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. These are 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 beggars mortal comprehension.

אך מכל מקום

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

הואיל ודברה תורה כלשון בני אדם, לשכך את האוזן מה שהיא יכולה לשמוע

since1 “the Torah speaks as in the language of man” in order to2 “modulate for the ear what it is able to hear,”

לכך ניתן רשות לחכמי האמת לדבר בספירות בדרך משל

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

Note of the Rebbe: “The use of the term משל (‘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.”

וקראו אותן אורות

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

כדי שעל ידי המשל הזה, יובן לנו קצת ענין היחוד של הקב״ה ומדותיו

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.

שהוא, בדרך משל, כעין יחוד אור השמש שבתוך גוף כדור השמש, עם גוף השמש שנקרא מאור

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,

כמו שכתוב: את המאור הגדול וגו׳

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

והזיו והניצוץ המתפשט ומאיר ממנו נקרא אור, כמו שכתוב: ויקרא אלקים לאור יום

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

וכשהאור הוא במקורו, בגוף השמש, הוא מיוחד עמו בתכלית היחוד

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

כי אין שם רק עצם אחד, שהוא גוף המאור המאיר

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

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.

כי הזיו והאור שם עצם אחד ממש עם גוף המאור המאיר, ואין לו שום מציאות כלל בפני עצמו

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

The appearance of radiation 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

וכדברים האלה ממש ויותר מזה, הן מדותיו של הקב״ה ורצונו וחכמתו בעולם האצילות, עם מהותו ועצמותו, כביכול

Precisely in this manner, and even more so, is [the unity of] (on the 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,

המתלבש בתוכם ומתייחד עמהם בתכלית היחוד

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

מאחר שנמשכו ונאצלו מאתו יתברך, על דרך משל, כדרך התפשטות האור מהשמש

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

אך לא ממש בדרך זה, רק בדרך רחוקה ונפלאה מהשגתינו, כי גבהו דרכיו מדרכינו

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.

ומכל מקום, לשכך האוזן

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

נשמע ונתבונן ממשל אור השמש המיוחד ובטל במקורו, ואינו עולה בשם בפני עצמו, רק שם המקור לבדו

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,

כך כל מדותיו של הקב״ה ורצונו וחכמתו אינן עולות ונקראות בשמות אלו כלל

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,

אלא לגבי הנבראים, עליונים ותחתונים

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

שהווייתם וחיותם והנהגתם, שהקב״ה מהוה ומחיה אותם ומנהיגם

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

הוא ברצונו וחכמתו ובינתו ודעתו, המתלבשות במדותיו הקדושות

through His Will and wisdom and understanding and knowledge, which garb themselves in His holy emotive attributes, such as Chesed, Gevurah and Tiferet.

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.

כדאיתא במדרש: בעשרה דברים נברא העולם, בחכמה בתבונה ובדעת וכו׳

As it is stated in the Midrash,7 “By means of ten things was the world created: by wisdom, by understanding and by knowledge,...

דכתיב: ה׳ בחכמה יסד ארץ, כונן שמים בתבונה, בדעתו תהומות נבקעו וגו׳

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,’...“;

We thus see from the Midrash9 that the world was created by means of “ten things”, i.e., the Ten Sefirot.

וכמאמר אליהו: דאפיקת עשר תיקונין, וקרינן להון עשר ספירן

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,

לאנהגא בהון עלמין סתימין דלא אתגליין, ועלמין דאתגליין

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),

ובהון אתכסיאת כו׳

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.