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.

But the ten attributes—chochmah, binah, daat, and so on are the root and source of thought and, before being clothed in the garment of thought, they as yet lack the element of letters.

אֲבָל עֶשֶׂר בְּחִינוֹת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת כוּ', הֵן שֹׁרֶשׁ וּמְקוֹר הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה, וְאֵין בָּהֶם בְּחִינַת אוֹתִיּוֹת עֲדַיִין קוֹדֶם שֶׁמִּתְלַבְּשׁוֹת בִּלְבוּשׁ הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה.

The letters are formed only when one applies his thoughts to a particular idea or a feeling, as explained further.

Since the intellectual and emotional soul-powers are so subtle and amorphous that they cannot be defined even in terms of the spiritual thought-letters, they are obviously of an altogether different, more spiritual, order than thought, and the spoken word is surely without value in comparison to them. What follows is a description of the process whereby the letters of thought are formed.

For example, when a man suddenly becomes conscious of a certain love or desire in his heart, before it has risen from the heart to the brain to meditate on it and ponder it,

לְמָשָׁל, כְּשֶׁנּוֹפֶלֶת אֵיזוֹ אַהֲבָה וְחֶמְדָּה בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם, קוֹדֶם שֶׁעוֹלָה מֵהַלֵּב אֶל הַמּוֹחַ לְחַשֵּׁב וּלְהַרְהֵר בָּהּ –

it has not yet acquired the element of letters; it is only a pure desire and longing for the object of his affection.

אֵין בָּהּ בְּחִינַת אוֹתִיּוֹת עֲדַיִין, רַק חֵפֶץ פָּשׁוּט וַחֲשִׁיקָה בַּלֵּב אֶל הַדָּבָר הַהוּא הַנֶּחְמָד אֶצְלוֹ.

All the more so, before he began to feel in his heart a craving and desire for that thing, when it was yet confined within the realm of his intellect (chochmah), understanding (corresponding to binah), and knowledge (daat),

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן קוֹדֶם שֶׁנָפְלָה הַתַּאֲוָה וְהַחֶמְדָּה בְּלִבּוֹ לְאוֹתוֹ דָבָר, רַק הָיְתָה בְּכֹחַ חָכְמָתוֹ וְשִׂכְלוֹ וִידִיעָתוֹ,

meaning that the thing was known to him to be desirable and gratifying, something good and pleasant to attain and to cling to, as, for instance, to study a certain discipline or to eat some delicacy—then, in this state of intellectual appreciation of the desirable object, before the appreciation has even developed into an emotion, there are certainly no “letters” present in one’s mind.

שֶׁהָיָה נוֹדָע אֶצְלוֹ אוֹתוֹ דָבָר שֶׁהוּא נֶחְמָד וְנָעִים וְטוֹב וְיָפֶה לְהַשִּׂיגוֹ וְלִידָּבֵק בּוֹ, כְּגוֹן: לִלְמוֹד אֵיזוֹ חָכְמָה, אוֹ לֶאֱכוֹל אֵיזֶה מַאֲכָל עָרֵב,

Only after the desire and craving have already descended into his heart, i.e., after they have developed into emotions through the stimulus of his wisdom, understanding, and knowledge,

רַק לְאַחַר שֶׁכְּבָר נָפְלָה הַחֶמְדָה וְהַתַּאֲוָה בְּלִבּוֹ בְּכֹחַ חָכְמָתוֹ וְשִׂכְלוֹ וִידִיעָתוֹ,

and only after they have ascended once again from the heart back to the brain to think and meditate on how to implement his desire by actually obtaining that food or actually studying that subject,

וְאַחַר כָּךְ חָזְרָה וְעָלְתָה מֵהַלֵּב לַמּוֹחַ – לְחַשֵּׁב וּלְהַרְהֵר בָּהּ אֵיךְ לְהוֹצִיא תַּאֲוָתוֹ מִכֹּחַ אֶל הַפּוֹעַל לְהַשִּׂיג הַמַּאֲכָל, אוֹ לְמִידַת הַחָכְמָה בְּפוֹעַל,

it is only at this point—when one applies his thoughts to implementing his desire—that “letters” are born in one’s mind, corresponding to the language of each of the nations, who employ these letters when speaking and thinking about everything in the world, i.e., each of us thinks in his own language.

הֲרֵי בְּכָאן נוֹלְדוּ בְּחִינוֹת אוֹתִיּוֹת בְּמוֹחוֹ, שֶׁהֵן אוֹתִיּוֹת כִּלְשׁוֹן עַם וָעָם הַמְדַבְּרִים וְהַמְהַרְהֲרִים בָּהֶם כָּל עִנְיְינֵי הָעוֹלָם:

“Pure” feeling, however, i.e., feeling that has not yet reached the “applied,” implemental stage of thought, transcends differences of nation and language, since it does not express itself in “letters.”

From all this, we may understand the Alter Rebbe’s earlier statement that a spoken word is utterly without value in comparison with the soul’s intellectual and emotional powers (which are described here, for our purposes, as the essence of the soul). Surely, then, the Divine “Word” by which G-d creates and animates all the worlds has no value at all next to G-d, Who is truly and absolutely infinite. Thus, all the worlds created and sustained by the Divine Word are as if nonexistent, from G-d’s perspective, and their presence does not effect any change in His unity. This theme will be further discussed in the following chapter.