The theme of this treatise, as the Rebbe notes, is stated in its subtitle:

Let us understand, [at least] in a small measure, the statement of the Zohar,2 that3 Shema Yisrael…is yichuda ilaah (“higher-level Unity”) and4 Baruch shem kvod malchuto leolam vaed is yichuda tataah (“lower-level Unity”). For vaed equals echad through the substitution (and thereby the descent) of letters,5 as stated in the Zohar.

לְהָבִין מְעַט מִזְּעֵר מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר, דִּ"שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל כוּ'" – הוּא "יִחוּדָא עִילָּאָה", וּ"בָרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד" – הוּא "יִחוּדָא תַּתָּאָה":

Thus, the object of Shaar Hayichud VehaEmunah will be to understand how it is possible to speak of two different levels of Divine Unity.

פֶּרֶק א

Chapter One

It is written:1 “Know this day and take it unto your heart that G-d is the [mighty and just] L-rd in the heavens above and upon the earth below; there is none other.”2

"וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם וַהֲשֵׁבוֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ, כִּי ה' הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת – אֵין עוֹד".

The verse, if understood simplistically, seems to declare that there are no other gods dwelling in heaven or earth.

This requires explanation. For would it occur to you that there is a god “soaking” in the waters beneath the earth,

וְצָרִיךְ לְהָבִין: וְכִי תַעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתְּךָ שֶׁיֵּשׁ אֱלֹהִים נִשְׁרֶה בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ,

so that it is necessary to caution so strongly [and negate this thought by stating that one should] “take it unto your heart” and come to the realization that this is indeed not so?

שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהַזְהִיר כָּל כָּךְ "וַהֲשֵׁבוֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ"?

It is written: “Forever, O G-d, Your word stands firm in the heavens.”3

הִנֵּה, כְּתִיב: "לְעוֹלָם, ה', דְּבָרְךָ נִצָּב בַּשָּׁמָיִם",

The Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, has explained this concept at length and made it widely known4 that this means:

וּפִירֵשׁ הַבַּעַל־שֵׁם־טוֹב זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה:

that “Your word” which you uttered, viz.,5 “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…,”

כִּי "דְּבָרְךָ" שֶׁאָמַרְתָּ "יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם וְגוֹ'" –

these very words and letters through which the heavens were created stand firmly forever within the firmament of heaven

תֵּיבוֹת וְאוֹתִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ, הֵן נִצָּבוֹת וְעוֹמְדוֹת לְעוֹלָם בְּתוֹךְ רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמַיִם,

and are forever clothed within all the heavens to give them life,

וּמְלוּבָּשׁוֹת בְּתוֹךְ כָּל הָרְקִיעִים לְעוֹלָם לְהַחֲיוֹתָם,

Note by the Rebbe: “The fact that these words were uttered thousands of years ago presents no problem,”

as it is written, “And the word of our L-rd shall stand firm forever,”6

כְּדִכְתִיב: "וּדְבַר אֱלֹהֵינוּ יָקוּם לְעוֹלָם",

and as it is likewise written, “And His words live and stand firm forever….”7

"וּדְבָרָיו חָיִים וְקַיָּימִים לָעַד כוּ'",

This refers not only to those creations such as the heavenly firmament which enjoy a permanent existence but also to those creatures which perish as individuals, with only their species continuing to exist. In all instances, the Divine life-force which created a particular creature must constantly be vested within it, incessantly creating and vivifying it anew, just as it ceaselessly recreates the heavenly firmament, as shall soon be explained.

For if the creative letters were to depart even for an instant, G-d forbid, and return to their source, that source being the degree of G-dliness from whence they emanate,

כִּי אִילּוּ הָיוּ הָאוֹתִיּוֹת מִסְתַּלְּקוֹת כְּרֶגַע חַס וְשָׁלוֹם וְחוֹזְרוֹת לִמְקוֹרָן,

all the heavens would become naught and absolute nothingness, and it would be as though they had never existed at all,

הָיוּ כָּל הַשָּׁמַיִם אַיִן וָאֶפֶס מַמָּשׁ, וְהָיוּ כְּלֹא הָיוּ כְּלָל,

exactly as before the utterance, “Let there be a firmament.”

וּכְמוֹ קוֹדֶם מַאֲמַר "יְהִי רָקִיעַ כוּ'" מַמָּשׁ.

Before that Divine utterance the firmament did not exist at all. Were the letters that constitute the Divine utterance to depart from the firmament, it would revert to the state of never having existed at all.

The Alter Rebbe now concludes that this is true not only of the firmament but of all created beings.

And so it is with all created things, in all the upper and lower worlds,

וְכֵן בְּכָל הַבְּרוּאִים שֶׁבְּכָל הָעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים,

and even this physical earth and the realm of the completely inanimate.

וַאֲפִילוּ אֶרֶץ הַלֵּזוּ הַגַּשְׁמִית וּבְחִינַת דּוֹמֵם מַמָּשׁ,

Even immobile beings that show no signs of animation or spirituality, not even the degree of animation observed in the process of growth in the vegetative world—even this extremely low life-form constantly harbors within it the Divine life-force that brought it into being.

If the letters of the ten utterances by which the earth was created during the Six Days of Creation were to depart from it but for an instant, G-d forbid,

אִילּוּ הָיוּ מִסְתַּלְּקוֹת מִמֶּנָּה כְּרֶגַע חַס וְשָׁלוֹם הָאוֹתִיּוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁבָּהֶן נִבְרֵאת הָאָרֶץ בְּשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית,

it would revert to naught and absolute nothingness, exactly as before the Six Days of Creation.

הָיְתָה חוֹזֶרֶת לְאַיִן וָאֶפֶס מַמָּשׁ, כְּמוֹ לִפְנֵי שֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית מַמָּשׁ.

This thought was expressed by the Arizal8 when he said that even within that which appears to be utterly inanimate matter, such as stones or earth or water, there is a soul and spiritual life-force.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר הָאֲרִ"י זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁגַּם בְּדוֹמֵם מַמָּשׁ, כְּמוֹ אֲבָנִים וְעָפָר וּמַיִם, יֵשׁ בְּחִינַת נֶפֶשׁ וְחַיּוּת רוּחָנִית.

That is, i.e, although they evince no demonstrable form of animation, [within them] are nevertheless enclothed the letters of speech from the ten utterances which give life and existence to inanimate matter,

דְּהַיְינוּ, בְּחִינַת הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר מֵעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת הַמְחַיּוֹת וּמְהַוּוֹת אֶת הַדּוֹמֵם,

enabling it to come into being out of the naught and nothingness that preceded the Six Days of Creation.

לִהְיוֹת יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן וָאֶפֶס שֶׁלִּפְנֵי שֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית.

The ten utterances usher inanimate matter into a state of existence, in contrast to its former state of nonbeing prior to the Six Days of Creation. Thus, the letters of the ten utterances which cause inanimate matter to be created are its soul and life-force.