The Underside Of Creative Expression

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This article was published in B’Or HaTorah: Science, the Arts and Problems of Modern life in the Light of Torah: #7, 1991 [ISBN 965-293-013-X] (Shamir: Jerusalem, Israel). p. 97-105.

The Underside Of Creative Expression

by Sarah Yehudit (Susan) Schneider

Before the creative act which brought our present universe into being, G‑d existed in a state of undifferentiated, infinitely potent Light which, figuratively speaking, was equally present at every point of time and space (though time and space, themselves creations, did not yet actually exist.) This Light was so powerful that it negated even the possibility of transitory existence. Form and physicality could not maintain their boundaries in the face of it. They would be annihilated by its strength of illumination in the same way that the lights of stars are washed out by the more potent radiance of the sun, or a delicate crystal glass shatters and disintegrates from the impact of water rushing from a fire hose. In creating the physical universe, G‑d first, from our perspective, concealed His Infinite Light from a particular area and created a dark womblike vacuum within a surrounding expanse of Light.[1] Then, into this apparently “empty space” He emanated a “thin” ray of light, the unfolding and dissipation of which is the history and progression of creation as we know it.[2]

The ordered arrangement of letters within the most holy name of G‑d, the Tetragrammaton, actually maps the sequence by which the Creator fashions a physical universe out of this beam of primordial light.[3] The mechanism at first seems counter-intuitive; for it is all accomplished by increasing degrees of self constraint. Strangely, as the Infinite One imposes upon Himself a progressively more severe discipline of concealment and self control, He presses the creative process forward in a reverie of aesthetic expression.[4]

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