Nevertheless, there is still a need for explanation. As discussed above, the different degrees in the revelation of the Divine light do not produce any change within G‑d, for nothing can conceal Him; He is present in the lower realms as in the higher realms. There remains, however, [a basic question]: Does not the very existence of the worlds represent a change? Before [creation] there were no worlds, and creation brought into being many worlds. On the surface, this would appear to constitute a change.

This concept can be explained as follows: Were the worlds, in truth, to have a separate and independent existence, it would be possible to say that [their creation] produces a change in the One who brought them into being, heaven forbid. Nevertheless, although [the created beings of] this world appear as separate, individual entities, this is not the case. In truth, each created being is totally nullified to G‑dliness. We may see it as a yesh, but in truth it is totally nullified to G‑dliness and is not a yesh at all. Hence, the existence of the worlds does not produce any change within Him.

To elaborate: It is written, “The heavens were made through the speech of Havayah.”9 I.e., the heavens were brought into being through the medium of the statement, “Let there be heavens.”1 [ G‑d’s use of this medium is not only a matter of past history. On the contrary:] It is written, “Forever, O G‑d, Your word stands within the heavens.”2 [This statement conveys a deep message:] It is necessary that G‑d’s word remain within the heavens continuously. If [G‑d’s speech] were to withdraw, the heavens would immediately return to emptiness and void, ceasing to exist.3

The same applies to each and every created entity. The Divine power, the letters of [G‑d’s] speech which bring it into being, must constantly be enclothed within each created thing. If, heaven forbid, [this power] would withdraw, the created thing would become nothingness and void.

To illustrate [the latter point]: The manner in which the worlds are brought into being from the Or Ein Sof does not resemble the fashioning of an article by a craftsman. When the craftsman completes his work and the article leaves his hands, it continues to exist. This is so because the craftsman did not effect a change in the article’s fundamental existence when he determined its current form. Beforehand it existed as raw material, and afterwards it was made into a [useful] article. This process did not effect a fundamental change [in the substance of the article itself]. Even if [the craftsman] had added another material to the gold or silver [he was using], he merely added another entity that already existed. The article that was fashioned can exist without the craftsman because it was an entity even before he made it into an article.

In contrast, G‑d’s creation of the world involves bringing something into being from absolute nothingness. The existence of entities which are yesh is an absolutely novel occurrence.

[This contrast can be clarified by a comparison between] (a) a series of causes and effects, and (b) creation ex nihilo. [In both cases, a new entity is brought into being from a source.] There is, however, a difference between the two. In a chain of cause and effect, the revelation of the effect does not represent the emergence of an entirely new entity. It existed previously within its source, and its emergence as an independent entity is merely a process of revealing that which was hidden, [actualizing an already existent potential].

[The relationship between] intellect and emotion [provides us with an example of this process]. The emotion existed within the intellect [in a potential state, although] its existence was not felt as powerfully [as when it emerged as an emotion within the heart]. Thus, the emergence of this feeling within the heart is a revelation of something hidden. What had already existed within one’s mind, now becomes revealed within one’s heart. Thus, this does not reflect an entirely new entity coming into being.

In contrast, in the process of creation ex nihilo, the existence of [the created being as a] yesh represents a fundamentally new phenomenon. All metaphysicians agree that there is no greater example of creation ex nihilo than bringing into existence a material [world] from [its] spiritual [source].4 It represents bringing into being existence from nothingness.

Existence and nothingness are polar opposites: it is impossible that existence should ever result from nothingness. If so, the fact that existence came into being from nothingness represents an entirely new occurrence for which there was no potential originally.

[An example is] the growth of grain or fruit (after the seed has degenerated) from the latent power of growth within the earth. This represents a totally new state of affairs. The existence of a physical fruit or physical grain did not exist within the earth’s vegetative property. Even though this property produced [such a growth], the fruit as it exists in a physical form did not exist within it: the growth of the fruit represents something coming into being from nothing. Similarly, [on a larger scale,] bringing the worlds into existence ex nihilo represents the emergence of an entirely new entity.

It is indeed unquestionable that everything that has ever come into being was originally included within its source: that which was not potential cannot become actual; therefore, the fact that the worlds have come into being, implies that they [existed] beforehand [and] were included in their source.

[This does not, however, pose a difficulty to the above explanation of the uniqueness of the creation of the universe ex nihilo.] For though created beings were previously included in their source, this does not refer to the actual form of yesh in which they exist. It was merely the spiritual dimension of the created worlds that was incorporated within their source. [Their material form, their yesh, is a totally new development.]

When a person builds a house, by way of analogy, [the actual work is preceded by several preliminary stages]. At first his will is stirred to build a house. Afterwards he plans exactly how to build it, and only later does the actual construction take place. Now it is true that without the desire and the thought, the actual construction of the house would never have come about. Nevertheless, the wood, stones and cement, which constitute the substance of the house, did not exist within the person’s mind at all. Although he considered these aspects too, [in his mind, he conceived] only the abstract form of the house. Its actual physical existence did not exist previously.

A similar principle applies regarding the existence of the worlds in their source. What exists there is only their spiritual blueprint. Their material state did not exist previously, and when this [material state] comes into being, it represents an utterly new entity. Indeed, for that reason we use the expression, “bringing the worlds into being.”5

This expression implies a gap,6 i.e., a radical difference between two incomparable levels — between the One who brings existence into being and the existence which He creates. [Here also we see a contrast to a cause-and-effect relationship.] A cause and the effect it produces share a commonalty (and therefore one can be incorporated in the other, as explained above). Thus, such a series progresses in an ordered manner and at an even pace. In contrast, yesh and ayin, the physical and the spiritual, [are drastic opposites,] for the physical is not at all at the level of the spiritual. Therefore, bringing the physical into being from the spiritual does not represent an ordered progression, but rather a momentous leap.

Based on the above, we can understand why the ayin, [the spiritual source,] which brings into being the yesh, [the material,] must constantly be invested within it. Since the existence of yesh represents a new entity that did not exist previously, it is impossible for it to continue to exist unless its source is constantly invested within it. Were this source to withdraw, heaven forbid, the yesh would cease to exist and become void and nothingness.

To portray this concept with an example: The nature of a stone is to fall downward. When a stone is thrown downward, it will thus continue to proceed on its own accord without stopping unless there is something which prevents it from falling. In contrast, when a stone is thrown upward, it falls downward almost immediately afterwards.

[How is this difference explained? The stone’s] upward progress counters its nature; it is a new development caused by the person who threw it. Consequently, as long as the power of the person who threw the stone encompasses it and propels it upwards, it will continue to ascend. As soon as this force which caused this new development ceases, however, it reverts to its basic nature and falls downward.

A similar concept can be understood in regard to [the existence of] the worlds: Their existence in the form of yesh is a new development, the opposite of the manner in which they exist within their source, for, as explained above, they existed within their source on the level of potential, as spiritual entities. Therefore, it is necessary that the source which causes the change [in their form of existence] be invested within them at all times; [only] then can their existence be maintained. If [the source] would withdraw, heaven forbid, this new development would cease and they would become nothingness and void as they were before they were created.

This is the concept conveyed by the verse, “Forever, O G‑d, Your word stands within the heavens.” The word of G‑d must constantly be within the heavens [to maintain their existence]. The same applies likewise to all created things. Were this not to be the case, they would return to being nothingness and void, heaven forbid.

The fact that the essential existence of each created entity is the word of G‑d which brings it into being, should lead us to a deeper concept — to comprehend that the essence of the created entity throughout the entire time that it exists is the word of G‑d that maintains its existence. Were this Divine influence to withdraw, the created entity would become nothingness and void and would cease to exist entirely. Even at present, therefore, while it does exist, the totality of its existence is G‑d’s speech, i.e., [His] light and radiance. This is the total existence of all created beings; they are not independent entities as they appear to us.

For example, the existence of a physical tree stems from the Divine statement, “[Let the earth give forth...] fruit-bearing trees.”7 This statement brings a tree into being. At all times, it is invested within a tree to grant it life and bring it into being from ayin to yesh. If this creative utterance would withdraw momentarily, [the tree] would become nothingness and void and would not exist at all, precisely as was the case before creation. Thus, at present, while the tree exists, its true existence is merely this Divine statement, and not the state of yesh alone.

Were our eyes given permission to see, they would observe how the existence of each entity is nullified entirely,8 i.e, how its entire existence is the word of G‑d, as explained above. It is only because we have eyes of flesh that we cannot perceive this in actual sight. (This is the will of G‑d, that [we be created] in this manner, [to exist as a yesh and] for that yesh to nullify itself to the ayin.) Nevertheless, with the eye of the mind, we should perceive how every physical entity which we see is not [merely] a material entity, but is [an expression of] Divine speech. This should be perceived and felt as powerfully as if one actually saw it with one’s eyes. (Note the maamar beginning Vayehi Li Shor VaChamor, 5643.9 )

In truth, there is a deeper level at which one can understand the nature of the bittul [of created beings], their self-effacement to the point that they lose any independent identity. As explained above, the essence of the Ein Sof is present in the lower realms as in the higher realms, as it is written, “I fill the heavens and the earth”; so, too, “There is no place devoid of Him.”10 [G‑d’s presence] is merely concealed from us and is not revealed openly. [This state has a positive intent.] Were the radiance [of His presence] to be manifest, [the entire universe] would become nothingness and void. Nevertheless, in a hidden manner, [His essence] is present in the lower realms, just as it is in the higher realms. Moreover, as is discussed above, a ray and reflection from it is drawn down into each created being to give it life.

Thus, in each and every place where the Name Havayah extends to give life to a created being, in that selfsame place is to be found the very Being and Essence of the Or Ein Sof, the source of this [life-giving] light and radiance. It is therefore clear that each created being is completely and utterly batel (i.e., in a state of self-nullification) within the essence of the Ein Sof, just as the rays of the sun which shine to the earth and its inhabitants are utterly batel [as long as they are still] within the sun itself.11 There, [this radiance] cannot be conceived of as a separate entity and cannot even be called light or rays. Rather, they are utterly batel [in their source] and have no independent existence at all. It is only when they radiate outward from the sun that they can be referred to as independent rays, because here their source, the orb of the sun, is not present. While the rays are still within their source, however, as stated above, their identity is so utterly nullified that it is inappropriate to describe them as rays at all.

To explain the spiritual parallel to this concept: Since the Being and Essence of the Ein Sof is present in this lowly plane, in each and every place, and “there is no place devoid of Him,” the light and radiance from the Ein Sof which extends into each creation is thus batel to the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, just as the rays of the sun [cannot be identified as a separate element] within the orb of the sun; there they have no [independent] existence at all.

In the analogy: Only when the rays have extended beyond the sun is it possible to refer to them as independent entities, because they are far from their source. [In contrast,] the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof is found in each and every place where its radiance extends. The radiance [of the Ein Sof] is thus always within its source, for wherever it is, its source, the very Being and Essence of the Ein Sof, is also present. Thus, it so utterly batel that it cannot be referred to as a ray at all.

It has been explained above that the entire existence of each created being is the light and life-energy which extends from the Ein Sof, and the creation is not an independent entity at all. Thus, since the ray [of the Ein Sof] is batel [to the Ein Sof], the created being is also batel, for, as explained above, its entire existence is the Divine radiance [that brings it into being].

Thus, that entire created being is utterly batel to the Essence of the Ein Sof and merely appears to us as a yesh (and this, with the intent that the yesh become batel to the ayin). In truth, it is not a separate entity at all but is utterly and completely batel to the Essence of the Ein Sof.

(This is particularly true in light of the explanation in the maamar beginning Eileh Toldos Noach, 5637,12 which explains that the material form of the creations emanates from the Ein Sof which “encompasses all the worlds” (sovev kol almin). See also the maamar beginning Mi Chamocha.13 )

Synopsis

Though created beings appear to be yesh, entities of independent existence, this is not the case. In truth they are utterly batel, nullified to the point that they retain no independent identity. Their existence stems from a Divine statement. Thus, [for example,] it is written, “Forever, O G‑d, Your word stands within the heavens.” [So, too, it is a Divine creative utterance] which continuously infuses every created being with life-energy and constantly brings it into being ex nihilo.

The rationale for this statement is that the existence [of the created thing] as a yesh is a novel state of being, and every such novelty must have its innovative force continuously invested within it. This is what is meant by the phrase, “In His kindness, He continuously renews each day [the work of creation].”14

If [this Divine influence] would momentarily withdraw, [the creation] would return to nothingness and void as it was before it was created. Thus, even at present, while it exists as an entity, its entire existence is a ray — the word of G‑d [which maintains it]. (See the maamar beginning Mi Chamocha cited above.)

The bittul of all created beings can be understood on a deeper level. (According to what was explained previously, the [true] existence of each creation is not its state of yesh, but rather, the [Divine] radiance [that animates it]. Nevertheless, [from this perspective,] it is still appropriate to use the term radiance. However, [according to the deeper conception of bittul,] it is not appropriate to use the term radiance.) For, as explained above, the Essence of the Ein Sof is to be found in the lower realms as in the higher realms, and it is a reflection and radiance from it which extends within each created being to grant it life. Thus, wherever the radiance extends, there is to be found the Essence of the Ein Sof, the source of this light and radiance. This radiance is thus always within its source. Hence, it can be compared to the radiance of the sun insofar as it exists within the orb of the sun, which at that stage cannot be referred to as radiance at all.

Similarly, the radiance [of the Ein Sof] cannot be referred to as radiance at all. Since the true existence of all created beings is this radiance, they are utterly batel within the Being and Essence of the Ein Sof and cannot be considered to have any independent existence whatever.