Q. In regard to the above question, 2412, is it not true that Gaon of Vilna maintained that the presence of Hashem is not universal?
A. There is a known dispute between Hagra and the Baal Hatanya regarding the presence of the Shechina everywhere. Hagra’s (Igeres Hagra, Tishrei 11, 5557) opinion is that Hashem limits His presence (tzimtzum) only to sites that are fit and correct to permit His holy attendance. The Baal Hatanya (Shaar Hayichud Vehayira 7) disagrees and opines that as the posuk (Vayikra 16: 16) says: Which dwells with them, (even) amidst their defilements: Rashi explains: Although they are tomeh and unclean, the Divine Presence is among them. (Toras Kohanim 16: 43; Yoma 56b).
It is mentioned that Horav Shwab and others explain that the malochim themselves disagree on this same machlokes, as we repeat in the tefila every day: “Meshorsov, His servants ask each other, where is the place of His glory? and the answer is “Kevodo, His glory is everywhere,” and others answer; “Boruch, Blessed is Hashem’s glory from his place.”
The prevalent and accepted view, seems to be, as children are thought in school, Hashem is truly everywhere. It is mentioned that the Kotzker Rebbe would respond to the question; “Where is Hashem?” by saying: “Where you let Him in.”
Michtav M’eliahu (5: p. 486) explains that this is the source for a major disagreement between Chassidim and Missnagdim. The former sponsor the idea that Hashem’s presence is even in places that are awash in tumah and immorality, which thus permits the return and teshuva from even such situations.
Nefesh Hachaim (3: 7) a talmid of the Vilner Gaon explains “tzimtzum” or limiting and restricting Hashem’s presence, not as the lack of the presence of Hashem on those times and locations, but rather as the limitation of humans to feel and appreciate that presence
Rabbi A. Bartfeld