Tsimtsum is the name of the ship that sinks on its passage across the Pacific, drowning Pi’s family and leaving Pi stranded on a lifeboat. The word “tsimtsum” (or tzimtzum) describes an idea from the Jewish Kabbalah teachings of Isaac Luria, a rabbi and mystic who is mentioned elsewhere in Life of Pi. The concept of tzimtzum says that God withdrew or contracted his infinite light in order to create the universe. This purposeful concealment left “empty space” for the cosmos and free will. The ship’s sinking can then be compared to God withdrawing, leaving Pi alone to become an independent person with a strong faith. Pi is exiled from his loved ones and also experiences a religious abandonment, as God allows him to undergo such suffering, but tzimtzum implies that such experiences are necessary to grow in faith and independence.
The Tsimtsum Symbol Timeline in Life of Pi
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Tsimtsum appears in Life of Pi. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...two stories they preferred. He reminds them that neither story explains the sinking of the Tsimtsum, and neither really matters for the officials’ business. Okamoto and Chiba both agree that the... (full context)