This is why it was necessary for the Torah to warn, “Know this day and take it unto your heart” [that “in the heavens above and upon the earth below there is none other”]

וְלָכֵן הוּצְרַךְ הַכָּתוּב לְהַזְהִיר "וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם וַהֲשֵׁבוֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ וְגוֹ'",

so that it should not enter your mind that the heavens and all their hosts, and the earth and all it contains, are separate entities in themselves, i.e., distinct and apart from their Creator and the Provider of their life,

שֶׁלֹּא תַעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתְּךָ שֶׁהַשָּׁמַיִם וְכָל צְבָאָם וְהָאָרֶץ וּמְלוֹאָהּ הֵם דָּבָר נִפְרָד בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ,

and that the Holy One, blessed be He, fills the whole world in the same way as the soul is invested in the body,

וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מְמַלֵּא כָּל הָעוֹלָם כְּהִתְלַבְּשׁוּת הַנְּשָׁמָה בַּגּוּף,

and that He causes the flow of the “vegetative force” into the earth, this being the life-force revealed within the earth,

וּמַשְׁפִּיעַ כֹּחַ הַצּוֹמֵחַ בָּאָרֶץ,

and the power of motion into the celestial spheres, and moves them and directs them according to His will,

וְכֹחַ הַתְּנוּעָה בַּגַּלְגַּלִּים, וּמְנִיעָם וּמַנְהִיגָם כִּרְצוֹנוֹ,

just as the soul moves the body and directs it according to its will.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהַנְּשָׁמָה מְנִיעָה אֶת הַגּוּף וּמַנְהִיגָתוֹ כִּרְצוֹנָהּ.

Though the body is a totally separate and different entity from the soul, the soul is nevertheless able to direct it according to its will because it provides it with life. One might mistakenly believe that G-d animates and conducts the world in a similar manner and conceive of the world as being separate from Him, just as the body is separate from the soul. Anticipating this, the verse therefore points out that the relation between the soul and the body is entirely unlike the relation between G-d and His creation and vivification of created beings.

In truth, however, the analogy of soul and body bears no similarity whatsoever to the object of comparison—G-dliness and the world—

אַךְ בֶּאֱמֶת, אֵין הַמָּשָׁל דּוֹמֶה לַנִּמְשָׁל כְּלָל,

since the soul and the body are actually separate from each other at their sources.

כִּי הַנְּשָׁמָה וְהַגּוּף הֵם בֶּאֱמֶת נִפְרָדִים זֶה מִזֶּה בְּשָׁרְשָׁם,

The source of the body and its essence comes into being not from the soul10 but from the seed of one’s father and mother,

כִּי אֵין הִתְהַוּוּת שֹׁרֶשׁ הַגּוּף וְעַצְמוּתוֹ – מִנִּשְׁמָתוֹ, אֶלָּא – מִטִּפּוֹת אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ,

and even afterward—after its creation—its growth is not from the soul alone but through the mother’s eating and drinking throughout the nine months [of gestation],

וְגַם אַחֲרֵי כֵן, אֵין גִּידּוּלוֹ מִנִּשְׁמָתוֹ לְבַדָּהּ, אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי אֲכִילַת וּשְׁתִיַּית אִמּוֹ כָּל תִּשְׁעָה חֳדָשִׁים,

and subsequently through his own eating and drinking.

וְאַחַר כָּךְ עַל יְדֵי אֲכִילָתוֹ וּשְׁתִיָּיתוֹ בְּעַצְמוֹ,

The body is thus a truly separate entity from the soul, inasmuch as the soul only provides it with life.

This is not so, however, in the case of heaven and earth, for their very being and essence was brought into existence from naught and absolute nothingness,

מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, שֶׁכָּל עַצְמוּתָם וּמַהוּתָם נִתְהַוָּה מֵאַיִן וָאֶפֶס הַמּוּחְלָט –

Before creation, there was no space at all (as it were) for the existence of created beings by virtue of the Divine Ayin, which is ultimately responsible for creation.

solely through the “word of G-d” and the “breath of His mouth.”

רַק בִּדְבַר ה' וְרוּחַ פִּיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

And now, too, the word of G-d still stands forever in all created things and flows into them continuously at every instant,

וְגַם עֲדַיִין נִצָּב דְּבַר ה' לְעוֹלָם, וְשׁוֹפֵעַ בָּהֶם תָּמִיד בְּכָל רֶגַע,

constantly creating them anew from nothing, just as, for example, the coming into existence of the light from the sun within the very globe of the sun.

וּמְהַוֶּה אוֹתָם תָּמִיד מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ, כְּהִתְהַוּוּת הָאוֹר מֵהַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בְּתוֹךְ גּוּף כַּדּוּר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ עַצְמוֹ דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל,

It has already been explained that the light of the sun as it is found within the sun-globe does not possess true existence, for it is completely nullified within the sun. Only after it leaves the sun-globe can it be said to possess independent existence. Created beings likewise are always wholly nullified in relation to their source since they are constantly found within it, i.e., within the Divine life-force that creates them.

Hence, in reality they—created beings—are completely nullified out of existence in relation to the “word of G-d” and the “breath of His mouth,” which are unified with His Essence and Being,

וְאִם כֵּן, הֵם בְּטֵלִים בֶּאֱמֶת בִּמְצִיאוּת לְגַמְרֵי לְגַבֵּי דְּבַר ה' וְרוּחַ פִּיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ, הַמְיוּחָדִים בְּמַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

as this union will be explained later,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן,

Thus, created beings are completely nullified to the “word of G-d” and the “breath of His mouth,” as well as to G-d Himself,

just as the light of the sun is nullified in the sun.

כְּבִיטּוּל אוֹר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ.

Why, then, are created beings unaware of this, considering themselves instead as possessing independent and true existence? The Alter Rebbe answers this by saying:

Yet, these are His restraining powers, to hide and conceal through the attribute of gevurah and tzimtzum, the life-force that flows into them,

רַק שֶׁהֵן הֵן גְּבוּרוֹתָיו, בְּמִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה וְהַצִּמְצוּם, לְהַסְתִּיר וּלְהַעֲלִים הַחַיּוּת הַשּׁוֹפֵעַ בָּהֶם,

so that heaven and earth and all their hosts should appear as if they were independently existing entities.

שֶׁיִּהְיוּ נִרְאִים הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם כְּאִילּוּ הֵם דָּבָר בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ.

The effect of tzimtzum is to conceal from created beings the source of existence continuously found within them. This is why they are able to think of themselves as possessing independent existence.

However, the tzimtzum and concealment is only for the lower [worlds],

אַךְ אֵין הַצִּמְצוּם וְהַהֶסְתֵּר אֶלָּא לַתַּחְתּוֹנִים,

but in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, “Everything before Him is considered as actually naught,”11 like the light of the sun within the sun.

אֲבָל לְגַבֵּי הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא – "כּוּלָּא קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא מַמָּשׁ חֲשִׁיבֵי", כְּאוֹר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ,

The attribute of gevurah does not, heaven forfend, conceal for Him,

וְאֵין מִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה מַסְתֶּרֶת חַס וְשָׁלוֹם לְפָנָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

for it is not an independent entity; rather, Havayah is Elokim.

כִּי אֵינֶנָּה דָבָר בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ אֶלָּא "ה' הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים":

The concealment resulting from the Divine Name Elokim and the attribute of gevurah are one with the Divine Name Havayah, the attribute of chesed and revelation. Thus, from the Divine perspective, there is no concealment, for “an entity cannot conceal its own self.”