ויעש דוד שם
“And David made a name.”
The simple meaning of the verse is either (as Rashi explains) that David gave the Jewish people a good name by burying the dead of their enemies, or (as other commentators explain) that David made a name for himself through his heroism.
ופירש בזוהר הקדוש, משום שנאמר: ויהי דוד עושה משפט וצדקה לכל עמו כו׳
The holy Zohar relates the above phrase to the verse: “And David executed justice and tzedakah with all his people.”
The “name” that he thereby made is thus the Divine Name. In the words of the Zohar:
בכה רבי שמעון ואמר: מאן עביד שמא קדישא בכל יומא, מאן דיהיב צדקה למסכני כו׳
“Rabbi Shimon wept and said: ‘Who makes the Holy Name every day? He who gives charity unto the poor.’ ”
Two questions, however, present themselves: (a) How can we possibly say that the Holy Name is “made”? (b) How is the Name “made” through the giving of charity?
ויובן בהקדים מאמר רז״ל על פסוק: כי ביה ה׳ צור עולמים
This may be understood in the light of the comment of our Sages, of blessed memory, on the verse, “For by [the Divine Name that is composed of the letters] yud-hei, G‑d is the strength of the worlds.”
The Hebrew word here translated “strength” (lit.: “rock”) is צור, whose root letters imply an additional meaning, namely (in this context): “By means of [the Divine Name that is composed of the letters] yud-hei, G‑d formed (or created) the worlds.”
בה׳ נברא עולם הזה, ביו״ד נברא עולם הבא
On the above-quoted verse the Sages comment: “This world was created by the letter hei [of the Divine Name yud-hei]; the World to Come was created by the letter yud [of the Divine Name yud-hei].”
In what respect is this world connected with the letter hei and the World to Come with the letter yud? The Alter Rebbe answers this question by first explaining the concept of the World to Come and Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden.
פירוש: שהתענוג שמתענגים נשמות הצדיקים, ונהנין מזיו השכינה המאיר בגן עדן עליון ותחתון
This means that the delight which the souls of the righteous experience, as they enjoy the splendor of the Shechinah which radiates in the upper and lower Gardens of Eden,
הוא שמתענגים בהשגתם והשכלתם
consists of their pleasure in their apprehension and conception,
שמשכילים ויודעים ומשיגים
for they conceive (with the faculty of Chochmah), know (with the faculty of Daat) and understand (with the faculty of Binah)
איזה השגה באור וחיות השופע שם מאין סוף ברוך הוא, בבחינת גילוי, לנשמתם ורוח בינתם
some degree of apprehension of the light and vitality which effuses there, in a revealed manner, from the blessed Ein Sof unto their soul and their spirit of understanding,
Spiritual life-force finds its way down into this world in so concealed a manner that all we know of it is the mere fact of its existence (yediat hametziut). In Gan Eden, by contrast, the spiritual life-force issues forth in such a manner that its very essence is apprehended (hassagat hamahut),
להבין ולהשיג איזה השגה, כל אחד ואחד לפי מדרגתו ולפי מעשיו
so that each and every one can understand and attain some perception according to his level and his deeds.
Likkutei Levi Yitzchak, authored by the saintly father of the Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, explains the distinction between “his level” and “his deeds” as follows.
“His level” alludes to those souls which are to be found in the Upper Garden of Eden, whose comprehension is commensurate with the level of their devout intent and the level of their re’uta delibba (lit., “the desire of the heart”), i.e., the unbounded yearning of the innermost point of their souls to cleave rapturously to their Maker. This state of divine service results from intellectual endeavor, which is denoted by the term “level”. (In ch. 9 of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, for example, the Alter Rebbe adds this term to the phrase that speaks of the intellectual activity known by its acronym as ChaBaD.)
“His deeds,” by contrast, refers to those souls in the Lower Garden of Eden, which earn the above-described spiritual delights through the actual performance of practical mitzvot. These souls, therefore, are rewarded “according to their deeds.”
In either case, it is clear that the delight that souls experience in Gan Eden is the intellectual delight of the apprehension of G‑dliness.
ולכן נקרא עולם הבא בשם בינה, בזוהר הקדוש
That is why in the Zohar the World to Come is referred to as Binah (“understanding”), for that world is permeated by the light of the Sefirah of Binah, which enables souls to apprehend and understand G‑dliness.
והשפעה זו נמשכת מבחינת חכמה עילאה
This flow issues from the plane of Supernal Chochmah,
שהוא מקור ההשכלה וההשגה הנקרא בשם בינה
which is the source of the conception and apprehension known as Binah.
Chochmah is the initial, intuitive, seminal flash of perception; Binah is the process of mental gestation that systematically develops and expands that inspiration into comprehensive understanding.
והוא קדמות השכל, קודם שבא לכלל גילוי השגה והבנה
For [Chochmah] is the primordial stage of the intellect, before apprehension and understanding become manifest;
רק עדיין הוא בבחינת העלם והסתר
rather, [Chochmah] at this stage is still in a state of obscurity and concealment,
The Alter Rebbe is speaking here of the particular level of Chochmah that transcends intellect and comprehension. It differs from the more external level of Chochmah which is the germ of intellect and is already illumined by it, though it too is as yet the unparticularized seminal point of a concept which is still to be analyzed and comprehended by the faculty of Binah. Preceding this, the primordial level of Chochmah discussed here utterly transcends revealed intellect; it is still obscure,
רק שמעט מזעיר שם זעיר שם שופע ונמשך משם לבחינת בינה
except for some miniscule measure that here and there flows forth and issues from it to the faculty of Binah,
The dual form of the Biblical idiom borrowed here (cf. Yeshayahu 28:10) implies that the light of this primordial level of Chochmah undergoes two distinct stages of tzimtzum, or self-contraction. The first stage limits this light; the second attenuates it so that it is able to descend into Binah,
להבין ולהשיג שכל הנעלם
making it possible [for a soul] to understand and apprehend a concept which is [intrinsically] concealed.
This higher form of Supernal intellect is the “radiance of the Shechinah,” a ray of G‑d’s infinitude that illuminates Gan Eden. Ordinarily, no created being — even a soul of such stature that it inhabits the Upper Gan Eden — could possibly fathom this degree of intellect. In order for it to be understood by mortal man’s soul, it must undergo the twofold descent mentioned above. Nonetheless, even after this descent it still pertains to the very essence (mahut) of G‑dliness that is comprehended by the soul in Gan Eden.
ולכן נקרא בשם נקודה בהיכלא, בזוהר הקדוש
In the holy Zohar, therefore, [Chochmah] is referred to as “the dot in the palace.”
Chochmah is the “dot” or “point” of intellect that illumines the “palace” of Binah. Nevertheless, even when already housed in Binah, it still remains a seminal point of intellect that transcends the details that constitute the comprehension of Binah.
וזו היא תמונת יו״ד של שם הוי׳
[Indeed,] this is the shape of the yud of the Four-Letter Name of G‑d.
The letter yud is shaped like a point, alluding to the Sefirah of Chochmah, which is a mere point.
ונקרא עדן, אשר עליו נאמר: עין לא ראתה גו׳
[Chochmah] is also referred to as Eden, of which it is said: “No eye has beheld it”; i.e., it is a kind of illumination that transcends and defies comprehension.
ונקרא: אבא יסד ברתא
Moreover, [Chochmah] is referred to as “the ‘father’ who founded the ‘daughter’.”
Chochmah is the “father”, or source, of the letters of speech, which are called the “daughter”, the level of Malchut.
One might have expected the letters of speech to derive from the emotive faculties (the middot) or from Binah, for surely a person articulates letters of speech when he seeks to express an emotion or to speak of an idea that he has comprehended. The Alter Rebbe, however, now goes on to explain that the letters of speech in fact derive from Chochmah, which transcends comprehension.
פירוש: כי הנה התהוות אותיות הדבור היוצאות מה׳ מוצאות הפה אינה דבר מושכל
This means: The formation of the letters of speech which proceed from the five organs of articulation is not an intellectual process.
The letters do not emanate from the soul as a result of any intellectual imperative.
ולא מוטבע בטבע מוצאות הללו להוציא מבטא האותיות
It is also not inherent in the nature of these organs [that they must] pronounce the letters
על ידי ההבל והקול המכה בהן
— by means of the breath and the sound that strikes them —
על פי דרך הטבע, ולא על פי דרך השכל
by either a natural faculty or by an intellectual faculty.
כגון השפתיים, על דרך משל, שאותיות בומ״פ יוצאות מהן
With the lips, for example, by means of which the letters beit, vav, mem and pei are uttered,
Since the lips are the most visible of the organs of speech, the Alter Rebbe chooses for his example the letters which they form; one can readily see that pronouncing these letters is impelled neither by the nature of the lips themselves nor by the faculty of intellect.
אין הטבע ולא השכל נותן ליציאת מבטא ארבע חלקי שינויי ביטוי אותיות אלו על פי שינויי תנועת השפתים
neither nature nor the intellect compels the utterance of the four varying types of pronunciation of these letters in accordance with variations in the movement of the lips,
שמתנוענעות בהבל אחד וקול אחד, הפוגע בהן בשוה
which are moved by the same breath and the same sound that strikes them equally.
Since the letter beit and the letter vav, for example, are both formed by the same breath and the same sound, the distinction between them must be made by the movements of the lips: when the letter beit is pronounced the lips are pursed in one way and when the letter vav is pronounced they are pursed differently. This being so, one would expect that it would take a conscious mental effort to move the lips in one specific manner to pronounce the letter beit and in another specific manner to pronounce the letter vav. Alternatively, if it were dependent on nature, the speaker would naturally want to move his lips in the different ways necessary for the formation of one letter or the other.
ואדרבה, שינוי התנועות שבשפתים הוא לפי שינוי ביטוי האותיות שברצון הנפש לבטא בשפתים
On the contrary: the change in the movements of the lips depends on the difference in pronunciation of the letters the soul wishes to utter by means of the lips,
כרצונה לומר אות ב׳ או ו׳ או מ׳ או פ׳
when it desires to pronounce the letter beit, or vav, or mem, or pei, and the lips will instinctively and spontaneously move accordingly.
ולא להיפך, שיהיה רצון הנפש וכונתה לעשות שינוי תנועות השפתים
It is not the other way around, that it is the will and intention of the soul to make a change in the motions of the lips
כמו שהן מתנענעות עתה בביטויי ד׳ אותיות אלו
as they are moving now in the utterance of these four letters.
וכנראה בחוש, שאין הנפש מתכוונת ויודעת לכוין כלל שינוי תנועות השפתים בשינויים אלו
As is empirically evident, the soul does not at all intend or know how to intend the change in the motions of the lips [which articulate] those distinctions [between the various letters].
Since the soul neither intends nor even knows how to direct the lips to move in the manner required to form particular letters, it is obviously the mere desire to utter certain letters that results in the automatic movement of the lips in the appropriate manner.
ויותר נראה כן בביטוי הנקודות
This is even more evident with the pronunciation of the vowels.
שכשהנפש רצונה להוציא מפיה נקודת קמץ, אזי ממילא נקמצים השפתים
For when the soul wishes to utter the kamatz vowel, the lips spontaneously become compressed,
ובפתח נפתחים השפתים
and with the patach vowel the lips open — of their own accord,
ולא שרצון הנפש לקמוץ ולא לפתוח כלל וכלל
and not at all because of the will of the soul to compress or to open [them].
ואין להאריך בדבר הפשוט ומובן ומושכל לכל משכיל
There is no need to go any further into a matter which is simple, comprehensible, and intelligible to every intelligent person,
שמבטא האותיות והנקודות הוא למעלה מהשכל המושג ומובן
namely, that the pronunciation of the letters and vowels transcends the apprehended and comprehended intellect,
אלא משכל הנעלם וקדמות השכל שבנפש המדברת
but rather derives from the hidden intellect, and the primordial stage of the intellect which is in the articulate soul.
ולכן אין התינוק יכול לדבר, אף שמבין הכל
This is why an infant cannot speak, even though it understands everything, for speech does not result from revealed and apprehended intellect, but from the more rarefied “hidden intellect” which in the infant has yet to be developed.
We thus see that the letters of speech derive from Chochmah. This, then, is the meaning of “the ‘father’ who founded the ‘daughter’”: Chochmah is the “father” or source of the letters of speech, which are called the “daughter”, or the Sefirah of Malchut.
* * *
Until this point the Alter Rebbe has explained the Talmudic teaching that the World to Come was created by the letter yud: the Sefirah of Chochmah, which this letter represents, is the spiritual source of Gan Eden which is in the World to Come.
However, according to the above, since the letters of the Supernal creative speech derive from Chochmah, it would seem that this world, which was also created by the letters of Divine speech, was likewise created from the letter yud that represents Chochmah. Why, then, do our Sages teach that only the World to Come was created from the letter yud, while this world was created from the letter hei?
The Alter Rebbe therefore now goes on to explain that the letters of speech are composed of “matter” and “form” — the “body” and “soul” (or: the external and internal aspects) of the letters. While the “form” of the letters does indeed derive from Chochmah, the “matter” of the letters of speech merely derives from the heart.
So, too, Above: the internal aspect of the letters derives from Chochmah; from this aspect are created the higher spiritual beings which are able to apprehend G‑dliness. However, the external aspect of the Supernal letters of speech derives from the “breath” — the hei of the Divine Name. It is from this lesser level that this physical world was created.
In the words of the Alter Rebbe:
אך האותיות הן בבחינת חומר וצורה, הנקרא פנימית וחיצונית
However, the letters exist on planes of “matter” and “form”, which are also referred to as their “internal” aspect (i.e., the “form”, which is their “soul”) and their “external” aspect (i.e., the “matter”, which is their “body”).
כי הגם שמקורן הוא מקדמות השכל ורצון הנפש
Although their source is the primordial stage of the intellect and the will of the soul, for as soon as the soul desires to speak these letters are formed, as explained above,
זו היא בחינת צורת שינוי המבטא שבכ״ב אותיות
this is but the “form” of the differentiation in the pronunciation of the twenty-two letters.
אבל בחינת החומר וגוף התהוותן, והוא בחינת חיצוניותן, הוא ההבל היוצא מהלב
The “matter” and “body” of their formation, however, i.e., the aspect of their “externality”, is the breath issuing from the heart.
שממנו מתהוה קול פשוט היוצא מהגרון
From this breath is formed a simple sound which proceeds from the throat,
ואחר כך נחלק לכ״ב הברות וביטוי כ״ב אותיות
and which is then divided into the twenty-two kinds of enunciation and expression of the twenty-two letters,
בה׳ מוצאות הידועות: אחה״ע מהגרון
[these divisions taking place] through the five known organs of speech: alef, chet, hei and ayin through the throat;
גיכ״ק מהחיך כו׳
gimmel, yud, kaf and kuf through the palate, and so on; e.g., beit, vav, mem and pei from the lips, and so on;
ומבטא ההבל הוא אות ה׳, אתא קלילא כו׳
while the breath itself, which has its own sound independent of the letter being spoken, is uttered by the letter hei — “the light letter,” inasmuch as it lacks the substance of a complete letter,
והוא מקור החומר וגוף האותיות טרם התחלקותן לכ״ב
which is the source of the “matter” and “body” of the letters before their division into twenty-two.
The hei is thus the source of each letter’s “body”.
ולכן אמרו רז״ל שעולם הזה נברא בה׳
And that is why our Sages, of blessed memory, said that “this world was created by the hei”: it was created by the external aspect, or “body”, of the Supernal letters whose source is the hei of the Divine Name.
* * *
והנה הגם שהיא ה׳ תתאה, ה׳ אחרונה שבשם הוי׳
Now, though this is the “lower hei,” the latter hei of the Four-Letter Name of G‑d,
Supernal speech is of the level of Malchut, as alluded to in the verse, “The king’s utterance reigns.” The hei that is the source of speech is thus the lower hei of the Tetragrammaton, the letter which denotes the level of Malchut.
ורז״ל דרשו זה על פסוק: כי ביה
while our Sages, of blessed memory, expounded this — that the World to Come was created by the letter yud and this world by the letter hei — from their reading of the verse, “For by yud-hei [did G‑d create the worlds],”
Since these are the first two letters of the Divine Name, how are we taught here that the statement that “this world was created by the letter hei” refers to the lower letter hei, the source of the breath of the letters of speech?
היינו לפי שמקורה וראשיתה לבא לבחינת גילוי מהעלם היו״ד
this is because its source and the beginning of its progress into a state of manifestation from the obscurity of the yud
הוא מושפע ונמשך מבחינת ה׳ עילאה
is influenced and drawn forth from the level of the upper hei.
The obscurity of the yud of Chochmah is the source of every manner of revelation, both of the World to Come as well as of this world. As this relates to the letters: it serves as the source of revelation both for the “form” as well as the “matter” of the letters. It is only that in the resulting revelation of the letters, the “form” of the letters and the revelation of the World to Come emanate from the letter yud — from Chochmah — itself, while the revelation of the “matter” or external aspect of the letters emanates from the “breath of the heart,” from the latter hei of the Divine Name.
שיש לה התפשטות אורך ורוחב
[The form or shape of the letter hei] has dimensions of length and width
להורות על בחינת בינה
to indicate the faculty of Binah, for the upper hei of the Divine Name denotes the level of Binah,
שהיא התפשטות השכל הנעלם בבחינת גילוי והשגה, בהרחבת הדעת
which is the expansion of the “concealed intellect” into a state of manifestation and apprehension, extending into Daat,
והשפעתה מסתיימת בלב
and its diffusion — the diffusion of the flow of Binah — culminates in the heart.
וכמו שכתוב בתיקונים, דבינה לבא, ובה הלב מבין
Thus it is written in the Tikkunim that “Binah is the heart, and by means of it the heart understands.”
Thus, the diffusion of Binah takes place within the heart.
ומשם יוצא ההבל מקור גילוי גוף האותיות הדבור
From there issues the breath, the original manifestation of the “body” of the letters of speech
המתגלות בה׳ מוצאות מהעלם היו״ד
which become revealed from the concealment of the yud through the five organs of speech.
ותמונת ה׳ תתאה בכתיבתה גם כן בהתפשטות אורך ורוחב
The shape of the lower hei which, in its written form, also has dimensions of length and width,
מורה על התפשטות בחינת מלכותו יתברך, מלכות כל עולמים
indicates the extension of [G‑d’s] blessed Sovereignty, “the sovereignty of all worlds,”
למעלה ולמטה ולד׳ סטרין
which extends upward and downward, and in the four directions,
המתפשטות ונמשכות מאותיות דבר ה׳, כמו שכתוב בקהלת: באשר דבר מלך שלטון, כמו שכתוב במקום אחר
[all these directions] extending and issuing from the letters of the “word of G‑d”; as it is written in Kohelet, “The king’s utterance reigns,” as explained elsewhere.
Just as a king of flesh and blood rules through his faculty of speech, by issuing commands, so too does Supernal speech extend G‑d’s reign in all the dimensions of the created universe.
[ולהבין מעט מזעיר ענין ומהות אותיות הדבור באלקות, שאין לו דמות הגוף ולא הנפש, חס ושלום
[As for understanding somewhat the concept and nature of “letters of speech” in relation to Divinity, inasmuch as [G‑d] has no form of a body, nor of a soul, heaven forfend,
כבר נתבאר בדרך ארוכה וקצרה (בלקוטי אמרים, חלק ב׳, פרק י״א וי״ב, עיין שם)]
this has already been explained comprehensively yet concisely (in Likkutei Amarim, Part II, chs. 11 and 12; see there).]
* * *
אך ביאור הענין למה אמרו רז״ל שעולם הזה דוקא נברא בה׳
We now come to an exposition of why our Sages, of blessed memory, said that specifically this world was created by the hei.
According to the explanation provided above, not only this physical world, but all of creation resulted from the letter hei, i.e., from the Sefirah of Malchut as expressed in Divine speech.
The Alter Rebbe resolves this apparent anomaly by explaining that it is indeed true that all creation derives from the infinite variety of permutations and combinations of the letters which constitute Divine speech. Nevertheless, the loftier and more spiritual created beings derive from the internal aspect of Divine speech, which stems from Chochmah, and they therefore have an intellectual perception of G‑dliness. Physical creation, by contrast, is of too lowly a level to be able to receive its life-giving Divine light and energy from the “soul” (i.e., the internal aspect) of the letters of G‑d’s creative speech; it merely receives this from the “body” (i.e., from the external aspect) of these letters.
The creation of physicality thus resembles the breath emanating from the heart, that forms the physical voice. Above, in like manner, the physical world is formed from Supernal breath, the “body” of the letters.
Hence our Sages teach that this world was created by the letter hei — for this letter denotes the Divine breath, as explained above.
It is this that the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:
הנה ידוע לכל חכמי לב
This is known to all the wise of heart
כי ריבוי העולמות וההיכלות אשר אין להם מספר
concerning the multitude of worlds and heichalot, palaces or chambers, which are innumerable,
כמו שכתוב: היש מספר לגדודיו
as it is written, with reference to these countless worlds and heichalot, “Do His regiments have a number?”
ובכל היכל וגדוד, אלף אלפין ורבוא רבבן מלאכים
Each heichal and regiment comprises [a finite but prodigious number of] angels, [as it is written],] “A thousand thousands [serve Him] and myriads of myriads [stand before Him].”
וכן נרנח״י, מדרגות לאין קץ
Likewise, incalculable like the above heichalot and regiments, are the levels of [souls, belonging to the five general categories of] nefesh, ruach, neshamah, chayah and yechidah, in rungs to no end, for each of these five categories branches out into levels of inexhaustible number.
ובכל עולם והיכלות מריבוי היכלות שבאצילות, בריאה, יצירה
And so too [there are numberless levels] in all the worlds and heichalot, from among the multitudes of heichalot that exist in the Worlds of Atzilut, Beriah and Yetzirah.
The three above-mentioned worlds are “higher” than the World of Asiyah (“the World of Action”), which includes both the spiritual and physical worlds of Asiyah.
הנה כל ריבויים אלו, ריבוי אחר ריבוי עד אין קץ
All these hosts [of created beings], then, one multitude beyond another ad infinitum,
הכל נמשך ונשפע מריבוי צירופי כ״ב אותיות דבר ה׳
all issue and flow from the multitudinous combinations of the twenty-two letters of the “word of G‑d,”
המתחלקות גם כן לצירופים רבים עד אין קץ ותכלית ממש
which, in turn, divide into a further profusion of combinations, truly ad infinitum.
כמו שכתוב בספר יצירה: שבע אבנים בונות חמשת אלפים וארבעים בתים
As stated in Sefer Yetzirah, “Seven ‘stones’ (i.e., letters) build five thousand and forty ‘houses’ (i.e., words);
מכאן ואילך, צא וחשוב מה שאין הפה יכול לדבר כו׳
from here onwards — i.e., from the sum of the factorial of eight and onwards — go ahead and calculate that which the mouth is unable to express.”
In this way the letters of Divine speech may be multiplied infinitely by various permutations and combinations, thus giving rise to a correspondingly infinite range of created beings.
But if the distinctions between all these beings lie merely in the ways in which their respective letters are combined, why are there also many and varying qualitative levels, “one surpassing the other”? This is the question that the Alter Rebbe now proceeds to address.
והגם שיש במעלות ומדריגות המלאכים ונשמות כמה וכמה מיני מעלות ומדריגות חלוקות לאין קץ
Though among the rungs and levels of the angels and souls there are so many distinct kinds of qualitative as well as quantitative levels and rungs ad infinitum,
גבוה על גבוה
one surpassing the other,
הנה הכל נמשך לפי חילופי הצירופים והתמורות בא״ת ב״ש כו׳
[these variations of level exist because] they all come into being according to permutations in the various letter-combinations and letter-substitutions of alef-tav, beit-shin, and so on, (of the twenty-two letters which themselves come into being according to permutations in the various letter-combinations and letter-substitutions of alef-tav, beit-shin [and so on]),
(וכמו שכתוב בפרק י״ב)
(as explained in ch. 12 [of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah]).
Now, although there exists such a teeming superabundance of distinct and varying levels of created beings:
אך דרך כלל הנה כולם בעלי חכמה ודעת, ויודעים את בוראם
In a general way they all possess wisdom and knowledge, and they know their Creator,
מפני היות חיותם מפנימיות האותיות, הנמשכות מבחינת חכמה עילאה, וכנ״ל
because their life-force stems from the inwardness of the letters which issue from the Supreme Chochmah, as mentioned above.
We may therefore truly say that the beings encompassed by the general term of [creatures of] the World to Come were all created by the letter yud, for their vitality stems from the inwardness and radiance of the letters of Divine speech that derive from the yud of the Four-Letter Name of G‑d.
* * *
אך העולם הזה השפל, עם החיות שבתוכו
This lowly world, however, with the life-force that is found within it,
קטן מהכיל ולסבול אור וחיות מבחינת צורת האותיות ופנימיותן
is too small to contain and endure the light and life-force that proceed from the “form” and “inwardness” of the letters;
להאיר ולהשפיע בו בלי לבוש והסתר
[this lowly world is too small for this light and life-force to be able] to radiate and diffuse in it without any garment or concealment
כמו שמאירות ומשפיעות לנשמות ומלאכים
as they radiate and diffuse to the souls and angels, which receive the radiation from the inwardness of the letters without the garment and concealment of the “matter” and “body” of the letters which consists of the “breath”.
רק ההארה וההשפעה באה ונשפע לעולם הזה מבחינת חומר וגוף האותיות וחיצוניותם
Instead, the radiation and diffusion comes and flows to this world from the “matter”, “body”, or “externality” of the letters.
שהוא בחינת ההבל
This is called “breath”, just as the “body” or external aspect of the letters of man’s speech derives from physical breath,
המתחלק לז׳ הבלים שבקהלת, שעליהם העולם עומד
and it divides into the seven “breaths” of [the second verse of] Kohelet, on which the world stands; as taught in the holy Zohar, “The world exists only by virtue of the [seven] ‘breaths’ uttered by King Solomon.”
והוא מוצא פי ה׳, המתלבש בעולם הזה וכל צבאיו להחיותם
This is “the utterance that issues forth from G‑d’s mouth,” i.e., this is the letter hei, which is vested in this world and all its hosts to animate them;
ובתוכו מלובשת בחינת צורת אותיות הדיבור והמחשבה
in [this utterance] is vested the “form” of the letters of speech and thought,
ממדותיו הקדושות ורצונו וחכמתו וכו׳
emanating from His holy attributes, and His will and wisdom, and so on,
This is similar to the letters (i.e., the potential and as-yet- inarticulate components) of a man’s speech or thought, which attain a state of revealed expression through his emotions: since, for example, he loves and desires something, he thinks and speaks about it. The emotions themselves, however, derive from his will and mind. The same is true Above: the letters of speech and thought are revealed by the Divine attributes and emanate from them, though ultimately they derive from G‑d’s will and wisdom.
המיוחדות באין סוף ברוך הוא, בתכלית
which are utterly incorporated in the blessed Ein Sof.
Thus, the radiance emanating from the “form” of the letters — a radiance that emanates from G‑d’s attributes, wisdom and will — is merely found בתוכו, within the internality of the Divine utterance that creates and vitalizes this world; it is not manifest. That which serves as the source of the creation and vitality of this world is the externality or “body” of the letters, the “breath” of Divine speech.
(וזה שאמר האר״י ז״ל, שבחינת חיצוניות הכלים דמלכות דאצילות, המרומזות בה׳ של שם ה׳ ברוך הוא, הם ירדו ונעשו נשמה לעולם העשיה)
(And this is what Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, stated — that the external aspects of the vessels of [the Sefirah of] Malchut of [the World of] Atzilut, [these external aspects being] alluded to by the [lower] hei of the Four-Letter Name of G‑d, descended and became the soul for the World of Asiyah.)
וכן כתוב בתקונים, שהיו״ד הוא באצילות כו׳, וה׳ תתאה מקננת בעשיה
It is likewise stated in the Tikkunim, that the yud is in [the World of] Atzilut, [the upper hei in the World of Beriah, the vav in the World of Yetzirah,] and the lower hei nests in [the World of] Asiyah.
These four letters of the Divine Name Havayah are the aspect of G‑dliness that is revealed within the Four Worlds, as follows:
In the World of Atzilut, the Sefirah of Chochmah (the yud of the Divine Name) is manifest. Chochmah signifies the highest form of self-nullification, the awareness that “He is One Alone and apart from Him there is nothing,” as explained in the Note to Part I, ch. 35. This Sefirah permeates the entire World of Atzilut, so that whatever exists at that state of being experiences this degree of self-nullification before G‑d.
The upper hei of the Divine Name, the Sefirah of Binah (“comprehension”), illuminates the World of Beriah. Hence all the inhabitants of this world, both souls and angels, are characterized by a high degree of perception of Divinity.
The World of Yetzirah is illumined by the letter vav of the Divine Name, representing the six middot, the Divine emotive attributes. The created beings of this world therefore serve G‑d with their spiritual emotions, with ecstatic love and fear.
The World of Asiyah is animated by the lower hei of the Tetragrammaton, the Sefirah of Malchut. This is the world of action, the level of active Divine service that is motivated by an acceptance of the yoke of the heavenly kingdom.
However, this refers only to the soul of the World of Asiyah that emanates from the combinations of the letters of Divine speech at their innermost dimension. This level is clothed and concealed within the “matter” or “body” of the letters — the “breath”. The actual creation and animation of the World of Asiyah derives only from the externality of Divine speech, i.e., from the “breath”. It is for this reason that this world is physical and corporeal.
* * *
We learned above that the Zohar teaches: “Who makes the Holy Name every day? He who gives charity to the poor.” The relevance of this answer, however, remained obscure. Now, therefore, equipped with the foregoing insights, we revert to the question with which this epistle opened: How does giving tzedakah to the poor “make a Name” for G‑d?
The Alter Rebbe explains as follows:
והנה באדם התחתון, למשל, מי שהוא חכם גדול להשכיל נפלאות חכמה
Now with terrestrial man, for example, when one who is so great a sage as to comprehend the wonders of wisdom
ומצמצם שכלו ומחשבתו באות אחד מדבורו
contracts his conception and thought into a single letter of his speech,
הנה זה הוא צמצום עצום וירידה גדולה לחכמתו הנפלאה
this is a stupendous contraction and a great descent for his wondrous wisdom.
ככה ממש, על דרך משל, ויתר מזה לאין קץ, היה צמצום גדול ועצום ורב
Precisely as in this analogy but infinitely more so, there was an immensely great and mighty contraction
כאשר בדבר ה׳ שמים נעשו בששת ימי בראשית, וברוח פיו כל צבאם
when during the Six Days of Creation “the heavens were made by the word of G‑d, and all their hosts by the breath of His mouth,”
היא אות ה׳ של שם הויה ברוך הוא, אתא קלילא
i.e., by the letter hei — “a light letter” — of the Four-Letter Name of G‑d.
This is not only a single letter, but also an insubstantial one.
כמו שכתוב: בהבראם, בה׳ בראם
Thus it is written, “[These are the chronicles of heaven and earth] behibar’am” (i.e., ‘when they were created’). By revocalizing the Hebrew letters of this word, the Sages read it as if it were simultaneously pronounced b’hei bra’am. The verse would now mean, “These are the chronicles of heaven and earth; with the letter hei He created them.”
היא מקור הט׳ מאמרות שנמשכו ממאמר ראשון: בראשית, דנמי מאמר הוא
[This letter hei] is the source of the nine creative utterances which issued from the first utterance: Bereishit (“In the beginning”), which itself is a creative utterance,
היא בחינת חכמה, הנקראת ראשית
and identical with the Sefirah of Chochmah, which is called reishit (as in the phrase, reishit chochmah — “the beginning of wisdom”).
The descent of Chochmah, the source of the other nine creative utterances, into Malchut, the lowest of the Sefirot, involves an intense degree of contraction.
אך אז היתה המשכה וירידה זו בלי אתערותא דלתתא כלל
But at that time, at the beginning of creation, this downward flow from Chochmah to Malchut occurred without any arousal from below whatever,
כי אדם אין לעבוד גו׳
[as it is written,] “For there was no man to work” and bring about this arousal;
רק כי חפץ חסד הוא
it occurred solely “because He desires [to act with] kindness,”
ועולם חסד יבנה
as it is also written, “The world is built by kindness.”
וזהו: בהבראם, באברהם
And this is the meaning of [another interpretation of the verse, “These are the chronicles of heaven and earth] behibar’am” (i.e., ‘when they were created’). By transposing the Hebrew letters of this word, the Sages read this word as if it were simultaneously pronounced beAvraham(i.e., 'through [the attribute that characterizes] Abraham’),
כי חסד לאברהם כו׳
since “kindness is to Abraham.” Since Abraham embodies the attribute of Chesed, the verse thus intimates that heaven and earth were created through the attribute of Chesed.
אך אחר בריאת האדם לעבדה כו׳
But after the creation of man “to work it,” his life-long task being to draw down to this world a flow of Divine energy by means of an “arousal from below,” i.e., by means of his own spiritual labors,
אזי כל אתערותא דלעילא, לעורר מדת חסד עליון, הוא באתערותא דלתתא
every arousal from Above, to arouse the attribute of Supreme kindness, depends on an arousal from below,
בצדקה וחסד שישראל עושים בעולם הזה
through the acts of charity and kindness that Jews perform in this world.
Thus, these good deeds draw down Divine influence from the yud of the Divine Name, from the level of Chochmah, to the final hei of the Name, the level of Malchut. In this way, then, good deeds bring together and “make” the Name of G‑d, and draw it downward in its entirety.
לכן אמרו רז״ל: כל האומר אין לי אלא תורה, בלי גמילות חסדים, אפילו תורה אין לו
That is why our Sages, of blessed memory, have said: “Whoever says that he has nothing but Torah,” and thus no kindly deeds, “does not have even Torah;
אלא לעסוק בתורה ובגמילות חסדים
rather, one ought to engage in Torah and in the performance of acts of lovingkindness.”
כי הנה הגם דאורייתא מחכמה נפקת, ובאורייתא מתקיים עלמא, ובאינון דלעאן בה
For though the “Torah derives from Chochmah,” and “the world subsists by virtue of the Torah” and “those who discourse in it,”
כי בדבורם ממשיכים הארות והשפעות נוסח אחר: והשראות חכמה עילאה מקור התורה, לבחינת אותיות הדבור, שבהן נברא העולם
because by speaking of Torah subjects they elicit illuminations and effusions from Supreme Chochmah, the source of Torah, into the plane of the letters of speech with which the world was created,
כמאמר רז״ל: אל תקרי בניך אלא בוניך
as our Sages, of blessed memory, said, with regard to Torah scholars, “Do not read banayich (‘Your children’) but bonayich (‘Your builders’), for they build the world through their study of Torah, —
הרי המשכה זו היא בחינת ירידה גדולה
nevertheless, this flow of Chochmah to the letters of speech is a great descent.
ולזה צריך לעורר חסד עליון, הנמשך כמים ממקום גבוה למקום נמוך
To accomplish this it is necessary to arouse Supernal Chesed which, like water, is drawn down from a high place to a low place
באתערותא דלתתא, בצדקה וחסד תתאה
by means of an arousal from below, through acts of charity and kindness here below,
שממשיכים חיים וחסד, להחיות רוח שפלים ונדכאים
whereby one diffuses life and kindness, “to revive the spirit of the humble and downcast.”
By doing so one draws down Supernal kindness, so that the vitality of Chochmah descends to the letters of speech, the source of all creation.
וזה שכתוב: אל יתהלל חכם בחכמתו גו׳, כי אם בזאת יתהלל גו׳, כי אני ה׳ עושה חסד גו׳
And this is the meaning of the verse, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, but in this let him glory — [in understanding and knowing Me,” but in such a manner that it brings about the fulfillment of the phrase that follows]: “for I am G‑d Who acts with kindness.”
We thus see that wisdom is justifiably glorified when it leads to an act of kindness which in turn evokes a reciprocal act of kindness from Above.
כי החסד הוא הממשיך חיי החכמה למטה
For it is Chesed, the kindly conduct of man here below, that results in the fulfillment of the verse, “I am G‑d Who acts with kindness,” i.e., with the Chesed of Asiyah, and that causes the vitality of Chochmah to issue downwards into the letters of speech, the source of all created beings.
ואם לא, הרי נקראת חכמתו לבדו
In the absence of this [kindly conduct], [the Torah study] that such a person undertakes is called “His wisdom” alone: it remains in heaven as an untapped resource in which that wise man cannot glory,
בלי המשכת חיים ממנה, חס ושלום
and there is no downward flow of life from it, G‑d forbid.
ובזה יובן מה שכתב האריז״ל, שיש ב׳ מיני נשמות בישראל
The above enables one to understand the statement of Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, that there are two kinds of souls among Jews:
נשמות תלמידי חכמים, העוסקים בתורה כל ימיהם
the souls of Torah scholars, who engage in the study of Torah all their lives,
ונשמות בעלי מצות, העוסקים בצדקה וגמילות חסדים
and the souls of those who perform the commandments, occupying themselves with charitable and kindly deeds.
דלכאורה, הרי גם תלמידי חכמים צריכים לעסוק בגמילות חסדים
Now surely scholars, too, need to occupy themselves with acts of kindness;
כמאמר רז״ל, שאפילו תורה אין לו
as our Sages, of blessed memory, taught, “[Whoever says that he has nothing but Torah,” and thus no kindly deeds], “does not have even Torah.”
How, then, could the AriZal have stated that people with a certain kind of soul invest their lives exclusively in Torah study? The Alter Rebbe’s answer, which follows, takes it for granted that even fulltime Torah scholars of course spend some of their time in doing good deeds.
אלא שהתלמידי חכמים, שתורתן עיקר ורוב ימיהם בה
However, as regards Torah scholars whose study of the Torah is their principal occupation and most of their time is spent in it, with only a minor part of their time spent on the performance of kindly deeds,
הנה פעולת אתערותא דלתתא, לעורר חסד עליון
the effect of their arousal from below, to arouse Supernal Chesed,
להמשיך ולהוריד אור אין סוף המלובש בחכמה עילאה, מקור תורת ה׳ שבפיהם
to call forth and bring downward the [infinite] Ein Sof-light vested in Supernal Chochmah, the source of G‑d’s Torah which is in their mouths,
הוא רק לעולם הנשמות שבבריאה, על ידי עסק התלמוד
extends only to the realm of the souls that are in Beriah, through their occupation with Gemara,
The study of Gemara, inasmuch as it involves reasoning and intellectual give-and-take, corresponds to the World of Beriah, the realm of comprehension.
ולמלאכים שביצירה על ידי לימוד המשנה
and extends to the angels that are in the World of Yetzirah, through their occupation with Mishnah.
The Mishnah consists of statements of law — “kosher” or “non-kosher”, “pure” or “impure”. Such bipartite divisions, which are a reflection in the material world below of the divergent attributes of Chesed and Gevurah in the realms above, are related to the World of Yetzirah, which is the realm of middot, the spiritual emotions.
יען היות חיות הנשמות והמלאכים נשפעות מצירופי אותיות הדבור, היא תורה שבעל פה
For the animation of souls and angels derives from the combinations of the letters of speech, i.e., the Oral Torah; as it is written in Patach Eliyahu, “[The Sefirah of] Malchut [corresponds to] the mouth, which we call the Oral Torah.”
ומקור האותיות הוא מחכמה עילאה, כנזכר לעיל
The source of the letters, however, is in Supernal Chochmah, as mentioned above.
Thus, through their study of the Oral Torah, scholars draw down Supernal Chochmah into the combinations of the letters of speech; this in turn provides vitality to [unborn] souls and angels.
אך להמשיך ולהוריד הארה וחיות מבחינת הבל העליון, ה׳ תתאה, לעולם הזה השפל
However, in order to call forth and bring downward an illumination and vitality from the level of the Supreme Breath, the “lower hei,” to this lowly world,
שהוא צמצום גדול ביתר עז
which entails a greater and extreme contraction,
לא די באתערותא דלתתא של תלמידי חכמים, העוסקים מיעוט ימיהם בצדקה וגמילות חסדים
the arousal from below by the Torah scholars, who for only a small part of their time engage in charitable and kindly deeds, is not sufficient.
אלא על ידי אתערותא דבעלי מצות, העוסקים רוב ימיהם בצדקה וגמילות חסדים
[This is effected] only through an arousal by those who perform the commandments, who are occupied with deeds of charity and kindness for the major part of their life
(וכמו שכתוב בלקוטי אמרים בחלק א׳, פרק ל״ד)
(as explained in Likkutei Amarim, Part I, ch. 34).
The Alter Rebbe explains there that even if a man distributes no more than a fifth of his income for charity, that fifth elevates the other four parts with it to G‑d, for thereby all his exertion becomes a dwelling for Him. Moreover, his acts of kindness will arouse G‑d’s “right hand of kindness.”
ולכן נקראו תמכי אורייתא
That is why [people who are mainly occupied with such mitzvot] are called “the supporters of [the] Torah [itself],” and not only of those who study the Torah, for by their activities they draw down the light of the Torah from its root and source so that it will illuminate this physical world below.
והן בחינות ומדריגות נצח והוד
These [people] represent the levels of Netzach and Hod, which are analogous to “the two thighs” which enable a man to stand upon the ground; the function of the Sefirot of Netzach and Hod is similar,
להיותן ממשיכין אור התורה למטה לעולם העשיה
because they cause the light of Torah to issue downwards to the World of Asiyah.
ובזה יובן למה נקרא הצדקה בשם מעשה
Now it is clear why charity is referred to as an “act”,
כמו שכתוב: והיה מעשה הצדקה שלום
as in the verse, “And the act of charity will be peace.”
על שם שפעולתה להמשיך אור ה׳ לעולם העשיה
For the effect of charity is to elicit the light of G‑d down to the World of Asiyah.
וזהו דקדוק לשון זוהר הקדוש: מאן דעביד שמא קדישא, דעביד דייקא
And this is the meaning of the subtle phraseology of the holy Zohar: “He who makes the Holy Name,” expressly saying “who makes.”
כי באתערותא דלתתא, בצדקה וחסד תתאה, מעורר חסד עליון
For by an arousal from below, through charity and mortal Chesed, one arouses the Supernal Chesed —
להמשיך אור אין סוף מבחינת חכמה עילאה, יו״ד של שם
to elicit the [infinite] Ein Sof-light from Supernal Chochmah, the yud of the Divine Name,
לה׳ של שם, בחינת הדבור ורוח פיו יתברך
to the hei of the Name, to the “speech” and “breath” of G‑d’s blessed mouth,
כדי להשפיע לעולם העשיה
in order to draw down [Divine light] to the World of Asiyah.
ועל דרך משל, להבדיל הבדלות אין קץ: כמו שאדם אינו מדבר אלא לאחרים
And, analogously speaking, though infinitely incomparable: a human being speaks only to others
(ולא כשהוא בינו לבין עצמו)
(and not when he is alone),
ואז מצמצם שכלו ומחשבתו בדבורו אליהם
and then when speaking to them he contracts his intellect and thought.
The intelligent will understand.
——— ● ———