The Torah relates that Jacob “encountered the Place.”  Our Sages explain that the word Place is actually a name of G-d, Who is called The Place. We use this name of G-d in a number of our prayers and call Him, Ha-Makom, The Place. Why is this so? The Midrash explains that “He (G-d) is the place of the world, and the world is not His place.”  Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner expands on this idea in his monumental work on Kabbalah, Nefesh Ha-Chaim.  He says that we know that everything needs place in order to exist; what we would call time-space in the language of modern physics.  “Place” really indicates the framework of existence of something, the reality which it requires in order to exist.  When the Sages say that “G-d is the place of the world” they mean that He is the ultimate framework of existence for everything.  Without Him, space, time and matter would cease to exist,  as they all depend on G-d to give them their “place.”

However “the world is not G-d’s place” means that G-d does not require the world or anything else in order for Him to exist.  So in the use of this world, the Torah is communicating to us a profound idea about the existence of G-d and the existence of our reality.  Our reality is dependent on G-d, G-d is not dependent on anything else, and our continued existence is only possible if G-d chooses to give us a “place” in which to exist.  There are a number of interesting ramifications to this idea.  Since everything is continually dependent on G-d’s will, it follows that everything in existence has some purpose to fulfill in G-d’s plan.  It also helps us realize that our existence is not a given, not automatic, and has no inertia.

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