Now, as regards the totality of the ten sefirot [as they appear] in the soul of man,

וְהִנֵּה, כְּלָלוּת הַי' סְפִירוֹת שֶׁבְּנִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם,

it is known to all25 that the emotive attributes divide into seven general categories,26

נוֹדָע לַכֹּל [בְּדֶרֶךְ כְּלָל. בכתב יד ליתא], שֶׁהַמִּדּוֹת נֶחְלָקוֹת בְּדֶרֶךְ כְּלָל לְז' מִדּוֹת,

and each of the particular attributes in man derives from one of these seven attributes,

וְכָל פְּרָטֵי הַמִּדּוֹת שֶׁבָּאָדָם – בָּאוֹת מֵאַחַת מִז' מִדּוֹת אֵלּוּ,

for they are the root of all the attributes and their generality,

שֶׁהֵן שׁוֹרֶשׁ כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת וּכְלָלוּתָן,

namely: the attribute of chesed (“lovingkindness”), [which is a thrust] to diffuse benevolence [to all] without limit;

שֶׁהֵן: מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ בְּלִי גְבוּל,

the attribute of gevurah (“stern limitation and contraction”), [which seeks] to restrain such a degree of diffusion or to withhold diffusion altogether27 [from certain individuals],

וּמִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה – לְצַמְצֵם מִלְּהַשְׁפִּיעַ כָּל כָּךְ, אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ [נוסח אחר: כָּל עִיקָּר] כְּלָל,

and the attribute of rachamim (“compassion”), [which seeks] to pity a person to whom compassion is appropriate28 and to extend benevolence to him as well, although he may be unworthy of it.

וּמִדַּת הָרַחֲמִים – לְרַחֵם עַל מִי שֶׁשַּׁיָּיךְ לְשׁוֹן רַחֲמָנוּת עָלָיו,

[Rachamim] is the mediating attribute between gevurah and chesed,

וְהִיא מִדָּה מְמוּצַּעַת בֵּין גְּבוּרָה לְחֶסֶד,

the latter of which would diffuse benevolence to all, even to a person to whom compassion is not at all appropriate,28

שֶׁהִיא לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ לַכֹּל, גַּם לְמִי שֶׁלֹּא שַׁיָּיךְ לְשׁוֹן רַחֲמָנוּת עָלָיו כְּלָל,

inasmuch as he lacks nothing and is in no state of trouble whatsoever.29

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ חָסֵר כְּלוּם וְאֵינוֹ שָׁרוּי בְּצַעַר כְּלָל.

Because the attribute of chesed is unlimited, it desires to benefit even someone who lacks nothing. The attribute of rachamim, by contrast, being also compounded of gevurah, will not seek to diffuse indiscriminately. At the same time, rachamim pleads the cause of any individual who is in a pitiable state, however unworthy he may be.

Because [the attribute of rachamim] is the mediating attribute, it is called tiferet (“beauty”),

וּלְפִי שֶׁהִיא מִדָּה מְמוּצַּעַת, נִקְרֵאת "תִּפְאֶרֶת",

by analogy with beautiful garments

כְּמוֹ בִּגְדֵי תִּפְאֶרֶת עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל,

which are30 dyed with many colors blended31 in a way that gives rise to beauty and decoration.

שֶׁהוּא בֶּגֶד צָבוּעַ בִּגְוָונִים הַרְבֵּה מְעוֹרָבִים [בּוֹ. בכתב יד ליתא] בְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהוּא תִּפְאֶרֶת וְנוֹי,

To a garment dyed in one color, however, one cannot apply the term tiferet, which implies the beauty of harmony. And since the attribute of rachamim is compounded of chesed and gevurah, the term tiferet is appropriate.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בֶּגֶד הַצָּבוּעַ בְּגָוֶון אֶחָד לֹא שַׁיָּיךְ בּוֹ לְשׁוֹן תִּפְאֶרֶת.

Afterward, once the attribute of either chesed, gevurah, or tiferet is aroused to dispense benevolence, as the diffusion is realized,

וְאַחַר כָּךְ, בְּבוֹא הַהַשְׁפָּעָה לִידֵי מַעֲשֶׂה,

that is, at the time of the actual diffusion,

דְּהַיְינוּ בִּשְׁעַת הַהַשְׁפָּעָה מַמָּשׁ

it is necessary to deliberate how to diffuse in such a way that the recipient will be able to absorb the effusion.32

צָרִיךְ לְהִתְיַעֵץ אֵיךְ לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ, בְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁיּוּכַל הַמְקַבֵּל לְקַבֵּל הַהַשְׁפָּעָה,

For example, when one wishes—and this is a powerful desire—to convey and teach an intellectual subject to his son:

כְּגוֹן שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ דְּבַר חָכְמָה לְלַמְּדָהּ לִבְנוֹ,

If he will tell it to him in its totality, just as it appears in his own mind, the son will be unable to understand and to absorb it.

אִם יֹאמְרֶנָּה לוֹ כּוּלָּהּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא בְּשִׂכְלוֹ – לֹא יוּכַל הַבֵּן לְהָבִין וּלְקַבֵּל,

This could happen either (a) because the concept as understood by the father is too abstract and subtle for the son and needs to be lent a more tangible garb, such as a parable, or (b) because the concept is too comprehensive and too diverse and needs to be broken down into digestible segments, only some of which will be presented to the son.

Rather, one needs to arrange [it] for him in a different order and context, such as by providing an example from an alternative context,

רַק שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְסַדֵּר לוֹ בְּסֵדֶר וְעִנְיָן אַחֵר,

“every word fitly spoken,”33 presenting first one side of the issue at hand and then the other,

"דָּבָר דָּבוּר עַל אוֹפְנָיו",

little by little, a little of the concept at a time.

מְעַט מְעַט,

The concept thus needs to contract with regard to its “length,” by lowering its stature until it is within the grasp of the recipient, and with regard to its “breadth,” by reducing its manifold details to match the capacity of the son or student.

This deliberation, regarding how best to present the concept, is referred to [by the terms] netzach and hod.

וּבְחִינַת עֵצָה זוֹ נִקְרֵאת "נֶצַח" וְ"הוֹד",

These [attributes] are “the kidneys that advise,”34 in a manner similar to their physical counterpart,

שֶׁהֵן "כְּלָיוֹת יוֹעֲצוֹת";

and they are also (in spiritual terms) the two testicles that prepare the spermatozoa,35

וְגַם [נוסח אחר: וְהֵן] "תְּרֵין בֵּיעִין", הַמְבַשְּׁלִים הַזֶּרַע,

Like their physical counterpart, the attributes of netzach and hod adapt the effusion of the concept.

i.e., the drop that issues from the brain.36

שֶׁהִיא הַטִּפָּה הַנִּמְשֶׁכֶת מֵהַמּוֹחַ,

That is, [they adapt] an intellectual subject deriving from the father’s mind in such a way that it will not issue unmodified, i.e., as a very subtle concept in his brain and intellect,

דְּהַיְינוּ דְּבַר חָכְמָה וָשֵׂכֶל הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מִשֵּׂכֶל הָאָב, שֶׁלֹּא יוּמְשַׁךְ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא שֵׂכֶל דַּק מְאֹד בְּמוֹחוֹ וְשִׂכְלוֹ,

but that it change somewhat from the subtlety of his intelligence and become a somewhat less subtle concept,

רַק יִשְׁתַּנֶּה קְצָת מִדַּקּוּת שִׂכְלוֹ וְיִתְהַוֶּוה שֵׂכֶל שֶׁאֵינוֹ דַק כָּל כָּךְ,

so that the son will be able to absorb [it] in his mind and understanding.

כְּדֵי שֶׁיּוּכַל הַבֵּן לְקַבֵּל בְּמוֹחוֹ וַהֲבָנָתוֹ,

This is truly analogous to the seminal drop which descends from the brain;

וְהוּא מַמָּשׁ, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּטִפָּה הַיּוֹרֶדֶת מֵהַמּוֹחַ

it is extremely tenuous, and, through the kidneys and the two testicles, it becomes truly concrete and corporeal.

שֶׁהִיא דַקָּה מְאֹד [מְאֹד], וְנַעֲשֵׂית גַּסָּה וְחוּמְרִית מַמָּשׁ בַּכְּלָיוֹת וּתְרֵין בֵּיעִין.

This process parallels the progressive concretization of a concept as it descends to match the capacity of the recipient.

The Alter Rebbe now speaks of yet another function of the attributes of netzach and hod—separating a concept into its various components.

Netzach and hod are also referred to as “grinders” and “millstones” because they “grind the mannah for the righteous,”37 like the heaven which is named Shechakim (שְׁחָקִים), for it “grinds (שּׁוֹחֲקִים) the mannah for the righteous.”

וְגַם "נֶצַח" וְ"הוֹד" נִקְרָאִים "שְׁחָקִים" וְ"רֵחַיִים" שֶׁ"שּׁוֹחֲקִים מָן לַצַּדִּיקִים",

Just as, by way of example, a person who grinds [wheat]38 with millstones crumbles it into very fine parts,

כְּמוֹ, הַטּוֹחֵן [חִטִּים] בָּרֵחַיִים, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, שֶׁמְּפָרֵר הַחִטִּים לַחֲלָקִים דַּקִּים מְאֹד,

so, too, does the father need to taper the insight or the intellectual subject he wishes to convey to his son,

כָּךְ צָרִיךְ הָאָב לְהַקְטִין הַשֵּׂכֶל וּדְבַר חָכְמָה שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ לִבְנוֹ,

and to divide them into many parts, relating [them] to him gradually, with devices and discernment.

וּלְחַלְּקָם לַחֲלָקִים רַבִּים וְלוֹמַר לוֹ מְעַט מְעַט בְּמוֹעֵצוֹת וָדַעַת.

Dividing a concept in this way so as to be able to determine what should be presented and what should be withheld is a contraction of the concept’s depth. Thus, netzach and hod serve to contract its length, breadth, and depth—the concept in all its dimensions.

The category of netzach also comprises prevailing39 and standing up against anything, from within or from without, that withholds from his son the transmission of beneficial influence or learning.

וְגַם בִּכְלַל בְּחִינַת "נֶצַח" הוּא לְנַצֵּחַ וְלַעֲמוֹד נֶגֶד כָּל מוֹנֵעַ הַהַשְׁפָּעָה וְהַלִּימּוּד מִבְּנוֹ מִבַּיִת וּמִחוּץ,

“From within” means firmly resisting the attribute of gevurah and tzimtzum within the father himself,

מִבַּיִת – הַיְינוּ לְהִתְחַזֵּק נֶגֶד מִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה וְהַצִּמְצוּם שֶׁבָּאָב עַצְמוֹ,

for it arouses (within his will) contentions against his son,

שֶׁהִיא מְעוֹרֶרֶת דִּינִים בִּרְצוֹנוֹ עַל בְּנוֹ,

arguing that he is not yet fit for this [profound knowledge].

לוֹמַר שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָאוּי לְכָךְ עֲדַיִין

There now follows a parenthetical note in the text which states:

(A note in the manuscripts: Omission.)

(בכתב יד נרשם: חָסֵר)

I.e., according to some of the manuscripts which were compared to the previous printed editions of Iggeret Hakodesh when the current edition was being prepared for publication,40 there is an omission here in the text.

The Rebbe notes that prevailing over influences “from without” is even more important to explain than prevailing over influences “from within.” The fact that this explanation is lacking points to an omission in the text.

In addition: According to the translation offered above that “The category of netzach also comprises…,” there is nothing amiss in the Alter Rebbe’s failure to explain a corresponding aspect within hod, for hod comprises no such corresponding aspect. However, the translation may also be rendered: “In general, the category of netzach also entails….” If this is indeed the proper rendition, then the question arises, why was there no corresponding statement as to the general function of hod? Its absence likewise demonstrates that there is an omission in the text.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain the attribute of yesod.

The category of yesod is, by way of example, the bond by which the father binds his intellect to the intellect of his son

וּבְחִינַת "יְסוֹד" הִיא, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, הַהִתְקַשְּׁרוּת שֶׁמְּקַשֵּׁר הָאָב שִׂכְלוֹ בְּשֵׂכֶל בְּנוֹ

while teaching him with love and willingness, for he wishes his son to understand.

בִּשְׁעַת לִמּוּדוֹ עִמּוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה וְרָצוֹן, שֶׁרוֹצֶה שֶׁיָּבִין בְּנוֹ;

Without this [bond], even if the son would hear the very same words from the mouth of his father [41as he speaks and studies to himself],

וּבִלְעֲדֵי זֶה, גַּם אִם הָיָה הַבֵּן שׁוֹמֵעַ דִּבּוּרִים אֵלּוּ עַצְמָם מִפִּי אָבִיו [שֶׁמְּדַבֵּר בַּעֲדוֹ וְלוֹמֵד לְעַצְמוֹ]

he would not understand [them] as well as now,

לֹא הָיָה מֵבִין כָּל כָּךְ כְּמוֹ עַכְשָׁיו,

when his father binds his intellect to him and speaks with him face-to-face42 with love and desire, because he desires very much that his son understand.

שֶׁאָבִיו מְקַשֵּׁר שִׂכְלוֹ אֵלָיו וּמְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים בְּאַהֲבָה וָחֵשֶׁק, שֶׁחוֹשֵׁק מְאֹד שֶׁיָּבִין בְּנוֹ,

The father does not merely want to enlighten his son; his desire stemming from yesod is powerful because it is driven by pleasure.

[43In the holy handwriting of the Tzemach Tzedek, of blessed memory, (in the discourse entitled Ki Yedaativ, sec. 13,44 where this passage is quoted,) the above words (“as he speaks and studies to himself”) are not to be found.]

[בכתב יד קודש אדמו"ר בעל צמח צדק נשמתו עדן, (בדרוש "כי ידעתיו" סעיף י"ג שהועתק שם לשון זה) – ליתא תיבות אלו]

The reason for this omission: Not only is there a difference between (a) what the son passively absorbs when he hears his father studying independently and (b) what he absorbs when his father actively teaches him, but even when the father is actually teaching, the presence or absence of the quality of yesod will determine whether or not his son’s mind will be ignited by the fire of his own desire to communicate.

And the greater the desire and delight of the father, the greater is the influence and the learning,45

וְכָל מַה שֶּׁהַחֵשֶׁק וְהַתַּעֲנוּג גָּדוֹל, כָּךְ הַהַשְׁפָּעָה וְהַלִּימּוּד גָּדוֹל,

because then the son is able to absorb more and the father communicates more, proportionally.

שֶׁהַבֵּן – יוּכַל לְקַבֵּל יוֹתֵר, וְהָאָב – מַשְׁפִּיעַ יוֹתֵר,

For through the desire and delight, and with a contented disposition, his own insight is heightened and amplified so that he can bestow enlightenment upon his son and teach him.

כִּי עַל־יְדֵי הַחֵשֶׁק וְהַתַּעֲנוּג, מִתְרַבֶּה וּמִתְגַּדֵּל שִׂכְלוֹ בְּהַרְחָבַת הַדַּעַת לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ וּלְלַמֵּד לִבְנוֹ

(46This parallels, to draw a metaphor from [the attribute of yesod in] the sphere of the truly physical, the profusion of spermatozoa that results from heightened desire and delight,

(וּכְמוֹ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת מַמָּשׁ, רִבּוּי הַזֶּרַע הוּא מֵרוֹב הַחֵשֶׁק וְהַתַּעֲנוּג,

through which much is elicited from the brain, which is its source.

וְעַל־יְדֵי זֶה מַמְשִׁיךְ הַרְבֵּה מֵהַמּוֹחַ,

This is why the Kabbalists, seeking to illustrate the imparting of knowledge out of a sense of pleasure, used the analogy of a physical union, for there are a number of similarities between these two expressions of the attribute of yesod, as will be explained.)47

וְלָכֵן הִמְשִׁילוּ חַכְמֵי הָאֱמֶת לְזִיוּוּג גַּשְׁמִי, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר).