The Alter Rebbe explained in the previous chapter that the Sefirot — the Divine attributes, and the Divine wisdom and Will — are designated by their respective names only in relation to created beings, which are granted existence and life and guidance by Him Who enclothes Himself in those attributes.

However, since these attributes are united with Him in a perfect unity, they are not identifiable by any names whatever when considered relative to Him. In this they correspond to the sunlight that is still within the sun: it is not deemed “light”, because at that stage it is absolutely absorbed within its source.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain that not only are the attributes and Sefirot called by their respective names in relation to created beings alone, but even the Ten Utterances — through which the attributes become manifest, thereby bringing created beings into existence and providing them with life — are also called “Utterances” only in relation to created beings. They are not called so relative to G‑d, however, inasmuch as they are united with the attributes, which in turn are united in perfect unity with the Holy One, blessed be He.

והנה עשרה מאמרות גם כן נקראו בשם מאמרות לגבי הנבראים בלבד

The Ten Utterances are also designated “Utterances” only in relation to created beings, since this is a term that relates to revelation, as shall presently be explained.

כי כמו שהמדות שבנשמת האדם, כשבאות להתגלות במעשה

For just as the emotive attributes of the human soul, when they surface in order to be revealed in [a corresponding] action,

הן באות מלובשות באותיות המחשבה

appear enclothed in the letters of thought, [so do the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He].

כגון מדת החסד ורחמים שבנשמה, אי אפשר לבוא לידי התגלות בפועל ממש, כי אם על ידי שמחשב בדעתו ומהרהר מעשה הצדקה וחסד, לעשותה בפועל ממש

For example, the soul’s attribute of kindness and mercy cannot be revealed (i.e., find expression) in actual deed unless one first thinks about and contemplates doing an actual act of charity and kindness,

כי אי אפשר לעשות בלי מחשבה

for one cannot act without thought.

It sometimes happens that before an emotive attribute finds expression in action, it must first become enclothed not only in thought but also in speech. This is now explained.

ואם מצוה לאחרים לעשות, כמו המלך

If a person, such as a king, commands others to perform [an act of kindness],

אזי מתלבשת מדת החסד, וגם אותיות המחשבה, באותיות הדבור

then the attribute of kindness and with it the letters of thought are garbed in the letters of speech.

וכן כשמדבר דברי חסד ורחמים לרעהו

(1This is also the case when one speaks words of kindness and compassion to his friend.)

Thus, it is through letters of thought or letters of speech that the soul’s faculties and attributes are revealed.

כך, על דרך משל, מדותיו של הקב״ה, כשבאות לבחינת התגלות פעולתן בתחתונים

So, figuratively speaking, when the emotive attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, reach the level at which their activity is to be revealed in the lower [worlds],

נקרא גילוי זה והמשכת פעולה זו בשם מאמר וצירוף אותיות

this revelation and the flow of this action are called an “Utterance” and a combination of letters,

שהרי אי אפשר שתהיה שום פעולה נמשכת ממדותיו הקדושות, בלי צירופים הנקראים בשם אותיות

for there can be no action proceeding from His holy emotive attributes without [the intermediacy of] combinations which are called “letters”.

Action can result (or be revealed) from G‑d’s emotive attributes only when a number of particular powers combine to produce this revelation.

כגון לבריאת האור ממדת החסד, נמשך ממנה המשכת פעולה וכח, לפעול ולברוא בו את האור

For instance, for the creation of light from the attribute of kindness, there issued from it a flow of action and a power with which to produce and create the light.

The attribute of kindness is capable of producing varying results and various manifestations of creation, as shall soon be explained. In order for it to create light rather than something else, the attribute of Chesed must produce a specific revelation and power whose makeup is such that specifically light will be created from it.

והמשכת כח זה וחיות זו נקראת בשם מאמר ואותיות: יהי אור

The flow of this power and this life-force is called by the name of the “Utterance” and the [combination of the] letters [that constitute the Biblical phrase], “Let there be light.”

כי אף שאינן כאותיות מחשבה שלנו, חס ושלום

Although they are not actual letters of thought like our letters of thought, G‑d forbid,

The Alter Rebbe had previously drawn an analogy: just as a person’s soul is revealed through letters of thought, so too do the Divine attributes become manifest through letters of thought. He therefore forestalls any misunderstanding by pointing out in the above clause that whereas the soul actually contains letters, with all their inherent limitations, this is not so Above.

מכל מקום הם ענין המורה על התהוות האור מאין ליש

nevertheless, they are similar to our letters of thought in that they are a phenomenon which indicates the bringing into existence of the light from nothing; i.e., they are the particular power that creates light.

שלכן נברא האור מהמשכת כח זה, ולא נבראו ממנו דברים אחרים שנבראו גם כן ממדת החסד, כמו מים וכיוצא בהם

Hence, light was created from this flow of power, and not other things which were also created from the attribute of kindness, such as water and the like,

Thus, the combination of letters is such that this Divine power specifically creates light. It is therefore deemed to be the “Utterance” which proclaimed, “Let there be light.” This selfsame attribute of kindness creates other things, such as water,

מפני שנתלבשו בהם כחות בבחינת צירופים אחרים, המורים על התהוות המים וכיוצא

because in them were clothed powers from other combinations, which indicate the bringing into existence of water and the like.

ונמצא כי כל חיות וכחות הנמשכות ממדותיו הקדושות לתחתונים, לבראם מאין ליש ולהחיותם ולקיימם, נקראו בשם אותיות הקדושות

Accordingly, all life-forces and powers which issue from [G‑d’s] holy emotive attributes to the lower [worlds], to create them ex nihilo and to give them life and sustain them, are called “holy letters.”

שהן בחינת המשכת החיות מרצונו וחכמתו ומדותיו, להתהוות עולמות ולהחיותם

These are the flow of the life-force from His Will and His wisdom and His emotive attributes, to bring worlds into being and give them life.

והם שני מיני עולמות

These worlds that are created by the letters are of two kinds:

עלמין סתימין דלא אתגליין, הם המתהווים וחיים וקיימים מכחות והמשכות נעלמות, כמו אותיות המחשבה שבנשמת האדם על דרך משל

“hidden worlds unrevealed,” which come into existence and live and are sustained by concealed powers and life-forces, like, for example, the letters of thought in the human soul;

Just as the letters of each man’s thought are concealed from others, these Divine powers are similarly concealed from created beings. From them were created the “hidden worlds.”

ועלמין דאתגליין נבראו וחיים מהתגלות שנתגלו כחות והמשכות הנעלמות, הנקראות בשם אותיות המחשבה

and “worlds revealed,” [which] were created and live from the revelation of the hidden powers and life-forces called “letters of thought.”

וכשהן בבחינת התגלות, להחיות עלמין דאתגליין

When these [“letters of thought”] are in a state of revelation, in order to give life to the revealed worlds,

נקראות בשם מאמרות ודבר ה׳ ורוח פיו

they are called “Utterances” and “the word of G‑d” and the “breath of His mouth,”

כמו אותיות הדבור באדם, דרך משל, שהן מגלות לשומעים מה שהיה צפון וסתום בלבו

like, for example, the letters of a man’s speech, which reveal to his listeners what was concealed and hidden in his heart.

Likewise, the Divine “letters of speech” are a revelation of the force that grants existence and infuses life into those created beings that are of the category of “worlds revealed.”