The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say that when the radiance descends in the third manner, it is manifest only in creatures of the lowest order, those deriving from the element of Earth, this element being lower than the other elements of Fire, Air, and Water. And it is mainly within the physical earth that the Divine power of creating yesh from ayin is revealed. This power derives from the essence of the Ein Sof-light; it is primarily found in the encompassing light and is revealed through the kav, the inner light.

This becomes apparent in the ability of the earth to make things grow: the physical growth of vegetative matter from the spiritual power of growth found in the earth is a clear demonstration of yesh resulting from ayin. Furthermore, the earth reveals this power constantly: it constantly produces vegetation as yesh from ayin. In this, it differs from all living things that were created during the Six Days of Creation. Unlike all living things which, once created, simply reproduce, the earth consistently continues to reveal its creative power of yesh from ayin.

Thus, though the radiance within the earth is merely a “radiance of a radiance of a radiance,” it nevertheless demonstrates G-d’s creative power because it comprises both the encompassing light and the light of the kav, which activates the power of the encompassing light to create and animate created beings.

The Alter Rebbe also explains that the distinctive power described above was revealed specifically within the earth because Earth is the lowest element of all. For, as explained above, it is specifically at the lowliest level of creation that the “rebounding light” manifests the essence of the original illumination with superior intensity.

Furthermore, in addition to all that was mentioned above,48

וְעוֹד זֹאת, יֶתֶר עַל כֵּן עַל כָּל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

the radiance of the radiance of the radiance, which descends into a created being utterly concealed, being then neither the mahut nor the metziut of Divinity, and nevertheless containing both the inner illumination of the kav and the encompassing light,

הֶאָרָה דְהֶאָרָה דְהֶאָרָה,

and all the above, i.e., the manner in which both these levels of illumination ultimately radiate within created beings,

וְכָל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

demonstrates its power and ability, inasmuch as it is a G-dly radiation descending from malchut of Atzilut, in the element of the physical Earth in an immense manifestation

הִיא מַרְאָה כֹּחָהּ וִיכָלְתָּהּ בִּיסוֹד הֶעָפָר הַגַּשְׁמִי בְּגִילּוּי עָצוּם,

surpassing [that of] the elements (viz., Fire, Air, and Water) that transcend it, and even the heavenly hosts,

בְּיֶתֶר עֹז מִיסוֹדוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנִים מִמֶּנּוּ, וְגַם מִצְּבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם,

for they do not have it in their power and ability to constantly bring forth something from nothing (yesh me’ayin),

שֶׁאֵין בְּכֹחָם וִיכָלְתָּם לְהוֹצִיא יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן תָּמִיד,

like the element of Earth that constantly makes something (yesh) sprout from nothing (ayin), namely the herbs and trees that constantly grow from the earth’s vegetative power.

כִּיסוֹד הֶעָפָר הַמַּצְמִיחַ תָּמִיד יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן, הֵם עֲשָׂבִים וְאִילָנוֹת

Even those plants that result from sowing and planting are produced in a manner that resembles yesh me’ayin, for the seed or seedling disintegrates and serves merely to arouse the vegetative power.

(49As for the mazal, the individual angel of destiny, “that strikes [each herb] and says, ‘Grow!’”—

(וְהַמַּזָּל הַמַּכֶּה וְאוֹמֵר "גְּדַל",

Our Sages teach that “there is no blade of grass below that does not have a mazal above that strikes it and says to it, ‘Grow!’”50 Would it not seem, then, that in addition to the earth’s vegetative power, there is another factor in growth?

this takes place [only] after the plant has already sprouted.

הַיְינוּ לְאַחַר שֶׁכְּבָר צָמַח הָעֵשֶׂב,

Once the plant exists as a created entity, it merely has to grow taller, the tree has to produce fruit with a certain taste, and so on—and these stages relate to the mazal.

The mazal does not tell it to sprout ex nihilo into substantiality but only to grow from being small to being large or to bear fruit of its own particular species.

וְאֵינוֹ אוֹמֵר לוֹ לִצְמוֹחַ מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ אֶלָּא מִקּוֹטֶן לְגוֹדֶל, וְלָשֵׂאת פְּרִי כָּל מִין וּמִין בִּפְרָטֵי פְּרָטִיּוּת.

In Or Hatorah,51 the Tzemach Tzedek explains that the mazal sends forth an arousal to the power of growth that is found within the grass or tree, causing it to grow. The basic cause of growth, however, lies in the abovementioned vegetative power.

Elsewhere,52 the Tzemach Tzedek explains that the above-quoted “smiting” means that the mazal illumines the particular tree or grass with which it is connected, causing it to be drawn to its source and hence to grow ever larger.

For before it sprouts, to whom would the individual mazal of each particular herb ordain all its details?)

אֲבָל בְּטֶרֶם יִצְמַח לְמִי יֹאמַר כָּל מַזָּל וּמַזָּל לְכָל עֵשֶׂב וְעֵשֶׂב בִּפְרָטֵי פְּרָטִיּוּת)

[The abovementioned plants of the earth grow, then,] from the vegetative property within it, which is insubstantial and spiritual, while they are physical.

מֵהַכֹּחַ הַצּוֹמֵחַ שֶׁבּוֹ, שֶׁהוּא אַיִן וְרוּחָנִי, וְהֵם גַּשְׁמִיִּים.

What we have here, then, is yesh from ayin, which, as explained above, derives from the essence of the Ein Sof and finds expression in the element of Earth. Why specifically there?

This is so only because the “feet” of adam kadmon culminate at the lowest level of Asiyah,

וְאֵין זֹאת, אֶלָּא מִשּׁוּם דְּרַגְלֵי "אָדָם קַדְמוֹן" מִסְתַּיְּימִים בְּתַחְתִּית עֲשִׂיָּה,

The “feet” (i.e., the last and lowliest levels) of adam kadmon, the Primordial Thought that encompasses all the levels of creation, concludes in the lowest degrees of the nethermost world, the World of Asiyah, and specifically, in the lowly element of Earth within it.

And “below His feet,” i.e., below the lowest levels of adam kadmon, radiates the [infinite] Ein Sof-light which encircles (i.e., transcends) all worlds,

וְתַחַת רַגְלָיו מֵאִיר אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַסּוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין,

At the very “place” at which there ceases the indwelling Divine illumination that permeates all the worlds, there begins the “encompassing” degree of Divine light that transcends all the worlds.

without any great interruption between them, except for the Iggulim of adam kadmon alone.

בְּלִי הֶפְסֵק רַב בֵּינֵיהֶם, רַק עִיגּוּלֵי "אָדָם קַדְמוֹן" לְבַדּוֹ.

The Primordial Thought of adam kadmon consists of two modes of illumination—yosher (lit., “straightness,” i.e., a permeating mode) and Iggulim (lit., “circles,” i.e., a transcendent mode). Where the former mode ceases and there remains only the latter (which is not absolute infinity like the Ein-Sof light that transcends all worlds), there is found the absolutely infinite illumination of the Ein-Sof light that transcends all worlds equally.

Also, the kav of the Ein Sof-light, culminating at the end of the “feet” of adam kadmon, radiates from below upward, in a mode of or chozer, a reflected light.

וְגַם הַ"קַּו" מֵאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף הַמִּסְתַּיֵּים בְּסִיּוּם רַגְלֵי "אָדָם קַדְמוֹן" מֵאִיר מִמַּטָּה לְמַעְלָה בִּבְחִינַת "אוֹר חוֹזֵר",

As mentioned above, this is a light that rebounds upward with increased intensity from a surface which blocks its further downward progress. Hence, for example, the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface is warmer than the atmosphere in altitudes which are nearer to the sun. In the same way, when the beam of the kav, whose function is to infuse the inner reaches of all created beings with Divine light, reaches the furthest stages of the Divine thought that encompasses all worlds and created beings, it bounces back with sharper impetus: it is now an or chozer.

This is like the investment [of the kav] in arich anpin, abba and imma, and za and nukva of Atzilut, which radiates as an or chozer from malchut of Atzilut,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהַמְלוּבָּשׁ בַּ"אֲרִיךְ אַנְפִּין" וְ"אַבָּא וְאִמָּא" וּ"זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא" דַּאֲצִילוּת – מֵאִיר בְּאוֹר חוֹזֵר מִמַּלְכוּת דַּאֲצִילוּת,

and malchut of Atzilut, [if the sefirot are considered] from below upward, is [thus] a category of keter, as mentioned earlier in this epistle,

וּמַלְכוּת דַּאֲצִילוּת הִיא בְּחִינַת כֶּתֶר מִמַּטָּה לְמַעְלָה,

and “their beginning is wedged in their culmination.”

וְ"נָעוּץ תְּחִלָּתָן בְּסוֹפָן".

With regard to malchut, this means that the “beginning” of keter, which is loftier than chochmah, is to be found within malchut. With regard to the kav, it means that the “beginning” of the kav is wedged in the culmination of the “feet of adam kadmon,” which ends in the nethermost levels of the World of Asiyah, in the element of Earth.

Since the purpose of the kav is to reveal Divinity, the element of Earth best reveals that aspect of G-d’s infinity which expresses itself in creating yesh from ayin, as the Alter Rebbe now concludes.

It is likewise at the culmination of the kav of the Ein Sof-light, culminating at the ending of the yosher of the “feet” of adam kadmon:

וְכָכָה הוּא בְּסִיּוּם הַ"קַּו" דְּאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף הַמִּסְתַּיֵּים בְּסִיּוּם הַ"יּוֹשֶׁר" דְּרַגְלֵי "אָדָם קַדְמוֹן"

I.e., when the “feet” of the lowest levels of adam kadmon descend into the interior of the various levels all the way down to the very lowest level, the element of Earth at the lowest level of Asiyah

it (i.e., the kav) [then] radiates from below upward, from the glimmer of a glimmer of a glimmer that is found within the physical earth to the category of the light of the neshamah of the malchut of the malchut of Asiyah,

מֵאִיר מִמַּטָּה לְמַעְלָה לִבְחִינַת אוֹר הַנְּשָׁמָה דְּמַלְכוּת דְּמַלְכוּת דַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

This light, the light of the neshamah, is in fact the lowest level of spirituality within Asiyah. For Asiyah is the lowest of the worlds; malchut is the final sefirah within Asiyah; and of the ten component sefirot that comprise malchut, “malchut of malchut” is the lowest.

Nevertheless, since it is, after all, the light of the neshamah, which is actual Divinity, as the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say.

which is actual Divinity, originating in the chitzoniyut (the exterior aspect) of the kelim of malchut of Atzilut, which, as said above, becomes the “light of the neshamah of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.”

שֶׁהוּא אֱלֹקוּת מַמָּשׁ, מֵחִיצוֹנִיּוּת הַכֵּלִים דְּמַלְכוּת דַּאֲצִילוּת.

In this lowest level of the light of the neshamah, that which is in Asiyah, there is found the illumination of the final degrees of Asiyah (i.e., that which in created beings is the final level), and this “enables” the Ein Sof to reveal its capacity for creating yesh from ayin as demonstrated in the above-described constant power of growth.

According to the statement in ch. 20 of Sefer Hagilgulim, cited in Likkutei Amarim,53

וּלְפִי מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּ"סֵפֶר הַגִּלְגּוּלִים" פֶּרֶק כ', הוּבָא בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים –

this radiance from the kav of the [infinite] Ein Sof-light vests itself first in the light of Atzilut in Asiyah,

מִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת תְּחִלָּה הֶאָרָה זוֹ שֶׁל הַ"קַּו" דְּאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בְּאוֹר הָאֲצִילוּת שֶׁבַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

and from there to the Beriah and Yetzirah in Asiyah,

וּמִמֶּנָּה לִבְרִיאָה וִיצִירָה שֶׁבַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

and from them to the category of the light of the neshamah of the malchut of the malchut of Asiyah.

וּמֵהֶן לִבְחִינַת אוֹר הַנְּשָׁמָה דְּמַלְכוּת דְּמַלְכוּת דַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

From this derives the [creative] power and force in the culmination of the keli of the malchut of malchut of Asiyah, i.e., the lowest degree and sefirah of Asiyah, within the element of Earth.

וְעַל־יְדֵי זֶה יֵשׁ כֹּחַ וָעוֹז בְּסִיּוּם הַכְּלִי דְּמַלְכוּת דְּמַלְכוּת דַּעֲשִׂיָּה שֶׁבִּיסוֹד הֶעָפָר,

This is the constant and everlasting effect, throughout the earth, of the creative utterance, “Let the earth bring forth herbs…,”54 this fiat being the source of the power of vegetative growth

וְהוּא מַאֲמַר "תַּדְשֵׁא הָאָרֶץ וְכוּ'", לִהְיוֹת פּוֹעֵל בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ תָּמִיד לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד

(55in a mode of infinitude,

(בְּחִינַת אֵין־סוֹף,

Not only is the capacity for growth an instance of yesh me’ayin and a result of G-d’s infinitude: the same is true of its constant recurrence.

and not only during the Six Days of Creation, as with the fiat, “Let the waters bring forth [an abundance of creeping creatures],”56 and the fiat, “Let the earth bring forth living beings.”57

וְלֹא בִּלְבַד בְּשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית, כְּמַאֲמַר "יִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם", וּמַאֲמַר "תּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה",

Ever since these one-time creative utterances, every living being derives from another, and not ex nihilo from the earth or water.

[These fiats derive] from the chochmah of the malchut of the malchut of Asiyah.

מֵחָכְמָה דְּמַלְכוּת דְּמַלְכוּת דַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

For during the Seven Days of the Beginning there shone in this world a radiance from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light in a mode of gratuitous kindness,

שֶׁבְּז' יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית הֵאִיר בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הֶאָרָה מֵאוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בְּ"חֶסֶד חִנָּם",

without any [prior] elevation of mayin nukvin at all.)

בְּלִי הַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין" כְּלָל),

During those days, there was no spontaneous arousal initiated from the world below, in the form of Divine service on the part of the “female” or recipient element, in order to elicit a reciprocal arousal from above. (After these seven days, however, G-d ordained that henceforth, there must first be an arousal initiated from below.) By virtue of the gratuitous and unearned Divine kindness of those first seven days, each of the above-quoted fiats (“Let the water bring forth…” and “Let the earth bring forth…”) effectively brought about an instance of creation ex nihilo, of yesh from ayin.

The fiat “Let the earth sprout forth…,” by contrast, operates constantly:

to make grasses and trees and fruits sprout ex nihilo into substantiality, constantly, year by year.58

לְהַצְמִיחַ עֲשָׂבִים וְאִילָנוֹת וּפֵירוֹת מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ תָּמִיד מִדֵּי שָׁנָה בְּשָׁנָה,

This [constancy] is a kind of infinity,

שֶׁהוּא מֵעֵין בְּחִינַת "אֵין־סוֹף",

for if this world were to exist for myriads of myriads of years, they would still sprout forth from year to year.

שֶׁאִם יִתְקַיֵּים עוֹלָם הַזֶּה רִיבּוּי רִבְבוֹת שָׁנִים – יַצְמִיחוּ מִדֵּי שָׁנָה בְּשָׁנָה.

There are, though, some [plants, trees, and fruit] that result from a [prior] “elevation of mayin nukvin,” i.e., whose seeds serve as the abovementioned arousal from below, which calls forth the power of vegetative growth within the earth, namely, those which are sown and planted.

אֶלָּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ מֵהֶן עַל־יְדֵי הַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין", וְהֵם הַזְּרוּעִים וְהַנְּטוּעִים,

Nevertheless, these [too] are like yesh me’ayin,

וְאַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, הֵם כְּמוֹ יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן,

for the planted seed is of no estimation whatsoever in relation to the fruit nor in relation to the whole tree with the branches and leaves.

שֶׁהַגַּרְעִין הַנָּטוּעַ אֵין לוֹ עֵרֶךְ כְּלָל לְגַבֵּי הַפְּרִי, וְגַם נֶגֶד כָּל הָאִילָן עִם הָעֲנָפִים וְהֶעָלִין,

Whereas the difference between the fruit and its source in the kernel is mainly qualitative (as in the taste, for example), the difference between the kernel and the resultant tree is more quantitative.

By both of these criteria, then, the growth of a tree from a seed possesses an element of yesh me’ayin.

The same applies to the various species of seeds and vegetables and to the various species of grain: That hundreds of kernels should come into being from a single kernel resembles yesh me’ayin,

וְכֵן בְּמִינֵי זֵרְעוֹנִים וִירָקוֹת, וְגַם בְּמִינֵי תְּבוּאָה לְהִתְהַוּוֹת מֵאוֹת גַּרְעִינִין מִגַּרְעִין אֶחָד, הוּא כְּמוֹ יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן,

and how much more so, with respect to their straw and spikes, which are so much more different from the parent kernel, and thus even more conspicuously come into being as if “from nothing.”

וּמִכָּל שֶׁכֵּן הַקַּשִּׁין וְהַשִּׁבֳּלִים.

Now,59 these fruits that [grow] by means of an “elevation of mayin nukvin,” i.e., by sowing and planting, are far, far superior to those that come up independently, only from the vegetative property in the soil.

וְהִנֵּה, הַפֵּירוֹת שֶׁעַל־יְדֵי הַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין", הִיא הַזְּרִיעָה וְהַנְּטִיעָה – הֵם מְשׁוּבָּחִים מְאֹד מְאֹד מֵהָעוֹלִים מֵאֲלֵיהֶן מִכֹּחַ הַצּוֹמֵחַ לְבַדּוֹ שֶׁבָּאָרֶץ,

And from this, we will be able to understand [the concept of] the elicitation of the supernal orot, the Divine illuminations, [that are drawn down] in the Worlds of Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah,

וּמִזֶּה נַשְׂכִּיל הַמְשָׁכוֹת אוֹרוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים בַּאֲצִילוּת־בְּרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

The lights that are drawn down to this world in response to man’s Divine service surpass by far the lights that are granted through “an arousal from above” as an unearned gift.

(60which is the ultimate purpose for the creation of man,)

(שֶׁהוּא תַּכְלִית בְּרִיאַת הָאָדָם),

as is explained elsewhere.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר.