Earlier on, in ch. 4, the Alter Rebbe explained that the Supernal attributes of Chesed and Gevurah — the former finding expression in the diffusion of the Divine life-force that creates and animates created beings, and the latter finding expression in the obscuring of this life-force from them (so that they conceive of themselves as independently existing beings) — both possess one source. He explained there that since these two attributes are essentially one, the tzimtzum of Gevurah does not truly conceal, for “an entity cannot conceal its own self.”
All this applies to Chesed and Gevurah in the state in which they are found within their source. One might, however, think that in their revealed state (whether in a Sefirah, or in a mortal middah or attribute) they are indeed two separate and opposite entities — revelation and concealment, respectively. The Alter Rebbe therefore goes on to say in this chapter, that even when these attributes are revealed they are still in a state of hitkalelut, mutual incorporation, and both serve to bring about one result — a physical world with corporeal creatures. Were the Divine life-force to be revealed within these creatures they would be completely nullified within their source; there would be no such thing as created beings.
Thus the ultimate purpose of the tzimtzum brought about by Gevurah is also motivated by Chesed, for this concealment makes creation possible. Gevurah and Chesed are thus joined in a state of mutual incorporation. What makes this fusion possible is the fact that they are both united with the light of the Ein Sof. Hence, even when they are in a revealed state and appear to be two disparate entities, they are essentially one.
והנה שם אלקים הוא שם מדת הגבורה והצמצום
Now the Name Elokim is the Name which indicates the attribute of Gevurah and tzimtzum,
Each of G‑d’s Names denotes a particular Divine attribute. The Name pronounced Keil, for example, indicates the attribute of Chesed, as in the verse, “The kindness of Keil endures throughout the day.” Likewise, the Name that indicates the attribute of Gevurah or tzimtzum is Elokim; i.e., when the light of the Ein Sof garbs itself in the attribute of Gevurah to bring about its own tzimtzum and concealment, it is known by the Name Elokim.
ולכן הוא גם כן בגימטריא הטבע
hence it is also numerically equal to hateva (“nature”), which equals 86,
“Nature” signifies the ordered way of the world. Because of its repetitiveness, people become accustomed to it and it arouses no sense of wonder. No thought is given to the Divine power and life-force which is concealed in those things which have an established order and are repeated constantly.
לפי שמסתיר האור שלמעלה, המהוה ומחיה העולם
for it (the Divine Name Elokim) conceals the supernal light that brings the world into existence and gives it life,
The supernal light constantly creates the world ex nihilo — a feat more wondrous than the Splitting of the Red Sea. The Divine Name Elokim, however, conceals this light, so that it will not be visible to created beings,
ונראה כאלו העולם עומד ומתנהג בדרך הטבע
and it appears as though the world exists — without having to be constantly renewed, as if permanently programmed — and is conducted according to the laws of nature, independently of any supernatural influence.
Thus, even those things which are observed to undergo some degree of renewal are also perceived as “the way of nature,” inasmuch as they follow these seemingly immutable laws.
Chassidus explains that the wordטבע (“nature”), has a number of meanings, including “entrenched” and “submerged”. This means that the laws of nature are so “entrenched” in creation that it is difficult to detect the ongoing process of its renewal. Additionally, just as a submerged object is completely concealed by water, so, too, is the Divine life-force utterly “submerged” and concealed within created beings.
ושם אלקים זה
And this Name Elokim, not as it exists in its supernal source, but as it acts through the attribute of Gevurah, so that the world appears to be conducted in a natural manner,
הוא מגן ונרתק לשם הויה
is a shield and a sheath for the Name Havayah,
The Divine Name Havayah — as mentioned earlier, in explanation of the verse, “For a sun and a shield is Havayah Elokim”— is like the illuminating sun, while the Name Elokim conceals its light as does the sun’s shield, thereby enabling created beings to benefit from it.
להעלים האור והחיות הנמשך משם הויה, ומהוה מאין ליש
concealing the light and life-force which flows from the Name Havayah and bringing creation into existence from naught, this being the purpose of Havayah, the Name itself meaning “to bring into existence.” This light and life-force is concealed by Elokim:
שלא יתגלה לנבראים, ויבטלו במציאות
so that it should not be revealed to the creatures, which would thereby become absolutely nullified.
Since it is only through the concealment effected by the Name Elokim that created beings are able to exist:
והרי בחינת גבורה זו וצמצום הזה הוא גם כן בחינת חסד, שהעולם יבנה בו
The quality of this Gevurah and tzimtzum is also an aspect of Chesed, through which the world is built.
This is an allusion to the verse that states: “For I declared that the world be built through [the attribute of] Chesed.” For inasmuch as the world could not possibly have been created without the tzimtzum and concealment afforded by the Divine Name Elokim, it follows that the ultimate intent of this tzimtzum is actually Chesed.
וזו היא בחינת גבורה הכלולה בחסד
And this is the quality of Gevurah which is included in Chesed.
I.e., this is a form of Gevurah through which an act of Chesed is accomplished. As such it is included within Chesed.
והנה מהתכללות המדות זו בזו, נראה לעין דאיהו וגרמוהי חד, שהן מדותיו
From the mutual inclusion of the attributes, their opposite natures notwithstanding, it is evident that “He and His causations” — i.e., His attributes — “are One,”
כי מאחר שהן ביחוד גמור עמו, לכן הן מתייחדות זו בזו וכלולות זו מזו
for since they are in complete unity with Him, they therefore unite with each other and are comprised of each other.
כמאמר אליהו: ואנת הוא דקשיר לון ומייחד לון וכו׳ ובר מינך לית יחודא בעילאי כו׳
As Eliyahu said, in the passage beginning Patach Eliyahu, in the introduction to Tikkunei Zohar, “And You are He Who binds them (i.e., the Sefirot and the attributes) together and unites them...; and apart from You there is no unity among those [attributes] above….”
The Alter Rebbe will say a little later that since the Divine Name Elokim, signifying the attribute of tzimtzum and concealment, is one with the Name Havayah, it follows that the concealment brought about by the Name Elokim is not a true concealment, for “an entity cannot conceal its own self.” Created beings are therefore absolutely nullified in relation to their source.
וזהו שכתוב: והשבות אל לבבך כי ה׳ הוא האלקים
This, then, is the meaning of the Scriptural phrase, “and take it unto your heart that Havayah is Elokim.”
Concerning this verse the question was asked in the first chapter: “Would it occur to you that there is a god dwelling in the waters beneath the earth, so that it is necessary to caution so strongly [and negate this thought by stating that one should] ‘take it unto your heart’?”
According to the explanation given here this question is answered: The statement that “in the heavens above and upon the earth below, there is no other,” is not intended to negate the existence of another god. Rather, the verse is telling us that there is nothing else besides G‑d: He alone enjoys true existence; everything else is totally nullified in relation to Him. And for this concept to be understood well, one must indeed “take it unto his heart.”
פירוש: ששני שמות אלו הם אחד ממש
That is, these two Names are actually one; i.e., although Havayah represents Chesed and revelation, and Elokim represents tzimtzum and concealment, they are nevertheless truly one,
שגם שם אלקים, המצמצם ומעלים האור, הוא בחינת חסד כמו שם הויה
for even the Name Elokim, which conceals and contracts the light of the Divine life-force that is responsible for creation, is a quality of Chesed, just like the Name Havayah.
משום שמדותיו של הקדוש ברוך הוא מתיחדות עמו ביחוד גמור
For the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, unite with Him in a complete unity,
והוא ושמו אחד, שמדותיו הן שמותיו
and “He and His Name are One,” for His attributes are His Names; i.e., the attributes correspond to His specific Names.
Since this is so, i.e., once you understand that Elokim is one with Havayah,
ממילא תדע שבשמים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת אין עוד
you will consequently know that “in the heavens above and on the earth below, ein od” — there exists nothing else besides G‑d.
פירוש: שגם הארץ החומרית, שנראית יש גמור לעין כל, היא אין ואפס ממש לגבי הקב״ה
This Hebrew phrase means that even the material earth, which appears to everyone’s eyes to be actually existing, is naught and utter nothingness in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He.
כי שם אלקים אינו מעלים ומצמצם אלא לתחתונים
For the Name Elokim obscures and contracts the light and life-force only for the nether creatures, so that they perceive themselves as possessing independent existence,
ולא לגבי הקב״ה, מאחר שהוא ושמו אלקים אחד
but not for the Holy One, blessed be He, since He and His Name Elokim are One. Hence the Name Elokim cannot possibly act as a concealment for Him.
ולכן גם הארץ ומתחת לארץ הן אין ואפס ממש לגבי הקב״ה
Therefore, even the earth and that which is below it are naught and utter nothingness in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He,
ואינן נקראות בשם כלל, אפילו בשם עוד, שהוא לשון טפל
and are not called by any name at all, not even by the name od (“else”), which would indicate a subordinate status,
כמאמר רז״ל: יהודה ועוד לקרא
as in the statement of our Sages, of blessed memory: Yehudah ve‘od likra — “Does a verse in the Torah require secondary (od) substantiation from [the customs of] the Land of Judah?!”
We thus see that the term od signifies secondary status.
וכגוף שהוא טפל לנשמה וחיות שבתוכו
This too is the case with the body, which is subordinate to the soul and life-force within it, for which reason it is referred to as od.
וזהו שכתוב: אהללה ה׳ בחיי, אזמרה לאלקי בעודי
(And this is the meaning of the verse, “I will praise Havayah with my life, i.e., with my soul; I will sing to Elokai (”my L‑rd“) be‘odi, i.e., with my body.”
We thus see that the body is termed od, inasmuch as it is subservient to the soul. The reason the term Elokai is used in connection with the body’s song is this:
שהחיים נמשכים משם הויה, והעוד, שהוא הגוף הטפל, משם אלקים
For the life, i.e., the soul, is derived from the Name Havayah, and the od, which is the body, its subordinate, from the Name Elokim.)
We thus see that the body is nullified in relation to the soul to the extent of od, i.e., it is subordinate to it; it is not, however, nullified out of existence in relation to the soul. The reason for this:
לפי שהנשמה אינה מהוה הגוף מאין ליש
For the soul does not bring the body into existence ex nihilo: it only provides it with life. The body is therefore called od, i.e., secondary to the soul, inasmuch as it is the soul that provides the body with life.
אבל הקב״ה, המהוה את הכל מאין ליש, הכל בטל במציאות אצלו, כמו אור השמש בשמש
But as to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who brings everything into existence ex nihilo, everything is absolutely nullified in relation to Him, just as the light of the sun is absolutely nullified in the sun.
ולכן הוצרך הכתוב להזהיר: וידעת היום והשבות אל לבבך וגו׳
This is why it was necessary for the Torah to warn, “Know this day and take it unto your heart” [that “in the heavens above and upon the earth below there is none other],”
שלא תעלה על דעתך שהשמים וכל צבאם והארץ ומלואה הם דבר נפרד בפני עצמו
so that it should not enter your mind that the heavens and all their host, and the earth and all it contains, are separate entities in themselves, i.e., distinct and apart from their Creator and the Provider of their life,
והקדוש ברוך הוא ממלא כל העולם כהתלבשות הנשמה בגוף
and that the Holy One, blessed be He, fills the whole world in the same way as the soul is invested in the body,
ומשפיע כח הצומח בארץ
and that He causes the flow of the “vegetative force” into the earth, this being the life-force revealed within the earth,
וכח התנועה בגלגלים, ומניעם ומנהיגם כרצונו
and the power of motion into the celestial spheres, and moves them and directs them according to His Will,
כמו שהנשמה מניעה את הגוף ומנהיגתו כרצונה
just as the soul moves the body and directs it according to its will.
Though the body is a totally separate and different entity from the soul, the soul is nevertheless able to direct it according to its will, because it provides it with life. One might mistakenly believe that G‑d animates and conducts the world in a similar manner, and conceive of the world as being separate from Him, just as the body is separate from the soul. Anticipating this, the verse therefore points out that the relation between the soul and the body is entirely unlike the relation between G‑d, and His creation and vivification of created beings.
אך באמת אין המשל דומה לנמשל כלל
In truth, however, the analogy of soul and body bears no similarity whatsoever to the object of comparison — G‑dliness and the world,
כי הנשמה והגוף הם באמת נפרדים זה מזה בשרשם
since the soul and the body are actually separate from each other at their sources.
כי אין התהוות שורש הגוף ועצמותו מנשמתו, אלא מטפות אביו ואמו
The source of the body and its essence comes into being not from the soul, but from the seed of one’s father and mother;
וגם אחרי כן, אין גידולו מנשמתו לבדה, אלא על ידי אכילת ושתיית אמו כל תשעה חדשים
and even afterwards — after its creation — its growth is not from the soul alone, but through the mother’s eating and drinking throughout the nine months [of gestation],
ואחר כך, על ידי אכילתו ושתייתו בעצמו
and subsequently, through his own eating and drinking.
The body is thus a truly separate entity from the soul, inasmuch as the soul only provides it with life.
מה שאין כן השמים והארץ, שכל עצמותם ומהותם נתהוה מאין ואפס המוחלט
This is not so, however, in the case of heaven and earth, for their very being and essence was brought into existence from naught and absolute nothingness,
Before creation there was no space at all (as it were) for the existence of created beings, by virtue of the Divine Ayin which is ultimately responsible for creation.
רק בדבר ה׳ ורוח פיו
solely through the “word of G‑d” and the “breath of His mouth.”
וגם עדיין נצב דבר ה׳ לעולם, ושופע בהם תמיד בכל רגע
And now, too, the word of G‑d still stands forever in all created things, and flows into them continuously at every instant,
ומהוה אותם תמיד מאין ליש, כהתהוות האור מהשמש תוך גוף כדור השמש עצמו, דרך משל
constantly creating them anew from nothing, just as for example, the coming into existence of the light from the sun within the very globe of the sun.
It has already been explained that the light of the sun as it is found within the sun-globe does not possess true existence, for it is completely nullified within the sun. Only after it leaves the sun-globe can it be said to possess independent existence. Created beings likewise are always wholly nullified in relation to their source, since they are constantly found within it, i.e., within the Divine life-force that creates them.
ואם כן הם בטלים באמת במציאות לגמרי לגבי דבר ה׳ ורוח פיו יתברך, המיוחדים במהותו ועצמותו יתברך
Hence, in reality they — created beings — are completely nullified out of existence in relation to the “word of G‑d” and the “breath of His mouth,” which are unified with His Essence and Being,
כמו שיתבאר לקמן
as this union will be explained later,
Thus, created beings are completely nullified to the “word of G‑d” and the “breath of His mouth,” as well as to G‑d Himself,
כביטול אור השמש בשמש
just as the light of the sun is nullified in the sun.
Why, then, are created beings unaware of this, considering themselves instead as possessing independent and true existence? The Alter Rebbe answers this by saying:
רק שהן הן גבורותיו, במדת הגבורה והצמצום, להסתיר ולהעלים החיות השופע בהם
Yet these are His restraining powers, to hide and conceal, through the attribute of Gevurah and tzimtzum, the life-force that flows into them,
שיהיו נראים השמים והארץ וכל צבאם כאילו הם דבר בפני עצמו
so that heaven and earth and all their host should appear as if they were independently existing entities.
The effect of tzimtzum is to conceal from created beings the source of existence continuously found within them. This is why they are able to think of themselves as possessing independent existence.
אך אין הצמצום וההסתר אלא לתחתונים
However, the tzimtzum and concealment is only for the lower [worlds],
אבל לגבי הקב״ה, כולא קמיה כלא ממש חשיבי, כאור השמש בשמש
but in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, “Everything before Him is considered as actually naught,” like the light of the sun within the sun.
ואין מדת הגבורה מסתרת חס ושלום לפניו יתברך
The attribute of Gevurah does not, heaven forfend, conceal for Him,
כי איננה דבר בפני עצמו, אלא ה׳ הוא האלקים
for it is not an independent entity; rather, Havayah is Elokim.
The concealment resulting from the Divine Name Elokim and the attribute of Gevurah are one with the Divine Name Havayah, the attribute of Chesed and revelation. Thus, from the Divine perspective there is no concealment, for “an entity cannot conceal its own self.”