Rabbi Asher Freund helps us understand that to draw in new light, we first nullify our sense of “self.” How do we come to that place of humility and what does it look like? What is nullification about? How is it actually good for us?
Rabbi Yitzchok Ginsburg learned in Rabbi Asher Freund’s community for awhile Here is an eight minute explanation of nullification from Rabbi Ginsburg. Below is the transcript in English
Seeing the World through Hashem’s eyes by Rabbi Yitzchok Ginsburg
There are two knowledges (views) “G-d of knowledges” is in the plural form.
What does it mean,” two knowledges”?
There is higher knowledge and a lower knowledge.
How does chassidut explain this?
The lower knowledge, our knowledge, our perspective, our vantage point, is that Yesh/somethingness is lower- we are existence here below, that is how we feel ourselves and everything around us, and Hashem is not graspable by us, and therefore He, in relation to us, is ayin/nothingness.
And therefore we also say that the world was created ex nihilo/something from nothing, and G-d recreates the world every moment ex nihilo, “He renews in His goodness each day, continually, the works of creation.
This is called the lower knowledge. That we, the somethingness, are bring brought into existence, from nothingess, from what is ungraspable to us.
What is the higher knowledge? Higher knowledge is precisely the opposite -we heard before that every person has two knowledges, just as their faces are not similar to each other so too their views are not similar to each other, and the Torah comes to make peace between the two views. The original disagreement, the root, the source of disagreement, is essentially between G-d and ourselves, that we see existence a certain way, and G-d essentially sees existence the opposite, the way G-d sees it, the Yesh Ha’amiti/true somethingness, is above, meaning, He Himself is the true somethingness, and everything that He creates, to Him, everything, “before Him, does not exist,” everything before Him, opposite Him, is ought, meaning that He sees it from somethingness to nothingness, and as we see it, we are the somethingnes , and it is from nothingness to somethingness. Two completely opposite opinions about existence. From here we will understand also what we want- what does a Jew want? What does G-d want from us?
What do we need to want from ourselves? We need to want to come closer to the knowledge (view) of Hashem. And also, the ability to disseminate this knowledge, meaning that our role in this world is to be a light unto the nations, to disseminate the knowledge of G-d to everyone, how Yesh/somethingness is above, and ayin/nothingness is below, to revolutionize the way we look at the entire existence, that essentially the main thing is Hashem, and our self-nullification, if we are nullified before him, we will be like our holy Patriarchs, who are the divine chariot. Chariot means nullified to the rider.
Of the holidays of the Jewish people, the holiday of the Divine Chariot is Shavuot . “G-d’s chariot is twice ten thousand tines thousands of angels, G-d was among them at Sinai in His holiness.” Meaning that G-d comes with His Chariot, and this is what He wants from us, from all of us –
Which haftarah do we read on shavuout? We read the work of the chariot, of Ezekiel, the prophet, the beginning of Ezekiel, because the whole holiday is aspiration to be a divine chariot, nullified to G-d, to adopt for ourselves the knowledge of G-d, and then G-d is riding us, meaning that He is directing existence through us.
And Moshe went up to G-d, what does that mean? That later in the Torah, at the end of the portion of the week of the holiday of Shavuout, the portion of behalotcha – at the end of Behalotcha there is the description of the prophecy of Moshe Rebbeinu, there it is written, and he looks at the image of G-d.
The Alter Rebbe, the author of the Tanya, the first Rebbe of Chabad, explains, what does that mean, and he looks at the image of G-d? it is not that he is looking at an image of G-d, the image of G-d is the picture of G-d, the eyes, as it were, the view, the higher knowledge of G-d, how G-d looks and sees our existence, meaning that Moshe merits to look at the world through the eyes, as it were, of the Creator of the world. To see the world as G-d sees it, this is called “and he looks at the image of G-d.”
This is called the lower ascend, that we, the lower, need to reach above, with the giving of the Torah, like Moshe Rebbeinu, to see existence through the eyes of G-d, what is the opposite, that G-d is coming down?
There are the names of G-d, Elokim, and Havayah. And the name Havayah itself has a few levels. Before the exodus from Egypt it is written My name Havayah I did not make known to them – and I appeared to the patriarchs as Kel Shakkai.
But my name Havayah, the unique name Havayah, I did not make known to the patriarchs. The commentators ask, the name Havayah is written many times with the patriarchs – what does that mean, my name Havayah I did not make known to them?
So again, according to the inner dimension, it divides, that there is in the name Havayah – this is also according to the simple reading because the Ibn Ezra also explains it this way, before the 13 attributes of mercy, why is it written twice, havayah havayah, two names of havayah, so he says that the first is the noun, and about this it says my name havayah I did not make known to them. It is higher than existence, completely above creation, totally transcendental, above existence, the second havayah, which was revealed to the patriarchs, is the name havayah from the word mehaveh/bringing into existence, that He is continuously bringing into existence, “So would Job do” that is what is written, the Name Havayah that He is continuously bringing existence into being, this is the adjective Havayah.
This was revealed to the patriarchs but my name havayah, the noun was not.
Now that the higher is descending means that there should be a feeling or a revelation of the noun havayah. How is this expressed?
The Ramban writes that this is expressed through revealed miracles.
Elokim, the name Elokim is the numerical equivalent of hateva/nature, as is known, It is the direction of the world naturally, the natural direction includes what seems to be coincidence we don’t always feel the divine providence in every turn and step, and even if we do feel it, it is hidden miracles. We feel the miracle enclothed within the ways of nature, but the name havayah is revealed in miracles. It is to feel completely that every moment of my life here, G-d is making a revolution, doing a miracle, to feel this all the time, the miracle of G-d, of the name havayah.
This is called that the higher, G-d descends into our world, our experience, Hashem is coming down to us. Until now is one teaching, one that the giving of the Torah is that the lower ascend upward, to see reality as Hashem sees reality, that somethingness is up there and nothingness is down here. This Moshe rebbeinu merited, and all of us need to aspire to this thing, and we receive strength for this from the giving of the Torah and about the higher descending, Hashem comes down to be revealed to reveal Himself to us, we want Hashem to reveal Himself to us here, in our reality, in our existence, how does He reveal Himself? When He does open miracles for the people of Israel in Israel, but actually open miracles, that we see the reality of Hashem.