It is one of the great secrets of Torah that the Torah itself is a blueprint for the creation and maintenance of the world. This means that when a set of circumstances are described in the Torah, that set of circumstances, apart from its physical truth, has many levels (indeed infinite levels), which apply to all aspects of physical life and then spiritual life.

Let us look for example at the description of the creative process at the beginning of Bereishis. The Torah describes that “it was evening, it was morning, one day”. When one considers this phrase it becomes obvious that darkness preceded light. Once this is realized the next step is understanding that a rule of life is being formulated.

A constant of life is that darkness precedes light. In other words, a statement in Torah which is true, is true at every one of its infinite levels and can be used as a grid for understanding all reality in general and physical reality in particular. We have learned elsewhere, that every descent is for the purpose of ascent. This rule is a predicate of the observation that darkness precedes light. From this grid we can learn that all our endeavors, no matter how hidden this may be at the time, have the capacity of being converted from an apparent negative to an obvious positive. The growth and fulfillment comes from, and is a result of, the introduction of light into darkness, the conversion of “night” into “day”.

So it is with another very deep and difficult concept in Chassidus1 which describes the very deep mystical principal of tzimtzum. In order to understand this we need to appreciate that “prior” to creation there “existed” simply G‑dliness. In the blaze of this revealed G‑dliness there could be no other apparent existence. A moment’s reflection will prove this. If one could magically thrust a lighted candle into the sun, the light on that candle would have no separate existence whatsoever in the furnace of the sun. In order to give the flame on top of the candle any chance of being perceived as separate to the sun’s furnace, there has to be a separation made between the sun and the candle flame. In practice, with the example of the sun, that separation at a physical level is made by the 92,000,000 odd miles that the sun is distant from earth, the atmosphere surrounding the sphere of the earth and so on.

Just as this is true at a physical level, so it is at the spiritual level. At the spiritual level nothing whatever could exist in the blaze of revealed G‑dliness. G‑d therefore, as it were, contracted Himself, so “removing” the blaze of revealed G‑dliness to the extent that there could be the possibility and the actualization of a perceived, separate reality. In other words, by “contracting” Himself, G‑d left a “space” vacant of revealed G‑dliness, thus allowing in that “space” the concept of something existing by itself. This process is described in Kabbalah and Chassidus at length.

Now, what has this to do with marriage? As we have learned, whenever a life principle is needed, we look to the blueprint to find it. We look to the Torah and can generalize from its fundamentals, guidelines to all life.

Now that we understand the two principles of tzimtzum, and darkness preceding light, we can apply them across the vast spectrum of daily life. In this way a principle is deduced:

In order for there to be a revelation in a recipient there needs to be a concealment in the party of influence. In order for darkness to give way to light in the recipient there must be a tzimtzum contraction in the party of influence.

This is a huge and vital principle. The most common example used in Chassidus2 is that of rav and talmid. The example works like this: suppose a group of lawyers are running a case involving complicated mathematical issues and in order that they can better understand the issues a professor of Quantum Mechanics is asked to address them on number and particle theory. Let us suppose that this professor of Quantum Mechanics is a leader of his field. Clearly, if he begins to address the group of lawyers in the language of his professional expertise, they will not have the faintest notion of what he is discussing. The only chance that this professor will have of revealing in his listeners any idea whatsoever of the subject matter of his profession, is for him to contract the information and summarize it. He needs to “conceal his knowledge” so that it will be compressed to a level that the recipients will be able to receive. The more he contracts his knowledge the better chance there is that the lawyers will know what he is talking about. The less he contracts the knowledge and the more he fully presents raw expertise, the less they will understand.

The principle becomes immediately obvious; in order for there to be a revelation in the recipient there must be a contraction or concealment in the person giving it over. Of course, once the information has been received by the recipient he may be ready to receive it in a less contracted form next time and then again and again until he builds up steadily a level of understanding. Ultimately he may think independently and even surpass the knowledge of his teacher.

So now to marriage. If say a husband insists on taking all the space in the marriage there will be no room for growth and welfare in the wife. If conversely there is a blaze of revealed existence from the wife and that blaze is so strong that it leaves no room for the husband, the result will not be any created or sustained understanding or positive feeling. The only way that there can be an acceptance of, and a growth reception in, the other partner, is if the one learns to contract his or her existence to make room for the other. The more the contraction, the more the chance of acceptance and revelation and growth. The more the tzimtzum of the self, the more the capacity for existence for the other, and therefore the unit. It is remarkable how true this is at various levels, whether physical, in respecting private space in the house, car or workplace, or emotional in respecting needs. Being overbearing in one’s insistence that a spouse should behave in a certain way, or meet needs in a certain way, or follow orders in a certain way, are all methodologies of demanding emotional space to occupy, rather than contracting from it and leaving room.

In the chapter on yeshus we have learned together that yeshus is a personal nemesis. It is also however the primary problem in a marriage presenting for one’s partner making room by contraction. Those marriages that function in a mutually respectful manner are ones where yeshus either does not exist (rare) or has been shrunken to accommodate the needs of the partner (more common). This deep secret of Torah is a great secret of happiness in marriage. Yeshus is shrunk, as explained elsewhere, by contraction to bittul. The effect of this is an enhanced regard for other people.

People tend to forget that “other people” needs to include one’s spouse. Regard for one’s spouse is as important if not more so than regard for “other people”. Humility and contraction of yeshus in dealing with the “other people” spouse leaves room for the spouse to become an independent person and a contributing donating loving force in the marriage. Tzimtzum affords existence — here the very existence of the loved one.