Concluding the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe explained that since G-d is infinitely exalted above intellect, intellectual means are inadequate to grasp His absolute union with the sefirot of the World of Atzilut, despite them being limited to the particular Divine attributes of wisdom, kindness, and so on. The Zohar thus terms these attributes “the secret of faith,” for their union with the Divine is beyond mortal comprehension.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the sefirot transcend intellect and comprehension,

אַךְ מִכָּל מָקוֹם,

since “the Torah speaks as in the language of man”1 in order to “modulate for the ear what it is able to hear,”2

הוֹאִיל "וְדִבְּרָה תוֹרָה כִּלְשׁוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם", "לְשַׁכֵּךְ אֶת הָאֹזֶן מַה שֶּׁהִיא יְכוֹלָה לִשְׁמוֹעַ",

permission has been granted to the Kabbalists (lit., “the scholars of truth”) to speak allegorically of the sefirot.

לְכָךְ נִיתַּן רְשׁוּת לְחַכְמֵי הָאֱמֶת לְדַבֵּר בִּסְפִירוֹת בְּדֶרֶךְ מָשָׁל,

Note by the Rebbe: “The use of the term מָשָׁל (‘allegory’) stresses that the allegory and its object are not identical but merely that there is a similarity between the relationship that subsists among the particulars of the analogy to the relationship that subsists among the particulars of the analogue. There is, however, no connection at all between the particular aspects of the analogy and the analogue.

“Here, for instance: the sun’s rays and the sun do not compare in any way at all to the sefirot and their Source. The analogy refers only to the manner in which the sun’s rays are united (i.e., related) with the sun itself. This analogy makes it easier for us to comprehend the unity of the sefirot with their Source.”

[The Kabbalists] called [the sefirot] “lights,” using terminology borrowed from the revelation of light,

וְקָרְאוּ אוֹתָן "אוֹרוֹת",

so that by means of this metaphor, the nature of the unity of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His attributes will be somewhat understood by us.

כְּדֵי שֶׁעַל יְדֵי הַמָּשָׁל הַזֶּה יוּבַן לָנוּ קְצָת עִנְיַן הַיִּחוּד שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא וּמִדּוֹתָיו,

It is, by way of illustration, like the unity of the sunlight that is within the solar globe with the solar globe [itself], which is called not only “sun” but also a “luminary,” inasmuch as it emits light,

שֶׁהוּא בְּדֶרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּעֵין יִחוּד אוֹר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ שֶׁבְּתוֹךְ גּוּף כַּדּוּר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ עִם גּוּף הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ – שֶׁנִּקְרָא "מָאוֹר",

as it is written that G-d created “the greater luminary…,”3 i.e., the very source of light.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "אֶת הַמָּאוֹר הַגָּדוֹל וְגוֹ'",

The ray and the beam which spreads forth and shines from it is called “light,” as it is written, “And G-d called the light—day.”4

וְהַזִּיו וְהַנִּיצוֹץ הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט וּמֵאִיר מִמֶּנּוּ – נִקְרָא "אוֹר", כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם",

When the light is within its source in the orb of the sun, it is united with it in absolute unity,

וּכְשֶׁהָאוֹר הוּא בִּמְקוֹרוֹ בְּגוּף הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ – הוּא מְיוּחָד עִמּוֹ בְּתַכְלִית הַיִּחוּד,

for there, within the sun, there is only one entity, namely, the body of the luminary which emits light,

כִּי אֵין שָׁם, רַק עֶצֶם אֶחָד שֶׁהוּא גּוּף הַמָּאוֹר הַמֵּאִיר,

It would hardly be reasonable to say that within the orb of the sun, there exist two things: the luminary and its light. Within the sun-globe, only the sun itself exists.

for there, the ray and light is absolutely one being with the body of the luminary which illuminates, and it has no existence by itself at all.

כִּי הַזִּיו וְהָאוֹר שָׁם – עֶצֶם אֶחָד מַמָּשׁ עִם גּוּף הַמָּאוֹר הַמֵּאִיר, וְאֵין לוֹ שׁוּם מְצִיאוּת כְּלָל בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ.

The appearance of the ray and light outside the sun would seem to indicate that light exists within the sun itself, for if it reaches out and illuminates the whole world, it is surely found within its source. In fact, however, when sunlight is considered at the stage at which it is found within the luminary itself, it is so completely identified with it that it cannot be termed light at all; within the sun, the light has no existence with an independent identity.5

Precisely in this manner, and even more so, is [the unity of] (on one hand) the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His will and wisdom in the World of Atzilut, with (on the other hand) His Essence and Being, as it were,

וְכַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה מַמָּשׁ, וְיוֹתֵר מִזֶּה, הֵן מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא וּרְצוֹנוֹ וְחָכְמָתוֹ בְּעוֹלַם הָאֲצִילוּת עִם מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ כִּבְיָכוֹל,

Who becomes clothed in them—in the sefirot of Atzilut—and unites with them in perfect unity,

הַמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּתוֹכָם וּמִתְיַיחֵד עִמָּהֶם בְּתַכְלִית הַיִּחוּד,

since they derived and emanated from Him just as (by way of analogy) light is diffused from the sun.

מֵאַחַר שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ וְנֶאֶצְלוּ מֵאִתּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כְּדֶרֶךְ הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הָאוֹר מֵהַשֶּׁמֶשׁ.

However, [G-d’s unity with His attributes] is not exactly in this manner, i.e., like the fusion of the sun with the light which is still within it, but in a manner which is remote and concealed from our comprehension, for6 His ways are higher than our ways.

אַךְ לֹא מַמָּשׁ בְּדֶרֶךְ זֶה, רַק בְּדֶרֶךְ רְחוֹקָה וְנִפְלָאָה מֵהַשָּׂגָתֵינוּ, כִּי גָּבְהוּ דְרָכָיו מִדְּרָכֵינוּ.

Nevertheless, despite its superior manner of unity, since one must “modulate for the ear [what it is able to hear],”7

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, לְשַׁכֵּךְ הָאֹזֶן,

we can perceive and comprehend that just as in the analogy, the light of the sun, which is united with and nullified in its source, has no name of its own, only the name of its source,

נִשְׁמַע וְנִתְבּוֹנֵן מִמְּשַׁל אוֹר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, הַמְיוּחָד וּבָטֵל בִּמְקוֹרוֹ וְאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה בְּשֵׁם כְּלָל בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ, רַק שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹר לְבַדּוֹ –

so, too, all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His will and wisdom, are not designated and called by these names at all, relative to Him,

כָּךְ כָּל מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא וּרְצוֹנוֹ וְחָכְמָתוֹ, אֵינָן עוֹלוֹת וְנִקְרָאוֹת בְּשֵׁמוֹת אֵלּוּ כְּלָל,

but only in relation to the creatures which are (Note by the Rebbe:) “below the World of Atzilut, i.e., in Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, these [creatures] being” [both] higher and lower,

אֶלָּא לְגַבֵּי הַנִּבְרָאִים עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים,

which are brought into existence and given life and guided in their conduct by the Holy One, blessed be He,

שֶׁהֲוָויָיתָם וְחַיּוּתָם וְהַנְהָגָתָם, שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מְהַוֶּה וּמְחַיֶּה אוֹתָם וּמַנְהִיגָם,

through His will and wisdom and understanding and knowledge, which garb themselves in His holy, emotive attributes, such as chesed, gevurah, and tiferet.

הוּא בִּרְצוֹנוֹ וְחָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ וְדַעְתּוֹ הַמִּתְלַבְּשׁוֹת בְּמִדּוֹתָיו הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת,

Thus, the sefirot are termed chochmah, binah, daat, chesed, and so forth, in relation to the beings which are created and vivified by G-d through His will and wisdom, and so forth, which clothe themselves in the emotive attributes.

As it is stated in the Midrash, “By means of ten things was the world created: by wisdom, by understanding, and by knowledge…

כִּדְאִיתָא בַּמִּדְרָשׁ: "בַּעֲשָׂרָה דְבָרִים נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם: בְּחָכְמָה, בִּתְבוּנָה וּבְדַעַת וְכוּ',

as it is written,8 ‘G-d founded the earth with wisdom; He established the heavens with understanding; with His knowledge the depths of the abyss were burst open,’”9

דִּכְתִיב, 'ה' בְּחָכְמָה יָסַד אָרֶץ, כּוֹנֵן שָׁמַיִם בִּתְבוּנָה, בְּדַעְתּוֹ תְּהוֹמוֹת נִבְקָעוּ וְגוֹ'".

We thus see from the Midrash10 that the world was created by means of “ten things,” i.e., the ten sefirot.

and as expressed by Elijah, in the passage that opens with Patach Eliyahu and forms part of the introduction to Tikkunei Zohar, “You have brought forth ten Tikkunim (‘garments’), and we call them ten sefirot,

וּכְמַאֲמַר אֵלִיָּהוּ: "דְּאַפִּיקַת עֲשַׂר תִּיקּוּנִין, וְקָרִינָן לְהוֹן עֲשַׂר סְפִירָן,

through which to direct hidden worlds unrevealed (i.e., worlds that transcend mortal comprehension) and worlds revealed (i.e., worlds that are accessible to mortal comprehension),

לְאַנְהָגָא בְהוֹן עָלְמִין סְתִימִין דְּלָא אִתְגַּלְיָין וְעָלְמִין דְּאִתְגַּלְיָין,

and through them, You conceal Yourself…”—from created beings so that they will not be able to perceive the Divine life-force that creates and vivifies them.

וּבְהוֹן אִתְכְּסִיאַת כוּ'".