate..man transformed the apparently negative implications of Moses' scream in the biblical narrative to something that enables one to "go forward. Green states (Tormented Master. also by sanctifyingthe mouth. well.R. Nah.
35 In each of the three cases cited. the use of the word'aher-literally.36). for example. Nahman. Elisha try. Nah.man. 9. This [desire]is embodiedin the seventy nationsswhich is embodiedin the notionof other ('aher).As R.Elisha b. These additions.man himself. Nahman likened the creative process to the breath (ruah) of God. See. R. See Weiss.The scream brings one past the darkness.10) where the Gentile as idol worshipper is likened to the "power of death" in Gen.SHAUL MAGID 507 The principletest that man is confrontedwith is the test of sexual desire.8]). moving from the wordless to the word. which is followed by words of study and prayer.Accordingto my readingof R. the screamdiscloses new possibilities. As the world is createdthrough (m."36 resoundswith the heresyof divine absencewith which R.34 Then the secretsof the Torahwill be open to him and the hiddenwill be revealed to him. until now. concealedin the extraneous matter(kelippot). which as is represented both the root of sexualdesire and idolatry. Studies in Bratzlav Hasidism.throughthe void to the presenceof God as creatorby giving birth to a new state of consciousness. ibid. It will reveal the faces of Torahwhich were.. anotherGod.it implies heretic R. one must to screamseventytimes. however. Nah. whose statement. Nahmanlikened to the questionof the second hereticdiscussedearlier is the very root of the heresy of the rabbinic sage and is transcended throughthe scream. are not uncommon in Likkutei MoHaRan. the name given to the talmudic b. Whenone screams. 15b. again an illusion to a sound that has no linguistic formu- .In the previous to text. Nahmangrappled his throughout teaching. Likkutei MoHaRan 50d-51a (§1. new souls and Torah will be born. R. Nahmanindicated. 251-77. but in his inabilityto completethe creativeprocess beginning but not endingnatureof God beyond the with gimzumin orderto apprehend transcendent the absence. 37In another passage (Likkutei MoHaRan 9b-c [§1. 13a (§1. 36b."thereis no judge and there is no justice. It is also. and gimzum this is followed by the "tenutterances" 'Abot 1:5). the seventy nations are synonymous with idolatry and the force of evil. my italics. Ber. That [new] Torahis embodiedin the totality of the souls of Israel. In the second text.the scream that enables the words of creationto emerge. "other"-appears have a double God"or idolaeither"another meaning. most of which are statements made by R. Perhapsthe silence of divine absence R. or the voice that precedes creation.37This scream is 34ForR. not less [corresponding the seventynations]. O Gods'(Ps 42:1). This statement is not part of the original lesson. Avuiah'smistake was not in his perceptionof the absenceof God. a screamwithoutwordsbreaksapartthe silence. 3sR.The hereticalnatureof this tannaiticsage is that he initiated a process that he did not complete. as it is written. but a later addition by the editor."Mysoul cries for You. Nahman of Bratzlav. human gimzumis accomplishedby the scream. Avuiah.
Like the primalscreamdiscussedearlier. 1973) 169-75 [Hebrew] . addressed issue froma slightly this differentperspective. By means of the aspect of breath. Nahman of Bratzlav."The crookednessin the heartis removedby thunderas it says in TalmudBerakhot (59b). 39Thisidea is strikingly similar to Carl G. . and lation: "How great is the groan and sigh of a Jew.."It is impossiblefor the heartto be joyous until it removesthe crookedness whichis in the heart. 40R.5). with the very fabric of the void within oneself. R. Man and His Symbols (New York: Doubleday.The mechanicsof this process must now be addressed. "Thunder not createdexcept to remove was crookednessfrom the heart. Likkutei MoHaRan 5c (§1.39Yet this void is not an intrinsicpart of the individualbut must be createdby the person. The fundamental place of joy is in the heart.From this [strong voice] thunderis created. causes the heartto become straightby arousingone to fear the power of God. Jung's notion of the "shadow" or the "dark self. The newness of the world comes about through breath [ruah.5.just as the void of the gimgum created God.40 This text likens the heavenlyvoice of thunderwhich.by being attentiveto his or her own voice-not the words of prayer.the voice joy of prayer in this passage empties the heart. the place of faith. 1964) 168-76. Nahmanbelieved that he could delve into the void and emerge unscathed. which is the spirit of life.508 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW intendedto force the individualto confrontdivine absenceand to produce a way beyond that absence..38 typical hasidic style.Through was by silenceandthe wordless scream-through that which comes before prayer and throughprayeritself R. it allows one's heartand mindto interactin order to filter reason throughthe chambersof the heart. Nahman of Bratzlav: Studies in His Writings(Jerusalem: Mosad Y. and idem.but the power of the voice itself enablesthe heartto become "straight" thus and experiences (simha). to the voice that emergesin prayer. as it is written(Ps 97:12)." See his Psychology and Religion (New Haven: Yale University Press. Nahman 1.crookedness-in orderto experiencejoy.thatit shouldbe a "straight heart"(yishrei lev). R. 38Seefor example in Yehudit Kook. In Likkutei MoHaRan R. as the talmudicpassage suggests.The individual.as it is written(Ps 4:8). L. meaning both breath and spirit]. At thatpoint he will meritjoy. the world was created.which empties the heartof insincerity literally.rejoice in the Lord. for this [causes] the perfection of his deficiencies. The emptying of the heart enablesone to be joyous. Girsh.. "Youputjoy into my heart. Nahmanargued In that one must confrontthe cosmic emptiness with one's own emptiness. "O you righteous[straighthearted]."Thunder corresponds the voice which to comes forth strongly in prayer." This breath or spirit is depicted here as a sigh or groan that shares the nonlinguistic character of the scream that precedes linguistic prayer. 1938) 93-95.The wordless scream discussed above becomes the image of thunder.
Yearningfor God is viewed as an existential responseto the experienceof God's absence. Nahman's reading of gimzum here is less psychological and more phenomenological in that his concern is how . the void (halal) is not the place empty of God but a place so full of God that God cannotbe recogby as of The ontic character gimzum presented the Lurianic nizedby humans. Nah.f). as R. R. This is a classic definition of the purpose of creation.. sustaincreationas such.. "The fundamental purpose of creation is to reveal God's kingship. Nahmanput it.49]).imzum. possibility for the experienceof the transcendent 1. The creationof the world is the creation of attributes(middot). R.SHAUL MAGID 509 I thus to experience the true nature of the mitzvot. it wouldnot be possible to performany act of devotionandthus one wouldbe unableto reveal of Fromthe grandeur this pureheart."this recognition God can only occurthrough hold attributesof God's finite presof the fragmentation worlds that can is.it (middah). 42Fora discussion of the ontic character of the Lurianic system. and the gimzum to the human limitation of those emotions. R. Therefore. see Karl Erich Grozinger. "Principles and Aims in Lurianic Cosmology. any positive attribute is not possible to do anything!This can be likened to the fact that in the beginningof the creativeprocess. however..49).imzum and uses it to legitimate both his vision of a world without God and his belief in a world full of God. This is impossible without the creation of worlds [fragmentation] for there is no King without a people.Therefore.yet cannot of creationis. serve as a foundation for one's perception of the external world. God's absence and God's phenomenologically. .There noting.49. antitheticalto God as eternal(eyn so. R.man's innovation emerged when he likened the eternal nature of God to the unbridled emotions of the heart. which creates a void and thus desire in the heart. Nahmanbegan a lengthy discussion on In LikkuteiMoHaRan of prayerwith what seems to be a reiteration his view of gimzum. school is now interpreted eternalpresence become identical.the commandments. gimzum was necessary to [create] the empty void. Prayermust be precededby a desire for God.4l This frameworkof "worldsand attributes" by definition.subtlenuancesworth for cept of eyn sof (God as infinite) is a prerequisite creation.it is necessary for a desire in his heartwhich personto contract(limit) the greatunbridled and is eyn sof. If the purpose of "to revealthe glory of God. as the absence of God. 57c [§ 1. there was no room for creation becauseeverythingwas eternal(eyn sof). furtherin orderto view how R. His phenomenological reading retains the ontic character of . Nahmanstatedthat the conare..In this case.42 The process of this act of creationis now read into the act of prayer. 57a (§1." Mekhkarei Yerushalayim 10 (1992) 37-46 [Hebrew]. in orderto serve God accordingto gradations attributes 41Ibid. desire in the heartof a Jew which of Fromthe grandeur the unbridled reachesto the eternalnatureof God (eyn sof). to create a place for the worlds in order to reveal his kingship" (ibid. Nahmanconmust now develop this idea tinued to deepen his reading of gimzumas a human act that opens the God. ence.
In Likkutei MoHaRan 6b (§ 1. He is identical with it. man suggested that the void perhaps his confrontation with nonbeingis the necessary prerequisite for an experience of the transcendent God." Anger is likened to the blood in the left side of the heart (gevurah).man used this verse in another context which corrresponds to the present discussion.. Nahman again invoked the verse in Psalms. Tillich argued that the notion of nonbeing is the fundamental principle for philosophy (what Heidegger called "thinking" [Denken]).that is.just as God createdhis absencein orderto make way for his finite presence. literally 'blood') to submission (dom. 4sR. Whatmust be avoidedare the two oppositepoles which pose the same danger. It is also filled with unbridleddesire yet devoid of yearning since. It is the place of unbridled emotions incapableof sustainingany form and thus potentiallyvery destructive.. Invoking Ps 109:22. He who is infinite does not ask the question of being. "The fixing for this is to turn anger (dam.HereR. Nahman stated.. he has the complete power of being. R. 46R. And a being which does not realize that it is finite (and in our actual experience that is every being except man) cannot ask. because it cannot go beyond itself and its limits.49). an empty void remains. as infinite. Although in this case the emptiness is not the absence of Cod but the absence of anger. It is man in his finitude who asks the question of being. Nahman of Bratzlav. Nah.like creation.6). This 11. Nahmansuggestedthat the heart before prayer is like God before creation. "My heart is empty (halal) within me. They are the secret of the creation of worlds in the divine void (of God).43 This readingappearsto be based on the oft-quotedrabbinicdictum that prayeris the service of the heart.which will house the human desire to pray. for. Nah.must be preceded by gimzum.510 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW (middot)."45R. At this juncture R.from within the empty void. the purposeof creation]. one must not allow the emotionsembeddedin one's heartto go unattended. The reaction of anger is then the reaction of the evil inclination. Likkutei MoHaRan 57c(§1. thus avoidingconfrontations divine absence. Nahmansuggestedthat prayer.44R..."46 One must create the void of divine absencein one's own heartin orderfor prayerto be effectual. When one limits the light in one's heart." Echoing Heidegger. the emptiness in the heart is still seen as constructive. LikkutecMoHaRan 6b (§ 1. 'silence')" (6d [§ 1. Thus the heart is emptied of the blood and left silent or vacant. "My heart is empty within me" (109:22). an emptinessin the heart.6) he develops his notion of repentance as the transformation from anger to passive submission: "The fundamental aspect of repentance is that one should hear an embarrassing [remark] and remain silent. like the eyn sof. is precisely what is meant when we say we are finite. which is the seat of the evil inclination. he is God.This is the of 43R.First. into the divine attributesand the worlds. . 1955] 12): "We are a mixture of being and non-being.. to illustrate the success of repentance in destroying the evil inclination in the heart.6l). Nah. it containsno distinctionand thus has nothing to yearn for. "Prayerof the heart is likened to the revelationof God'skingdom[thatis. It is in that void where good attributes are revealed. 44This idea reflects a similar distinction which Paul Tillich made in his discussion on the nature of the philosopher (Biblical Religion and the Search for Ultimate Reality [Chicago: University of Chicago Press.man of Bratzlav.
which createsthe potentialfor God's presence. "closed utterance" After (it has been determinedthat) everythingwas created for the glory of God. it is foundthatGod is the root of all of creation. and Henochof Radzin The in ShaulMagid. Gershon in Light of Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Kabbala"(Ph. 1968) 54-77 lHebrew].Fora discussionof the possible connectionsbetweenBratzlav of apparently primary of heresy.. seeing no possibility of individualwill become redemption. 47The I have suggested that for R. does not look to a renewedflow of divine presence. as of rendering the Hebrewtermshoresh (literally. then. which How. For a moregeneraldiscussion. Nahman Bratzlav.in this instanceI believe thathe used shoresh to meanpurmalkhut ("kingship").Scholem.D.Tormented Master.prayerand divine service ('avodah) are the impossible. which a its own (way of manifesting) particular is its source. See also Green. When the unbridledeternalnaturein the human heart is not confined and directedor when the gimzum.All that God createdhe createdfor (the revelation)of His glory. R. pp. "Inten is issue of antinomianism complexandquite subtlein hasidicthought. pose or telos.see Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth CenturyHasidic Thought(JerusaRivkaSchatz-Uffenheimet."Hasidism Transition: HasidicIdeologyof R. lem: Magnes. BrandeisUniversity.see Leibes. AlthoughR. which cannot be resolved by way of reason. Thus." and hasidism theSabbatean esp.Even thoughit is all (rooted)in the One.This is the meaningof the mishnahin 'Abot(5.This impliesthatwithout thatactionthe individualwill concludethathe or she andGod aretrulyone.one must avoid only confronting emptinessand not the creativeprocessby actuallyelevatingthe yearningfor God completing heresy in that one will in prayer.The first dangerwill lead to antinomian of justify the performance mizvot since one lacks the never be able to The seconddangerwill yield to fatalism:the properyearningto find God.Second. it was concern.In this case.Herehe used the termkavod ("glory")insteadof Similarly. diss. does one overcomethis confrontation process as well as the appearshere as a necessary step in the creative 2.SHAUL MAGID 511 realm of eyn sof where creation. 1994) 474-523.Eachparthas dimensionof his glory. Nahman'sargument. Nahmanbegan MoHaRan In for initialprerequisite prayer? Likkutei his discussion on doubt by defining the place of doubt as rooted in the (ma'amarsatum)that precededcreation. 78-142. Nahmancreatingthe void in one's own heart allows one to experiencethe absenceof Godandthusto yearnfor God'spresence.1).the individualconfrontsthe secondform of heresy."Ha-TikkunHa-Kelali of R.12. with the void. ."root"or "source") telos in this 48My case follows the logic of R. Eitherinaction or incompleteaction representsthe two dangersthat confront the second seeker.any action will be God's will. creation(is divided)into parts. 128-50.Earlierhe suggestedthat the purposeof creationis the revelationof God'skingship.The Messianic Idea in Judaism. It follows that the glory of God is the root (telos)48 of all of creation.and thus will be trappedin the snares of the second heretic. 91.47 overcomeby the absence. Nahmanhimself never reachedsuch a conclusion.
an idea originally expressed in m. manides' commentary on that statement. that the primal screamor silence that is the ultimateexpressionof faith. Nozar Hesed (1855.5° Accordingto LurianicKabbala.which connect the finite with the infinite. however.fatalism andfaithlessness result. if humanspeech is not connectedback to its sourceby subsequent wordsof prayer. however. Likkutei MoHaRan 12d-20a (§2. Yizhak Isaac Yehuda Yehiel Safran of Kamarno.65). Words. 1965) 28a: "Their end is unified with their beginning and their beginning is unified with their end. speech.can serve as catalysts for humansto maintaina relationshipwith the utterances. R. Nahman of Bratzlav. 1975) 91b-c. reprinted Jerusalem: n. Thus. see R. Each utterance containsits own particular dimensionof (God's)glory. See.52 49R. R.12). Nahmanthe utterance words(dibur).thus.however. 1982) 80-81.which fill the void of God cannot overcome the heresy that is rooted in the void itself.49 In kabbalistic jargon. orderto makerewardand punishment In possible. In this text the "closed utterance" is termed "closed consciousness" (mohin satum). p." See Moses Nah. poses a challengeto the spiritualseeker. This challengecan only be met by an expression is wordless for R.. Nahman apparently based his ideas on Sefer Yezirah 1. 52See R.being rooted of in the world of creationwhere the fragmentation the divine has already of takenplace. Ironically.leads to a verificationof divine absence. The cosmic closed utterancein the process of creation is thus likened to the nonverbal preverbal or stateof human expression."He could have createdthe world with one utterance.or supernalspheres.The wordsof prayer alone arenot enoughto achieve this goal. that are the productof creationwithinthe void of God-words.he createdit with ten utterances.Mizvot.the closed utterance the root of the ten utterances is that created the world.which in the realmof God'sfinite presenceconnects one to God as an answerto his infinite absence. the words of prayercomplete a circle that begins with the wordless expression of the soul respondingto the realizationof divine absence. he illuminates the circular nature of the cosmic order in rela- . Torah Or (Brooklyn: Kehot. 'Abot 5.For R. Nahman. closed utterance rootedin the world the is of creationwheredistinctionhas yet to take place. slThe notion of the closed utterance as the aspect of the infinite dimension of God that is present but undetectable in the created world is not uncommon in hasidic thought.humanactions. that are by definitionthe productof creation. Shnuer Zalman of Laidy. however. Likkutei MoHaRan 80b-c (§1. for example. 5°For an interesting and somewhat provocative kabbalistic and hasidic reading of this mishnah. Nahman of Bratzlav.512 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW utterancesthe world was created.5l This closed utterance gives birth to the ten fragmentedutteranceswith which God createdthe world.1.Wordsdiffuse the initial expressionof the soul and can only be productiveif they remainrooted in the soul even after they are spoken.7 (Jerusalem: Levin Epstein.whether Torahstudyor prayer.or wordsof humanspeech(dibur).
one must reach beyond creationby creating the abyss in oneself throughemotionalgimzum and then retreatfrom the realm of divine absence that entices the person of faith with the retreatis not a denial of philosophicalquestion. Nahman. Nahman's unresolvable with the absenceof God. tion to the system of the sefirot. Nahmanshowedlittle patiencefor either ontology or epistemology. Nah. "Thevoid is the abyss.R. Workingwithin the frameworkof worldthatemerged worldandthe mundane betweenthe supernal correlation in the Kabbalaof Geronain the thirteenthcentury. posit a phenomenological Nahmanheld that this void has any ontologicalstatusis not centralin his argument. the chasm or the crack which opens up in all that well depictedin exists.R. where God is truly absent. This is the experienceof modernman. The question is then not whetherit really exists or is just an illusion resultingfrom our humanlimitations. Nahmanused the gimzumtheory as a model for resolving the experienceof divine absence in the heart and mind of the one who intently seeks God's presence.whetherR." dangerof wordsis thatthey threaten closed and holistic nature of the pristineexpressionof the soul.it is a stark the experientialconfrontation affirmationof it.in this very confrontation one can locate the key to enter into the palace of God's eternalpresence.the one who speaksmustbe certainthatthe words do not become linearand diffuse the initial intentof the soul's yearning.the void exists because humansexperience it. surpassingly mantook this notion and appliedit to the wordsof R. Thus. R. Nahman relevant As stated at the outset.In thatway he can completehis entireprayerwithoutseparating the The letterof his prayer. He sought to resolve the empiricalabthe sence of God in orderto avoid the heresythathe felt threatens one who adopts his theory of dialectical faith. Philosophy andModern W R. prayer:"Whenone standson the last wordof his prayer. Rather. without denying the existential to realityof divine absence.to relive the gimzum. Nahman suggested an innovativereading of Lurianic gimzumwhich froze the process of contractionand emanationin orderto readingof the void.he shouldstill be on the first word fromthe first of his prayer.In the wordsof GershomScholem.SHAUL MAGID 513 To overcomedivine absence. In summary. Thus. confrontthe absencethat is the productof gimzum.R.R. . and then utilize the void to overcomethe second heresy which entices humansto solve its speculativequestionby using the tools of the finite nature of God.He had little interest in building a cosmology and used the model only as it served his existential and phenomenoZoharic/Lurianic logical needs. Nahman'sconcernsare surprisingly and reflectthe crisis of modernpersons. For R.R. This affirmationrequiresa retreatfrom finitude to the momentbefore creation. As statedearlier. Nahmanattempted lead his readersthrough the windingalleys of his own skepticalsoul only to arriveat the iron gate with God's absence.
statedin the largercontextof earlyhasidism." idem. "Theuniverseof space andtime.Paul Tillich.appeared the kabbaliststo be intelligibleonly if it constitutedan act of to God'srenunciation whichHe sets Himselfa limit.Tales of Rabbi Nahman (trans. see Padovano. the Trembling. if R. in could be nothingother than creationof the void.gimzum is the basis of of R.fromthe void.1969) 6970: "All thingswereenvelopedby the abyss. Donnhauser."s3 The implications of the gimzumtheory as explicatedby R. man. Nah. 1989) 50-56. man'sLikkutei MoHaRan.1994) xiv-xxi. Gellman'sworkreflects manyof the issues I addressedin this article."As with Scholem'swriting. Creationout of nothing. Nah. Nah.Althoughmanyearlyhasidicwritings point to this assertion. and Judaism in Crisis (New York:Schoken.Maurice Friedman. hasidism was "envelopedby the abyss.this appearsto be a direct referenceto R. I shall initiate such a In comparisonin the hope that it will inspire others to attemptto draw R.is particularly relevantto the presentdiscussion in that it serves as the conclusion of his discussion on kabbalisticinterpretations creation(gimzum)."in W. 1976) 282.forthe abyss was between them. On Jews on ed. attemptedto make a connectionbetween hasidism and existentialism. to be sure.Existentialism and Religious Belief. . New Jersey:Humanities.indeednonecould see theother.1967) 194. Such an assertionresonatesin existentialthoughtfromPascalthrough Heidegger. J. and a Roberts.Scholem'sstatement. S0ren Kierkegaard. Nahman. Nahman'smessage out of its intricateexegetical frameworkand place it 53Gershom Scholem. Jean-Paul and Sartre. that is. man'saffirmation the void as well as his solutionagainstthe heresythatmayresult of from such an assertion.The Fear. See also Buber. and the Fire: Kierkegaard and Hasidic Masters on the Binding of Isaac (New York/London: Lanham. however.54Buber.The Estranged God.56 the following pages.Scholemseems to have discovered the very foundationof R. this living process we call Creation. and. "Judaism Civilization. andyet the whole abyss was betweeneach thing andtheother. UniversityPress of America. Nahmanand reiteratedby both Scholem and Martin Buber pose a challenge to the Jewish thinker not dissimilarfrom the existentialistgrapplingwith the assertionthat God is dead. the void of God.and Albert Camus. not FriedrichNietzsche." yet differed from Nietzscheanexistentialismin that hasidism offered a solution-the redemptivenatureof history. ssSee MartinBuber.514 HARVARD THEOLOG ICAL REVIEW all its desolationby Kaflea. 54For mostrecentdiscussionon ScholemandBuber's the dialogueon Hasidism. Nah.The Legends of the Baal Shem Tov (New York:Schocken.55 Thus.Scholemstates."Reflections JewishTheology. Martin Buber's Social and Religious Thought (New York:New YorkUniversityPress. 282). of course.Thisissue and in hasalsobeendiscussedin Laurence Silberstein.I have not foundthe sophisticated intricatetreatment the proband of lem andits solutionin texts otherthanR.see Jerome Gellman. unlike Scholem. his ideas are similar to those of theistic existentialistssuch as Blaise Pascal.For Buber.Nonecouldcrossoverto the other. whom nothinghas remained God but the for of void-in KaRa's sense. andidem. man'sposition.On Judaism (New York:Schocken. As discussedearlier. 56For brief overview of some of these figures.1988) 3-17. of the possibility of thinkingof anythingthat was not God"(p. J.whom Scholem respectedas a creativehasidicthinkerbutnot as a kabbalist. GabrielMarcel. Nahman's discussion were placed in the context of modernsolutions to the problem of the abyss and the absence of God. Withoutreferenceto R..
71. and thereby transcending itself as a simple problem. 59R. Nahman's dialectical thinking emerges numerous times in his teachings. Hayyei MoHaRan 2. Although that may be the case. Nahman initially viewed faith as the R. Marcel states.His notionof makkifim well dynamicprocessrequiring his support view thatfaith is not to as his innovativeapproach repentance6l 57For a thoughtful discussion of this issue see. Nahman's lem" and "mystery" dialectical faith. Nahmanwas a hasidic masterwith a complex dialecticalpersonwith reason.is a as constantactivity. in its pristine simplistic form. Sihot ha-Ran. Ga'on through Gersonides is viewed as his explicit rejection of the whole medieval Jewish philosophical tradition. needs to repent on his initial act of repentance.6): "When a person wants to go in the way of repentance.which leads from wordless the screamto prayerand subsequently overcomingof divine absence. He must be a expert in two aspects-that is. Nathan (Sternharz)of Nemerov. Nah. Marcel'sdistinctionbetween dialecticalfaith." 6IFor R. 275-336. he must be an expert in halakhah. lay which I find completebeforeme. 1962) 19: "A mystery is a problem which encroaches upon its own data." See Zohar 2. the Bratzlav school has minimized the dialectical nature of his thought. reprinted New York: Citadel. exhibit a far more complex picture. It is the process of human transformation whereby the individual. Nahman'sthinking. an expert in 'going' (rago) and an expert in 'coming' (shov). Nahman. 1949) 100." in idem. Nahman mysteryandproblemresonatesin R. This picture yielded a creative and innovative solution to a problem that faith. R.GabrielMarcel's may shed light on my claim regardingR."60 Marcel. one towardheresy. See. The relationshipbetween faith and reason poses a complex problemin While R. repentance is dynamic in that it always yields the need for further repentance. only a small portion of which I discussed in this article. from his more elevated place. Tormented Master. having achieved a new consciousness through repentance. 58Inmy view. 36 (§32).SHAU L MAG ID 515 against the more speculative and theologically sophisticatedtheories of moderntheistic thought. faith should not be viewed as the solution to a problem. A mystery is somethingin which I myself am involved. the mysteryby definitioncannotbe resolved precisely because a person can never be fully objective about it. R. For his critique of rationalism. For man's apparent tirade against rationalist medieval philosophy from Sa'adia example. "On the Ontological Mystery. but also a man forever enticed by reason.but as the between"probdistinction unfoldingof the divine mystery. his teachings. Being and Having (London: Dacre. could not cure. Green. and his submissionto faith never solved his infatuation Thus. This results in the elevation of the one's conciousness to the realization of the divine. as it were. but whichI can therefore siege to and For reduce. 60See Gabriel Marcel. invading them. "A problem is something which I meet. R. As ArthurGreen has noted. for example Likkutei MoHaRan 7a (§ 1.57 that draws matrixof religious worshipand reasonas the "evil inclination" R.213b and 3.58 Nahmanwas a man of faith. See also idem. see R. This process . Nahman of Bratzlav. looks back on his or her first act of repentance and.18d-21b and R. The halakhic system becomes a dynamic process that demands an ability to be in constant spiritual motion.59 ality. he also nuancedthe concepts. The Philosophy of Existentialism (1956. Na4man's stressedthat the process of emotionalgimzum.
Traditional Bratzlav readings of Likkutei MoHaRan. Every lesson is directed toward a particular mitzvah and chapter in [R. Rather. the Tikkunimand all of the holy Kabbala. for example." 62See Ralph Harper. may his memory be blessed [R. Nahman's position when he arguedthat reason limits one's access to mystery and thus one's apprehension absoluteknowledge. see "Introduction to Sifre Likkutei MoHaRan. Therefore. Isaac Luria. In this light Buber's position that hasidism "overcame" the Kabbala by transforming it into a source for the encounter between the human and divine may be useful.63 of MarcelreflectedR. 1991 ) 39-54." in Likkutei MoHaRan 5b: "All the writings of the Ari. See Likkutei MoHaRan 6d (§1. R. All of them are included in this holy work [Likkutei MoHaRan]. and is even more pronounced in R. Nathan of Nemerov. Nahman.man of Bratzlav with whom Buber shared a common journey. Afterward. I believe her point can be taken out of its formal polemical context. it would only strengthen such a claim regarding R.516 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW the solution to the problemof divine absence but the affirmationof the ontologicalmysteryof divine presence.He stated. of I firmly believe that scientific truthis in no sense-not even in the most criticallyreal sense the measureof the real. according to his understanding now. "Hasidism-Historical Continuity and Spiritual Change. "The Faith of Judaism. seeing Marcel as a bridge between Heidegger and Buber.. See. beginning with its author R. Origin and Meaning of Hasidism. the Zohar. eds. it will be found that. it sought to present a comprehensive dialectical worldview which would bridge between the divine processes described in Lurianic Kabbala and man's conciousness and his thinking process." 13. argue that Kabbala was the backbone of R. does not contribute to the kabbalistic system of Luria. See Buber's Tales of Rabbi Nahman. 63This describes the general attitude of hasidism toward Kabbala. Nah. Nahman's personalist approach. Harper draws an important distinction between the early Heidegger and Marcel." Even though Elior attempts to defend Scholem's thesis that hasidism did not offer an "original" kabbalistic doctrine. For example.it continues indefinitely. Gershom Scholem's Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism: 50 Years Later (TUbingen: Mohr." in idem. Initially when he repented.Just as Marcelwas not interested in constructing fundamental a ontology and had little interestin the question of Being outside of its relationship humans." in Peter Schafer and Joseph Dan. On the otherhand. If Elior could make this argument for a more theosophically oriented hasidism such as Habad. . when he did repent and thus achieved a higher apprehension of God. Nahman.62 Nahmanhad little to R. he must repent on his initial understanding. however. 1994) 318: "Hasidic doctrine did not intend to create a new layer of theosophy in order to decipher the subtleties of the divine cosmology. Hayyim. it is not true to say that science is only an emptyformalism. Isaac Luria's] E. and he does not require his reader to know intimately the kabbalistic system from which he works. 121-25 and idem. The introduction of Buber to Harper's discussion on Marcel strengthens comparison between Marcel and R. "Spirit and Body of the Hasidic Movement. Buber's earliest works on hasidism focused on R.6c): "Even if a person knows himself that he achieved a complete repentance. man. See Martin Buber. Rachel Elior. he needs to repent on his first repentance. Nah. Nahman's thought. interestin kabbalistictheosophyor rooting his existentialdilemmain the ontic character classical Kabbala. rather. his initial understanding was mundane." This may indeed be the case. On Presence: Variations and Reflections (Philadelphia: Trinity. a sixteenth century Kabbalist from Safed]. he did it according to his understanding.
J. personsdestituteof faith and grace. The Mystery of Being (trans. Nahman's For the need of the seekerof presence.67 reason plays only a negative role and thus would fall outside of Pascal's claim. but when they are reached. implying that reason cannot define presfor ence but cannot be abandoned the sake of presence. "Reasons. it is from the infinite that the finite gets the little reality it possess. 1996) §263.' but on the contrary there must be a possibility of having an experience of the transcendent as such.. regarding similarambivalence A distinctionbetweenreasonand Reason. Nahman's"simplefaith." The finite or empirical world gets its life from the infinite. however. and unless the possibility exists the word can have no meaning. Philosophical Fragments 1909-1914 (trans. reasoncannotbe avoidedbut must be confrontedand only then overcome. by itself. 6sGabriel Marcel.SHAUL MAG ID 517 isolate scientific findingsfrom the spiriis such only if we arbitrarily tual activity which has engenderedthem. Rene Hague. appear to limit our view.he understood of dialecticalrole in the apprehension relithat reasonplays an important With regardto R. reasoncannotanswer In both Marcel'sand R. Nahman'sdialecticalfaith. it is nothing. in R. A. Science is relative to the spiritualactivity which producesit. R.who. For Pascal. 1950) 46: "Not only does the word 'transcendent' not mean 'transcending experience. Blain.but neithercan it be abandoned. Lionel A. Philosophical Fragments. nothing but an abstract and contradictory view" (idem. §282. "In other words. it will be infinite. and it is a fallacy to see in the worldconsideredas reified science a whole sufficientunto itself. he explained."it appearsthat gious Truth.In this case. useful and adequateas long as it knows its limits.the one who abandons cannotyield an experienceof presencethatlies beyonddivine absence.64 dialecticalfaith. 66Blaise Pascal. . 2 vols. if there is anything real in the finite.reason or science gives the transcendent the infinite a place in the finite and thus opens the possibilityfor an experienceof the infinite. which Nahman.This attitudeis reflectedin Pascal. Krailsheimer. Pensees (trans. reasoncan be foundin Pascal'sPensees. reasonis the carrierof simple faith. 1965) 41.the questionto the one who is rooted in the void and poses the unanswerable seekerof divine presence.seen from afar. 44). 67Ibid. reason depicted as the by experienceof the absenceof God is represented the secondheretic. seeking 64GabrielMarcel. of who spoke of the proponents theoriesof religioustruththatoffer "proofs of God":"But for those in whom this light is extinguished.65 Both thinkersmaintaina dialectical relationshipwith reason. IN: University of Notre Dame Press.and in whom we purposeto rekindleit. Baltimore: Penguin. Chicago: Regency."66 AlthoughPascal was critical of a religionbased on Reason. reason is the handmaidenof faith.between important Pascal drew an the use of the mind and heartto acquireknowledgeand the claim of Logic as certainty.we begin to see beyond.For Marcel. Nahman'scase. each arguing or. In R. Notre Dame.
For Nahman. Hasidism: Between Ecstasw and Magic} (Albany: SUNY Press. Philip Thody. in the most proper sense of the term. retaineda dialecticalframework. Devotion and Commandment: The Faith of Abraham in the Hasidic Imagination (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press. See. emerging out of the 1 kabbalisticthoughtof the Zohar and subsequentKabbala.Arthur Green has correctly noted that Weiss. While Pascal had pity for the person of reason. Mysticism and Hasidisnl (Northvale. the constant struggle to search out integrate maqqifin we find that the end of that process is in fact mystical. 167-92.70Green notes. .mythic. Nahman'sstrikingvali68Ibid. that of a simple fideist who lives the life of Torahbecause God has commanded on the other handthat of a mystic it. Gedalyah Nigal. Nahmanand his use of the mysticaltradition.neverrejectingthe theurgic. personwho entersintorational the dialoguewith the secondheretic will conclude that divine absence is all that exists. §242. the kabbalistic cosmological apparatus plays only a nominal role. 72The use of and interest in magic and theurgy in hasidism is an area that is only now receiving scholarly attention. for example. 7(Green states (Tormented Master.can R. Nahmanwould To agree with Pascal that reason is the handmaiden faith would overstate of the case." Perhaps Green intends to make a distinction between the terms "mystical" and "kabbalistic" here. 78See Arthur Green."68 Pascal.however. on the one hand.viewed itself as an authentic formof Jewishmysticism. Nahman. Pensees §242."69 R. and Moshe Idel. New York: Humanities. Only by confronting reason.howeverconvincingthose proofs may be. The Hidden God: A Study of Tragic Vision in the Pensees of Pascal and the Tragedies of Racine (trans. See also Lucien Goldman.find only obscurityand darkness. like R.apparently less confidentin having permanently overcomethe absenceandhavingcleansedhimselfof the second heretic. and even magical context of medieval Kabbala. 1995). 1974) 8796 [Hebrew]. 1994). 1989) 55. 318-19): "As we closely examine certain passages dealing with the very heart of Nahman's 'existential' teachings. Nah.518 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW with all their light whateverthey see in nature can bring them to this knowledge. R. Green's observation thus questions the accuracy of the typology set up by Joseph Weiss in his Studies in Bratzlav Hasidism (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik. NJ: Aronson. Nahman's theoryof reachingbeyond the void be understood.pitied the one who defines his faith by rational proofs. in his bold typology. Nahman. 69Pascal.man indeed resolved the ominous trek through the void with a mystical perception of divine presence. With regardto R. who strives to reachsuch a state of oneness with God that the divine Will becomes entirely his own.72 Althoughthe mystical experienceof the divine may indeed challenge R. Nahman'sposition. He assertedthat whoever seeks God throughreason "find(s)only obscurityand darkness. Magic. "Nahman's position is. deleted the mystical dimension of R. 1964) 22-40."7 Hasidism in general. While R. arguethat R.
Na4mandevoted so much attention. R. spanningthe abyss below.that if one seeks divine wisdom from "the bottom up" (that is. is the narrow bridge. the residence of the hereticalquestion. however.the empiricalrecognitionof divine absence which must be overcomeby reenactingthe creativeprocess and then participatingin the wordlessscream. perhaps. simple faith the Not to undertake journeyis to be a carrierof R. For R. with the roaringrapidsbelow God calling from the other side. This frozen frame is also. he incorporates mystical experienceas the the rewardfor confronting void and not falling prey to its fatalisticthreat.To step onto the narrowbridge is to step into the void. Nahman froze the Lurianic theory of creation in the midst of its dynamicprocess to focus not on the creationas such. It is this frozen frame of gimzumto which R. one can God who lies beyond creation. but on the frozen frame of divine absence before it is filled with the finite form of divine presence.It is only by never reach the transcendent disappearsthat one can achieve the freezing the void before it apparently ultimateexperienceof God. Nahmanthis ominousjourney.He implied.which he apparentlytravelled daily.which is the divine soul's pure yearning for its home beyondthe void. and the transcendent . throughnatureand reason alone).SHAU L MAG ID 519 the dation of the divine void. this journey connects the yearningsoul to its place in the divine. Nahman's and thus to be satisfied with the immanentGod of creation.
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