Now1 the nature of the Divine order is not like that of a human being, a creature of flesh and blood. Therefore, human terms cannot adequately describe Divine qualities. Thus, in our case:

וְהִנֵּה, מִדַּת הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא שֶׁלֹּא כְּמִדַּת בָּשָׂר וָדָם;

When a man says something, the breath of the spoken word may be sensed and is perceived as an independent entity separated from its source, namely, the ten intellectual and emotional faculties of the soul itself.

שֶׁהָאָדָם, כְּשֶׁמְּדַבֵּר דִּבּוּר, הֲרֵי הֶבֶל הַדִּבּוּר שֶׁבְּפִיו הוּא מוּרְגָּשׁ וְנִרְאֶה דָּבָר בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ מוּבְדָּל מִשָּׁרְשׁוֹ, שֶׁהֵן עֶשֶׂר בְּחִינוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ עַצְמָהּ.

While still encapsulated in its source, the word is utterly nullified; however, when it is spoken and it leaves its source, it takes on an identity of its own. This is true, however, only with regard to human speech.

But the speech of G-d is not, heaven forbid, separated from His Divine self, for nothing is outside of Him, and “no place is devoid of Him”2so that His speech is always contained within him.

אֲבָל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא אֵין דִּבּוּרוֹ מוּבְדָּל מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, כִּי אֵין דָּבָר חוּץ מִמֶּנּוּ, וְלֵית אֲתַר פָּנוּי מִינֵּיהּ,

Therefore, His speech is not like our speech, G-d forbid (just as, obviously, His thought is not like our thought, as it is written: “For My thoughts are not like your thoughts”3; and it is also written: “So are My ways higher than your ways [and My thoughts higher than your thoughts]).”4 Similarly, G-d’s speech is different from human speech.

וְלָכֵן, אֵין דִּבּוּרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ כְּדִבּוּרֵינוּ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם [כְּמוֹ שֶׁאֵין מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ כְּמַחֲשַׁבְתֵּינוּ, כְּדִכְתִיב: "כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם", וּכְתִיב: "כֵּן גָּבְהוּ דְרָכַי מִדַּרְכֵיכֶם וְגוֹ'"].

But if Divine speech is indeed never separated from G-d, how can it be described as “speech” at all? Human speech constitutes communication only because the spoken word becomes separated from the speaker. (Thought, by contrast, because it remains within one’s soul, is hidden from all but the thinker himself.) But since nothing ever becomes separated from G-d, the term “speech” seemingly provides us with no understanding at all of the nature of Divine communication.

In explanation, the Alter Rebbe states that speech is distinguished by two characteristics: (a) it reveals that which was previously hidden in the speaker’s thoughts; (b) it becomes separated from its source. Only the former characteristic of human speech is analogous to Divine “speech,” which reveals to Creation that which was hitherto hidden within G-dliness.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

G-d’s speech is called “speech” only in order to illustrate that quality of revelation which it possesses. For just as man’s speech reveals to his audience what was hidden and concealed in his thoughts,

וְלֹא נִקְרָא דִּבּוּרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּשֵׁם "דִּבּוּר", רַק עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל; כְּמוֹ שֶׁדִּבּוּר הַתַּחְתּוֹן שֶׁבָּאָדָם הוּא מְגַלֶּה לַשּׁוֹמְעִים מַה שֶּׁהָיָה צָפוּן וְנֶעְלָם בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ,

so, too, the emergence of the light and life-force of the Ein Sof from concealment before creation into revelation through the act of creation, for the purpose of creating and animating the worlds, is called “speech.”

כָּךְ לְמַעְלָה – בְּאֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, יְצִיאַת הָאוֹר וְהַחַיּוּת מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ – מֵהַהֶעְלֵם אֶל הַגִּילּוּי לִבְרוֹא עוֹלָמוֹת וּלְהַחֲיוֹתָם, נִקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם "דִּבּוּר".

In this case, the audience is the created being, which, from its own perspective at least, is separate from G-d.

It is these revelations of Divine light and life-force that comprise the ten Divine utterances recorded in the Torah, namely, “And G-d said, ‘Let there be light,’ ‘Let the earth sprout forth…,’”5 and so on, by which the world was created.6

וְהֵן הֵן עֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁבָּהֶן נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם,

Likewise, all the other words of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Holy Writings are also called “speech,” even though they were not revealed for the purpose of creation, since they too represent the Divine revelation which the Prophets perceived in their prophetic vision.

וְכֵן שְׁאָר כָּל הַתּוֹרָה נְבִיאִים וּכְתוּבִים שֶׁהִשִּׂיגוּ הַנְּבִיאִים בְּמַרְאֵה נְבוּאָתָם.

Hence, when we refer to G-d’s revelation as His “speech,” the analogy extends only to speech as revelation and communication but not to speech as something separate from the speaker—an idea which is not applicable to G-dliness.