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 He 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 whatsoever 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.

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.

וְהִנֵּה, גַּם עֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת, גַּם כֵּן נִקְרְאוּ בְּשֵׁם "מַאֲמָרוֹת" לְגַבֵּי הַנִּבְרָאִים בִּלְבָד.

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

כִּי כְּמוֹ שֶׁהַמִּדּוֹת שֶׁבְּנִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם, כְּשֶׁבָּאוֹת לְהִתְגַּלּוֹת בְּמַעֲשֶׂה,

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

הֵן בָּאוֹת מְלוּבָּשׁוֹת בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה,

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,

כְּגוֹן, מִדַּת חֶסֶד וְרַחֲמִים שֶׁבַּנְּשָׁמָה, אִי אֶפְשָׁר לָבֹא לִידֵי הִתְגַּלּוּת בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ, כִּי אִם עַל יְדֵי שֶׁמְּחַשֵּׁב בְּדַעְתּוֹ וּמְהַרְהֵר מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה וָחֶסֶד לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ,

for one cannot act without thought.

כִּי אִי אֶפְשָׁר לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּלִי מַחֲשָׁבָה,

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.

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

וְאִם מְצַוֶּה לַאֲחֵרִים לַעֲשׂוֹת, כְּמוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ,

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

אֲזַי מִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד וְגַם אוֹתִיּוֹת הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה – בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר

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

[וְכֵן כְּשֶׁמְּדַבֵּר דִּבְרֵי חֶסֶד וְרַחֲמִים לְרֵעֵהוּ]

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

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],

כָּךְ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, כְּשֶׁבָּאוֹת לִבְחִינַת הִתְגַּלּוּת פְּעוּלָּתָן בַּתַּחְתּוֹנִים,

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

נִקְרָא גִּילּוּי זֶה וְהַמְשָׁכַת פְּעוּלָּה זוֹ – בְּשֵׁם "מַאֲמָר" וְ"צֵירוּף אוֹתִיּוֹת",

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

שֶׁהֲרֵי אִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּהְיֶה שׁוּם פְּעוּלָּה נִמְשֶׁכֶת מִמִּדּוֹתָיו הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת בְּלִי צֵירוּפִים הַנִּקְרָאִים בְּשֵׁם "אוֹתִיּוֹת".

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

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.

כְּגוֹן, לִבְרִיאַת הָאוֹר מִמִּדַּת הַחֶסֶד – נִמְשָׁךְ מִמֶּנָּה הַמְשָׁכַת פְּעוּלָּה וְכֹחַ לִפְעוֹל וְלִבְרוֹא בּוֹ אֶת הָאוֹר,

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.

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.”

וְהַמְשָׁכַת כֹּחַ זֶה וְחַיּוּת זוֹ, נִקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם מַאֲמַר וְאוֹתִיּוֹת "יְהִי אוֹר".

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

כִּי אַף שֶׁאֵינָן כְּאוֹתִיּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבָה שֶׁלָּנוּ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

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.

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.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם, הֵם עִנְיָן הַמּוֹרֶה עַל הִתְהַוּוּת הָאוֹר מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ,

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,

שֶׁלָּכֵן נִבְרָא הָאוֹר מֵהַמְשָׁכַת כֹּחַ זֶה, וְלֹא נִבְרְאוּ מִמֶּנּוּ דְּבָרִים אֲחֵרִים שֶׁנִּבְרְאוּ גַּם כֵּן מִמִּדַּת חֶסֶד, כְּמוֹ מַיִם וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהֶם,

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,

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

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּתְלַבְּשׁוּ בָּהֶם כֹּחוֹת בִּבְחִינוֹת צֵירוּפִים אֲחֵרִים, הַמּוֹרִים עַל הִתְהַוּוּת הַמַּיִם וְכַיּוֹצֵא.

Accordingly, all life-forces and powers

וְנִמְצָא, כִּי כָּל חַיּוּת וְכֹחוֹת

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.”

הַנִּמְשָׁכוֹת מִמִּדּוֹתָיו הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת לַתַּחְתּוֹנִים לְבָרְאָם מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ וּלְהַחֲיוֹתָם וּלְקַיְּימָם – נִקְרָאוֹת בְּשֵׁם "אוֹתִיּוֹת הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת",

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.

שֶׁהֵן בְּחִינַת הַמְשָׁכַת הַחַיּוּת מֵרְצוֹנוֹ וְחָכְמָתוֹ וּמִדּוֹתָיו לְהִתְהַוּוּת עוֹלָמוֹת וּלְהַחֲיוֹתָם.

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

וְהֵם שְׁנֵי מִינֵי עוֹלָמוֹת:

“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,

"עָלְמִין סְתִימִין דְּלָא אִתְגַּלְיָין", הֵם הַמִּתְהַוִּים וְחַיִּים וְקַיָּימִים מִכֹּחוֹת וְהַמְשָׁכוֹת נֶעְלָמוֹת, כְּמוֹ אוֹתִיּוֹת הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה שֶׁבְּנִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל;

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.”

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

וְ"עָלְמִין דְּאִתְגַּלְיָין", נִבְרְאוּ וְחַיִּים מֵהִתְגַּלּוּת שֶׁנִּתְגַּלּוּ כֹּחוֹת וְהַמְשָׁכוֹת הַנֶּעְלָמוֹת, הַנִּקְרָאוֹת בְּשֵׁם "אוֹתִיּוֹת הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה",

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

וּכְשֶׁהֵן בִּבְחִינַת הִתְגַּלּוּת לְהַחֲיוֹת עָלְמִין דְּאִתְגַּלְיָין,

they are called “utterances” and “the word of G-d” and the “breath of His mouth,”

נִקְרָאוֹת בְּשֵׁם "מַאֲמָרוֹת" וּ"דְבַר ה'" וְ"רוּחַ פִּיו",

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

כְּמוֹ אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר בָּאָדָם עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, שֶׁהֵן מְגַלּוֹת לַשּׁוֹמְעִים מַה שֶּׁהָיָה צָפוּן וְסָתוּם בְּלִבּוֹ.

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.”