We learn from Etz Chaim (Drush Igulim Ve-Yosher 1:2) that Hashem is hidden—He withdrew Himself, as it were, from the Vacated Space, the space He “emptied” of Himself in order to create the worlds—yet He drew a Ray of His Infinite Light into this Vacated Space, which He uses to sustain all the universes, all of mankind, and all the other levels of this material world, animal, vegetable and mineral.
The concealment of Hashem is what allows for free will. Were Hashem to be manifest in the Vacated Space, we would have no option as to what to do. Being in Hashem’s Presence at all times, we would be forced to serve Him. That kind of service would be robotic. But Hashem wanted people to have free choice, to use their intellect to guide themselves and their lives on a path that will be good and productive. Therefore Hashem withdrew Himself, as it were, and the universe in which we live seems devoid of G-dliness. We are not robots, nor are we clones—we are thinking individuals with free will to do as we choose.
So, “Go ahead! Use your free will and do whatever you want!” But on the other hand, as we have seen, Hashem drew a Ray from His Infinite Light that sustains all of creation into the Vacated Space. He is here, present at all times. So, again, “Go ahead! Use your free will, because you can seek Hashem and you can find Him!”
As Rebbe Nachman said, “G-d is always with you. He is near you! He is next to you! Do not be afraid!” (Siach Sarfey Kodesh III, #661). But He remains concealed. By searching for Him, we can find Him, for He is always close by, right next to us, actually waiting for us to turn to Him. And when we search, we find; Hashem becomes revealed to us. But even when He becomes revealed, we still has free will, because in essence, Hashem is still concealed from us.
Adapted from Rebbe Nachman and YOU, by Chaim Kramer