Creation effected absolutely no change in the Creator, neither in His Unity nor in His knowledge. This we learn from the verse, “I, Havayah, have not changed,” as the Alter Rebbe explained in the preceding chapter. Though one might assume that by bringing created beings into existence, G-d’s knowledge was supplemented—in that only after their creation did he become aware of them, so to speak—this, in fact, is not so, for G-d’s knowledge is wholly one with G-d Himself.

G-d’s knowledge is thus entirely unlike man’s. Acquired knowledge constitutes an addition to a mortal soul, which is a compound, not a simple and perfect unity. G-d’s Unity, by contrast, is perfect, without any superaddition. Accordingly, His unique manner of knowledge is such that by knowing Himself, He knows all of creation, which derives from Him.

This knowledge of self existed before G-d brought created beings into existence. By knowing them, therefore, nothing at all was added to His previous knowledge. And such a manner of knowledge, concluded the Alter Rebbe, is beyond the comprehension of man.

In the chapter before us, the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain that Maimonides’ statement that “He is the Knowledge…” applies not only to G-d’s knowledge but also to all His other attributes and Names, including His chochmah and will. They are all completely united with G-d Himself.

Now, what Maimonides (of blessed memory) has said1—that the Holy One, blessed be He, His Essence and Being, and His knowledge are completely one, a perfect unity and not a composite at all—

וְהִנֵּה, מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב הָרַמְבַּ"ם זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ וְדַעְתּוֹ הַכֹּל אֶחָד מַמָּשׁ, אַחְדּוּת פְּשׁוּטָה וְלֹא מוּרְכֶּבֶת כְּלָל –

this applies equally to all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and to all His holy Names, and the designations which the Prophets and Sages, of blessed memory have ascribed to Him, such as Gracious, Merciful, Beneficent, and the like.

כֵּן הָעִנְיָן מַמָּשׁ בְּכָל מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, וּבְכָל שְׁמוֹתָיו הַקְּדוֹשִׁים וְהַכִּינּוּיִים שֶׁכִּינּוּ לוֹ הַנְּבִיאִים וַחֲכָמֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה, כְּגוֹן "חַנּוּן" וְ"רַחוּם" וְ"חָסִיד" וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהֶן,

This is also true with respect to His being called Wise, as it is written, “And He is also wise…,”2

וְכֵן מַה שֶּׁנִּקְרָא "חָכָם", דִּכְתִיב: "וְגַם הוּא חָכָם וְגוֹ'",

and likewise with respect to His will, [as it is written,] “G-d desires those who fear Him,”3 and “He wishes to do kindness,”4 and “He desires the repentance of the wicked and does not desire their death and wickedness”5thus, we have verses indicating both what He finds desirable and undesirable; [so, too,] “Your eyes are too pure to behold evil”6yet another thing that He does not desire.

וְכֵן רְצוֹנוֹ "כִּי רוֹצֶה ה' אֶת יְרֵאָיו" וְ"חָפֵץ חֶסֶד הוּא" וְ"רוֹצֶה בִּתְשׁוּבָתָם שֶׁל רְשָׁעִים וְאֵינוֹ חָפֵץ בְּמִיתָתָם וּבְרִשְׁעָתָם" וּ"טְהוֹר עֵינַיִם מֵרְאוֹת בְּרָע",

From the above verses, then, we see that emotions, wisdom, and will are all ascribed to G-d. Nevertheless:

His will and His wisdom and His attribute of kindness and His mercy and His other attributes do not add plurality and composition (G-d forbid) to His Essence and Being,

אֵין רְצוֹנוֹ וְחָכְמָתוֹ וּמִדַּת חַסְדּוֹ וְרַחֲמָנוּתוֹ וּשְׁאָר מִדּוֹתָיו מוֹסִיפִים בּוֹ רִיבּוּי וְהַרְכָּבָה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם בְּמַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ,

but His Being and Essence and His will and wisdom and understanding and knowledge and His attribute of kindness and His might and mercy and beauty, [the last of] which is composed of His kindness and might,

אֶלָּא עַצְמוּתוֹ וּמַהוּתוֹ וּרְצוֹנוֹ וְחָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ וְדַעְתּוֹ, וּמִדַּת חַסְדּוֹ וּגְבוּרָתוֹ, וְרַחֲמָנוּתוֹ וְתִפְאַרְתּוֹ הַכְּלוּלָה מֵחַסְדּוֹ וּגְבוּרָתוֹ,

and likewise His other holy attributes—all the above, comprising his Being and Essence, and his will, and the sefirot of ChaBaD and the middot, constitute an absolutely perfect unity, which is His very Being and Essence.

וְכֵן שְׁאָר מִדּוֹתָיו הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת – הַכֹּל אַחְדּוּת פְּשׁוּטָה מַמָּשׁ, שֶׁהִיא הִיא עַצְמוּתוֹ וּמַהוּתוֹ,

And as Maimonides (of blessed memory) stated, “This [form of unity] wherein G-d’s knowledge and so on is one with G-d Himself is beyond the capacity of the mouth to express, beyond the capacity of the ear to hear, and beyond the capacity of the heart of man to apprehend clearly.”7

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָרַמְבַּ"ם זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁדָּבָר זֶה אֵין כֹּחַ בַּפֶּה לְאָמְרוֹ, וְלֹא בָּאֹזֶן לְשָׁמְעוֹ, וְלֹא בְּלֵב הָאָדָם לְהַכִּירוֹ עַל בּוּרְיוֹ.

For man visualizes in his mind all the concepts which he wishes to conceive and understand—all as they are within himself.

כִּי הָאָדָם מְצַיֵּיר בְּשִׂכְלוֹ כָּל הַמּוּשְׂכָּלוֹת שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְהַשְׂכִּיל וּלְהָבִין – הַכֹּל כְּמוֹת שֶׁהֵם בּוֹ,

For instance, if he wishes to envisage the essence of will, or the essence of wisdom, or of understanding, or of knowledge, or the essence of the attribute of kindness and mercy and the like,

כְּגוֹן שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְצַיֵּיר בְּשִׂכְלוֹ מַהוּת הָרָצוֹן, אוֹ מַהוּת חָכְמָה, אוֹ בִּינָה, אוֹ דַּעַת, אוֹ מַהוּת מִדַּת חֶסֶד וְרַחֲמִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהֶן,

he visualizes them all as they are within himself.

הוּא מְצַיֵּיר כּוּלָּן כְּמוֹת שֶׁהֵן בּוֹ.

Just as this is so with regard to envisaging one’s own intellect and emotions, so, too, regarding an individual’s desire to apprehend Divine Intellect and emotions: he endeavors to do so by envisaging intellect and emotion as they are found within himself.

But in truth, the Holy One, blessed be He, is “high and exalted,”8 and “holy is His Name”9; i.e., His Name, too, is “holy” and set apart (for this is implied by the root קדש).

אֲבָל בֶּאֱמֶת, הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, הוּא רָם וְנִשָּׂא וְקָדוֹשׁ שְׁמוֹ,

That is to say, He is Holy and separated many myriads of degrees of separations ad infinitum, above the quality, type or kind of praises and exaltation which creatures could grasp and conceive in their minds.

כְּלוֹמַר, שֶׁהוּא קָדוֹשׁ וּמוּבְדָּל רִיבּוֹא רְבָבוֹת עַד אֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית מַדְרֵגוֹת הַבְדָּלוֹת, לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מֵעֵרֶךְ וְסוּג וּמִין כָּל הַתִּשְׁבָּחוֹת וְהַמַּעֲלוֹת שֶׁיּוּכְלוּ הַנִּבְרָאִים לְהַשִּׂיג וּלְצַיֵּיר בְּשִׂכְלָם.

It is for this reason that G-d is called the Holy One, blessed be He, for the degree to which He transcends the created universe defies mortal conception.