The relationship between faith in G‑d and the knowledge of Him is explained. The possibility of a dichotomy existing between one’s faith and one’s ordinary thinking processes is clarified.



(ב)

– II –

אַךְ לְהָבִין

It is, however, necessary to understand:

דְּלִכְאוֹרָה יֵשׁ סְתִירָה לִדְבָרֵינוּ אֵלֶּה

Seemingly, there is a contradiction to our statement

שֶׁמְּצִיאַת ה' וֶהֱיוֹתוֹ מְחַיֶּה הָעוֹלָם אֵינוֹ בִּכְלַל אֱמוּנָה

that G‑d’s existence, and the fact that He endows the world with life, is not in the realm of faith

אֶלָּא בִּבְחִינַת דַּעַת מַמָּשׁ

but instead is something that can actually be known,

מִמַּאֲמָר הַיָּדוּעַ בְּזֹהַר דְּלֵית מַחֲשָׁבָה תְּפִיסָא בֵיהּ כְּלָל

from the well-known teaching of the Zohar:1 “No thought can grasp Him at all,”

וּמַשְׁמַע שֶׁאֵין הַנִּבְרָאִים יְכוֹלִים לְהַשִּׂיג אוֹתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּדַעְתָּם וְהַשָּׂגָתָם כְּלָל,

which implies that the created beings cannot grasp G‑d with their knowledge and comprehension at all.

אַךְ הִנֵּה בֶּאֱמֶת אֵין מִזֶּה הֲרִיסָה כְּלָל

In truth, however, there is no contradiction at all,

וְהַכֹּל אֱמֶת וְיַצִּיב,

and everything can be reconciled2

וְהוּא עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב הָרַמְבַּ"ם שֵׁהַבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרֵךְ הוּא הַיָּדוּעַ מְצִיאוּתוֹ וְלֹא מַהוּתוֹ

on the basis of the statement of Rambam3 that the existence (metzius) of the Creator is known, but not the inner nature (mahus) of His Being.

וְכֵן הוּא בְּכָל סִפְרֵי הָאֱמֶת,

This concept is accepted by all the texts of “true knowledge.”4

וְרוֹצֶה לוֹמַר שֶׁאֲנַחְנוּ מִצַּד פְּעֻלּוֹתָיו נֵדַע שֶׁהוּא נִמְצָא

The intent is that as a result of His acts we know that He exists,

אֲבָל אֵינֶנּוּ מַכִּירִים אֵיךְ וּמָה הוּא

but we do not know how and what the nature of His Being is.

וְעַל זֶה כְּתִיב הַחֵקֶר אֱלוֹהַּ תִּמְצָא (אִיּוֹב י"א ז'),

Concerning this it is written (Iyov11:7): “Can an understanding of G‑d be reached?”

וּבֵאוּר עִנְיַן יְדִיעַת הַמְּצִיאוּת וְלֹא הַשָּׂגַת הַמַּהוּת

The explanation of the concept of knowing the existence of – but not comprehending the inner nature of – His Being

מוּבָן גַּם כֵּן בַּמָּשָׁל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

can be understood from the analogy given above,

מִמַּה שֶּׁהָאָדָם יוֹדֵעַ וּמַרְגִּישׁ שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה

that a person knows and feels that he has a living soul

מֵחֲמַת שֶׁרוֹאֶה גוּפוֹ בָּשָׂר וָדָם חַיִּים

from the fact that he sees that his body – its flesh and blood – is alive.

שֶׁזֶּה גַם כֵּן אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא יְדִיעַת הַמְּצִיאוּת בִּלְבָד

This, however, is also merely the knowledge of its existence,

שֶׁזֶּה יָדוּעַ לוֹ בְּבֵרוּר שֶׁנִּמְצָא נֶפֶשׁ בְּגוּפוֹ

i.e., it is clearly known to him that his soul exists within his body,

אֲבָל אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ וּמַכִּיר מַהוּתָהּ וְעַצְמוּתָהּ אֵיךְ וּמַה הִיא,

but he does not know the “how and what” of the nature and the essence of his soul.

וְגַם אֲפִלּוּ אֵיכוּת הִתְלַבְּשׁוּתָהּ בְּגוּפוֹ אֵינֶנּוּ יוֹדֵעַ אֵיךְ הוּא

Moreover, he does not even know the nature of the soul’s enclothement in his body,

הֲגַם שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ בְּבֵרוּר שֶׁמְּלֻבֶּשֶׁת בְּכָל רַמַ"ח אֵיבְרֵי גוּפוֹ

even though he clearly knows that the soul does enclothe itself in all the 248 limbs of his body.

שֶׁהֲרֵי מִיָּד שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה בִּרְצוֹנוֹ לְנַעֲנֵעַ בְּרַגְלוֹ תִּתְנַעֲנֵעַ הָרֶגֶל תֵּכֶף וּמִיָּד בְּלִי שִׁהוּי וְאִחוּר כְּלָל

This is seen from the fact that immediately when it arises in his will to move his foot, his foot will move instantly, without any delay at all.

וְאִלּוּ הָיָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ שׁוֹרֶה בְּמוֹחוֹ וְלִבּוֹ לְבָד

If the soul were to abide within his brain and heart alone,

וּמִשָּׁם הָיָה הָרָצוֹן נִמְשָׁךְ בָּרֶגֶל

and from there the will would be drawn down to the foot

וְאָז תִּתְנַעֲנֵעַ

and only then the foot would move,

הָיָה צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת שְׁהִיַּת זְמַן בָּהּ

an interval would be necessary

שֶׁיִּהְיֶה סִפּוּק לְהִלּוּךְ הָרָצוֹן מִן הַמּוֹחַ לַלֵּב

so that there would be enough time for the will to be drawn down from the mind to the heart.

וַאֲנַחְנוּ רוֹאִים הֵפֶךְ זֶה שֶׁבּוֹ בְּאוֹתָהּ רֶגַע שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה הָרָצוֹן יִהְיֶה תְּנוּעַת הָרֶגֶל,

We see, however, that the opposite is true. At the very same moment that the will is aroused, the foot moves.

מִזֶּה הוֹרָאָה שֶׁהַמַּחֲשָׁבָה יֶשְׁנָהּ מַמָּשׁ בָּרֶגֶל,

This shows that thought, which is identified with the soul, is actually found within the foot.

Were the soul to exist only in the brain and not in the foot, the foot’s response to the mind’s command would require a process of communication and interface as one frame of reference relates to another. For example, when two people communicate, even though one is willing to do what the other says without any question, a communication process – which takes time – is necessary for the one to express his will and the other to understand it. With regard to the limbs of one’s own body, such a process of communication is not necessary. The fact that the body responds instantaneously indicates that thought exists inherently – albeit in a hidden manner – in all of the body’s limbs.5

וְהִנֵּה נִתְבָּרֵר מְצִיאוּת הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת אוֹר הַנֶּפֶשׁ בְּכָל אֵיבְרֵי הַגּוּף

The fact that the expression of the light of the soul exists within all the limbs of the body has been demonstrated above through the example of the foot’s movement.

וְעִם כָּל זֶה אֵינוֹ מַכִּיר אֹפֶן הַהִתְלַבְּשׁוּת

Nevertheless, the nature of that enclothement cannot be comprehended.

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַכִּיר מַהוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ מַה הִיא

Certainly, one does not comprehend the nature of the soul.

וְזֶהוּ עִנְיַן יְדִיעַת הַמְּצִיאוּת וְלֹא הַשָּׂגַת הַמַּהוּת,

This is what is meant by the expression “The knowledge of the soul’s existence, but not the comprehension of its nature.”

וּכְמוֹ כֵן הוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ

Similar concepts apply with regard to G‑d.

הוּא הַיָּדוּעַ מְצִיאוּתוֹ

His existence is known,

שֶׁאֲנַחְנוּ נֵדַע שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹרֵא מְקוֹר הַחַיִּים

for we know that there is a Creator, the Source of life,

הַמְחַיֶּה וּמְהַוֶּה הָעוֹלָם

Who gives life to the world and brings it into being.

אֲבָל מַהוּתוֹ אֵינוֹ נוֹדָע

The nature of His Being, in contrast, is not known,

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר דְּלֵית מַחֲשָׁבָה תְּפִיסָא בֵיהּ

and concerning that it is said: “No thought can grasp Him,”

רוֹצֶה לוֹמַר לְהַכִּיר מַהוּתוֹ מַמָּשׁ

i.e., comprehend the actual nature of His Being.

שֶׁזֶּה אֵינוֹ מֻשָּׂג לְשׁוּם נִבְרָא בָּעוֹלָם

For that cannot be comprehended by any created being in the world,

כְּדִכְתִיב וּפָנַי לֹא יֵרָאוּ (שְׁמוֹת ל"ג כ"ג),

as indicated by the verse (Shmos 33:23):6 “My face shall not be seen.”

וְהִנֵּה דַּעַת בִּלְשׁוֹן הַתּוֹרָה הוּא הַמּוֹרֶה עַל דְּבַר יְדִיעַת הַמְּצִיאוּת

In the Torah, the term “knowledge” refers to knowledge of the existence of an entity,

אֲבָל עַל הַשָּׂגַת הַמַּהוּת נוֹפֵל לְשׁוֹן רְאִיָּה

but with regard to the comprehension of the nature of its being, the term “sight” is more appropriate.

שֶׁחוּשׁ הָרְאוּת הוּא כְּלִי לְהַשָּׂגַת מַהוּת דָּבָר הַמּוּחָשׁ,

For the power of sight is a medium to grasp the nature of an entity that is perceived.

וְהַדַּעַת הוּא הַשָּׂגַת הַמְּצִיאוּת,

Knowledge, by contrast, involves the comprehension of the entity’s existence and not its nature.

וְלָכֵן נֶאֱמַר מִבְּשָׂרִי אֶחֱזֶה

On this basis, we can understand the choice of wording in the verse: “From my flesh, I see G‑dliness.”

שֶׁהוּא תַּרְגּוּם וַאֲחוֹרַיִם

The verse uses the termאחזהwhich is Aramaic – and Aramaic refers to the hindside

Aramaic is the popular, but inferior, derivative of Lashon HaKodesh, “the holy tongue,” i.e., Biblical Hebrew. Thus, using the human body as an analogy, Lashon HaKodesh is considered “the face,” and Aramaic, “the back.”

שֶׁל רְאִיָּה

– for the Lashon HaKodesh term ראיה.

כִּי הָרְאִיָּה הִיא הַשָּׂגַת הַמַּהוּת

For sight involves comprehension of an entity’s nature,

Since we cannot grasp the nature of G‑d’s Being, the term ראהin Lashon HaKodesh, “see,” is not appropriate. Nevertheless, the Aramaic form of the term is used, because as explained,

וְהַדַּעַת הוּא הַשָּׂגַת הַמְּצִיאוּת,

knowledge involves comprehending its existence.

וּלְפִי שֶׁבֵּאלֹהוּת לֹא יִתָּכֵן הַשָּׂגַת הַמַּהוּת

Since it is impossible to comprehend the nature of G‑d’s Being,

אֶלָּא יְדִיעַת הַמְּצִיאוּת בִּלְבָד

but only the knowledge of His existence,

לָכֵן נֶאֱמַר אֶחֱזֶה

the verse therefore uses the term אחזה,

תַּרְגּוּם וַאֲחוֹרַיִם

the Aramaic translation – the “hindside” –

שֶׁל הָרְאִיָּה

for the term for sight,

since the knowledge of G‑d’s existence can have almost as powerful an effect as if it were seen.

וְכֵן הוּא פֵּרוּשׁ הָרְאֵתָ לָדַעַת כִּי הֲוָיָ' הוּא הָאֱלֹקִים (דְּבָרִים ד' ל"ה),

This is also the meaning of the verse (Devarim 4:35): “You have been shown (הראת)7 to know that Havayahis Elokim,”8

כְּלוֹמַר עִנְיָן זֶה שֶׁה' הוּא הָאֱלֹקִים תּוּכַל לְהַגִּיעוֹ בִּבְחִינַת דַּעַת מַמָּשׁ

i.e., the concept that Havayahis Elokimcan be grasped with actual knowledge,

וְהוּא אִמּוּת חָזָק כְּמוֹ הָרְאִיָּה מַמָּשׁ

and this is a powerful realization, tantamount to actual sight.

שֶׁמַּה שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַשִּׂיג מַהוּתוֹ

For the fact that one does not comprehend the nature of His Being

אֵינוֹ שׁוּם רִפְיוֹן וְשִׁנּוּי בְּחִזּוּק אֲמִתִּית בֵּרוּר מְצִיאוּתוֹ אֶצְלוֹ

does not produce any weakness or change in the strength of the truth of the realization that He exists.

כְּאִלּוּ רוֹאֶה מַמָּשׁ

It is as if one actually sees,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ מְצִיאוּתוֹ

since His existence is known,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל בַּאֲרוּכָה מִמְּשַׁל הַנֶּפֶשׁ,

as explained above at length with regard to the analogy of the soul.

אֶלָּא שֶׁבְּהַשָּׂגַת מַהוּת הָאֱלֹקוּת יִהְיֶה תַּעֲנוּג עָצוּם וְנִפְלָא לְאֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית

However, there is a difference between the knowledge of the existence of G‑d and the comprehension of the nature of His Being. The comprehension of the nature of G‑dliness produces awesome, wondrous, and endless pleasure,

כִּי הוּא מְקוֹר הַתַּעֲנוּגִים

for this understanding is the source of all pleasure.

וְזוֹהִי מַעֲלַת הַנְּבִיאִים

This is the rung of the prophets

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בָּהֶם וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו ה' וְכוּ' (בְּרֵאשִׁית י"ח א')

concerning whom it is said (Bereishis 18:1): “And G‑d appeared to him.”

וְלֶעָתִיד לָבֹא יִתְגַּלֶּה אֵלֵינוּ

In the Ultimate Future, this level will be revealed to all of us,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב וְרָאוּ כָל בָּשָׂר (יְשַׁעְיָה מ' ה')

as it is written (Yeshayahu40:5): “And all flesh shall see…”

עַיִן בְּעַיִן יִרְאוּ (יְשַׁעְיָה נ"ב ח') כַּנּוֹדָע

and it is written (ibid.52:8): “With their own eyes, they will each see…” as is known.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם יוּכַל כָּל מַשְׂכִּיל עַל דָּבָר לְהִתְעַנֵּג תַּעֲנוּג עָצוּם וְנִפְלָא מֵרֹב כֹּל

Nevertheless, everyone who contemplates the matter can delight with great, wondrous, and all-encompassing pleasure

בִּידִיעָה זוֹ

in the knowledge of G‑d’s existence

שֶׁיְּצַיֵּר בְּדַעְתּוֹ יִחוּד הַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרֵךְ

by picturing in his mind the oneness of G‑d,

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִשִּׂיג מַהוּתוֹ

even though he does not comprehend the nature of His Being.

The Tzemach Tzedek is emphasizing that obviously there is a difference in the effect generated by sight and that generated by knowledge. The intellectual knowledge of G‑d will not motivate the wondrous pleasure experienced by the prophets and to be experienced in the Ultimate Future from the actual perception of G‑dliness. Nevertheless, deepening one’s knowledge can call forth powerful feelings.

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

To cite an example:

כְּמוֹ שֶׁשָּׂמֵחַ הֶעָשִׁיר מֵהוֹן מַרְגָּלִיּוֹת הַצָּרוּר וּמֻנָּח אֶצְלוֹ

A wealthy man will derive happiness from a treasure of pearls that is hoarded and stored away in his treasury

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינֶנּוּ רוֹאֶה בְּעֵינוֹ כָּל רֶגַע

even though he does not see it every moment with his eyes,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים פֶּרֶק ל"ג:

as explained in Tanya,ch. 33.

וְהִנֵּה הַדַּעת הוּא הַנִּקְרָא בְּזֹהַר מַפְתְּחָא דְּכָלִיל שִׁית

Behold, the Zohar 9 refers to Daas,“knowledge,”as “the key that includes six,” i.e., the six emotional potentials, for, as explained in Tanya,10 they are all outgrowths of Daas,

דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁהוּא פְּנִימִיּוּת הַמִּדּוֹת

for Daas is the inner dimension of the six emotional qualities.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָנוּ רוֹאִים שֶׁהַמִּדּוֹת בְּטֵלִים וְנִמְשָׁכִים אַחַר הַדַּעַת

As we see, the emotional qualities are subsumed in – and drawn after – knowledge.

For Daas controls the functioning of our emotions, as explained above, influencing both their direction and their character.

כִּי כְּשֶׁהָאָדָם יוֹדֵעַ וּמַרְגִּישׁ אֶת עַצְמוֹ

When a person knows and feels his selfhood,

Here the term “selfhood” does not refer to egocentricity or an exaggeration of self-importance. Instead, it means a healthy and assertive self-image; a person who feels alive and vibrant.

הֲרֵי אָנוּ רוֹאִים בְּחוּשׁ שֶׁלְּפִי שֶׁהוּא מַרְגִּישׁ אֶת עַצְמוֹ וְחַיּוּתוֹ מְאֹד

we see that as a result of that strong sensation of his selfhood and vitality,

אֲזַי מִדּוֹתָיו מִתְפָּעֲלִים בְּהִתְפַּעֲלוּת רַב

his emotional qualities react very powerfully,

לֶאֱהוֹב הַטּוֹב וְלִשְׂנוֹא הָרָע

to love what he perceives as good and to hate what he perceives as bad

יוֹתֵר מִכְּפִי שֶׁיִּתְפָּעֵל בְּעֵת שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַרְגִּישׁ עַצְמוֹ כָּל כָּךְ

to a far greater extent than would occur were he not to feel himself so much.

כְּגוֹן כְּשֶׁטָּרוּד בְּאֵיזֶה עִנְיָן גָּדוֹל

For example, when a person is preoccupied with a matter of consequence,

שֶׁאָז אֵינוֹ מַרְגִּישׁ עַצְמוֹ כָּל כָּךְ

he is not so forcefully aware of himself

שֶׁאָז לֹא יִתְפָּעֵל כָּל כָּךְ בְּמִדּוֹתָיו בְּאַהֲבָה וְשִׂנְאָה

and then he will not react as emotionally – to love and to hate –

נִמְצָא שֶׁהַמִּדּוֹת נִגְרָרִים אַחַר הַדַּעַת שֶׁהוּא הַהַרְגָּשָׁה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

because the emotional qualities are drawn after Daas which is the sensation of selfhood described above.

The Tzemach Tzedek is referring to situations where people – be they Torah scholars or secular thinkers, e.g., mathematicians, physicists, or economists – will be preoccupied with an issue of substance which absorbs their attention entirely while they are working on it. They don’t eat or sleep normally as long as their minds are wrapped up in the idea. At that time, they are not concerned with their own feelings. It’s not because they have become refined and have elevated their characters beyond self-concern. It’s simply that their minds are elsewhere. Their attention is not focused on their personal selves.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרֵאת מַפְתֵּחַ לְשִׁשָּׁה הַמִּדּוֹת

Therefore, Daasis called the key to the six emotional qualities:

הַחג"ת [הַחֶסֶד־גְּבוּרָה־תִּפְאֶרֶת]נה"י [נֶצַח־הוֹד־יְסוֹד]

ChaGaT Chessed (kindness), Gevurah (might), Tiferes (beauty), NeHY –Netzach (victory), Hod (glory), and Yesod (foundation).11

כְּמוֹ הַמַּפְתֵּחַ שֶׁפּוֹתֵחַ הִתְפַּעֲלוּת הַמִּדָּה

For it functions as a key that unlocks the activity of the emotional qualities

וּמְעוֹרְרָהּ אוֹ סוֹגְרָהּ עַל יְדֵי שֶׁמַּסִּיחַ דַּעְתּוֹ וְכוּ'

by arousing them, or by shutting off their expression by diverting one’s attention.

וְשָׁרְשׁוֹ נִמְשָׁךְ מֵאֲחוֹרַיִם דִּיסוֹד אִמָּא

Its source is drawn down from the hind qualities of the sub-quality of Yesod(the foundation) within the Sublime Mother, i.e., the attribute of Yesod as it is included within the Sefirah of Binah (understanding),

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל שֶׁלְּגַבֵּי הַשָּׂגַת הַמַּהוּת אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בְּחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִם בִּלְבָד

for, as explained above, when compared to the comprehension of the nature of an entity’s being, Daas is merely the hind qualities, i.e., when compared to direct perception, sight;

שֶׁהוּא רַק יְדִיעַת הַמְּצִיאוּת לְבָד

for it involves only the knowledge of the existence of an entity.

וּלְפִי שֶׁכֹּחַ הַהֲבָנָה הוּא לְהָבִין מַהוּת הַדָּבָר

Since the power of understanding involves the comprehension of the nature of an entity’s being,

אִם כֵּן כֹּחַ הַיְדִיעָה שֶׁל הַמְּצִיאוּת הוּא בְּחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִם שֶׁלּוֹ לְבָד

the power to know its existence is considered merely its hind qualities.

Looking at a person’s face tells us a lot about his personality. Seeing his back – the hind qualities, as it were – only tells us that he exists.

שֶׁזֶּה סוֹד אֶחֱזֶה אֱלוֹהַּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל,

This is the mystic secret implied by the use of the term echezeh, אחזה in the phrase “I see G‑dliness,” as explained above.

אָמְנָם הָאֱמוּנָה הִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת עֲטָרָה בִּסְפָרִים

In sacred texts,12 faith, by contrast, is called a crown,

כִּי הִיא כִּמְשַׁל הָעֲטָרָה

for it can be described with the analogy of a crown

בִּבְחִינַת מַקִּיף לְבָד עַל הָרֹאשׁ

which is an influence that is merely encompassing, above one’s head,

וְאֵינוֹ נִכְנָס בִּפְנִימִיּוּתוֹ

and does not permeate a person’s inner dimensions.

וְאֵין הַמִּדּוֹת מִתְפָּעֲלִים מִמֶּנָּה

The emotions – i.e., the emotions that are shaped by intellect – are not affected by it,

לְפִי שֶׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת רִחוּק

because it is distant from them.

Emunah, faith, has an advantage over Daas, knowledge, because it elevates a person to a level above that of his ordinary understanding. Nevertheless, the very fact that Emunah connects a person to G‑d on a level above his understanding can also be a disadvantage. Since he does not understand this connection, a dichotomy can arise between his ordinary understanding and his faith, as the maamar proceeds to explain.

וְלָכֵן גַּנְבָא אַפּוּם מַחְתַּרְתָּא רַחֲמָנָא קַרְיָא (בְּעֵין יַעֲקֹב סוֹף בְּרָכוֹת),

For this reason, faith can allow for a dichotomy within a person’s approach, as our Sages teach (Ein Yaakov,the conclusion of tractate Berachos): “A thief, before breaking in, calls to G‑d,

וְאוֹמֵר רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי,

saying, “Master of the world, save me!”

הֲרֵי שֶׁמַּאֲמִין בִּיכֹלֶת רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם

He believes in the potential of the Master of the world to save him

וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן עוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֶׂה לִמְרוֹד בּוֹ

and yet performs an act that constitutes rebellion against Him.

וְהַיְנוּ מִשּׁוּם שֶׁעִנְיַן הָאֱמוּנָה הוּא בְּחִינַת מַקִּיף

This is possible because faith is only an encompassing power

וְאֵין מִדּוֹתָיו זָזִים מִמְּקוֹמָם עַל יְדֵי זֶה

and does not motivate the emotions to stir from their inertia.

אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי הַדַּעַת דַּוְקָא

The awakening of the emotions, by contrast, occurs as a result of daas,knowledge,

שֶׁהוּא הַמַּפְתֵּחַ שֶׁלָּהֶם כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

which serves as their key, as stated above.13

וּכְמוֹ כֵן יוּבַן הָעִנְיָן לְמַעְלָה

Similar concepts apply in the spiritual realms.

שֶׁבְּחִינַת נֶצַח־הוֹד־יְסוֹד דִּזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין מוֹחִין לְנוּקְבָא

The attributes of Netzach, Hod,and Yesodof Z’eir Anpin,(literally, “the small face,” a term used to describe the middos, the emotive qualities) of Atzilus, (serve as the intellectual dimension for Nukva,literally, “the feminine dimension,” a term used to describe the Sefirah of Malchus).

וּבִיסוֹד מְלֻבָּשׁ מוֹחַ הַדַּעַת הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מִדַּעַת דְּאַבָּא וְאִמָּא

In the Sefirah of Yesod is enclothed the intellectual quality of Daaswhich is drawn down from the Daasof Abbaand Ima,(literally, “the Sublime Father” and “the Sublime Mother,” terms referring to the Sefiros of Chochmah and Binah respectively),

הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מִדַּעַת עַתִּיק יוֹמִין וַאֲרִיךְ אַנְפִּין כַּיָּדוּעַ

which is drawn down from the Daasof Atik Yomin and Arich Anpin,(literally, “the One of Ancient Days” and “the long face,” terms referring to the internal and external dimensions of Kesser, which correspond in the analogy to the power of our souls to the qualities of Taanug (pleasure) and Ratzon (will) respectively), as is well known.

וְהוּא בְּחִינַת גִּלּוּי אוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּדַעַת

This represents the revelation of the Or Ein Sof, G‑d’s infinite light, in Daas,

וּבִבְחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּת

and enables that light to be appreciated in an internalized manner.

The source of the revelation is Atik Yomin, which is identified with G‑d’s infinite light. This revelation descends and is drawn down through Daas, which enables it to be internalized.

וּמִמִּדַּת מַלְכוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ שֶׁהִיא מְקוֹר נִשְׁמוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל

And from the attribute of Malchus, which is the source of the souls of the Jewish people, and which receives this revelation,

מֵאִיר הֶאָרַת דַּעַת זֶה לְכָל נֶפֶשׁ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל לֵידַע אֶת ה'

shines forth the ray of this Daasto the soul of every Jew, enabling him to know G‑d,

שֶׁיִּהְיֶה יָדוּעַ מְצִיאוּתוֹ עַל כָּל פָּנִים

i.e., that he should at least know of His existence

וְשֶׁהוּא חַיּוּת כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת

and understand that He is the vitality of all the worlds.

וְהוּא מַפְתֵּחַ לְהַמִּדּוֹת שֶׁהֵם עִקַּר הָאָדָם

This knowledge is the key to the emotions, which are the fundamental elements of our personalities,

That the emotions are the fundamental elements of our personalities is evidenced by the fact that we are far more affected by emotional rather than intellectual stimuli.

שֶׁיִּהְיוּ נִמְשָׁכִים אַחַר הַדַּעַת

causing them to be drawn after Daas,

כְּדִכְתִיב לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ כִּי הוּא חַיֶּיךָ (דְּבָרִים ל' כ')

as it is written (Devarim30:20): “And you shall love G‑d your L-rd… because He is your life.” The realization that G‑d is the source of our vitality evokes love for Him.

וְאַהֲבָה זוֹ שֹׁרֶשׁ לְקִיּוּם רְמַ"ח מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה

This love is the source of the observance of the 248 positive commandments.14

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָאָדָם אוֹהֵב וְחָפֵץ לַעֲשׂוֹת דְּבָרִים הַמֻּכְרָחִים לְקִיּוּם נַפְשׁוֹ וְגוּפוֹ

For just as a person loves and desires to do things that are necessary for the existence of his soul and body,

כָּכָה וְיוֹתֵר מִכֵּן יַחְפּוֹץ לַעֲשׂוֹת מִצְוֹת ה'

so too – and even more so – will he desire to perform the mitzvos of G‑d

שֶׁהֵם קִיּוּם הַמְשָׁכַת גִּלּוּי הָאֱלֹקוּת בָּעוֹלָמוֹת

which sustain the revelation of G‑dliness that has been drawn down into the worlds,

שֶׁזֶּהוּ הַחַיִּים הָאֲמִתִּיִּים,

for this is true life.

וְכֵן יִירָא וְיִרְחַק מִן הַלֹּא תַעֲשֶׂה

And he will be afraid and distance himself from transgressing the negative commandments

שֶׁהֵם דָּבָר הַמַּזִּיק לְקִיּוּם חַיּוּת זֶה

for they are harmful to maintaining that vitality,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָאָדָם שׂוֹנֵא הַמַּזִּיק לְנַפְשׁוֹ וּבוֹרֵחַ מִמֶּנּוּ כִּמְטַחֲוֵי קֶשֶׁת,

like a person who hates something that could harm his soul and flees from it the distance of several bowshots.15

וְכָל תּוֹלָדוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁבַּמִּדּוֹת הוּא מֵהַדַּעַת דַּוְקָא

All of the outgrowths of these emotional qualities are from Daas.

וְנִקְרֵאת מַפְתְּחָא

Therefore, it is referred to as their key.

וְשָׁרְשׁוֹ מִדַּעַת שֶׁנִּמְשָׁךְ בְּמַלְכוּת דַּאֲצִילוּת שֶׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּת בָּהּ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

The source of Daas for mortals is the Daas that is drawn down into – and which serves as the inner dimension of – Malchus of Atzilus, as explained above.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן הָאֱמוּנָה שָׁרְשָׁהּ מִבְּחִינַת כֶּתֶר מַלְכוּת

Emunah,by contrast, has its source in Kesser Malchus,“the crown of Malchus,

שֶׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת מַקִּיף וְסוֹבֵב עַל הַמַּלְכוּת

which is an encompassing and surrounding light for Malchus.

There are two dimensions to kingship: a) the awe and reverence with which a nation regards its king. This lifts his subjects above their individual identities, thus it is considered an encompassing light; b) the advice and rulings that the king gives to govern his country on a practical day-to-day basis, which relates to the inner dimensions of every one of his subjects.16

Similar concepts apply in the spiritual realms, regarding the manner in which Malchus brings the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah into being. Malchus radiates forth both an encompassing, transcendent light and an inner, limited, permeating influence. Emunah reflects the higher quality, and Daas, the lower one.

וּמַה שֶּׁמֵּאִיר מִזֶּה בְּכָל נֶפֶשׁ אֱמוּנַת הָאֱלֹהוּת

Although this level causes faith in G‑d to shine in every soul,

הֲרֵי אֱמוּנָה זוֹ הִיא גַם כֵּן מַקִּיף לְבָד

this faith is also an encompassing influence,

כַּעֲטָרָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַמּוֹחִין

like a crown that is positioned above one’s head in which the power of intellect is lodged.

וְאֵינוֹ נִכְנָס בִּפְנִימִיּוּתָם

Hence, it does not have an internalized effect,

As mentioned previously, a thief may believe in G‑d and pray to Him sincerely, yet consciously violate His will.

לִפְתּוֹחַ הַמִּדּוֹת כוּ',

and thus does not motivate emotional expression.

וְלָכֵן אָמַר דַּע אֶת אֱלֹקֵי אָבִיךָ (דִּבְרֵי הַיָּמִים א' כ"ח ט')

Therefore, it is written (I Divrei HaYamim 28:9): “Know the G‑d of your father”;

דַּע דַּיְקָא

the emphasis is placed on knowledge.

דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁכָּל מַה שֶּׁתּוּכַל לְהַגִּיעַ אֱלֹקוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בִּבְחִינַת דַּעַת תִּשְׁתַּדֵּל בְּזֶה וְתַעֲמִיק מַחֲשַׁבְתְּךָ

One must endeavor to know those aspects of G‑d that one can relate to through knowledge and deepen his thoughts concerning them.

וְהַיְנוּ יְדִיעַת מְצִיאוּתוֹ

This refers to knowledge of G‑d’s existence

וְשֶׁהוּא חַיֵּי הַחַיִּים כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

and realizing that He is the Life of life,17 as explained above.

וְאָז תֵּהָפֵךְ לְאִישׁ אַחֵר

This will transform him into a different person,

כִּי יִפָּתְחוּ מִדּוֹתֶיךָ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה' וּלְיִרְאָה אוֹתוֹ

for his emotions will be aroused to love G‑d and fear Him,

כִּי הַדַּעַת הוּא הַמַּפְתֵּחַ כוּ'

for Daasis their key, inspiring their expression

עַל יְדֵי הַרְגָּשָׁה זוֹ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

through feeling and identifying with the concept of G‑d’s existence, as described above.

אָמְנָם מַה שֶּׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַגִּיעַ בּוֹ בִּבְחִינַת דַּעַת

Nevertheless, with regard to those levels that one cannot attain through knowledge,

הַנִּיחֵהוּ עַל הָאֱמוּנָה

he should rely on faith,

לְהַאֲמִין בּוֹ אֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה

i.e., to believe in G‑d with complete faith

אַחֲרֵי אֲשֶׁר יָדַעְתָּ מְצִיאוּתוֹ וֶהֱיוֹתוֹ חַיֵּי הַחַיִּים בְּהַרְגָּשָׁה מַמָּשׁ

after knowing of G‑d’s existence and that He is the Life of life with actual feeling,

דּוֹמֶה לִרְאִיַּת הָעַיִן

producing as powerful an effect as sight.

אִם כֵּן מַה שֶּׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַשִּׂיג יִהְיֶה בִּבְחִינַת אֱמוּנָה

Thus, that which cannot be realized intellectually will be regarded as faith.

וְשֹׁרֶשׁ זֶה הוּא בְּחִינַת הֶאָרַת הַכֶּתֶר שֶׁבְּמַלְכוּת

The potential to relate to this level stems from the ray of Kesserthat shines within Malchus

שֶׁשָּׁרְשׁוֹ מִכֶּתֶר עֶלְיוֹן שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַחָכְמָה

which has its source in the Sublime Kesserthat transcends Chochmah.

וְנִקְרָא סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין

This level is referred to as sovev kol almin,

שֶׁעִנְיָנוֹ הוּא בְּחִינַת גִּלּוּי הָאֱלֹהוּת שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִשֵּׂכֶל וְהַשָּׂגָה וּכְמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:

i.e., a revelation of G‑dliness that transcends intellect and comprehension, as will be explained.

וְעַתָּה יִתְבָּאֵר דַּעַת מוֹנֵי הַמִּצְוֹת

On the basis of all the above, it is possible to explain the views of the sages who counted the number of mitzvos

שֶׁנֶּחְלְקוּ בְּזֶה

who debated

אִם יִמָּנֶה זֶה בְּמִנְיַן הַמִּצְוֹת אִם לַאו

whether faith in G‑d should be counted as a mitzvah or not.

וְדַעַת בַּעַל הֲלָכוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת

The opinion of the author of the Halachos Gedolos

שֶׁלְּפִי שֶׁעִקַּר עִנְיָן זֶה דִּידִיעַת הָאֱלֹהוּת

is that since the fundamental aspect of the knowledge of G‑d’s existence

Here we are not speaking about intellectual knowledge, but the identification with an idea – in this instance, the existence of G‑d – to the extent that one’s feelings are aroused.

הוּא מֻשָּׂג וְנִרְגָּשׁ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

is grasped and produces feelings as explained above,

Halachos Gedolos maintains that since man’s fundamental, innate awareness of G‑d is a given, a construct inherently accepted as true without explanation,

אִם כֵּן לֹא יִתָּכֵן צִוּוּי עַל זֶה

it is not appropriate for there to be a commandment concerning it.

כִּי הַצִּוּוּי אֵינוֹ נוֹפֵל אֶלָּא בְּדָבָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ בְּחִירָה

For the concept of a commandment is only with regard to a matter in which a person is presented with a choice

(כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָרַמְבַּ"ם פֶּרֶק ב' מִן הַשְּׁמֹנָה פְּרָקִים)

(as Rambam states in his Shemoneh Perakim, ch. 2),

אִם בְּדֵעוֹת אוֹ בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה וְדִבּוּר

whether it be expressing a character trait, a thought, or a statement, or an action,

לַחְשׁוֹב אוֹ לֹא לַחְשׁוֹב,

i.e., whether to think or not to think,

לְדַבֵּר אוֹ לֹא לְדַבֵּר,

to say or not to say,

לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹ לֹא לַעֲשׂוֹת

to do or not to do.

אֲבָל דָּבָר הַמֻּרְגָּשׁ וְנִרְאֶה לָעַיִן

However, with regard to something that is felt and obvious to the eye,

מַה יִּתָּכֵן צִוּוּי עַל זֶה

how can there be a commandment regarding it?

לְהַרְגִּישׁוֹ אוֹ לִמְנוֹעַ מֵהַרְגִּישׁ

How can one command that something obvious be felt or charge that it not be felt,

אַחַר שֶׁמֻּרְגָּשׁ

when it is consciously felt?

שֶׁהֲרֵי אָנוּ רוֹאִים הָעוֹלָם חַי וְקַיָּם מֵחַיֵּי הַחַיִּים וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק א'

Since we see that the world is maintained and receives vitality from the Life of life and thus we can recognize G‑d’s presence, as explained in sec. 1, it is seemingly inappropriate for there to be a commandment concerning this.

לָכֵן לֹא מָנָה זוֹ בְּמִנְיַן הַמִּצְוֹת

For this reason, Halachos Gedolos did not include knowing G‑d in the enumeration of the mitzvos.

אָמְנָם הָרַמְבַּ"ם וְסִיעָתוֹ

However, Rambamand those who follow his approach,

וְרַבֵּנוּ יוֹנָה וְסִיעָתוֹ

and Rabbeinu Yonah and those who follow his approach,

שֶׁמָּנוּ זֶה בְּמִנְיַן הַמִּצְוֹת

include this mitzvah in the enumeration of the mitzvos.

טַעְמָם כִּי הַצִּוּוּי הוּא עַל הַעֲמָקַת הַדַּעַת וְהַהִתְבּוֹנְנוּת בְּדָבָר זֶה הַיָּדוּעַ

Their rationale is that the commandment is to deepen one’s understanding and to contemplate this concept, although it is already known.

שֶׁעַל זֶה יִתָּכֵן צִוּוּי

This can warrant a commandment,

כִּי גַם שֶׁהַדָּבָר יָדוּעַ

for even when a concept is known,

אַף עַל פִּי כֵן אִם לֹא יִתְבּוֹנֵן תָּמִיד בְּזֶה

if a person will not meditate on it continuously,

וְיַסִּיחַ דַּעְתּוֹ לִדְבָרִים אֲחֵרִים

and instead divert his thought to other matters,

לֹא יוֹעִיל כְּלוּם

his knowledge will not have any effect on his conduct at all.

וַאֲפִלּוּ שֶׁיַּחְשׁוֹב זֹאת בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה וְהִרְהוּר לְבָד אֵינוֹ כְּלוּם

Even if he will think about these matters in passing, it will be of no consequence.

אֶלָּא צָרִיךְ לְהַעֲמִיק דַּעְתּוֹ דַוְקָא

Rather, what is necessary is to think deeply about them.

וְאָז יִפָּתְחוּ הַמִּדּוֹת כוּ'

Then one’s emotional characteristics will be stimulated.

Otherwise, as explained above with regard to the prayer of a thief,18 a dichotomy can exist between this inherent awareness of G‑d and the person’s actual thinking process.

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ (דְּבָרִים ד' ל"ט)

Concerning this it is said (Devarim4:39): “And you shall know today and take to heart….”

The Tzemach Tzedek offers a second explanation why emunah can be considered a mitzvah even though it is an inherent aspect of a person’s makeup.

וְגַם

It can also be explained that

הַצִּוּוּי הוּא עַל הַהַאֲמָנָה בְּמַה שֶּׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַשִּׂיג בְּדַעַת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

the mitzvah of faith is to relate to those dimensions of G‑dliness that cannot be grasped through knowledge, for their transcendent nature cannot be grasped by a mortal mind.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתַב הָרַמְבַּ"ם בְּסֵפֶר הַמִּצְוֹת

This is why Rambam stated in his Sefer HaMitzvos

שֶׁהַצִּוּוּי הוּא בְּהַאֲמָנַת אֱלֹהוּת

that the command involves faith in G‑d,

וּבְרֵישׁ סֵפֶר הַמַּדָּע

while at the beginning of his Mishneh Torah, Sefer HaMada,

אָמַר לֵידַע שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם מָצוּי רִאשׁוֹן כוּ'

he describes the mitzvah as “to know that there is a Primary Being.”

וְכָלַל בְּזֶה ב' דְבָרִים שֶׁהֵם יְדִיעַת מְצִיאוּתוֹ הַנּוֹדָע בְּדַעַת

He thus includes two elements in this mitzvah: a) the knowledge of G‑d’s existence which can be known intellectually,

וְגַם הָאֱמוּנָה בּוֹ

and b) faith in Him.

וְהֵם מִצְוָה אַחַת

They constitute one mitzvah,

לְהָשִׂים דַּעְתּוֹ עַל זֶה וְגַם לְהַאֲמִין כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

i.e., to focus one’s attention on this and to have faith in this.

וְהָרַב יוֹנָה עָשָׂה מִזֶּה שְׁתֵּי מִצְוֹת

Rabbeinu Yonah considers this as two mitzvos:

מִצְוַת הָאֱמוּנָה מִפָּסוּק אָנֹכִי כוּ'

the mitzvah of faith in G‑d, derived from the verse: “I am G‑d…,”

וּמִצְוַת הַדַּעַת מִפָּסוּק וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם,

and the mitzvah to know Him,derived from the verse: “And you shall know today….”

וְאָמַר וְזֶה לְשׁוֹנוֹ וּמַעֲלַת הִתְבּוֹנֵן בִּגְדֻלָּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב וְיָדַעְתָּ וְגוֹ'

He associates the mitzvah of knowing G‑d with the latter verse when speaking of “The rung of one who meditates on the greatness of G‑d, as it is written: ‘And you shall know…,’ ”

נִמְסְרוּ לָנוּ בְּמִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה,

and concludes: “This was given to us as a positive commandment.”

וְכֵן כָּתַב בְּסֵפֶר חֲרֵדִים מִשְּׁמוֹ,

Similarly, the Sefer Chareidim states this in the name of Rabbeinu Yonah.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתַב הַחִנּוּךְ לֵידַע וּלְהַאֲמִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ אֱלוֹהַּ

The above enables us to understand the description in Sefer HaChinuch of the mitzvah as having two components: knowing and believing that there is a G‑d;

רוֹצֶה לוֹמַר מַה שֶּׁאֶפְשָׁר לֵידַע יֵדַע דַּיְקָא

i.e., what one can know, he should know,

וּמַה שֶּׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לֵידַע יַאֲמִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר

and what he cannot know, because of G‑d’s transcendence, he should relate to with faith, as will be explained.

וְאִיהוּ בְּשִׁיטַת רַמְבַּ"ם קָאָזִיל

Sefer HaChinuch follows the approach of Rambam

דְּקָחָשִׁיב לְהוּ בְּמִצְוָה אַחַת בְּמִנְיַן תַּרְיַ"ג:

who considers knowledge of G‑d and faith in Him as one in the reckoning of the 613 mitzvos.



Synopsis

The Tzemach Tzedek raises a fundamental question: Can G‑d’s existence be known, for the Zohar clearly states: “No thought can grasp Him at all”? In resolution, it is explained that we can know only the existence of G‑d but not His Essence, just as we can know that we possess a soul but cannot comprehend what it is.

Both knowledge (daas) and faith (emunah) play a role in our relationship with G‑d. Faith connects us to those dimensions of G‑dliness that transcend our understanding, while knowledge enables us to relate to those dimensions of G‑dliness that we can comprehend. As a result, knowledge serves as the key to our emotions. Our knowledge of G‑d spurs our love and fear of Him. Faith, by contrast, inspires us in an encompassing manner. Thus, it is possible for there to be a contradiction between our faith and our understanding.

On this basis, we can explain the conflicting views mentioned above regarding whether faith in G‑d is a mitzvah. The opinion of the author of the Halachos Gedolos is that it cannot be counted as a mitzvah. His rationale is that a commandment necessitates that a person be presented with a choice and, according to him, since the knowledge of G‑d’s existence is grasped inherently by man and produces feeling, there is no choice involved in believing in G‑d.

Rambam and those who follow his approach, however, do include the mitzvah of knowing G‑d in the enumeration of the mitzvos. Their rationale is that although knowledge of G‑d’s existence is an inherent aspect of man’s consciousness, the commandment mandates that we deepen our understanding by contemplating G‑dliness. A second aspect of this mitzvah is to relate to those dimensions of G‑dliness that cannot be grasped through knowledge with emunah. In sum, according to Rambam, the first of his positive commandments includes: a) deepening our knowledge of His existence, and b) faith in Him.