Friday, December 31, 2010

The two New Yorks

My response to the Facebook post of this article:
This is what happens when you rely on the government to do something. If there was no concept of the government plowing streets (I am sure the Founding Fathers didn’t include that in the “and for these reasons the governments are formed”), people would take matters in their own hands. They would each pay a little for a plow per block or something like that... Instead of contributing to the taxes that go down the drain.

“On my block, we decided to take matters into our own hands, tied a huge board to the front bumper of my neighbor's old Yugo, and plowed our own street.”
— manrico
(from that article’s comments)

Also, to some degree it makes sense that there are two New Yorks: Manhattan and the rest. There are also two New Yorks in other sense: the one with Mercedes and the one without. The one that can afford to eat out every day and the one that must do grocery shopping. Etc.

If it’s normal that some people can afford X and some cannot (whatever X is — e.g., Mercedes, iPhones, eating out every night, a trip to Hawaii), why is it not normal when X = “getting your streets plowed in time”?

My car’s tires are bald, because I don’t have money to buy new ones. I don’t have money for X = “replacing your bald tires in time”. It has an adverse effect on my quality of life. I am not complaining. I am not blaming the society or expecting it to chip in (of course, I won’t refuse willful donations — contact me for my account number).

This, of course, has nothing to do with the fact that the city promised to clear the streets after stealing money from people for this service. No wonder. When there is no choice whether money will be paid for the service or not, plus when there is no competition, the quality of service drops.
The whole idea of a “package” is ludicrous. In a civilized business relationship, people pay for services rendered when they receive them. I order a U-Haul truck from time to time. When I order it, I pay for it. Wouldn’t it be nuts for U-Haul to come with a small army to my house and get me to pay a regular fee in advance, explaining that “everyone has to move from time to time; when you do, you will be able to move for free”? I will make the decision whether to pay for moving or not when that time comes, thank you. And I will have a choice between U-Haul vs. other moving/rental companies vs. Floo Network.

(By the way: don’t go to U-Haul of Brighton, MA. Horrible service.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Google Maps for Android

For me, the important new features are the ability to have the maps cached to view offline and ability to search for local businesses (and connect to their Google information, with ratings, phone numbers which I can immediately dial, etc.). For gas prices, I use Gas Buddy, linked to Google Maps when I need directions.

The important old features are, of course, synchrony with my saved maps (e.g., I entered the maps for my furniture pick-up route for today in Google Maps on my computer and can see them on my phone), ability to see the traffic levels and transit lines (subway, etc.).

The important feature yet to be created by Google is an easy ability to synchronize my Google Contacts with my Google Maps. I should be able to choose to view the addresses from my “Furniture Pick-Up” group from contacts on the Maps. When I click on each address’s “pin”, I should be able to see all the notes that I made and call them. It’s a very easy thing to create (comparing to everything else that Google has made available), so it’s surprising that Google hasn’t done that yet.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Russian vs. American drinking and snowing habbits

Reading all the updates about people stuck in NYC because of the snow storm, gave me two thoughts:

1. I am going to start a series called “what if things were private”, in which I will give links to all the problems caused by various services and aspects of social life being “public”, i.e., run by the government (federal, state or local), and compare to what might be if these services were private (if somewhere else they are private, I will try to compare to that too).

2. The way snow descends on America (at least in my experience — i.e., this is probably limited to the East Coast, and, say, in Colorado, things are different) comparing to Russia is similar to the way Americans consume alcohol comparing to Russians.

In Russia, it snows regularly. Sometimes it snows quite heavily, but for the most part, there is a normal and regular output of snow. (The problems in Sheremetyevo Airport are actually due to “frozen rain”, not snow — but that has more to do with the first point above.) Likewise, Russians drink alcohol regularly. Some Russians, again, drink quite heavily, all the time, but most Russians drink in low to moderate amounts on a regular (daily, semi-daily, etc.) basis.

On the other hand, in America (at least, the upper East Coast), it doesn’t snow very regularly. (Which can be annoying to someone like me, who expects it to snow in winter.) But, when it does snow, it snows in an inordinate amounts — more than on average in Russia. In other words, while in Russia there is a regular low-to-moderate-to-slightly-high output of snow, America fluctuates between the periods of no snow and heavy snow storms.

Likewise, Americans don’t drink on a regular basis. What they do is go out on Friday night and get heavily drunk. Etc.

Basically, northeastern American snowing habits ruin the enjoyment that one may derive from snow. It’s nice and beautiful when it is snowing. It’s boring when it’s just cold outside (it seems like an extra-ugly version of late fall: with no beautiful leafs but with low temperature). But, nobody likes to get stuck for a day in his car in snow (like the guy whom Arbat referenced here — just click on the links by the end of the post to look at the pictures — from the looks of it, he still hasn’t reached home after having left it on Dec. 26) or even dig out one’s driveway for a few hours.

Same way, one wants to enjoy the positive benefits of alcohol without the negative ones.

(There are no lessons to draw from the second point. And yes, I am aware of all the caveats someone may point out.)

[images from etotam and e-kudinovich — click for more pictures]

P.S. One of the comments says: “Such is the nature of global warming. Very tricky it is.” (And to those who say that the global warming shows its ugly face only in summer: we’ve had a beautiful summer, with maybe two weeks of very hot weather.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Future first-person shooter

This video only makes sense if you have spent countless hours playing first-person shooter computer games.

Slight violence alert. (PG-613.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Put it in focus

[via arbat:]

Two years ago: “Obama pledges economic focus during next two years
Last year: “Obama to focus hard on the economy
This year: “Obama puts renewed focus on the economy

Arbat: “The economy is already in such a focus that you can see every hair on its [elbow]”.

Maybe all the “focusing” is the problem? Maybe what the economy needs is to be left alone and allowed to restore itself once people re-invest the capital appropriately?

Statists remind me of a child that is looking at his cut, waiting for the scab to fall off, and as it’s trying to heal, the child keeps picking at it, causing more bleeding, more scabbing… and in the end, instead of a simple paper cut, you get an ugly scar (just like instead of a simple economic recession that would invert itself, America got a “Great Depression”).

[On the other hand, maybe what Obama needs is the service of ThorLabs. Unashamed promotion of a great company.]

Our Supreme Commander in the midst of “focusing”:

U.S. President Barack Obama walks on the fairway ...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bathroom OCD

I have to say that oftentimes, I have bathroom-related OCD. Especially when I am a guest somewhere. I am always afraid that the door is not locked. And I always double- and triple-check it. Complicated locks are not my friends. The locks that open automatically once I turn the knob from the inside are the worst. I can never be absolutely sure that the door is locked, unless I ask someone outside to try opening the door and witness him failing (Karl Popper would be happy) — which, of course, I never do.

Which is all why I agree with Ilya Birman that this design for a bathroom lock is the best, as it leaves no doubt as to whether the door is locked (and how securely):

Понятный интерфейс замка

(On the other hand, one time, while staying with my fiancée’s uncle and aunt, I couldn’t open the bathroom for a few minutes — the door wouldn’t open whichever way I turned the lock. By the time I managed to open the door, I started thinking I might have to spend the whole Shabbos in the bathroom.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beards are natural

Shaving facial hair is unnatural. Beards, on the other hand, are very natural. As this footage shows:

No, it’s not time to shave! Au contraire, as Englishmen’s gay cousins across the channel say.

If you grew a beard T-shirt

[via beard revue]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Relationship with the world

You live and learn. At any rate, you live.
— Douglas Adams

One thing that changes (or is supposed to change) in one’s life when one takes seriously the concept of ein od milvado — there is nothing but G-d — is the attitude towards life. When things “happen” to one, and when different events are a part of “life” or “nature” or “world”, then one is allowed to get upset and angry and disappointed. It may not be healthy, but it’s logical to get angry at life being unfair, at “the Universe” tripping you up, at some jerk with a huge shovel attached to his car pushing snow into your driveway (no, this hasn’t happened yet; I am just reliving the happy memories and looking forward to their repetition this year).

On the other hand, if you believe that G-d is creating every single molecule, every single aspect of the world ex nihilo every second, that He is present in every event in your life, then things don’t just “happen” and nothing is “just life”. Everything that you experience and encounter is created by G-d — personally for you. And it’s a little rude to get angry at G-d, to get impatient or disappointed with Him. After all, He knows better and is wise and merciful.

A couple (or triple) caveats. First, this does not deny the freedom of will. We all have the freedom of will. But, someone’s freedom to choose whether to punch me in the nose or not has nothing to do with me getting punched in the nose. I got punched in the nose because G-d wanted to punch me in the nose. At the same time, He gave (for a different reason) someone a choice whether to punch me in the nose or not (as a part of His ongoing relationship with that person). Had the person chosen not to punch me in the nose, G-d would find some other way for me to get my nose smashed. So, don’t get angry at that person for doing any wrong to you. Get angry at G-d — or, rather, don’t!

Second, this does not mean that we should not make our lives better. The whole concept of tikkun olam (and that starts in your own backyard) still applies. Again: you have freedom of will. Just because you bought a hat that’s one size too small doesn’t mean that you have to say “oh well” and accept it. Go to the store and exchange the hat. But, if for some reason you irreversibly lost $1.25, don’t get angry. Since there is nothing you can do about it, G-d wanted this to happen to you, and therefore, it’s for the best. So, l’hatchillo, be proactive. B’dieved, be grateful for your life.

Third (and this is an extension of the second), this does not deny the concept of prayer. Davening really deserves a post (or ten) of its own, but the point is the same as above: we have a freedom to change our lives. When we go to a store to change a hat, we take a physical action. When we daven to become better people — and as a result, become more deserving of better things in life — we take a step in a spiritual direction.

And again, you are not allowed to be depressed about your spiritual state either. As Tanya states, you’re allowed to be bitter — for the purpose of realizing that something’s wrong and deciding to change it. But then, Alter Rebbe says, you must get rid of all negative emotions immediately and again look at the world and yourself with joy. Even though whom you become in the next second depends on you, whom you have become, at this point of your life, was brought about by Hashem. L’hatchillo, be proactive about improving yourself. B’dieved, be grateful for who you are. Otherwise, you’re being ungrateful to Hashem, personally.

All of this is not just some psycho-babble. Living and serving G-d (and for a chossid, these two things are the same, really) with joy is a mark of a Jew who takes derech of Chassidus and the doctrine of ein od milvado seriously. Everyone can accept some philosophical concept in theory. Living with it is more difficult. But we have to. We are expected to.

P.S. Oh yeah. Nivel peh is bad. There. :-P


People who are distrustful of new technology should remember that at one point in history, socks were new technology too. Before the socks were invented, people would just wrap fabric around their feet. Then someone just invented the idea of making this “automatic” foot-wrapper.

And I am sure there were some “old-time” folks who said something like: “My daddy done wrapped his feet with fabric, me gran’-daddy did so too, and my sons and gran’-sons will be doin’ that until the Kingdom Come. We ain’ gonna be using none of these new shenanigans. Socks, I say. What else will they come up with? A combination of a telephone and an internet browser? Not on my watch.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ober der Rebbe zogt!

[A re-post]

There is a story I heard from the shliach of Lexington, MA, Rabbi Bukiet. I am not too clear on the details, so if someone knows them, let me know.

There was one Shabbos when a chossid of the Frierdiker Rebbe and the Rebbe (who was “just” FR’s son-in-law at the time) found themselves together in a shull in France or in Germany. They were the only Lubavitchers in the shull. After everyone finished davening and proceeded to kiddush, the chossid and the Rebbe remained davening. Then the chossid finished and went to make the kiddush for himself, leaving the Rebbe standing alone, his face covered with a talles.

After a while, the Rebbe finished and joined the table. He made the kiddush for himself and sat opposite the chossid. Now, this chossid was an alter chossid of the Frierdiker Rebbe who was in France (or Germany) fund-raising. The Rebbe was dressed meticulously, as it says in Russian, “from a needle”. I am not talking about meticulously for a Russian (that doesn’t take much) — meticulously for a French (or a German). Looking at the chossid, it was not clear whether he put his pants that day right way or backwards, where they belonged or on his head. The typical chassidish shleperdic look, in other words.

The Rebbe looked for a long time at the chossid and then proceeded to give a long vort on the parsha, drawing from mystical sources and going higher and higher in his explanations. Now, the chossid was a simple guy, a simple oived; he was there to collect money, and he was happy to be at the kiddush table on Shabbos, and also happy to listen to the son-in-law of the Rebbe, even if he didn’t understand a word.

Suddenly the Rebbe changed the subject. He said: in Pirkey Avos, second chapter it says:
רבי אומר:
איזוהי דרך ישרה שיבור לו האדם
כל שהיא תפארת לעושיה ותפארת לו מן האדם
(Rebbi Yehudah HaNassi said: Which is the proper course that a man should choose for himself? That which is an honor to him and elicits honor from his fellow men.)
Now, said the Rebbe, the language of this Mishna is unclear. It starts with “Rebbi oimer”, implying that there is a disagreement between Rebbi Yehudah HaNassi and the majority of the Sages. It is as if the rest of the Sages are saying: what does it matter to “elicit honor from his fellow men”?

A lot of people, continued the Rebbe, think the same way nowadays. We have our path. We have our Yiddishkeit. If others are interested, let them come and observe. Let them learn what they can. But we shall not adapt to them, will not make our ways “understandable” and acceptable to them. And it seems that this approach makes sense. Why should we change who we are for them?

Ober der Rebbe zogt! (“But the Rebbe says...!”)

These are not the times, concluded the Rebbe, to have the philosophy of “this is our way… let whoever is interested come, but if not, not…”. We have to make Yiddishkeit presentable and understandable for the rest of the world. On all levels.

In my humble opinion, this could mean many things. It could mean bringing down the ideas of Yiddishkeit from deepest to simplest to people far from Judaism. It could mean making Judaism presentable and desirable. It could mean bringing yourself to the level of someone you are trying to influence and getting interested in something which otherwise would never interest you. Not pretending to be interested, but really being interested.

Sometimes it also means simply behaving like a mentch, with basic civility. “Which is the proper course that a man should choose for himself? That which is an honor to him and elicits honor from his fellow men.”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


In Middle Ages, Christian theologians postulated that heresy is even worse than heathenism. Because when someone is a heathen, he is openly a non-Christian, and thus no Christian can be confused and ensnared by him. A heretic, however, while being the enemy of the Church and its little god, pretends to be a Christian and espouses some of the doctrines of Christianity — thus, he is dangerous to an average Christian who may not be able to tell a difference between a heretic and a true believer. (And that is why the Church oppressed Jews and, lehavdil, Muslim, but burned the Christian heretics.)

Following this logic of thinking, this is the most dangerous political philosophy:
Napoleon gained support by appealing to some common concerns of French people. These included dislike of the emigrant nobility who had escaped persecution, fear by some of a restoration of the ancien régime, a dislike and suspicion of foreign countries had tried to reverse the Revolution — and a wish by Jacobins to extend France's revolutionary ideals.
Bonaparte attracted power and imperial status and gathered support for his changes of French institutions, such as the Concordat of 1801 which confirmed the Catholic Church as the majority church of France and restored some of its civil status. Napoleon by this time, however, was not a democrat, nor a republican. He was, he liked to think, an enlightened despot, the sort of man Voltaire might have found appealing. He preserved numerous social gains of the Revolution while suppressing political liberty. He admired efficiency and strength and hated feudalism, religious intolerance, and civil inequality. Enlightened despotism meant political stability. He knew his Roman history well: after 500 years of republicanism, Rome became an empire under Augustus Caesar.
Although a supporter of the radical Jacobins during the early days of the Revolution (more out of pragmatism than any real ideology), Napoleon moved to tyranny as his political career progressed and once in power embraced certain aspects of both liberalism and authoritarianism — for example, public education, a generally liberal restructuring of the French legal system, and the emancipation of the Jews — while rejecting electoral democracy and freedom of the press.
Because open and complete tyranny is obviously evil. And inefficient government is obviously disastrous. But Napoleon’s model — a strong government that provides for most civil liberties, a government that is oppressive but only for the purpose of being “efficient” and resolute — may sound attractive to some. It takes greater intelligence and more time to recognize the problem with this system.

Just like I was an atheist before I became a frum Jew, I was a supporter of a strong centralized government that provided for civil freedoms — a “Conservative” in American terms — before I became a libertarian.

(Alter Rebbe, by the way, also recognized the danger of the attractive lure of Napoleon’s promises of emancipation of the Jews. Better to be confronted by a clear enemy such as the oppresive Russian Tzar who sponsored pogroms than by a hidden one like Napoleon who would give civil freedom with his right hand and assimilation with his left one. Thus, during the Napoleonic invasion of Russia, Alter Rebbe opposed Napoleon.)

The Burning of Washington

Who knew that in the War of 1812, the British were doing Americans a favor — trying to make their society libertarian?
The Burning of Washington was a battle that took place on August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812 between the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The British Army occupied Washington, D.C., and set fire to many public buildings following the American defeat at the Battle of Bladensburg. The facilities of the U.S. government, including the White House and U.S. Capitol, were largely destroyed, though strict discipline and the British commander's orders to burn only public buildings are credited with preserving the city's private buildings.
This is the way this country should be: all “public” buildings privatized and institutions destroyed¹ and replaced by private institutions.

It is an important cautionary tale to the student of history. “Nations” don’t wage wars on each other (for the most part). Governments do.

¹ For the FBI agents reading this blog: this is not a call to violence. The transformation should happen peacefully, with support of the public, and without any loss of life or private property.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chanukah: a new dimension in Torah

[a re-post]

An amazing shiur by Rabbi Yossi Paltiel that explains the relationship between a Jew and Torah (etzem and gilui) and why Chanukah is “the greatest holiday” that has opened up a new dimension in Yiddishkeit: mesirus nefesh, even higher than dictated by Torah.

By the way, in our times, mesirus nefesh is not, G-d forbid, giving up one’s life so that one can remain a Jew, but simply living one’s life al pi Halacha in this world, in the society in which we find ourselves. Keeping a high standard of kashrus, of tznius, of learning, living with Shulchan Aruch even when a particular aspect of it is not convenient or something one is not used to. Not relying on loopholes when you know what’s really the right thing to do.

And the reward is Light. Even the areas of your life and of the world that so far have remained dark become lit — reveal Hashem in them. You remain strong and sacrifice your desire to give in on a simple thing, and Hashem rewards you by giving you an opportunity to make something in your life that has so far been “just something you do” into something holy and connected to Eibeshter.

Is there a difference between Robin Hood and City Council?

Venerable Bochur in Lubavitch writes:
Why in the world did we accept the idea that Robin Hood was a hero?
Steal from the rich, give to the poor. ????? How is that good? Even if the rich man is mean, he deserves to lose his money? Shouldn't it have been something more along the lines of:
Convince the city to help provide vocational training skills for the poor. ????
Actually, Yossi, it shouldn’t be. Because (unless the city government officials have an independent source of income — which most of them do not), it is really much worse. The last sentence could be read “convince the city to steal from the rich, the middle class and those poor that pay taxes and give to the poor in a form of vocational training program, which those who pay for it have no control over”.

What it really should be like is: “Organize a private charity (or a number of competing private charities) whose goal would be provision of vocational training for the poor and convince the rich to donate their money after you’ve convinced the city to stop taxing them. Alternatively, their goals could be whatever the people donating money to the charities decide. For instance, giving money to a kollel.”

And by the way, Robin Hood was stealing from the rich of the feudal world, not of the capitalist world. The difference is that in the feudal society, people get rich by becoming feudal lords and oppressing and robbing peasants in a form of taxation — kind of like the government today. On the other hand, in a capitalist society, people get rich by providing valuable services for the society — e.g., iPhones or Internet or surgeries — for which the society pays them, allowing them to provide even more and even better services.

So, Robin Hood was stealing the stolen money and returning it back to its original owners, the peasants. Quite the opposite from what the government does. As this documentary footage shows:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don’t be an alcoholic

Russian propaganda against alcoholism. The alcoholic squirrel presents:

I don’t know, though, what’s scarier — the above squirrel or this one:

And finally — baseball is so boring that the cameramen have to focus on a squirrel to spice things up:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Of Nazis and airports

If terrorists learn that elderly white women from Iowa are exempt from screening, that’s exactly whom they will recruit.
Three links.

About a mother.

About a daughter. (All friends of political correctness and “equality”? That child was groped by a stranger thanks to you.)

But it’s all for our safety, aint’t it? Sure...

arbat says: what the airport searches are about is not security (watch the third videos). It’s about fascist show-offs. We have to show to the public that we care about its safety. Flirt with the masses, to borrow an expression from The Big Soviet Encyclopedia. So, we do it in a rough, brutal way, with zero quality.

And people wonder why I am a libertarian.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

G-d or nature?


[a re-post, with a link to a Chanukah-related post... keep reading]

A little red ball just made me think about G-d, nature, and G-d in nature.

I drove to my house and parked my car in the driveway. My neighbor’s car is parked by the sidewalk, and next to the rear-right wheel of the car I saw a small red rubber ball. The neighbors on the other side of my house have children, so I thought it might belong to one of them and kicked the ball in the direction of the house. (No, the ball didn’t break the window — although that would make for a better story.)

The ball went to the side of the street, but then rolled onto the street itself, where it actually would be more likely to be run over. Then, the wind rolled it gently back towards my neighbors’ house and down the slope of the street, until the ball stopped — you guessed it — where I picked it up to begin with, my neighbor’s car’s right-rear wheel.

As a result I had a few thoughts:

1. Hashgacha protis. Eibeshter wants the ball to be right there, because even a silly red ball can have a G-dly purpose, and anyway, G-d controls every atom of the Universe.

2. Nature. Don’t be silly! That place is just a stable position for the ball on the street. What we would call in chemistry the state of least energy, or, in computational neuroscience, an attractor state. It’s a position, which, despite the sundry chaotic forces of the street (wind, gravity, friction, relief of the street, car, my kicking the ball), is the most stable for the ball at the moment and to which it tends to return.

As it happens, wind blows the ball towards my house, but not hard enough for it to climb the sidewalk, and, since the street is slopped, it rolls down, until it’s stopped by the car’s rear wheel (since the car is parked a bit at an angle). This is how the Universe operates. On the quantum level, it’s events like this and their combining probabilities that result in all deterministic complexity that we see in our world. Every time you take an aspirin or eat a bagel, you expect certain reactions to go exact way — with electrons dancing their little dance, bonds breaking and forming, etc. But in the end of the day, it’s no different from the red ball (in fact, much-much more chaotic and unpredictable).

3. Why can’t it be both 1 and 2?

Why can’t we say that sure, the Universe operates according to its laws, which include, yes, the laws of probability and least-energy-states and stable-state attractors — and at the same time, G-d is present in all this?

Not in the sense that He set it all up and now observes from the side (only interfering sometimes) how the clock of the Universe ticks away through its own energy, invested in it by Bing Bang or whatever initial “winding” — which is the view of the school of Chakirah (philosophy). But no, in the sense that G-d is actively, immediately, omnipresently, omnisciously, omnipotently, omni-etc. involved in the affairs of the Universe, of every electron making a decision whether to jump from one orbital to another or not — and at the same time, electrons’ movement can be described through probabilistic laws of quantum mechanics, emergence of species can be described through theory of evolution and so on.

Sounds impossible? Well, if G-d can pull of Chanukah, I think he can pull off nimna ha’nimnois in nature.

* * *

This is the point of Malchus — the idea that “converted me” to Chassidus (OK, it was a little more sophisticated, but this is where it started). Malchus is the last sphera of the Seideir Hishtalshelus, the chain of creation, 10 forces with which G-d creates and controls every world. Malchus represents kingship — and, at the same time, concealment. Мalchus is a salesman (actually, а saleswoman). It tells the world what the world wants to hear — that it exists and G-d does not. And this allows the world to exist.

So, how does this lead to His Kingship? Zohar states: “King donned his robes and rose on his throne”. It is precisely through the concealment of Himself — the ultimate concealment, which allows us to think that electrons are moving by themselves, in the sea of chaotic forces — that G-d becomes a king in this world.

See, it’s no fun to be a king over a bunch of robots, programmed to follow your will. You are not really a king. To be a king, you need those capable of making a free decision to obey or disobey you (“No king without a nation”) — and when they choose to obey you, you become a king. Also, when G-d’s presence and kingship are revealed in the spiritual worlds, it’s no big deal. It’s like lighting a dry match, dipped in oil, with a lot of oxygen around. “Look, it burns!” Of course it burns. Lighting a match under water — that’s the trick. When G-d becomes the King over this world, made seemingly independent and G-dless through Malchus, then He really is a King.

(And the point is that the physical world is not only a make-belief world of darkness, but the world of darkness mamosh. I mean, do you really think that G-d can conceal Himself on the level of a forest, but not trees? On the level of a table, but not the electrons that the table is made of?)

We cannot discard the nature — even the nature that tells us, “Look, I exist and operate perfectly well without G-d”. As it states in Torah, “Bereishis bara Elokim” (Elokim davka) — G-d created this world, and He wants it to exist. At the same time, He wants it (the same dark, lying world) to be a home for Himself, in the paradoxical state of events that only He can pull off.

But for that to happen, we need to invite Him and make this world into a G-dly place, without — at the same time — breaking it. We do that by literally uniting the nature (and its probabilistic and deterministic laws) with the Essence of G-d. How? By taking a candle and lighting it before Shabbos. By taking tefillin and wrapping it every morning. By learning Torah with our physical brains. Because, as Tanya explains (Ch-s 4 and 5), G-d invested His Essence (which is one with His Will) in Torah and mitzvos.

Bы following and learning Torah, we are making G-d into King of the Universe and are inviting Him into this world. We are bringing close that time when His Kingship and Essence will be revealed.