The Alter Rebbe now goes on to clarify this point. His explanation in brief: All of creation came about through the Word of G-d. As we see with man, one word has no value whatsoever next to his power of speech, which has the capacity to allow him to go on speaking endlessly. It has even less value compared to one’s power of thought, the source of speech, and next to the soul itself, from where both thought and speech derive, one word (or even many words) is certainly a nonentity. How much more so, then, that in comparison with G-d, Who is infinite, His Word, which represents His creative and animative powers, is as totally nonexistent.

What follows is a lengthy exposition of this concept, which is carried over into the next chapter.

For the coming into being of all the upper and lower worlds out of nothingness, and their life and their existence, i.e., that [force] which sustains them so that they do not revert to nothingness and naught, as they were before they were created—

כִּי הִתְהַוּוּת כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ, וְחַיּוּתָם וְקִיּוּמָם הַמְקַיְּימָם שֶׁלֹּא יַחְזְרוּ לִהְיוֹת אַיִן וָאֶפֶס כְּשֶׁהָיָה,

unlike the product of a human craftsman, which (if left undisturbed) will remain in exactly the same state and shape as it was when it left the hands of the craftsman, the continued existence of creation is dependent on the constant renewal of the creative power. Were this power to cease, all of creation would revert to nothingness. This force, which animates and sustains the existence of all creation—

is nothing other than the “Word of G-d” and the “breath of His mouth”7 that is clothed in these worlds.

אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא דְּבַר ה' וְרוּחַ פִּיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהֶם.

To illustrate from the soul of a human being: When a man utters a word, this single word is as absolutely nothing even when compared only to his articulate soul (i.e., power of speech) as a whole,

וּלְמָשָׁל, כְּמוֹ בְּנֶפֶשׁ הָאָדָם, כְּשֶׁמְּדַבֵּר דִּבּוּר אֶחָד; שֶׁדִּבּוּר זֶה לְבַדּוֹ כְּלָא מַמָּשׁ, אֲפִילוּ לְגַבֵּי כְּלָלוּת נַפְשׁוֹ הַמְדַבֶּרֶת,

which is the soul’s middle “garment” i.e., organ of expression, namely its faculty of speech.

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת לְבוּשׁ הָאֶמְצָעִי שֶׁלָּהּ, שֶׁהוּא כֹּחַ הַדִּבּוּר שֶׁלָּהּ,

The soul has three “garments”—thought, speech, and action, of which speech is the middle one, with action being lower than it, and thought, higher; one word has no value, even in comparison with this faculty,

since this faculty can produce an infinite number of words—and next to infinity, one word has no value whatsoever.

שֶׁיָּכוֹל לְדַבֵּר דִּבּוּרִים לְאֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית;

In actual practice, there is a limit to the number of words one can speak. However, this is only because the physical organs involved in speech have a limited functional ability. The soul’s capacity for speech is limitless.

Surely, then, this word has no value when compared to the soul’s innermost “garment” i.e., that “garment” which is closest to the soul itself, namely, its faculty of thought, which is the source of speech and its life-force.

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן לְגַבֵּי בְּחִינַת לְבוּשׁ הַפְּנִימִי שֶׁלָּהּ שֶׁהוּא הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה, שֶׁמִּמֶּנָּה נִמְשְׁכוּ הַדִּבּוּרִים וְהִיא חַיּוּתָם;

Since thought is higher and closer to the soul than is speech, this one word surely has no value in comparison with it.

It goes without saying that this word is as naught when compared with the essence and entity as opposed to the “garments” of the soul, these being its ten attributes mentioned above:8 chochmah, binah, daat, and so on, i.e., the seven emotional attributes

וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר לְגַבֵּי מַהוּת וְעַצְמוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ, שֶׁהֵן עֶשֶׂר בְּחִינוֹתֶיהָ הַנִּזְכָּרוֹת לְעֵיל: חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת כוּ',

from which are derived the “letters” of thought that are clothed in one’s speech, when it is uttered.

שֶׁמֵּהֶן נִמְשְׁכוּ אוֹתִיּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבָה זוֹ הַמְלוּבָּשׁוֹת בְּדִבּוּר זֶה כְּשֶׁמְּדַבֵּר,

Since all of man’s thoughts are either of an intellectual or an emotional nature, they derive from the soul’s intellectual or emotional faculties. When one speaks, the letters of his thought descend to a lower level.

For thought too, like speech, consists of letters, except that the letters of thought are more spiritual and refined—thus, thought and speech share a common characteristic.

כִּי הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה הִיא גַּם כֵּן בְּחִינַת אוֹתִיּוֹת כְּמוֹ הַדִּבּוּר, רַק שֶׁהֵן רוּחָנִיּוֹת וְדַקּוֹת יוֹתֵר.