The Alter Rebbe explained in the previous chapters that the Scriptural statement that “in the heavens above and upon the earth below, there is none other” is not intended to negate the existence of another god. Rather, it tells us that Divine Unity is such that there is no true existence other than G-d, for all created beings are completely nullified in relation to Him and are united with Him. This is not perceived by them nor manifest in them only because of the tzimtzum which conceals the Divine life-force that continuously brings about their existence ex nihilo. Being unable to perceive this life-force, they consider themselves to be independently existing entities.

This concealment, of course, applies only to created beings but not to their Creator. From the Divine perspective, there is no concealment whatsoever, inasmuch as Havayah and Elokim are truly one: the concealment effected by Elokim thus does not act as a concealment for Havayah.

The Alter Rebbe will now explain how the above enables us to understand the teaching of the Zohar that Shema Yisrael is “higher-level Unity” and Baruch shem is “lower-level Unity.”

Were Divine Unity merely to signify the existence of one G-d, it would be impossible to speak of higher and lower levels of Unity. According to the above explanation, however, that Divine Unity means the nullity of created beings and their unity with G-d, it is indeed possible to speak of two diverse levels of Unity.

In this sense, “higher-level Unity” refers to the Divine faculty of creative speech (otherwise known as malchut), considered at the stage in which it is still found within its source. By way of analogy, the seminal letters of a person’s speech are first encapsulated within his thought and emotions, which will ultimately be responsible for his subsequent speech. (The Rebbe notes that “this was explained in Part I, chs. 20-21.”)

The same is true Above: When supernal creative speech is at the stage in which it is still included within the supernal attributes—which, being infinite, are too lofty to serve as a source of creation, for it is inherently limited to space and time—creation as it exists in its source is united with G-d at the higher level of Unity. Its manner of nullification is then similar to the nullification of the sun’s rays as they are found within the sun-globe.

When, however, the Divine creative power of speech (or malchut), after undergoing a process of tzimtzumim, descends to a level at which it is able to serve as a source for creation, then the term “lower-level Unity” applies. Created beings at this level cannot be said to be completely and utterly nullified. For inasmuch as this level becomes the actual source of created beings, they must perforce have some measure of identity in relation to it.

Although this level, too, is pervaded by the Ein Sof-light which unites with the Divine faculty of creative speech, this unification is nevertheless one of “lower-level Unity,” wherein created beings are seen to have some measure of existence—albeit a nullified form of existence, but existence nonetheless.

With the above in mind, we may now understand the statement in the holy Zohar that the verse Shema Yisrael is yichuda ilaah (“higher-level Unity”) and that the verse Baruch shem kvod malchuto leolam vaed is yichuda tataah (“lower-level Unity”).

וּבָזֶה יוּבַן מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ, דְּפָסוּק "שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל" – הוּא "יִחוּדָא עִילָּאָה", וּ"בָרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד" – הוּא "יִחוּדָא תַּתָּאָה",

The connection between the last mentioned verse and Divine Unity is now explained:

For1 vaed is equivalent to echad through the substitution of letters.2

כִּי "וָעֶד" הוּא "אֶחָד" בְּחִלּוּפֵי אַתְוָון.

The alef of echad interchanges with the vav of vaed since both letters belong to the same group of letters, viz., alef, hey, vav, yud (which, the Rebbe notes, are known as otiyot hahemshech, the “connective letters”). The chet of echad interchanges with the ayin of vaed since they share the same source (motza) in the organs of speech and thus both belong to the category of “guttural letters,” viz., alef, hey, chet, ayin. Finally, the large daled of echad transposes into the small daled of vaed.

The cause and reason for this tzimtzum and concealment with which the Holy One, blessed be He, obscured and hid the life force of the world, making it appear as an independently existing entity [is as follows]:

כִּי הִנֵּה, סִיבַּת וְטַעַם הַצִּמְצוּם וְהַהֶסְתֵּר הַזֶּה, שֶׁהִסְתִּיר וְהֶעֱלִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא אֶת הַחַיּוּת שֶׁל הָעוֹלָם כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הָעוֹלָם נִרְאֶה דָּבָר נִפְרָד בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ,

I.e., the Alter Rebbe is asking why it is indeed necessary for the world to appear as an independently existing entity. What would be lacking if the world would be perceived in its true state—as an entity wholly nullified in relation to its source? The reason for this is as follows:

It is known to all that the purpose of the creation of the world is the revelation of [G-d’s] sovereignty,

הִנֵּה הוּא יָדוּעַ לַכֹּל, כִּי תַּכְלִית בְּרִיאַת הָעוֹלָם הוּא בִּשְׁבִיל הִתְגַּלּוּת מַלְכוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

for “there is no king without a nation.”3

דְּ"אֵין מֶלֶךְ בְּלֹא עָם",

The word עָם (“nation”) is related etymologically to the word עוֹמְמוֹת (“dimmed, extinguished”), as in the expression גְחָלִים עוֹמְמוֹת (Rashi on Judges 5:14), describing coals in which the fire is not to be seen. In terms of the relationship of a king and his subjects, the word עָם thus signifies those whose relationship with the king is not readily apparent,

פֵּירוּשׁ "עָם" – מִלְּשׁוֹן "עוֹמְמוֹת",

for they—the subjects who comprise a nation—are separate entities, distinct and distant from the level of the king; only upon them does the king reign as a result of their nullifying themselves to him.

שֶׁהֵם דְּבָרִים נִפְרָדִים וְזָרִים וּרְחוֹקִים מִמַּעֲלַת הַמֶּלֶךְ,

For even if he had very many children, the term “kingship” would not apply to them, inasmuch as the king’s children are part of the king himself,

כִּי אִילּוּ אֲפִילוּ הָיוּ לוֹ בָּנִים רַבִּים מְאֹד – לֹא שַׁיָּיךְ שֵׁם "מְלוּכָה" עֲלֵיהֶם,

nor is it possible for a king to reign even over nobles alone.

וְכֵן אֲפִילוּ עַל שָׂרִים לְבַדָּם,

Although they—unlike a king’s children—are not part of him, nevertheless, since their position puts them in constant and close contact with him, thereby lending them some of the aspects of kingship, the king cannot reign over nobles alone.

Only “in a numerous nation is the glory of the king.”4

רַק "בְּרוֹב עָם" – דַּוְוקָא – "הַדְרַת מֶלֶךְ".

Only upon strangers can sovereignty apply. The same is true Above: The ultimate intent of the revelation of Divine Kingship finds expression in His reigning over lowly created beings, who perceive themselves as existing independently of Him—so that they, too, should humble and nullify themselves before Him.

The Name that indicates the attribute of G-d’s malchut (“kingship”) is the Name of Adnut (“Lordship”), for His kingship lies in the fact that He is L-rd of the whole universe.

וְשֵׁם הַמּוֹרֶה עַל מִדַּת מַלְכוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, הוּא שֵׁם אַדְנוּת, כִּי הוּא אֲדוֹן כָּל הָאָרֶץ.

Thus, it is this attribute (viz., malchut) and this Name (viz., the Name of Adnut, signifying lordship) which bring the world into existence and sustain it so that it should be as it is now—

וְנִמְצָא, כִּי מִדָּה זוֹ וְשֵׁם זֶה – הֵן הַמְּהַוִּין וּמְקַיְּימִין הָעוֹלָם, לִהְיוֹת עוֹלָם כְּמוֹת שֶׁהוּא עַכְשָׁיו,

a completely independent and separate entity, and not absolutely nullified,

יֵשׁ גָּמוּר וְדָבָר נִפְרָד בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ וְאֵינוֹ בָּטֵל בִּמְצִיאוּת מַמָּשׁ,

for with the withdrawal of this attribute and this Name from the world, G-d forbid, the world would revert to its source in the ‘‘word of G-d” and the “breath of His mouth,” where it would be completely nullified, and the name “world” could not be applied to it at all.

כִּי בְּהִסְתַּלְּקוּת מִדָּה זוֹ וְשֵׁם זֶה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, הָיָה הָעוֹלָם חוֹזֵר לִמְקוֹרוֹ בִּדְבַר ה' וְרוּחַ פִּיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ, וּבָטֵל שָׁם בִּמְצִיאוּת מַמָּשׁ, וְלֹא הָיָה שֵׁם "עוֹלָם" עָלָיו כְּלָל.

Inherent in the name “world” is being and limitation. However, in the state in which the world finds itself within its source, it would have no “being” and would not be limited.