Let My People Know

"The cloudier it was, the more they saw"


The relationship between the Creator and created beings is not equal in both directions. 

What is correct from one perspective is not so from the other. 

What seems to be the basis of created existence is not existence at all from the side of God. 

That is the difference between the Creator and the created. 

The curtain between God and those that receive His life and light is opaque on only one side. 

For the other side, the curtain does not exist at all.

We may compare this to a one-way mirror.
From one side, it is a mirror, while from the other, it is transparent. 

A person who looks at the mirror side will see his own image and a complete world, whereas someone who looks through the other side–in our example, God–will see no barrier. 

From God's point of view, there is no separation; all that exists is a transparent glass that conceals nothing and constitutes nothing.

A related idea may be found in our sages' teaching that Moses gazed through a clear lens, while the other prophets looked through a clouded lens. 

From this we might reasonably infer that Moses saw the image of God more clearly than they.
But as our sages note (Yevamot 49b), the verses indicate the opposite to be true.
Whereas Isaiah stated, "I saw the Lord" (Isaiah 6:1), and Ezekiel said, "I saw and behold, a [divine] image" (Ezekiel 8:2), Moses asserted, "No man may see [God] and live" (Exodus 33:20).

And that is precisely the point: the clear lens is so completely transparent, concealing nothing at all (Torah Ohr 33a), that when a person looks through it, he sees the truth–which is that he does not see. 

On the other hand, when a person looks into a glass that is, to whatever degree, opaque, he sees some sort of image. 

And so the prophets who looked into a clouded lens saw something –indeed, the cloudier it was, the more they saw.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From Understanding the Tanya, Ch. 36 by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz