A reading from The Emperor (Arcanum 4, Daleth) of the G.O. Mebes Tarot Majors Course
Let us turn now to the idea of tsimtsum – the ‘withdrawal of God’ in the Lurianic school of the Cabbala. The doctrine of tsimtsum reveals one of the ‘three mysteries’ in the Cabbala: sod hajichud, the mystery of union; sod hatsimtsum, the mystery of concentration or divine withdrawal; sod hagilgul, the mystery of reincarnation or the ‘revolution of souls’. The two other ‘mysteries’ – the mystery of union and that of the revolution of souls – will be treated later, in other letters. Concerning the ‘mystery of the divine withdrawal (or concentration)’ which interests us here, it is a question of the thesis that the existence of the universe is rendered possible by the act of contraction of God within himself. God made a ‘place’ for the world in abandoning a region interior to himself.
The first act of En-Soph, the Infinite Being, is therefore not a step outside but a step inside, a movemetn of recoil, of falling back upon oneself, of withdrawing into oneself. Instead of emanation we have the opposite, contraction…The first act of all is not an act of revelation but an act of limitation. Only in the second act does God send out a ray of His light and begin His revelation, or rather His unfolding as God the Creator, in the primordial space of His own creation. More than that, every new act of emanation and manifestation is preceded by one of concentration and retraction. (Gershom G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism).
In other words, in order to create the world ex nihilo, God had first to bring the void itself into existence. He had to withdraw within in order to create a mystical space, a space without his presence – the void. And it is in thinking this thought that we assist at the birth of freedom.
Freedom is not determined by God; it is part of the nothing out of which God created the world….The void – the mystical space from which God withdrew himself through his act of tsimtsum – is the place of origin of freedom, ie, the place of origin of an ‘existence’ which is absolute potentiality, not in any way determined. And all of the beings of the ten created hierarchies are the children of God and freedom born of divine plenitude and the void. They carry within themselves a ‘drop’ of the void and a ‘spark’ of God. Their existence, their freedom, is the void within them. Their essence, their spark of love, is the divine ‘blood’ within them. They are immortal, because the void is indestructible. Further, these two indestructible elements – the meonic element (ov – void) and the pleromic element (plenitude) – are indissolubly bound to one another. (Nichoas Berdyaev, The Destiny of Man).
Meditations on the Tarot, Letter IV, The Emperor
The argument from Moscow is always the same: If God exists, he must know that we, the communists, dethrone him. Why does he not give a visible sign, if not of his power, at least of his existence? Why does he not defend his own interests?! This is in other words the old argument: Come down from the Cross, and we will believe in you.
I cite these well know things because they reveal a certain dogma underlying them. It is the dogma or philosophical principle which states that truth and power are identical; that which is powerful is true and that which is powerless is false. According to this dogma or philosophical principle (which has become that of modern technological science) power is the absolute criterium and supreme ideal of truth. Only that which is powerful is of the Divine.
Now there are open and secret worshippers of the idols of power. (for it is an idol and the source of all idolatry) – also in Christian factions or in religious and spiritual circles in general. I am not speaking about Christian or spiritually-minded princes or politicians who covet power, but rather about the adherents to doctrines advancing the primacy of power. Here there are two categories: those who aspire to the ideal of the ‘superman’, and those who believe in a God that is actually almighty and therefore responsible for all that happens.
They build their individual towers of Babel, and experience, sooner or later, a salutary fall…They do not fall from a real height into a real abyss; it is only from an imaginary height that they fall and they fall only to the ground, ie, they learn the lesson that we human beings of today have all learned or have still to learn.
Unknown Author, Meditations on the Tarot, Letter IV, The Emperor