Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
“The Essential Rebbe Nachman”, Part 16
If one dead soul were permitted to visit the philosophers and scientists as they sit theorizing, it would be the end of all their theories. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, Sichot Haran #226
God created the world out of love - in order to reveal His love - for without the creation, to whom would He show His love? Accordingly He brought about the entire creation from the beginning of the highest spiritual world of Atzilut down to the end of the center point of the material world, all in order to manifest His love.
When God wanted to create the world, there was no place to create it because everything was infinite. He therefore "contracted" the infinite light to the sides. As a result of this contraction, an empty void was formed within which time and space - the finite world - were created, as explained at the beginning of the Eitz Chaim of the ARI.
This empty void was essential for the creation of the world, because without it there would have been no place to create the world. However, it is impossible to grasp or understand the "contraction" that brought about the empty void. This will only be possible in the future. For we have to postulate two opposites: existence and nothingness.
This is because the empty void came about through the contraction of His Godliness from there, with the result that Godliness is not present there, as it were. For if this were not the case, the void would not be empty; everything would have been infinite and there would have been no room to create the finite world at all. Yet the real truth is that even so, Godliness is most certainly present there because nothing at all exists without His vitality. Due to this contradiction it is impossible to grasp the concept of the empty void. This will be possible only in time to come.
And know that there are two kinds of atheism. There is the kind of unbelief that arises out of alien systems of wisdom, of which it says, "Know what to answer the non-believer" (Avot 2:14). For there is an answer to this kind of unbelief since it derives from alien wisdoms that arose out of the superfluities caused by the breaking of the vessels. A person who has fallen to this kind of unbelief should certainly flee and make every effort to escape, and indeed if he does seek out God he will find a way to be saved. For since these wisdoms derive from the breaking of the vessels, various holy sparks and letters broke and fell there, and he may therefore find Godly intelligence there in order to resolve the challenges posed by the kind of unbelief that derives from alien wisdoms.
However there is another kind of atheism based on wisdoms that are not wisdoms at all. It is only because they are so deep and hard to grasp that they have the appearance of deep wisdom. For example, a person might posit a false Talmudic argument which he imagines is exceptionally deep but, lacking the necessary scholarship, he fails to realize that his line of argument is untenable. Similarly, the philosophers pose various problems and questions that are in truth devoid of all wisdom. The problems are intrinsically non-existent, but because it is not within the bounds of the human mind to unravel them, they appear genuine.
The truth is that it is impossible to resolve these problems because the questions posed by this brand of atheism derive from the empty void, where Godliness is not present, as it were. This is why the questions that derive from the empty void cannot be answered in any way, because it is impossible to find God there. For if one could find God there it would not be empty and all would be infinite. For this reason it is said of this atheism, "None who go to her return" (Proverbs 2:19).
Israel alone transcends all wisdoms including even the atheism that derives from the empty void, because we believe in God without speculation or sophistry but only with complete faith. For God fills all the worlds and encompasses all the worlds. Thus He is present within all the worlds and at the same time He encompasses all the worlds... Therefore even the empty void came about through His wisdom. The ultimate truth is that His Godliness must be present there, but it is impossible to grasp this or find God there.
Thus the people of Israel transcend all the philosophical problems and atheistic ideas that derive from the empty void, because they know that it is impossible to solve them. This is why the people of Israel are called the Hebrews, from the Hebrew root OVeiR , to pass over and transcend.
But know that certain outstanding Tzaddikim who are in the category of Moses have been obliged to investigate these philosophies in order to extricate and elevate the fallen souls that have become sunk in them. Through their great sanctity these Tzaddikim had the power to release these trapped souls.
And know that it is through his melody that the Tzaddik who is in the category of Moses elevates the souls which have fallen into the atheism that derives from the empty void. Every wisdom in the world has its own unique melody and song; even atheism has its own special song. And faith too has its own unique melody and song. The faith in the light of the Infinite is supreme above all other wisdoms and beliefs in the world, and the song of this faith is beyond all other melodies and songs in the world.
And in time to come, when God "will turn to all the nations a pure language so that all will call on the name of HaShem" (Zephaniah 3:9) and all will believe in God, the verse, "Come, sing from the summit of Amana" (Song of Songs 4:8) will be fulfilled. The "summit of Amana" is the supreme faith (Emuna) in the Infinite One, which is the summit of all faith. Only the Tzaddik of the generation - Moses - attains this supreme faith and its melody. Thus it is through the melody of the Tzaddik who is in the category of Moses that all the souls that have fallen into the atheism deriving from the empty void are able to ascend and emerge, for his melody is the "summit of faith", which is supreme. (Likutey Moharan I, 64)
(Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is the director of Azamra. “The Essential Rebbe Nachman” is available for purchase online here)