A sacred conversation between the fourth century Babylonian Wisdom masters:
“It is written that God withdraws his presence from the world to dwell in the empty space between the Cherubs in the Temple. But how could this be? Is it not also written that all of heaven, indeed all the space in the cosmos, is not enough to contain divinity? “Ah,” says Master Jose. “It is to be likened to lovers. When they quarrel even a palatial home is not enough for their needs, but when they love, they can make their bed even on the edge of a sword.”
The mystery of creation, of existence itself, is Tzimtzum.
Tzimtzum, meaning “withdrawal.” God creates the world by withdrawing to make space for the world. What is the motivating force of Tzimtzum? Both of our images give the same answer. The motivating force of tzimtzum is love.
Love is the force in the cosmos that allows God to step back and allow room for us. As with God, so with us. We are Homo Imago Dei who participate in the divine image – divine miniatures. In order for us to create a world, a relationship, we need to step back and create an empty space in which there is room for other, in which there is a place for the relationship to unfold. “Let us be close friends and there will be room.” If I love you, I need to know how to step back and make space for you. Tzimtzum is God saying, “You can choose – even if you choose against me.” This is the gift of love.
The Erotic and the Holy