ויעש דוד שם

“And David made a name.”1

The simple meaning of the verse is either (as Rashi explains) that David gave the Jewish people a good name by burying the dead of their enemies, or (as other commentators explain) that David made a name for himself through his heroism.

ופירש בזוהר הקדוש, משום שנאמר: ויהי דוד עושה משפט וצדקה לכל עמו כו׳

The holy Zohar2 relates the above phrase to the verse:3 “And David executed justice and tzedakah with all his people.”

The “name” that he thereby made is thus the Divine Name. In the words of the Zohar:

בכה רבי שמעון ואמר: מאן עביד שמא קדישא בכל יומא, מאן דיהיב צדקה למסכני כו׳

“Rabbi Shimon wept and said: ‘Who makes the Holy Name every day? He who gives charity unto the poor.’ ”

Two questions, however, present themselves: (a) How can we possibly say that the Holy Name is “made”? (b) How is the Name “made” through the giving of charity?

ויובן בהקדים מאמר רז״ל על פסוק: כי ביה ה׳ צור עולמים

This may be understood in the light of the comment of our Sages,4 of blessed memory, on the verse,5 “For by [the Divine Name that is composed of the letters] yud-hei, G‑d is the strength of the worlds.”

The Hebrew word here translated “strength” (lit.: “rock”) is צור, whose root letters imply an additional meaning, namely (in this context): “By means of [the Divine Name that is composed of the letters] yud-hei, G‑d formed (or created) the worlds.”6

בה׳ נברא עולם הזה, ביו״ד נברא עולם הבא

On the above-quoted verse the Sages comment: “This world was created by the letter hei [of the Divine Name yud-hei]; the World to Come was created by the letter yud [of the Divine Name yud-hei].”

In what respect is this world connected with the letter hei and the World to Come with the letter yud? The Alter Rebbe answers this question by first explaining the concept of the World to Come and Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden.

פירוש: שהתענוג שמתענגים נשמות הצדיקים, ונהנין מזיו השכינה המאיר בגן עדן עליון ותחתון

This means that the delight which the souls of the righteous experience, as they enjoy the splendor of the Shechinah which radiates in the upper and lower Gardens of Eden,

הוא שמתענגים בהשגתם והשכלתם

consists of their pleasure in their apprehension and conception,

שמשכילים ויודעים ומשיגים

for they conceive (with the faculty of Chochmah), know (with the faculty of Daat) and understand (with the faculty of Binah)

איזה השגה באור וחיות השופע שם מאין סוף ברוך הוא, בבחינת גילוי, לנשמתם ורוח בינתם

some degree of apprehension of the light and vitality which effuses there, in a revealed manner, from the blessed Ein Sof unto their soul and their spirit of understanding,

Spiritual life-force finds its way down into this world in so concealed a manner that all we know of it is the mere fact of its existence (yediat hametziut). In Gan Eden, by contrast, the spiritual life-force issues forth in such a manner that its very essence is apprehended (hassagat hamahut),

להבין ולהשיג איזה השגה, כל אחד ואחד לפי מדרגתו ולפי מעשיו

so that each and every one can understand and attain some perception according to his level and his deeds.

Likkutei Levi Yitzchak, authored by the saintly father of the Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, explains the distinction between “his level” and “his deeds” as follows.

“His level” alludes to those souls which are to be found in the Upper Garden of Eden, whose comprehension is commensurate with the level of their devout intent and the level of their re’uta delibba (lit., “the desire of the heart”), i.e., the unbounded yearning of the innermost point of their souls to cleave rapturously to their Maker. This state of divine service results from intellectual endeavor, which is denoted by the term “level”. (In ch. 9 of Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, for example, the Alter Rebbe adds this term to the phrase that speaks of the intellectual activity known by its acronym as ChaBaD.)

“His deeds,” by contrast, refers to those souls in the Lower Garden of Eden, which earn the above-described spiritual delights through the actual performance of practical mitzvot. These souls, therefore, are rewarded “according to their deeds.”7

In either case, it is clear that the delight that souls experience in Gan Eden is the intellectual delight of the apprehension of G‑dliness.

ולכן נקרא עולם הבא בשם בינה, בזוהר הקדוש

That is why in the Zohar8 the World to Come is referred to as Binah (“understanding”), for that world is permeated by the light of the Sefirah of Binah,9 which enables souls to apprehend and understand G‑dliness.

והשפעה זו נמשכת מבחינת חכמה עילאה

This flow issues from the plane of Supernal Chochmah,

שהוא מקור ההשכלה וההשגה הנקרא בשם בינה

which is the source of the conception and apprehension known as Binah.

Chochmah is the initial, intuitive, seminal flash of perception; Binah is the process of mental gestation that systematically develops and expands that inspiration into comprehensive understanding.

והוא קדמות השכל, קודם שבא לכלל גילוי השגה והבנה

For [Chochmah] is the primordial stage of the intellect, before apprehension and understanding become manifest;

רק עדיין הוא בבחינת העלם והסתר

rather, [Chochmah] at this stage is still in a state of obscurity and concealment,

The Alter Rebbe is speaking here of the particular level of Chochmah that transcends intellect and comprehension. It differs from the more external level of Chochmah which is the germ of intellect and is already illumined by it, though it too is as yet the unparticularized seminal point of a concept which is still to be analyzed and comprehended by the faculty of Binah. Preceding this, the primordial level of Chochmah discussed here utterly transcends revealed intellect; it is still obscure,

רק שמעט מזעיר שם זעיר שם שופע ונמשך משם לבחינת בינה

except for some miniscule measure that here and there flows forth and issues from it to the faculty of Binah,

The dual form of the Biblical idiom borrowed here (cf. Yeshayahu 28:10) implies that the light of this primordial level of Chochmah undergoes two distinct stages of tzimtzum, or self-contraction. The first stage limits this light; the second attenuates it so that it is able to descend into Binah,

להבין ולהשיג שכל הנעלם

making it possible [for a soul] to understand and apprehend a concept which is [intrinsically] concealed.

This higher form of Supernal intellect is the “radiance of the Shechinah,” a ray of G‑d’s infinitude that illuminates Gan Eden. Ordinarily, no created being — even a soul of such stature that it inhabits the Upper Gan Eden — could possibly fathom this degree of intellect. In order for it to be understood by mortal man’s soul, it must undergo the twofold descent mentioned above. Nonetheless, even after this descent it still pertains to the very essence (mahut) of G‑dliness that is comprehended by the soul in Gan Eden.

ולכן נקרא בשם נקודה בהיכלא, בזוהר הקדוש

In the holy Zohar,10 therefore, [Chochmah] is referred to as “the dot in the palace.”11

Chochmah is the “dot” or “point” of intellect that illumines the “palace” of Binah. Nevertheless, even when already housed in Binah, it still remains a seminal point of intellect that transcends the details that constitute the comprehension of Binah.

וזו היא תמונת יו״ד של שם הוי׳

[Indeed,] this is the shape of the yud of the Four-Letter Name of G‑d.

The letter yud is shaped like a point, alluding12 to the Sefirah of Chochmah, which is a mere point.

ונקרא עדן, אשר עליו נאמר: עין לא ראתה גו׳

[Chochmah] is also referred to as Eden, of which it is said:13 “No eye has beheld it”; i.e., it is a kind of illumination that transcends and defies comprehension.

ונקרא: אבא יסד ברתא

Moreover, [Chochmah] is referred to14 as “the ‘father’ who founded the ‘daughter’.”

Chochmah is the “father”, or source, of the letters of speech, which are called the “daughter”, the level of Malchut.

One might have expected the letters of speech to derive from the emotive faculties (the middot) or from Binah, for surely a person articulates letters of speech when he seeks to express an emotion or to speak of an idea that he has comprehended. The Alter Rebbe, however, now goes on to explain that the letters of speech in fact derive from Chochmah, which transcends comprehension.

פירוש: כי הנה התהוות אותיות הדבור היוצאות מה׳ מוצאות הפה אינה דבר מושכל

This means: The formation of the letters of speech which proceed from the five organs of articulation15 is not an intellectual process.

The letters do not emanate from the soul as a result of any intellectual imperative.

ולא מוטבע בטבע מוצאות הללו להוציא מבטא האותיות

It is also not inherent in the nature of these organs [that they must] pronounce the letters

על ידי ההבל והקול המכה בהן

— by means of the breath and the sound that strikes them —

על פי דרך הטבע, ולא על פי דרך השכל

by either a natural faculty or by an intellectual faculty.

כגון השפתיים, על דרך משל, שאותיות בומ״פ יוצאות מהן

With the lips, for example, by means of which the letters beit, vav, mem and pei are uttered,

Since the lips are the most visible of the organs of speech, the Alter Rebbe chooses for his example the letters which they form; one can readily see that pronouncing these letters is impelled neither by the nature of the lips themselves nor by the faculty of intellect.

אין הטבע ולא השכל נותן ליציאת מבטא ארבע חלקי שינויי ביטוי אותיות אלו על פי שינויי תנועת השפתים

neither nature nor the intellect compels the utterance of the four varying types of pronunciation of these letters in accordance with variations in the movement of the lips,

שמתנוענעות בהבל אחד וקול אחד, הפוגע בהן בשוה

which are moved by the same breath and the same sound that strikes them equally.

Since the letter beit and the letter vav, for example, are both formed by the same breath and the same sound, the distinction between them must be made by the movements of the lips: when the letter beit is pronounced the lips are pursed in one way and when the letter vav is pronounced they are pursed differently. This being so, one would expect that it would take a conscious mental effort to move the lips in one specific manner to pronounce the letter beit and in another specific manner to pronounce the letter vav.16 Alternatively, if it were dependent on nature, the speaker would naturally want to move his lips in the different ways necessary for the formation of one letter or the other.

ואדרבה, שינוי התנועות שבשפתים הוא לפי שינוי ביטוי האותיות שברצון הנפש לבטא בשפתים

On the contrary: the change in the movements of the lips depends on the difference in pronunciation of the letters the soul wishes to utter by means of the lips,

כרצונה לומר אות ב׳ או ו׳ או מ׳ או פ׳

when it desires to pronounce the letter beit, or vav, or mem, or pei, and the lips will instinctively and spontaneously move accordingly.

ולא להיפך, שיהיה רצון הנפש וכונתה לעשות שינוי תנועות השפתים

It is not the other way around, that it is the will and intention of the soul to make a change in the motions of the lips

כמו שהן מתנענעות עתה בביטויי ד׳ אותיות אלו

as they are moving now in the utterance of these four letters.

וכנראה בחוש, שאין הנפש מתכוונת ויודעת לכוין כלל שינוי תנועות השפתים בשינויים אלו

As is empirically evident, the soul does not at all intend or know how to intend the change in the motions of the lips [which articulate] those distinctions [between the various letters].

Since the soul neither intends nor even knows how to direct the lips to move in the manner required to form particular letters, it is obviously the mere desire to utter certain letters that results in the automatic movement of the lips in the appropriate manner.

ויותר נראה כן בביטוי הנקודות

This is even more evident with the pronunciation of the vowels.

שכשהנפש רצונה להוציא מפיה נקודת קמץ, אזי ממילא נקמצים השפתים

For when the soul wishes to utter the kamatz vowel, the lips spontaneously become compressed,

ובפתח נפתחים השפתים

and with the patach vowel the lips open17 — of their own accord,

ולא שרצון הנפש לקמוץ ולא לפתוח כלל וכלל

and not at all because of the will of the soul to compress or to open [them].

ואין להאריך בדבר הפשוט ומובן ומושכל לכל משכיל

There is no need to go any further into a matter which is simple, comprehensible, and intelligible to every intelligent person,

שמבטא האותיות והנקודות הוא למעלה מהשכל המושג ומובן

namely, that the pronunciation of the letters and vowels transcends the apprehended and comprehended intellect,

אלא משכל הנעלם וקדמות השכל שבנפש המדברת

but rather derives from the hidden intellect, and the primordial stage of the intellect which is in the articulate soul.

ולכן אין התינוק יכול לדבר, אף שמבין הכל

This is why an infant cannot speak, even though it understands everything, for speech does not result from revealed and apprehended intellect, but from the more rarefied “hidden intellect” which in the infant has yet to be developed.

We thus see that the letters of speech derive from Chochmah. This, then, is the meaning of “the ‘father’ who founded the ‘daughter’”: Chochmah is the “father” or source of the letters of speech, which are called the “daughter”, or the Sefirah of Malchut.

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