As we have seen, the objective creation of the yesh takes place through the investment of the [infinite] Ein Sof-light in the kelim of all Ten Sefirot of Atzilut. However, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain, the subjective yeshut of created beings — their self-perception as entities distinct and separate from their Creator — derives principally from the Sefirah of Malchut (in the World of Atzilut). For the very notion of Malchut (“sovereignty”) can apply only to individuals who are separate from the king who rules over them, and who nonetheless nullify their will to his.

This is in keeping with the axiom,1 “There is no king without a nation.” The Hebrew for “people” עם is etymologically related to the word omemut, as in the expression gechalim omemot, signifying embers whose fire has been dimmed. In this spirit, am implies a populace which is far removed from the king’s qualities and from his company. By contrast, the inherent closeness of a father and child makes it impossible for the father to reign over his child. Sovereignty is possible only over strangers, over those who are distant from their king.

It is for this reason that the Sefirah of Malchut creates beings that sense themselves to be separate from G‑dliness, for only over them is it possible for Malchut to reign — so that these distinct and separate created beings should, by dint of their own spiritual service, nullify themselves to G‑d’s will.

אמנם מודעת זאת שעיקר התהוות היש ודבר נפרד לגמרי, הוא ממלכות דאצילות

However, as is known, [any] yesh or entity that (in its own eyes) is utterly separate [from G‑dliness], comes into being principally through Malchut of Atzilut,

שנעשה עתיק דבריאה

which becomes the Atik of Beriah,

Atik is the element of delight (taanug) which is the innermost core of will (ratzon). Thus, Malchut of Atzilut becomes the delight and will that propel the World of Beriah into being. For it is Malchut that is able to project a sense of pleasure in creatures that perceive themselves to be separate entities, since only thus can sovereignty result.

כי אין מלך בלא עם וכו׳

for “There is no king without a nation” (am).

The analogy of the king who is able to rule only over subjects who are distant from him was explained above. In the analogue this corresponds to the created beings in the World of Beriah which are distant from G‑dliness, unlike the beings in the World of Atzilut אצילות which are “close to Him” אצלו: they cleave to G‑d. It is thus to the creatures of the World of Beriah that the Divine attribute of Malchut (“sovereignty”) relates.

וגם ריבוי הנבראים והתחלקותן, שנבראו בכח האין סוף, יחיד ומיוחד בתכלית

Also, the multitude and the diversity of creatures, [though, paradoxically,] they were created by the power of the One and absolutely uncompounded Ein Sof,

הוא על ידי ריבוי האותיות היוצאין ממלכות, פי ה׳, וברוח פיו כל צבאם

derives from the multitude of letters that issue from Malchut, which is known as “the mouth of G‑d,” [as it is written],2 “[By the word of G‑d were the heavens made], and by the breath of His mouth, all their hosts.”

וה׳ מוצאות הפה הן מה׳ גבורות דנוקבא

The five organs of [Supernal] speech (corresponding to the five physical organs of speech) are of the five Gevurot of Nukva (lit., “the female [element],” i.e., Malchut).

ולזאת נקראת עלמא דאתגליא, כי בה נגלה כח אור אין סוף לברוא יש מאין, שלא על ידי עילה ועלול

[Malchut] is therefore called Alma deItgalya (“the Manifest World”), because through it is manifested the power of the [infinite] Ein Sof-light to create something out of nothing, without recourse to ilah and alul (cause and effect).

The progression from ilah to alul exists among created beings as well; the creation of yesh from ayin is in the hands of the Ein Sof alone. And it is Malchut of Atzilut that makes this power manifest.

אבל ט׳ ספירות הראשונות נאצלו בהשתלשלות עילה ועלול

However, the first nine Sefirot that precede Malchut emanated by the causal evolution of ilah and alul,

ואור האין סוף, הוא מלובש בחכמה לבדה

while the [infinite] Ein Sof-light is vested in Chochmah alone.

Chochmah derives from the Ein Sof in a manner that resembles the derivation of yesh from ayin, as in the verse,3 “Chochmah derives from ayin.” The Ein Sof thus vests itself in Chochmah (and through it, the Ein Sof-light illuminates the other Sefirot as well).

וזה שכתוב: נעוץ תחילתן בסופן

And this is the meaning of the statement in Sefer Yetzirah4 regarding the Ten Sefirot, “Their beginning is wedged in their end.”

In the scheme of the Sefirot, the very beginning (signifying a level that transcends even the “head”) is to be found in the culmination of the series to an even greater extent than in the head. The Sefirah of Chochmah is variously termed “the head” ראש and “the first” ראשית. (The phrase5 ראשית חכמה is usually understood to mean “the beginning of wisdom,” but can also mean “Chochmah is first.”) Malchut is the last of the Sefirot. The Sefirah of Keter, which transcends even the Sefirah of Chochmah, is termed the “beginning”.

This “beginning”, then, which is called Keter, is “wedged” and is even more to be found in the “end” (Malchut) than in the other Sefirot, even Chochmah.

כי כתר הוא ממוצע בין המאציל לנאצלים, ויש בו בחינה אחרונה של האין סוף

For Keter is the mediator between the [infinite] Emanator and the [finite] emanated beings, and the lowest level of the Ein Sof is comprised in it.

Every intermediary (such as, in our case, the Sefirah of Keter) must incorporate at least some aspect of both the levels that it seeks to bridge. The aspect of infinite light contained in Keter is the lowest degree of Ein Sof. This level is the “beginning”, that level of Ein Sof that is “wedged” in the Sefirah of Malchut, for, as mentioned earlier, it is Malchut that reveals the power of the Ein Sof to create yesh from ayin.

ולכן נקרא כתר מלכות, כי אין כתר אלא למלך

That is why [the Sefirah of Keter, meaning “crown”] is called Keter Malchut (“the Crown of Sovereignty”), as stated in the introductory passage to Tikkunei Zohar which begins with Patach Eliyahu: “Supernal Keter is Keter Malchut,” for a crown is only for a king; i.e., the prime function of the Sefirah of Keter is to draw down the [infinite] Ein Sof-light contained within it into the level of Malchut.

וגם כי בחינה אחרונה דאין סוף היא מלכות דאין סוף

Also, [Keter is called Keter Malchut] because the final level of the Ein Sof is the Malchut of Ein Sof.6

Thus, Keter itself possesses the quality of Malchut, for Malchut is the lowest level of the Ein Sof.

ולכן גם המלכות דאצילות נקרא כתר, ממטה למעלה

Consequently Malchut of Atzilut, too, is called Keter, [when the Sefirot are considered] in ascending order.

From this perspective, looking “upward”, Malchut (the lowest Sefirah) is termed Keter in relation to the higher Sefirot. This is so because Malchut is the prime receptor for the down-flow of Keter which then illuminates the higher Sefirot by means of or chozer (“reflected light”) — like a beam of light that travels earthward through space, strikes a surface, and rebounds with renewed intensity.

The above concerns the ability of Malchut to manifest the power of Ein Sof in creating yesh from ayin, and to enable created beings to perceive themselves as entities distinct from their Creator. For this very reason, however, this creative ability cannot be considered a revelatory aspect of the Ein Sof-light. Rather, it demonstrates its capacity to conceal.

The Alter Rebbe therefore now goes on to discuss ways in which Malchut serves to reveal this light. (Souls, for example, though Divine, descend nevertheless within the limitations of created beings.) By virtue of its revelatory aspect, Malchut is called Alma deItgalya (“the Manifest World”), for through the Sefirah of Malchut the Ein Sof-light is revealed within the worlds.

ומה גם כי בריאת הנשמות ממנה, להיות יש ודבר נפרד בפני עצמן בעולם הבריאה

This is especially so since through [Malchut] the creation of souls takes place, enabling them to be yesh and separate entities in the World of Beriahand notwithstanding their becoming a yesh they still retain their aspect of G‑dliness.

While yet in Atzilut, souls have no sense of being a yesh, since they are entirely nullified to G‑dliness. Upon entering the World of Beriah, however, they perceive themselves as being distinct and substantive creatures. Notwithstanding this, they remain G‑dly entities and draw down G‑dliness within the worlds.

ונקרא בשם לידה, כקריעת ים סוף, דבעתיקא תליא

This [derivation of souls from Malchut] is termed leidah (“birth”), a process that requires the intervention of a higher power emanating from the Ein Sof, like the splitting of the Red Sea, which (as stated in the Zohar7) “depended on Atik.”

Atik (עתיק, related to נעתק, implying removal and separation from the created worlds) is the inner (i.e., higher) level of Keter, whose outer (i.e., lower) level is termed Arich. Atik is the final degree of the Ein Sof; Arich is the source and root of emanated beings.

The Kabbalah teaches that the birth of souls is comparable to the splitting of the Red Sea, and like it requires the power of the Ein Sof as found in Atik. The Alter Rebbe now explains that this infinite power is needed not only for the birth of souls but for their gestation as well.

וגם כל גידול הנשמות כל ז׳ חדשים, מזיווג של שמיני עצרת עד שביעי של פסח

Also, the whole growth of the souls, throughout the seven months from the union of Shmini Atzeret until the birth on the Seventh Day of Pesach,

It is taught in the Kabbalah8 that the union that “conceives” souls takes place on Shmini Atzeret, while the “birth” of souls takes place on the Seventh Day of Pesach, at the time of the crossing of the Red Sea.

הוא כמו גידול זו״נ בבטן אימא עילאה

resembles the growth of Zu’nthe Sefirot of Za and Malchut of Atzilut that were formerly concealed — in the womb of Imma Ilaah (“the Supernal Mother”), i.e., in the innermost degree of Binah of Atzilut.

שהוא על ידי אורות עליונים מאימא עילאה, ומלמעלה למעלה, עד אין סוף המתלבש בה כל ט׳ או ז׳ ירחי לידה

This takes place by means of the Supernal orot of Imma Ilaah, and of yet higher, as far as the Ein Sof which vests itself in it (i.e., in Binah) in order to bring about the growth of Zu’n throughout the nine or seven months of pregnancy.

Just as Zu’n of Atzilut is “delivered” from Binah of Atzilut, known as Imma Ilaah (“the Supernal Mother”), so too do souls gestate in Malchut, which is known as Imma Tataah (“the Nether Mother”), since Malchut incorporates within itself the Supernal orot of the Ein Sof.

וככה הוא בבריאת נשמות ומלאכים לעולם הבריאה

The same is true of the creation of the souls and angels in the World of Beriah: they, too, result from the Supernal orot of the Ein Sof that are drawn down into Malchut of Atzilut.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to state that these Supernal orot of the Ein Sof that descend into Malchut of Atzilut not only make possible the birth and gestation, but are also responsible for the actual “conception”.

וגם כל עיקר ושרש הטיפה שמקבלת ומתעברת מז״א, הוא ממוחין דאבא ואמא

Also, the very essence and root of the “seminal drop” which [Malchut] receives and through which she is impregnated by Z’eir Anpin, derives from the Mochin of Abba and Imma (lit., the “father” and “mother”), i.e., Chochmah and Binah, respectively.

ובכל זיווג, נמשכת לאבא ואימא מאריך אנפין ועתיק יומין, ומלמעלה למעלה עד אין סוף

And with every conjunction of Chochmah and Binah which is intended to bring about a birth, there issues forth to Abba and Imma [the seminal drop] from Arich Anpin and Atik Yomin, and from even higher, up to the Ein Sof.

רק שהכל בהעלם במוחין עד לידת הנוקבא, הנשמות והמלאכים וההיכלות לעולם הבריאה

Everything is concealed, though, in the Mochin, until the Nukva gives birth to (i.e., until Malchut reveals) the souls and the angels and the Heichalot for the World of Beriah.

נמצא שזהו גילוי אור אין סוף ממש, על ידי העיבור והלידה

Hence, by means of the “gestation” and “birth”, there is truly a revelation of the [infinite] Ein Sof-light.

Not only is the infinite power of Ein Sof drawn down through Malchut to bring about yesh: in addition, the Ein Sof-light is actually revealed by means of the “gestation” and “birth” of souls. By virtue of this role Malchut is termed Alma deItgalya, in addition to its function in drawing down the power of G‑dliness in a concealed manner within creation.