This section explains in detail the issue of the association of G‑d with different attributes and emotive states, stating that these expressions of Divine energy come as a result of the interaction between the oros and the keilim of the Sefiros of Atzilus. As a result of this interaction, influence descends through the spiritual realms until it reaches this world. Thus, everything that occurs has its source in G‑dliness, yet G‑d Himself does not undergo change.


– VII –

Having described the Sefiros in sections 5-6, the Tzemach Tzedek returns to the issue raised in sec. 4 – the association of G‑d with different attributes, concerning which Rambam and Maharal differed – and explains it based on Chassidus and Kabbalah.

וְהִנֵּה עַתָּה יוּבַן הֵיטֵב עִנְיַן הַתֹּאָרִים שֶׁכִּנּוּ לוֹ הַנְּבִיאִים וְחַזַ"ל

Behold, after the above explanations, it is possible to more thoroughly understand the concept of the descriptive terms used by the Prophets and our Sages to refer to G‑d,

שֶׁהִתְחַלְנוּ לְבָאֵר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ד',

which we began to discuss in section 4,

אֲשֶׁר הַפִלְסוֹפִים נִדְחֲקוּ מְאֹד בְּזֶה

The philosophers were very hard-pressed to resolve this issue,

i.e., the use of adjectives to describe G‑d, because that would define Him in limited terms. Moreover, it would imply that He changes in reaction to the created beings’ conduct and is thus influenced by them.

וְאָמְרוּ כִּי כָּל מַה שֶּׁאָנוּ רוֹאִים שֶׁהַכָּתוּב מְכַנֶּה הַמִּדּוֹת לַבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרֵךְ וְיִתְעַלֶּה

They said that all the attributes which Scripture ascribes to the Creator, blessed be He,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר יוֹשֵׁב בַּשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׂחָק (תִּלִּים ב' ד'),

as in the verses (Tehillim2:4): “He Who sits in heaven laughs”;

כִּעֲסוּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶם (דְּבָרִים ל"ב כ"א)

(Devarim32:21): “They have angered Me with their vanities”;

כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׂשׂ ה' וְגוֹ' (דְּבָרִים כ"ח ס"ג)

and (ibid.,28:63): “As G‑d rejoiced,” are only analogies.

אֵינוֹ שֶׁהוּא בַּעַל מִדּוֹת

The intent is not that He is like a person who possesses different attributes,

כִּי הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר אֲנִי ה' לֹא שָׁנִיתִי (מַלְאָכִי ג' ו')

for it is written (Malachi 3:6): “I, G‑d, have not changed.”

וְאִלּוּ הָיָה פְּעָמִים כּוֹעֵס וּפְעָמִים שָׂמֵחַ הָיָה מִשְׁתַּנֶּה,

And were He to be angered on some occasions and to rejoice on others, He would be undergoing change.

אֶלָּא עַל הַכֹּל אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים

Instead, with regard to all these matters, our Sages say:1

דִּבְּרָה תוֹרָה כִּלְשׁוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם,

“The Torah speaks in the language of men.”

וְרוֹצֶה לוֹמַר שֶׁהוּא פּוֹעֵל פְּעֻלּוֹת דּוֹמוֹת לִפְעֻלּוֹת הַבָּאוֹת מֵאִתָּנוּ

Implied is that He brings about activities similar to the activities that we carry out

רוֹצֶה לוֹמַר מִתְּנוּעוֹת נַפְשִׁיּוֹת

due to the arousal of such qualities within our souls.

לֹא שֶׁהוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ בַּעַל תְּכוּנוֹת נַפְשִׁיּוֹת

The intent is not that He is characterized by these different qualities of the soul.

Mortal attributes are used to describe G‑d only because man has no other means available. Our minds cannot comprehend how G‑d exists and how He interacts with His created beings; we can only use language and terms that we can relate to.

To explain: When one person receives benefit from another, he will feel affection and gratitude towards him. Those feelings will motivate him to reciprocate and perform acts of kindness. Conversely, if he is wronged, he will respond with negative feelings, which in turn will lead to harsh actions.

The philosophers explain that G‑d does not experience these emotions – for He does not change – but He acts as if He did. For example, if a person acts kindly to others, G‑d rewards him with kindness. The reward was not granted because the person’s acts of kindness evoked love and warmth within G‑d, for such emotive experience cannot be ascribed to Him. Instead, He remained unchanged, but He brings about an activity that is representative of the emotional quality that would have been evoked. (The concept that the different activities He performs do not cause change within Him is discussed in sec. 5.)

מִטַּעַם הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

This cannot be said for the reasons mentioned above.

וְעוֹד שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁהוּא בַּעַל מִדָּה הוּא שְׁנֵי דְבָרִים

Moreover, whenever a person is characterized by a particular quality, there is a concept of multiplicity;

הוּא וְהַמִּדָּה,

not only does he exist, but that quality also exists.


Or in the words of the philosophers:

נוֹשֵׂא הַמִּקְרֶה וּנְשׂוּא הַמִּקְרֶה,

A person has the potential to express a particular quality and that quality is possessed by him.

I.e., when a person has the potential to express wisdom, the quality – wisdom – can be seen as an expression of his spirit and character. Nevertheless, the quality of wisdom also exists independent of that person and is merely included within his capacities.

וְזֶה לֹא יִתָּכֵן בַּבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרֵךְ שֶׁהוּא אֶחָד כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

This is not appropriate to say with regard to the Creator, for He is One, as explained above.

רְאֵה עַד אָנָה הֱבִיאָם דָּחֳקָם

See the extent of the difficulty to which their approach led!

According to their approach, there would be entities – these attributes – that exist independent of G‑d. Heaven forbid to say that!

וּבֶאֱמֶת לְפִי כַּוָּנָתָם שֶׁהַמִּדּוֹת הֵם עַצְמוּתוֹ

In truth, according to their approach – that the attributes are identified with G‑d’s Essence –

בְּטוֹב נִדְחֲקוּ

it is desirable that they sought to resolve the difficulty,

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁבּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ נִתְחַיַּבְנוּ לְהָסִיר הָרִבּוּי וְהַשִּׁנּוּי כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל,

because we are obligated to remove any conception of multiplicity and change within Him, as explained above.

אֲבָל בֶּאֱמֶת אֵינוֹ כֵן

Nevertheless, the foundation of their argument is in error.

אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּמְצְאוּ בֶּאֱמֶת הַמִּדּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ לְמַעְלָה בֵּאלֹקוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

True, these attributes do exist above, within G‑dliness

וְהֵן הָעֶשֶׂר סְפִירוֹת דַּאֲצִילוּת,

– they are the Ten Sefirosof Atzilus

אֶלָּא שֶׁאֵינָן מִמַּהוּת הַמִּדּוֹת שֶׁבָּאָדָם

but they are not of the same type as the emotional qualities that exist within man.

וְנַעֲלִים מֵהֶם עִלּוּי רַב

Instead, they are greatly exalted above our mortal attributes,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּאִגֶּרֶת הַקֹּדֶשׁ (סִימָן ט"ו) בְּשֵׁם הָרַב הַמַּגִּיד זַ"ל

as explained in Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh (Epistle 15) in the name of the Maggid of Mezeritch

עַל פָּסוּק וְאָנֹכִי עָפָר וָאֵפֶר (בְּרֵאשִׁית י"ח כ"ז)

on the verse (Bereishis 18:27): “I am but dust and ashes.”

In that source, the Alter Rebbe explains that Avraham said this because he was the earthly manifestation of the Divine attribute of Kindness. Nevertheless, this analogy communicates the distance between his level and the attribute of Kindness in Atzilus. Just as ashes possess a bare trace of the form and substance of the entity consumed by fire, so, too, Avraham was a mere remnant of the Divine attribute of Kindness.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב פֶּרֶק ז',

See also Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 7.

אֲבָל עִם כָּל זֶה הֵם מַהוּת מִדּוֹת

Nevertheless, although they transcend our understanding, G‑d’s attributes are attributes of substance.

The Sefiros of Atzilus, the attributes of G‑d referred to above, are transcendent in terms of mortal understanding. Nevertheless, when compared to the realms of G‑dliness that exist above them, they can be considered as entities of substance, qualities that are defined and limited.

וְיִתָּכֵן כִּפְשׁוּטוֹ בֶּאֱמֶת מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב יוֹשֵׁב בַּשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׂחָק (תִּלִּים ב' ד')

Hence, we can interpret simply the verses (Tehillim 2:4): “He Who sits in heaven laughs”

כִּעֲסוּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶם (דְּבָרִים ל"ב כ"א)

and “They have angered Me with their vanities” (Devarim 32:21), for within the Sefiros, there are qualities that correspond to laughter (derivatives of Chessed) and to anger (derivatives of Gevurah).

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב וְחָרָה אַף ה'

Similarly, the verse:2 “And G‑d’s anger will flare”

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת מִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה

represents an expression of the attribute of Gevurah:

לְהִתְפָּעֵל בְּכַעַס וְדִין עַל הַמּוֹרֵד וּלְהַעֲנִישׁוֹ,

that He is aroused to anger and judgment to punish one who rebels.

אוֹ לְהִפּוּךְ לְהִתְפָּעֵל בְּמִדַּת הָאַהֲבָה עַל הַצַּדִּיק לְהֵטִיב לוֹ,

Conversely, He is aroused to the attribute of love for a righteous man, to provide him with benefit.

וְהֵמָּה מִדּוֹת אֱלֹקִיִּים מַמָּשׁ,

These are actual Divine qualities.

וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין זֶה מְחַיֵּב שִׁנּוּי בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ וְלֹא רִבּוּי

Nevertheless, their existence does not necessitate change or multiplicity within Him,

לְפִי שֶׁכְּבָר הִקְדַּמְנוּ לְעֵיל

for as we prefaced above,3

שֶׁעִם שֶׁנִּקְרָאִים אֱלֹקוּת

although the Sefiros are called G‑dliness,

אֵינָן מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ מַמָּשׁ

they are not His actual Being and Essence.

אֶלָּא שֶׁנֶּאֶצְלוּ וְנִמְשְׁכוּ מִמֶּנּוּ בִּבְחִינַת אוֹר וְזִיו דְּזִיו

Instead, they have emanated forth and been drawn down as light and the radiance of a ray.

The term “the radiance of a ray” can be explained as follows: A ray of light, the Or Ein Sof, emanated from G‑d. After the initial tzimtzum, the light which shines into the “empty cavity,” the kav, is merely “the radiance of a ray,” a radiance that shines forth from that initial ray of light.

וְגַם זֹאת עַל יְדֵי צִמְצוּם הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

Moreover, even that radiance undergoes tzimtzum as described above

כְּדֵי לְהַנְהִיג הָעוֹלָמוֹת עַל יָדָן

so that it will have descended to the level at which it can serve as the medium to conduct the worlds.

וְאַחַר שֶׁנִּתְצַמְצֵם הֶאָרַת אֱלֹקוּת

After the radiance of G‑d has undergone tzimtzum in order to shine within the Sefiros of Atzilus

עִם שֶׁהִיא הֶאָרָה אֱלֹהִית

– even though it remains G‑dly radiance

וְהוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ הוּא הַמֵּאִיר אוֹתָהּ

and it is He Who radiates it forth –

מִכָּל מָקוֹם לְפִי גֹדֶל הַצִּמְצוּם

nevertheless, because of the great degree of tzimtzum it has undergone,

יִתָּכֵן הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת בְּחֶסֶד וּגְבוּרָה שְׂחוֹק וְכַעַס

there is the possibility of an arousal towards kindness or severity, laughter or anger.

אֲבָל בְּמַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

With regard to His Being and Essence, by contrast,

הוּא אוֹמֵר אֲנִי ה' לֹא שָׁנִיתִי כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

it is appropriate to say: “I, G‑d, have not changed,” as explained above.

אָמְנָם לִכְאוֹרָה קָשֶׁה הַלָּשׁוֹן שֶׁאוֹמֵר כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׂשׂ ה', וְחָרָה אַף ה',

Nevertheless, the expressions “As G‑d rejoiced” and “G‑d’s anger will flare” are seemingly problematic,

מַשְׁמַע שֶׁמַּהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ מַמָּשׁ הוּא הַשָּׂשׂ אוֹ הַכּוֹעֵס

for it appears that it is His Being and His Essence that is rejoicing or becoming angry,

כִּי לְעוֹלָם לֹא יִקָּרֵא שֵׁם מִן הַשֵּׁמוֹת אֶלָּא עַל מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ מַמָּשׁ,

for it is fitting to use G‑d’s names only in reference to His actual Being and His Essence.

The different names of G‑d are associated with different attributes, as our Sages state:4 “I, [G‑d,] am called according to My deeds.” Nevertheless, the intent is not to refer to the attributes alone, but to G‑d as He expresses Himself through those attributes. Thus, since the verses mention G‑d’s anger and joy, it would appear that His Essence is involved.

The Tzemach Tzedek is introducing a question: If the arousal of these attributes takes place within the Sefiros, it would appear to be divorced from G‑d, as it were. That cannot be said, for the verses appear to be implying that He is involved, not only the Sefiros. The Tzemach Tzedek proceeds to explain that G‑d Himself is involved, for His essential light shines through the Sefiros. His Essence, however, is not directly involved to the extent that His involvement causes Him to change, because that involvement is expressed through His light. As explained above, although G‑d invests Himself in His light, as expressed by the fact that it radiates willfully, it nevertheless radiates effortlessly, without causing Him to change.

אַךְ הָעִנְיָן שֶׁזֶּהוּ מִצַּד הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת אוֹר הָעַצְמוּת בַּמִּדּוֹת הַנִּזְכֶּרֶת לְעֵיל

The concept can, however, be explained as follows:The identification of G‑d with a particular attribute comes as a result of the enclothement of the essential light in the emotive attributes,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ו'

as explained above, in section 6.

וְלָכֵן בְּהִתְעוֹרְרוּת מִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה עַל יְדֵי אִתְעֲרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא שֶׁל הַמּוֹרֵד

Therefore, when there is an arousal of the attribute of severity because of an arousal from below from one who rebels,

הֲרֵי גַם אוֹר הָעַצְמוּת שֶׁבַּמִּדָּה הוּא יִפְעוֹל

the essential light in that attribute becomes active,

וִיחַיֶּה הַמִּדָּה שֶׁל הַגְּבוּרָה וְהַכַּעַס

resulting in an expression of the attribute of severity and anger

לְהַעֲנִישׁ הַחוֹטֵא

to punish the transgressor.

אִם כֵּן הֲרֵי יִתָּכֵן לוֹמַר וְחָרָה אַף הֲוָיָ' מַמָּשׁ,

Thus, it is actually appropriate to say: “G‑d’s anger will flare.”

אֶלָּא שֶׁזּוֹ הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת אֵינוֹ קָנוּי בַּאֲמִתַּת בְּאוֹר הָעַצְמוּת

This activity does not, however, truly bring about change in the essential light.

רַק שֶׁנִּרְאֶה כֵּן

It merely appears to do so,

וְכִמְשַׁל הַמַּיִם בְּהַכְּלִי

as in the analogy of water in a container

שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּנִּים לְפִי גְוָן הַכְּלִי וּמַרְאִים כֵּן

whose appearance changes according to the color of the container,

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵין הַשִּׁנּוּי קָנוּי בָּהֶם.

but it is not a true change within the water itself.

וְאָמְנָם בְּמַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ מַמָּשׁ

Nevertheless, with regard to G‑d’s actual Essence and Being

שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִן הַהֶאָרָה דְהֶאָרָה הַנִּזְכֶּרֶת לְעֵיל הַנִּקְרֵאת עַצְמוּת שֶׁבַּכֵּלִים

which is above this radiance of a ray that is referred to as “the essential light in the keilim,

וְהוּא לְמַעְלָה מִן הַצִּמְצוּם הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

and above the tzimtzum described above,

גַּם הִתְפַּעֲלוּת זוֹ הַנִּרְאֵית אֵינָהּ נִמְצֵאת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

even the concept of such a semblance of activity and change does not apply, as explained above.

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה כָּל הַתֹּאָרִים

Similarly, all the terms used to describe G‑d

מַה שֶּׁנִּקְרָא חָכָם וּמֵבִין וְחָסִיד וְגִבּוֹר וְנוֹרָא

– the Wise, the Understanding, the Generous, the Mighty and the Awesome –

הַכֹּל מִצַּד הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת אוֹר הָעַצְמוּת בְּמִדּוֹת הַחָכְמָה וְהַבִּינָה וְהַחֶסֶד וְהַגְּבוּרָה כוּ'

are all expressions of the essential light as it is enclothed in the attributes of Chochmah, Binah, Chessed,and Gevurah, etc.

שֶׁבְּהִתְלַבְּשׁוּתוֹ בְּחָכְמָה נִקְרָא חָכָם

When this light is enclothed in Chochmah,He is called Wise

עַל שֵׁם שֶׁהוּא מְקוֹר חָכְמָה זוֹ

because He is the source for this wisdom

וּמְחַיֶּה אוֹתָהּ עַל יְדֵי אוֹר הָעַצְמוּת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

and gives it life through the essential light, as explained above.

וְכֵן מֵבִין בְּבִינָה וְכוּ'

Similarly, He understands through Binah.

וְגַם שֶׁהוּא מִתְחַכֵּם עַל יְדֵי הַחָכְמָה לְהָאִיר חָכְמָה בַּאֲצִילוּת־בְּרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

Moreover, He also expresses wisdom through the Sefirah of Chochmah to shine forth Chochmah in the lower Sefiros of the realm of Atzilus,and in the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah.

וְכֵן מִתְחַסֵּד עַל יְדֵי הַחֶסֶד כוּ'

Similarly, He expresses Chessedthrough the Sefirah of Chessed.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַזַ"ל בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאַתָּה מוֹצֵא גְדֻלָּתוֹ שָׁם אַתָּה מוֹצֵא עַנְוְתָנוּתוֹ

This is the implication of our Sages’ statement:5 “In the place where you find the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, there you find His humility,”

לְפִי שֶׁהַגְּדֻלָּה עַצְמָהּ עֲנָוָה גְדוֹלָה הִיא

for the assumption of this greatness – G‑d’s expression of His attributes to the extent that He is perceived as great by man – is itself an act of great humility.

לְהַשְׁפִּיל עַצְמוֹ כָּל כָּךְ עַל יְדֵי צִמְצוּם רַב

He is lowering Himself through a great tzimtzum to such a degree

לִהְיוֹת נִקְרָא גָדוֹל כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

that He is referred to as “great” by mortals, as stated above.

For G‑d to be considered “great” by mortals, it is necessary that He lower His light to a level that man can relate to it. Descending to that level is a tremendous expression of humility on His part.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה

This is also the implication of the phrase in the wedding blessings:6 “Who created gladness and happiness.”

שֶׁהַשִּׂמְחָה שֶׁלּוֹ הִיא נִקְרֵאת בְּרִיאָה אֶצְלוֹ

His happiness is called a creation in relation to Him,

The blessing is referring to G‑d’s happiness as manifest in the world of Atzilus. Nevertheless, this happiness is a new entity, distinct and distant from Him.

וְלֹא כְּמוֹ בָּאָדָם שֶׁשִּׂמְחָתוֹ הִיא עַצְמוּתוֹ

in contrast to a person whose happiness is an expression of his essence.

לְפִי שֶׁעִנְיַן הַשִּׂמְחָה שֶׁהִיא הִתְפַּעֲלוּת לֹא יִתָּכֵן בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

For the concept of happiness that involves activity is not appropriate with regard to His Essence,

אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי שֶׁצִּמְצֵם אוֹרוֹ לְהָאִיר בִּרְשִׁימוּ בְּעָלְמָא כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

except when His light undergoes tzimtzum so that it shines merely as a reshimu,as explained above.7

וּבְהֶאָרָה זוֹ יִתָּכֵן בְּחִינַת הִתְהַוּוּת הַשִּׂמְחָה

Within the ray brought about by the tzimtzum, it is possible for happiness to be brought into being,

כְּדִכְתִיב יִשְׂמַח ה' בְּמַעֲשָׂיו (תִּלִּים ק"ד ל"א)

as it is written (Tehillim104:31): “G‑d will rejoice in His handiwork,”

כְּשֶׁעוֹשִׂים רְצוֹנוֹ שֶׁל מָקוֹם

when His will is carried out, i.e., when the created beings – His handiwork – carry out His will, He rejoices, as it were.

וַאֲזַי מֵחֲמַת הַשִּׂמְחָה זֹאת יָבֹא גַם כֵּן הַחֶסֶד

Then, this happiness can also lead to G‑d’s bestowal of kindness,

לְהֵטִיב לָהֶם וּלְהַשְׁפִּיעַ לָהֶם כָּל טוּב בְּרוּחָנִיּוּת וּבְגַשְׁמִיּוּת

to be generous to the created beings and endow them with all types of both material and spiritual goodness,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב הַזָּן אֶת הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ בְּטוּבוֹ בְּחֵן וּבְחֶסֶד כוּ'

as we say:8 “He provides sustenance for the entire world with goodness, grace, and kindness….”

וּבְחִינַת שִׂמְחָה זוֹ שֶׁהִיא בִּבְחִינַת כֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת

This happiness, which is identified with the keilim of Atzilus,

עִם שֶׁהִיא אֱלֹקִית

is G‑dly.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם לְגַבֵּי עַצְמוּתוֹ הִיא בְּרִיאָה

Nevertheless, with regard to His Essence, this happiness is a creation,

מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ

brought into being from nothingness.

וְזֶהוּ אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא כוּ'

This is the implication of the phrase cited above, praising G‑d“Who created … happiness.”

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם גַּם אוֹר הָעַצְמוּת הַמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בַּכֵּלִים הַלָּלוּ נִרְאָה בּוֹ הִתְפַּעֲלוּת הַשִּׂמְחָה

Nevertheless, the active expression of happiness is also evident in the essential light that enclothes itself in these keilim.

For like the water in the glass mentioned above, G‑d’s simple light appears to be identified with the qualities through which it is expressed.

וְזֶהוּ יִשְׂמַח הֲוָיָ' דַאֲצִילוּת בְּמַעֲשָׂיו

This is the implication of the phrase “G‑d – i.e., as He expresses Himself in Atzilus – will rejoice in His handiwork.”

For the involvement of the keilim enable the happiness to bring about change in the realms below Atzilus, and ultimately, on the physical plane.

וְדַי לַמֵּבִין:

This is sufficient for a person of understanding.

Having explained that the attributes of Atzilus are expressions of G‑dliness, the Tzemach Tzedek proceeds to explain how influence from Atzilus is drawn down into this world.

וְהִנֵּה מִבְּחִינַת כֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת נַעֲשִׂים אוֹרוֹת בִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

Behold, the keilimof Atzilusbecome the lights in the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah.

וְכֵלִים דְּי' סְפִירוֹת דִּברִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה הֵם נִבְרָאִים מַמָּשׁ

Now, the keilim of the Ten Sefiros of Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah are actual created beings

וְאֵינָן אֱלֹהוּת

and are not G‑dliness.

וְהַיְנוּ כִּי בֶּאֱמֶת הַמִּדּוֹת דַּאֲצִילוּת עִם שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינַת הִתְפַּעֲלוּת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

The intent is that, in truth, although the qualities of Atzilus involve active expression, as explained above,

מִכָּל מָקוֹם מֵאַחַר שֶׁהֵם אֱלֹהוּת

since they are G‑dliness,

אֵינָן בְּעֶרֶךְ הַמִּדּוֹת שֶׁבַּנִּבְרָאִים כְּלָל לֹא מִנֵּיהּ וְלֹא מִקְצָתֵיהּ

they are not at all – or even partially – comparable to the qualities of the created beings.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָרַמְבַּ"ם שֶׁהוּא הַיּוֹדֵעַ וְהוּא הַיָּדוּעַ וְהוּא הַדֵּעָה עַצְמָהּ

For the statement quoted above in the name of Rambam: “He is the Knower, He is the Object of Knowledge, and He is the Knowledge itself….

וְדָבָר זֶה אֵין כֹּחַ בְּלֵב הָאָדָם לְהַכִּירוֹ עַל בֻּרְיוֹ

There is no power… within a mortal heart to comprehend this thoroughly,”

וְנִתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל שֶׁזֶּהוּ בִּכְלֵי חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַעַת דַּאֲצִילוּת

applies to the keilim of ChaBaD of Atzilus,as explained above.

שֶׁלִּהְיוֹתָן אֱלֹהוּת

Since they are G‑dliness,

אִם כֵּן הֵם אִיהוּ וְגַרְמוֹהִי חַד

as a consequence, “He and His causations – i.e., the keilim of the Sefiros are one,”

שֶׁהוּא הַיּוֹדֵעַ וְהוּא הַדֵּעָה וְכוּ'

for “He is the Knower and the Knowledge….”

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה בִּשְׁאָר מִדּוֹתָיו כְּמוֹ בְּחֶסֶד וּגְבוּרָה וְרַחֲמָנוּת

Similar concepts apply with regard to His other qualities, Chessed, Gevurah,and Rachamim,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים חֵלֶק ב' (פֶּרֶק ח') שָׁם

as stated in Tanya, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah,ch. 8.

וְהֵם לְמַעְלָה מֵהַשְׂכָּלַת הַנִּבְרָאִים,

They are also above the comprehension of the created beings.

לְזֹאת כְּדֵי שֶׁמִּבְּחִינַת הִתְפַּעֲלוּת שֶׁבִּבְחִינַת אֲצִילוּת יֻמְשַׁךְ

Therefore, in order for the active expression of these qualities in Atzilusto be drawn down

לִהְיוֹת נִשְׁפָּע בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַשְׁפָּעוֹת הַבָּאוֹת מֵחֲמָתָן

to generate the influence in this material world that comes as a result of them, a further process of enclothement is necessary.

כְּמוֹ הַטּוֹבָה בְּבָנֵי חַיֵּי וּמְזוֹנֵי מֵהַחֶסֶד

For example, for there to be goodness generated to a person in the areas of children, life, or prosperity from the Chessed of Atzilus,

כְּשֶׁנִּתְפָּעֵל בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּחֶסֶד שֶׁבַּאֲצִילוּת לְהֵטִיב לוֹ

i.e., when G‑d is aroused to act with Chessed of Atzilus to be generous to a person

בַּעֲשׂוֹת הָאָדָם הַטּוֹב וְהַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ

because he acted in a manner that was good and upright in His eyes,

וּלְהִפּוּךְ שֶׁיֻּמְשַׁךְ הָעֹנֶשׁ וְהַדִּין

or conversely, for punishment and judgment to be drawn down

לַעֲשׂוֹת נְקָמָה בְּעוֹבְרֵי רְצוֹנוֹ

to exact retribution against those who violate His will

כְּשֶׁנִּתְפָּעֵל עֲלֵיהֶן בְּמִדַּת גְּבוּרָתוֹ דַאֲצִילוּת,

when He is aroused against them with His attribute of Gevurah of Atzilus,

צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת הַמִּדּוֹת הַנִּזְכָּרוֹת לְעֵיל דַּאֲצִילוּת בַּכֵּלִים דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

it is necessary for the attributes of Atzilus mentioned above to become enclothed in the keilimof Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah.

שֶׁאֲזַי מִתְעַבֶּה מַהוּת הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת

This makes it possible for the quality of the emotive activity to become materially oriented.9

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

To explain with an analogy:

בָּאָדָם הַכַּעַס שֶׁהוּא בַּלֵּב

When anger is lodged in a person’s heart,

בַּחֲרוֹן אַף גַּשְׁמִי הוּא

it is expressed in physical fury.

וּמִמֶּנּוּ יוֹצֵא הַדִּין וְהָעֹנֶשׁ בְּפֹעַל

The person’s emotional energy leads to actual judgment and punishment

כְּשֶׁמַּכֵּהוּ בְּיָדוֹ מֵחֲמַת זֶה

when he strikes the wrongdoer with his hand because of it

אוֹ מְצַוֶּה בִּדְבָרוֹ לְהַכּוֹתוֹ כוּ'

or verbally commands others to beat him.

וְשֹׁרֶשׁ הַכַּעַס הוּא בַּמּוֹחַ וְשֵׂכֶל הוּא בְּתַכְלִית הָרוּחָנִיּוּת וְהַדַּקּוּת

Now, the source of the anger as it exists in the person’s mind and intellect is in an extremely spiritual and abstract state when compared to the actual, physical expression of anger.

דְּהַיְנוּ הַקְּפֵידָא

It is only an objection,

שֶׁהוּא רַק מַה שֶּׁלֹּא יוּכַל לִסְבּוֹל הַדָּבָר בְּמוֹחוֹ

i.e., the fact that he cannot intellectually tolerate a given matter.

אֲבָל אֵינֶנּוּ מְצִיאוּת כַּעַס כְּלָל,

On this level, there is no existence of actual anger at all.

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה יוּבַן עִנְיַן הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת כֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת בַּכֵּלִים דִּברִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

In a similar manner, we can understand the enclothement of the keilim of Atzilus in the keilim of Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah.

The relationship between the existence of the attribute in Atzilus and its expression in our material world is comparable to the relationship between an intellectual objection that exists in one’s mind and the actual expression of anger. What exists in our mind is the intellectual basis and the inner motivation for the anger expressed afterwards. Nevertheless, the form and means of expression through which the anger is actually expressed is of another nature entirely. Similarly, the attributes of Atzilus and the derivatives of their interaction act as the soul and the vitality for all existence on the lower planes of existence. Nevertheless, the form in which that soul and vitality is expressed varies and takes on material dimensions as it descends through the different levels of spiritual existence.

וְיֵשׁ בְּזֶה רִבּוֹא רִבְבוֹת מַדְרֵגוֹת הַהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת

There are myriads upon myriads of levels of spiritual existence that come into being in a downward chain of progression

עַד שֶׁיִּתְהַוֶּה מִמִּדּוֹת הַנִּזְכָּרוֹת לְעֵיל

until the influence from the emotive qualities of Atzilus mentioned above descends to bring into being

בְּחִינַת הִתְפַּעֲלוּת קָרוֹב לְעֶרֶךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מֵהֶן הַשְׁפָּעוֹת גַּשְׁמִיִּים

an arousal of spiritual energy that is close enough to serve as a source for physical influence.

הֵן בְּחֶסֶד וְהֵן בִּגְבוּרָה,

This applies both with regard to those stemming from Chessed or those stemming from Gevurah.

וּמָצִינוּ גַם כֵּן שֶׁהַהַשְׁפָּעָה נִמְשֶׁכֶת דֶּרֶךְ שְׁלוּחִים

We have also seen that influence is drawn down through agents,

וְהֵן הַמַּלְאָכִים

i.e., the angels.

The Hebrew word for angel, malach, shares the same root as the word melachah, meaning “work.” The angels are the medium through which G‑d’s influence is drawn down to bring about activity on this physical plane.

וְכָל זֶה כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתְגַּשֵּׁם הַשֶּׁפַע לָבוֹא בָּעוֹלָם הַשָּׁפָל

The intent of this entire process is to enable the influence to take on a material form to enter this lowly world

שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת נִמְשֶׁכֶת דֶּרֶךְ כָּבוֹד נִבְרָא,

in which it has to be drawn down through “created honor,”

“Honor” refers to the attribute of Malchus, which is the source of the transition of all influence to a lower level.10 The Tzemach Tzedek is explaining that the influence does not only pass through Malchus as it exists in the world of Atzilus, but also through Malchus as it becomes a created entity, having descended into the world of Beriah.

הֵן לְטוֹב הֵן לְמוּטָב

for both good and for better expressions,

“Better” is a euphemism for influence that is outwardly undesirable.

לַעֲנוֹשׁ נִכְסִין לִשְׁרוֹשִׁי לְהָמִית לֶאֱסוֹר וּלְחַבֵּל וְכוּ'

i.e., to exact retribution by causing loss to a person’s possessions, to uproot, to kill, to imprison, and to injure,and the like.11

שֶׁכָּל זֶה הוּא עַל יְדֵי הַמַּלְאָכִים דִּיצִירָה וַעֲשִׂיָּה

All of this is achieved through the angels of the realms of Yetzirah and Asiyah

הַנִּקְרָאִים רְצוּעָה לְאַלְקָאָה

who are referred to12 as “the strap of punishment.”

שֶׁהֵם הַקְּרוֹבִים אֶל הַשִּׁנּוּיִים וְהִתְפַּעֲלוּת הַגַּשְׁמִיּוֹת תַּכְלִית הַקֻּרְבָה

Their level is very close to that of change and physical activity.

The process in which Divine influence is conveyed from one spiritual level to another is referred to as hishtalshelus. That term literally means “chain.” Just as the links of a chain interlock, so, too, the higher and lower levels of existence share a close connection. Thus, these angels that serve as the immediate source for Divine retribution are spiritually close to the effects that they initiate.

אֵלּוּ דַּיָּנֵי גְזֵרוֹת

These angels are “judges of decrees,”13

וְאֵלּוּ דַּיָּנֵי חַבָּלוֹת

“judges for injuries,”

וְאֵלּוּ דַּיָּנֵי נְפָשׁוֹת

and “judges for capital crimes.”14

זֶה סוֹפֵר וְזֶה שׁוֹקֵל כוּ'

This one counts and this one weighs a person’s deeds,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָרְמַ"ק שַׁעַר כ"ד פֶּרֶק י"א,

as Ramak states in Shaar 24, ch. 11.

וְיֵשׁ הַשְׁפָּעָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ צְרִיכָה לְהִתְגַּשֵּׁם עַל יְדֵי שְׁלוּחִים כָּאֵלּוּ

There is also influence that does not have to descend into a physical form by passing through agents such as these,

כְּמוֹ הַשְׁפָּעַת אֱלֹהוּת לְהִתְעַנֵּג בְּגַן עֵדֶן עֶלְיוֹן וְתַחְתּוֹן כוּ'

for example, the G‑dly influence that allows for the experience of delight in the higher Gan Eden or the lower Gan Eden.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם הֲגַם שֶׁהַהַשְׁפָּעָה נִמְשֶׁכֶת דֶּרֶךְ כֵּלִים נִבְרָאִים

Nevertheless, although the influence undergoes a descent as it passes through the keilim of the created beings

כְּמוֹ הַכֵּלִים דִּברִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

– e.g., the keilimof Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah,

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן הַמַּלְאָכִים

and certainly, as it passes through the angels –

הִנֵּה מִכָּל מָקוֹם הוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ הוּא הַמַּשְׁפִּיעַ

G‑d is the source of this influence.

כִּי הַשְׁפָּעָתָן זוֹ הוּא עַל יְדֵי הֶאָרַת הָאֲצִילוּת שֶׁמְּלֻבֶּשֶׁת בָּהֶן כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

For the influence they convey comes about through the radiance of Atzilus enclothed within them, as explained above.

שֶׁכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת מִתְלַבְּשִׁים בִּברִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

This refers to the keilim of Atzilus that are enclothed in Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah.

וַאֲפִלּוּ בָּאָרֶץ הַגַּשְׁמִית יֵשׁ בָּהּ מִבְּחִינַת כְּלִי הַחִיצוֹן דְּמַלְכוּת שֶׁבְּמַלְכוּת דַּאֲצִילוּת

Indeed, even in this physical earth, there is influence from an external dimension of the k’li of Malchus of Malchus of Atzilus

The Sefiros are all interrelated, and each of the ten subdivides into ten levels on various planes of existence. Thus, in each spiritual world, from the Ten Sefiros, 100 (10x10) levels are produced. Malchus of Malchus refers to the lowest level among these 100.

שֶׁהִיא אֱלֹהִית מַמָּשׁ

which is actual G‑dliness.

וּבְתוֹכָהּ אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא

Within it is vested G‑d’s infinity,

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת הֶאָרַת הַקַּו

the radiance of the kav,

שֶׁהָאוֹר מֵעֵין הַמָּאוֹר

and this light is representative of the Source of Light,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּאִגֶּרֶת הַקֹּדשׁ (סִימָן כ') הַמַּתְחִיל אִיהוּ וְחַיּוֹהִי כוּ'

as stated in Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh,Epistle 20, that begins “He and His life-energy....”

וְעַל יְדֵי זֶה יֵשׁ בָּהּ כֹּחַ לְהַצְמִיחַ מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ עֲשָׂבִים וְאִילָנוֹת

This infinite power endows the earth with the potential to grow grasses and trees from nothingness.

Since the G‑dliness enclothed in the earth is representative of the Ein Sof, G‑d’s infinity, it possesses the power of growth and the ability to produce plants, grasses and trees out of virtual nothingness. For a plant is not comparable to the seed from which it grows and, moreover, the seed decomposes entirely before the plant grows.

שֶׁנִּמְצָא כֹּחַ הַצְּמִיחָה הִיא מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בְּעַצְמוֹ

Thus, the power of growth has its source within Him.

אֶלָּא שֶׁמַּה שֶּׁבָּא בִּצְמִיחָה גַשְׁמִיּוּת

Nevertheless, its ability to produce physical plants

זֶהוּ מִצַּד הִתְלַבְּשׁוּתוֹ בְּאֶרֶץ גַּשְׁמִי

comes about because of its enclothement within the physical earth.

וּכְמוֹ כֵן הַהַשְׁפָּעוֹת שֶׁעַל יְדֵי הַמַּלְאָכִים

Similar concepts apply to the influence produced by the angels

שֶׁבְּתוֹכָם מֵאִיר אוֹר ה' מִכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת

through which shines the light of G‑d from the keilim of Atzilus.

Similarly, all influence stems from Him and then descends through the various levels of spiritual existence until ultimately,

וְעַל יְדֵי זֶה הוּא הַהַשְׁפָּעָה

through such a process, influence is conveyed to this physical plane.

וְלָכֵן אוֹמֵר הַמַּלְאָךְ עַל עַצְמוֹ לְשׁוֹן אֱלֹהוּת

Therefore, an angel can refer to itself as G‑d,

When the angels carry out a mission from G‑d, they are nothing more than a medium for Him and His light shines within them. Therefore, they are identified with Him.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּהָגָר כִּי לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל אֲשִׂימֶנּוּ כוּ' (בְּרֵאשִׁית כ"א י"ח)

as it is written (Bereishis 21:18), an angel said to Hagar: “I will make him a great nation.”

שֶׁכַּוָּנָתוֹ עַל אֱלֹהוּת הַמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בּוֹ

The angel’s intent in speaking in the first person15 is to refer to the G‑dliness enclothed within him

שֶׁהוּא הָעִקָּר

– which is the primary element of his being

וּבְכֹחוֹ הַהַשְׁפָּעָה

and through the power of its G‑dly energy, influence is conveyed.

אֶלָּא שֶׁהַמַּלְאָךְ הוּא כְּלִי לְזֶה

The angel, however, is a medium for this influence

וְהוּא סִבַּת הִתְעַבּוּת הַשֶּׁפַע

and causes it to take on a material form.

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל בְּאֹרֶךְ

For as explained above at length,

שֶׁהַכֵּלִים גּוֹרְמִים הַשִּׁנּוּי וְכוּ'

the keilim cause the influence to undergo change.

וְעַיֵּן מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּמִצְוָה ש"ב פֶּרֶק ב',

Note the explanation in mitzvah 302, sec. 2.16

וְהִנֵּה הֲגַם שֶׁהַכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת מִתְלַבְּשִׁים בִּברִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

Thus, the keilim of Atzilus enclothe themselves in Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah

וּבָאִים מֵהֶן כָּל הַפְּעֻלּוֹת גַּשְׁמִיִּים

and all physical activity comes from them.

וּבְהִתְחַלְּקוּת רַב

This influence is dispensed in a many-faceted manner,

לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ לְכָל אֶחָד כִּפְרִי מַעֲלָלוֹ

enabling every created being to receive the consequences of his actions.17

וְהֵן אֱלֹהוּת מַמָּשׁ

These keilim are actual G‑dliness,

דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁהֵם מִדּוֹתָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ

i.e., they represent His emotive qualities:

חַסְדּוֹ וּגְבוּרָתוֹ וְרַחֲמָנוּתוֹ וְנִצְחוֹנוֹ וְהוֹדוֹ וְהִתְקַשְּׁרוּתוֹ וּמַלְכוּתוֹ,

His Chessed,His Gevurah,His Mercy, His Netzach, His Hod,His Connection,18 and His Malchus.

שֶׁעַל זֶה מֵאִיר חַסְדּוֹ וְעַל זֶה גְבוּרָתוֹ וְעַל זֶה רַחֲמָנוּתוֹ

To one individual His Chessed shines forth, to another His Gevurah,and to another His Mercy,

כִּי בְּמִדָּה שֶׁאָדָם מוֹדֵד בָּהּ מוֹדְדִין לוֹ

for “the measure with which a person conducts himself is used to determine and measure out his fate.” 19

לְפִי שֶׁבְּאִתְעֲרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא אִתְעֲרוּתָא דִלְעֵלָּא

The rationale is that an arousal from below brings about an arousal from Above

וְכִמְבֹאָר בְּעִנְיַן הַטִּקְלָא,

as explained with regard to the Heavenly potter’s wheel.

The Tzemach Tzedek is referring to the statements of the Zohar,20 which explain that there are Heavenly “potter’s wheels,” as it were, i.e., just as a potter fashions and shapes clay, a person’s conduct in this world generates an impetus that shapes the manner in which G‑d and His court control the person’s fate. If his deeds are desirable, positive influence is generated, and the converse is also true. Thus, a person’s conduct molds his future.

אֶלָּא שֶׁמְּאִירִים דֶּרֶךְ כֵּלִים דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

Although G‑d is the ultimate source for the influence, the Sefiros shine through the keilim of Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah

כְּפִי הַפְּעֻלָּה שֶׁצְּרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת עַל יָדָן כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

according to the activity that they are intended to produce.

אַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין זֶה גוֹרֵם הִתְפַּעֲלוּת וְשִׁנּוּי בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

Nevertheless, the activity of these Sefiros does not bring about activity or change within G‑d, blessed be He,

לְפִי שֶׁאֲצִילוּתָן מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

because in emanating the Sefiros,

הוּא מִבְּחִינַת אוֹר וְזִיו לְבָד

He is merely radiating light and a ray

שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹגֵעַ לְהָעֶצֶם,

that does not affect His Essence.

וְגַם זֹאת עַל יְדֵי צִמְצוּם רַב וְעָצוּם

Moreover, this involves a great and awesome tzimtzum;

שֶׁנִּתְצַמְצֵם הָאוֹר הַזֶּה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

i.e., this light has undergone such a tzimtzum

עַד שֶׁבִּרְשִׁימוּ הַנִּשְׁאָר הוּא הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת

that the activity takes place within the reshimu mentioned above

וְאֵינוֹ נוֹגֵעַ לְהָעֶצֶם

and does not affect His Essence at all,

וְכַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל בְּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא שִׂמְחָה כוּ'

as explained above with regard to the phrase “Who created… happiness.”21

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָאוֹר הַקַּו מִתְלַבֵּשׁ בָּהֶן

Even though the light of the kavenclothes itself in these keilim,

וְהוּא מִבְּחִינָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַצִּמְצוּם

it originates in a level above the tzimtzum,

וְעַל יָדוֹ כָּל הַהַנְהָגוֹת נִתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל

and it controls all their functioning in a way that, as explained above,

שֶׁבּוֹ אֵין הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת אֲמִתִּית

there is no true activity generated within the light.

רַק שֶׁנִּרְאֶה כֵּן

There only appears to be such activity

לְצַד הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת בַּכֵּלִים

due to the enclothement of the light in the keilim,

כִּמְשַׁל הַמַּיִם לְפִי גְוָן הַכְּלִי כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

as explained above in the analogy of the change of the color of water due to the change in the color of the container.

וְאָמְנָם עַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ הוּא לְמַעְלָה מַעְלָה מִן הַקַּו

Nevertheless, G‑d’s Essence is uplifted far above the kav.

וְכִמְשַׁל בִּטּוּל הַזִּיו לְגַבֵּי הַמָּאוֹר

The relation of the kav to His Essence can be understood through the analogy of the nullification of a ray within the source of light.

שֶׁאֵין שִׁנּוּיֵי הַזִּיו פּוֹעֲלִים שִׁנּוּי בּוֹ

In such an instance, a change in the ray does not effect a change in the source,

אֲפִלּוּ שִׁנּוּי זֶה גַּם שֶׁאֵינוֹ אֲמִתִּי,

not even a change that is not true, i.e., not permanent, like the change in the color of the light because of the color of the glass through which it shines.

וְנִמְצָא עָלוּ שְׁנֵי הָעִקָּרִים כְּהֹגֶן

Thus, the following two fundamental principles have been explained in an appropriate manner:

שֶׁהוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ הַמַּנְהִיג עוֹלָמוֹ וּמִמֶּנּוּ כָּל הַהַשְׁפָּעוֹת

a) that He is the One Who oversees His world and all influence comes from Him

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּעִקָּר ה'

as stated in the Fifth Fundamental Principle of Faith,22

וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין בּוֹ שִׁנּוּי כְּלָל

but b) He does not undergo any change at all,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּעִקָּר ב'

as stated in the Second Fundamental Principle:

שֶׁהוּא אֶחָד הָאֱמֶת:

for He is true unity.


In this section, the Tzemach Tzedek explains in greater detail the issue raised in section 4 – the association of G‑d with different attributes and emotive states.

Jewish philosophy interprets all the verses that speak about G‑d’s happiness, anger, and the like according to the principle that “The Torah speaks in the language of men.” Implied is that G‑d brings about activities that are similar to those activities that we carry out when we are emotionally aroused. Nevertheless, the activities brought about by G‑d do not cause or result from any emotive arousal in Him. That is problematic, for it appears that He is not involved in these responses and they exist independent of Him.

Kabbalah accepts the concept of the existence of attributes within G‑dliness, identifying them as the Ten Sefiros of Atzilus. Thus, He is involved. Nevertheless, the existence of these attributes does not necessitate change or multiplicity within Him, for, as we prefaced above, although the Sefiros are called G‑dliness, they are not His Essence. Thus, the emotive responses described above involve only the Sefiros; His Essence, by contrast, does not change, as explained above.

The Tzemach Tzedek notes that this explanation is problematic. If the emotive arousal takes place solely within the Sefiros, it would appear to be divorced from G‑d’s Essence, as it were. The Tzemach Tzedek proceeds to explain that G‑d Himself is involved, for His essential light shines through the Sefiros. However, His involvement is expressed through His light and therefore does not cause any change in His Essence.

Similarly, all the terms used to describe G‑d – the Wise, the Understanding, the Generous, the Mighty and the Awesome – are all expressions of the essential light as it is enclothed in the attributes of Atzilus. For example, when this light is enclothed in Chochmah, He is called Wise because He is the source of this wisdom and gives it life through the essential light described above.

After having explained that the attributes of Atzilus are G‑dliness, the Tzemach Tzedek continues, describing the process of descent through which influence from Atzilus is drawn down into this world (Seder HaHishtalshelus).

These explanations resolve the apparent contradiction between the following two fundamental principles: a) that G‑d oversees His world and all influence comes from Him alone, as stated in the Fifth Fundamental Principle of Faith, but, b) He does not undergo any change at all; for, as stated in the Second Fundamental Principle, He is true unity.