A fascinating phenomenon studied by modern physics is the black hole. When a massive star has spent all its energy and no longer radiates light, it collapses under its own weight. Some stars stabilize at smaller sizes. Others, however, are so heavy that once they start collapsing, they shrink all the way down to a single point—a singularity. In this singularity, all the matter of the dead star is crushed.
Can a singularity be visible? Physicists have long believed that a singularity is surrounded by an “event horizon”—a region of extremely strong gravitational force from which nothing can escape, not even light. Therefore, anything that approaches a singularity will become sucked in, never to be seen again. Thus, a singularity is shielded from the outside world. It is a void, a black hole, invisible to all.
However, recent investigations have suggested the possibility of “naked singularities”—singularities that are not surrounded by event horizons, and which potentially could interact with the world outside. Under given conditions of density and pressure, a naked singularity may form. This suggests a number of exciting possibilities. Because the general theory of relativity does not cover the behavior of singularities, the existence of a naked singularity is a part of the universe that is unpredictable, given to sudden changes, which could possibly have profound impact on the rest of creation.
G-d, too, exists as a singularity of a different sort: “Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One.” Obviously, the singularity that is G-d is not made up of matter; rather, it is the source of all matter and energy in the universe. As explained in Tanya, G-d both permeates and envelopes all of creation, but His infinity is beyond the grasp of creation entirely. “For no man can see My face and survive.”
What keeps us from perceiving G-d is the “event horizon,” the layers upon layers of concealment with which G-d hides Himself from creation. If not for this concealment, nothing and no one would be able to exist independently; we would all be drawn in by the intense force of G-d’s gravity. The concealment is what allows the world to exist, and for us to feel ourselves as unique beings, independent from G-d.
The plan, however, is for us to realize, on our own accord, our intense dependence upon G-d, and to serve Him out of our own free will. Then the cloak of concealment will be removed, and we will be able to perceive G-d directly without losing our own identity. This will be the final result of a long and intense period of preparation, which we have undergone during the time of exile. Then, as the prophet declares, “Your teacher will no longer cloak Himself, and your eyes will behold your master.”
Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.