The numerical value—even when it is not calculated through the substitution and transposition of letters—indicates the progressive diminution of the light and life-force,

וְהַחֶשְׁבּוֹן, מוֹרֶה עַל מִיעוּט הָאוֹר וְהַחַיּוּת, מִיעוּט אַחַר מִיעוּט,

until there remains from it only the final level,

עַד שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁאַר מִמֶּנּוּ אֶלָּא בְּחִינָה אַחֲרוֹנָה,

which is that of the sum and number of kinds of powers and grades contained in the light and life-force invested in a particular letter combination of a particular word.

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת הַחֶשְׁבּוֹן וּמִסְפָּר, כַּמָּה מִינֵי כֹּחוֹת וּמַדְרֵגוֹת כְּלוּלוֹת בְּאוֹר וְחַיּוּת הַזֶּה הַמְלוּבָּשׁ בְּצֵירוּף זֶה שֶׁל תֵּיבָה זוֹ.

The extent of the remaining life-force is indicated by the sum, which reflects the progressive descent and the constant diminution of the life-force.

(31lt is only after all these contractions and others like them, as [G-d’s] Wisdom has ordained,

(וְאַחַר כָּל הַצִּמְצוּמִים הָאֵלֶּה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהֶן כַּאֲשֶׁר גָּזְרָה חָכְמָתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

that the life-force could invest itself even in the lower created beings, such as inanimate stones and dust, in which no life-force at all is revealed, inasmuch as they represent the lowest levels of the nether created beings.

הוּא שֶׁהָיָה יָכוֹל הָאוֹר וְהַחַיּוּת לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ גַּם בַּתַּחְתּוֹנִים, כְּמוֹ אֲבָנִים וְעָפָר הַדּוֹמֵם,

For example, the name אֶבֶן (“stone”) indicates that its source is in the Divine Name ב"ן, which numerically equals fifty-two (נ"ב)—i.e., the numerical value of the Divine Name Havayah when spelled out phonetically in a particular way,

כִּי "אֶבֶן", דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, שְׁמָהּ מוֹרֶה, כִּי שָׁרְשָׁהּ מִשֵּׁם הָעוֹלֶה בַּ"ן בְּמִסְפָּרוֹ,

with an alef added to it from another Name for a reason known to its Creator.

וְעוֹד אַלֶף נוֹסֶפֶת מִשֵּׁם אַחֵר, לְטַעַם הַיָּדוּעַ לְיוֹצְרָהּ.

Now, the Name ב"ן itself relates to very high worlds, and in its pristine state, it can in no way serve as the source of physical stone,

וְהִנֵּה, שֵׁם בַּ"ן בְּעַצְמוֹ, הוּא בְּעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים מְאֹד,

yet through numerous and powerful contractions, degree by degree, i.e., from higher to lower levels, there descended from it a life-force so exceedingly diminished that it could clothe itself in a stone.

רַק שֶׁעַל יְדֵי צִמְצוּמִים רַבִּים וַעֲצוּמִים מִמַּדְרֵגָה לְמַדְרֵגָה, יָרַד מִמֶּנּוּ חַיּוּת מוּעָט בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד, עַד שֶׁיּוּכַל לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּאֶבֶן.

And this very greatly condensed life-force is the soul of the inanimate being, which gives it life and brings it into existence ex nihilo at every instant, as has been explained previously—in ch. 1, where it is stated that even inanimate creatures possess a soul that brings them into existence at every instant.

וְזוֹ הִיא נֶפֶשׁ הַדּוֹמֵם, הַמְחַיָּה וּמְהַוָּה אוֹתוֹ מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ בְּכָל רֶגַע, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל.

This greatly condensed life-force is the level of “He fills all worlds,” as opposed to the level of “He encompasses all worlds”), wherein the life-force is not contracted in proportion to the spiritual capacity of created beings.

וְזוֹ הִיא בְּחִינַת "מְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין", מַה־שֶּׁאֵין־כֵּן בְּחִינַת "סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין").

In summary: The Divine life-force is capable of creating worlds that are infinite both in quantity and in quality. Finite beings are created only when this life-force garbs itself in the letters and transpositions of the letters of the ten utterances and in their numerical values.

Each power and grade [of the life-force]—after it has descended and undergone contractions so that there remains only the numerical equivalent of the letters of the ten utterances—would be able to create beings according to its own level, even unlimited in quantity and quality, giving [them] everlasting life,

וְכָל כֹּחַ וּמַדְרֵגָה, יָכוֹל לִבְרוֹא בְּרוּאִים כְּפִי בְּחִינַת מַדְרֵגָה זוֹ, גַּם כֵּן לְאֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית בְּכַמּוּתָם וְאֵיכוּתָם, לְהַחֲיוֹת עֲדֵי עַד,

since it is the power of G-d that diffuses and emanates from the “breath of His mouth” and there is no restraint [to His ability to create unlimited worlds].

מֵאַחַר שֶׁהוּא כֹּחַ ה' הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט וְנֶאֱצָל מֵרוּחַ פִּיו, וְאֵין מַעֲצוֹר כוּ',

Their quality, however, would not be on a level as high as the quality and level of the creatures which could be created from the power and degree of the letters themselves.

אַךְ שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה אֵיכוּתָם בְּמַעֲלָה גְדוֹלָה כָּל כָּךְ, כְּאֵיכוּת וּמַעֲלַת בְּרוּאִים שֶׁיּוּכְלוּ לְהִבָּרְאוֹת מִבְּחִינַת כֹּחַ וּמַדְרֵיגַת הָאוֹתִיּוֹת עַצְמָן:

I.e., the created beings resulting from the transposition of letters, and surely from the numerical value of the letters, would be inferior to the beings which could be created from the letters themselves.

Commentary of the Rebbe on Chapter Seven

1. Among the explanations and innovative interpretations of the Alter Rebbe in Shaar Hayichud VehaEmunah, two major points stand out:

The explanation of the “comment of the Baal Shem Tov” on the verse, “Forever, O G-d, Your word stands firm in the heavens”32; namely, that “‘Your word’ which You uttered, [viz.,] ‘Let there be a firmament…,’33 these [very] words and letters stand firmly forever within the firmament of heaven…to give them life…. For if the letters were to depart [even] for an instant, G-d forbid, and return to their source, all the heavens would become naught and absolute nothingness, and it would be as though they had never existed at all…exactly as before the Six Days of Creation.”34

From this, it will be understood “that each creature and being is in reality considered to be naught and nothingness in relation to the activating force and the ‘breath of His mouth’ which is within it, continuously calling it into existence and bringing it from absolute nonbeing into being.”35

(b) The tzimtzum is not to be understood “literally—that the Holy One, blessed be He, removed Himself and His Essence, G-d forbid, from this world and only guides from above, with individual Providence, all the created beings which are in the heavens above and on the earth below.”36

It could be argued (see below) that this statement—that tzimtzum is not to be understood in its literal sense—proceeds from the explanation of the Baal Shem Tov’s comment by way of corollary.

2. What is novel about the comment of the Baal Shem Tov is not only that the word of G-d must constantly create all beings but that the words “Let there be a firmament” must be “forever clothed within all the heavens to give them life.”33

The same is true of all other created beings: the words and letters of the ten utterances which create them and provide them with life must be continuously vested within them.

(Thus, indeed, the Alter Rebbe explains at length33 how within every creature, there is “a soul and spiritual life-force.” For even those beings not specifically mentioned in the ten utterances in the Torah also receive a spiritual life-force which descends from them by stages “by means of substitutions and transpositions of the letters and by gematriot…until [the life-force] can be condensed and enclothed and a particular creature can be brought forth from it.”)

Hence, rather than the Divine utterance constantly creating a creature, which then becomes sundered from it, the Divine utterance is actually vested within the particular creature itself—within its “space,” so to speak—to the point that the life-force (and soul) of every individual created being is the Divine utterance that is clothed within it.

It may thus be understood how “every creature and being is in reality considered to be naught and nothingness in relation to the activating force and the ‘breath of His mouth’ which is within it, continuously calling it into existence and bringing it from absolute nonbeing into being.”

Accordingly, it would seem that the nullification of the created being is not total, for the life-force that permeates and enclothes itself within the created being is attenuated and limited (to suit each individual creature). As such, it “allows for a being’s existence.” Consequently, the nullification resulting from this life-force is also not complete.37

However, according to what the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain—that tzimtzum is not to be understood in its literal sense, G-d forbid—this difficulty is resolved. For even in the “place” (i.e., level) in which the light and life-force contracts and enclothes itself within created beings, “There is no place devoid of Him,”38 and “His Essence and Being…completely fills the whole earth temporally and spatially.”39

Thus, the following two opposites coexist within each created being: Every created being possesses its own “soul and spiritual life-force,” which it receives through the tzimtzum and vesting of the Divine utterance within it; at the same time, every created being is bound up with the very Essence of G-d, for in the same “place” in which it is found, G-d’s “Essence and Being” is also to be found.

And the fact that G-d’s Essence utterly transcends the world enables one to perceive that the existence of the world itself is G-dliness (as in the classic phrase, “The created being is True Being”40)—“There is none else apart from Him.”41

From Likkutei Sichot, vol. 25 (Kehot, N.Y., 1987), p. 200.