This section focuses on the questions: If G‑d is the source of all existence, what could possibly motivate Him to emotive activity? What could cause Him to be happy or angry, as it were?

It is explained that even though there is no change within G‑d’s Essence, G‑d, on His own initiative, has established a pattern within His light in which man’s conduct evokes a correspondent response.


– VIII –

אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּעֶזְרַת ה' בִּפְרָקִים הַקּוֹדְמִים

With G‑d’s help, it was explained in the previous sections

אֵיךְ שֶׁהַמִּדּוֹת וְהַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרוּ בַּתּוֹרָה עָלָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ הֵם אֲמִתִּיִּים בֵּאלֹהוּתוֹ

how the attributes and activities ascribed to G‑d in the Torah are true descriptions of His G‑dliness.

This creates a commonality between G‑d and limited existence, enabling Him to unite with the internal dimension of the created beings.

וְשֶׁאַף עַל פִּי כֵן בְּמַהוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ אֵין שִׁנּוּי וְהִתְפַּעֲלוּת כְּלָל

But nevertheless, there is no change or activity within the Essence of His Being,

כִּי נֶאֶצְלוּ עַל יְדֵי הַצִּמְצוּם כָּאָמוּר

because these attributes and activities emanate through the medium of the tzimtzum, as explained.

וְסָרָה תְּלוּנַת הַפִלְסוֹפִים,

On the basis of this understanding, the complaint of the philosophers – how can G‑d relate to a limited world, when He is simple, undefined, and unchanging – was resolved.

הִנֵּה עֲדַיִן חָל עָלֵינוּ חוֹבַת בֵּאוּר עִנְיָן אֶחָד בְּזֶה,

Nonetheless, there still remains one concept that requires explanation:

וְהוּא כִּי קֻשְׁיַת הַפִלְסוֹפִים עַל עִנְיְנֵי הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת וְהַמִּדּוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרוּ בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

the question raised by the philosophers concerning the emotive activities and the attributes ascribed to Him.

עַד שֶׁלְּזֶה נִדְחֲקוּ

They were hard-pressed concerning this issue for the reasons to be explained below,

לוֹמַר שֶׁהֵם רַק שׁוֹלְלִים

and explained that these terms were used only to negate the concept that G‑d lacked these qualities

The philosophers postulated that by defining G‑d as wise, the intent is not to limit Him to being wise, but rather to state that He cannot be considered not wise, for that would also be a limitation. This process of logic is called yedias hashelilah, literally, “negative knowledge.” Implied is that – as opposed to concepts that are comprehensible directly, e.g., 2+2=4 – we are speaking about ideas that we cannot grasp directly, as in this case where He and the manner in which He knows are beyond our comprehension. Nevertheless, we are compelled logically to accept that the concept is true.

וְדִבְּרָה תוֹרָה כִּלְשׁוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם

and that “the Torah speaks in the language of man,”

that mortal attributes were 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.

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ז',

as stated in section 7.

הִיא ב' דְבָרִים

Their difficulties focus on two points:

א' עַל עֶצֶם הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת שֶׁהִיא שִׁנּוּי

a) The essence of the concept of emotive activity involves a change,

When a person is aroused to a feeling, there is a difference between his state before that arousal and afterwards.

וְלֹא יִתָּכֵן לוֹמַר כֵּן בַּבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרֵךְ

and such change cannot be mentioned with regard to the Creator,

מִשְּׁנֵי טְעָמִים הָאֲמוּרִים בְּדִבְרֵיהֶם כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ז',

for the two reasons for their statements mentioned in section 7;

for a) a Creator cannot change and b) change would imply multiplicity – that there is G‑d as He exists before the change and as He exists afterwards.

ב' גַּם אִם נַנִּיחַ קֻשְׁיָא זוֹ

b) Even if this question could somehow be resolved

וְנֹאמַר שֶׁאֵין הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת גּוֹרֵם שִׁנּוּי,

and it could be postulated that emotive activity would not involve a change in the Creator,

The philosophers offered various resolutions to this question. As the Tzemach Tzedek stated in sec. 7 and explains in further detail below, according to Chassidus, this question is resolved through the kabbalistic concepts of or, “light,” and tzimtzum.

עֲדַיִן קָשֶׁה

there is still a question:

כִּי מֵהֵיכָן יִהְיֶה הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת

What could motivate this activity within G‑d?

שֶׁבִּשְׁלָמָא בָּאָדָם שֶׁיֵּשׁ זוּלָתוֹ דְּבַר מָה בְּעֶרְכּוֹ

With regard to a person, when there are entities that exist on his level,

יִתְפָּעֵל מִמֶּנּוּ

he will be affected by them

וִירַחֵם עָלָיו אוֹ יִכְעַס עָלָיו

and show mercy to them or be angered by them.

אֲבָל בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

With regard to the Creator, by contrast,

שֶׁאֵין דָּבָר חוּץ מִמֶּנּוּ

since there is no existence aside from Him,

מִמִּי יִתְפָּעֵל בְּשִׂמְחָה אוֹ בְּכַעַס

who could cause Him to react with happiness or anger,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁהַכֹּל הוּא מִמֶּנּוּ,

since all existence stems from Him?

Our emotions are responses to other people and/or situations that are significant enough to affect us. Most people do not show mercy to ants and insects, because they do not consider them significant. There cannot be another entity that is “significant” with regard to G‑d, for He is the Creator and far above the level of the created beings. What then could evoke emotive activity within Him?

וְהִנֵּה קֻשְׁיָא זוֹ הַשְּׁנִיָּה לֹא נִתְבָּאֵר יִשּׁוּבָהּ לִכְאוֹרָה מִדְּבָרֵינוּ

Seemingly, the resolution of this second question has not been explained in our previous statements.

כִּי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל שֶׁהַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת וְהַמִּדּוֹת הֵם בִּבְחִינַת הֶאָרָה אֱלֹהִית שֶׁאַחַר הַצִּמְצוּם

True, it has been explained that G‑d’s activities and qualities represent G‑dly radiance that shines after the tzimtzum.

עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִקְשֶׁה עָלֵינוּ הַקֻּשְׁיָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה

Hence, there is no longer any difficulty presented by the first question

שֶׁלֹּא יִתָּכֵן לוֹמַר בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ שִׁנּוּי

– that He cannot change,

וְאִלּוּ הָיָה פְּעָמִים כּוֹעֵס וּפְעָמִים שָׂמֵחַ הָיָה מִשְׁתַּנֶּה

and were He to become angry at times and to rejoice at times, He would be undergoing change –

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ אֵינוֹ שִׁנּוּי

because within His Essence, in truth, there is no change.

וְהַשִּׂמְחָה וְהַכַּעַס נִמְשְׁכוּ מִמֶּנּוּ בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּם רַב

The happiness and the anger are drawn down from Him through a great tzimtzum

מִן הַזִּיו וְהָאוֹר שֶׁלּוֹ כוּ'

and only from His radiance and light, and do not cause change within Him,

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל בְּאֹרֶךְ,

as explained above at length.

אֲבָל עֲדַיִן קָשֶׁה

Even with the resolution of that question, it is, however, difficult to understand:

לָמָּה יִתְפָּעֵל

Why should He be aroused to emotive activity? I.e., who or what can arouse Him to activity?

The questions and explanations in this section focus primarily on the existence of the middos, G‑d’s emotive attributes, for the arousal of emotion necessitates a relationship with another entity that is significant enough to evoke such feelings. It is difficult to understand how there could be any entity that is significant with regard to G‑d.

כְּלוֹמַר הֲרֵי בְּהֶכְרֵחַ שֶׁגַּם הַשִּׂמְחָה וְהַכַּעַס שֶׁאַחַר הַצִּמְצוּם הֵם נִמְשָׁכִים מִמֶּנּוּ

To explain: It is necessary to say that both the happiness and the anger that exist after the tzimtzum are drawn down from Him,

As explained in sec. 7, the attributes are an expression of Him and He is the active agent that causes their expression.

וּבְכָל רֶגַע הוּא מְצַמְצֵם אוֹרוֹ וְזִיווֹ הַבִּלְתִּי בַּעַל גְּבוּל

and at every moment He contracts His infinite light and radiance

לִהְיוֹת מִתְצַמְצֵם

to be limited

לִהְיוֹת בִּבְחִינַת שִׂמְחָה אוֹ כַּעַס

and to express either happiness or anger.

אִם כֵּן מִמִּי יִתְפָּעֵל

If so, to whom will He react,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁאֵין לְךָ דָבָר שֶׁחוּץ מִמֶּנּוּ כוּ'.

since there is no existence outside of Him?

וְאָמְנָם בֶּאֱמֶת תְּשׁוּבַת דָּבָר זֶה גַם כֵּן נִתְבָּאֵר וּמוּבָן לְמַשְׂכִּיל הֵיטֵב בִּדְבָרִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל בְּעִנְיַן הַצִּמְצוּם,

Nevertheless, in truth, the resolution of this matter has also been explained and is understandable to a person who thinks thoroughly about the concepts explained above regarding the tzimtzum.

וְהוּא כִּי כְּבָר אָמַרְנוּ שֶׁבְּעַצְמוּתוֹ אֵין הִתְפַּעֲלוּת כְּלָל

For, as we said, in His Essence, there is no activity at all.

וְאֵינוֹ לֹא כּוֹעֵס וְלֹא שָׂמֵחַ

He is not angered, nor does He rejoice,

כִּי הוּא מִתְעַלֶּה וּמִתְרוֹמֵם עַל כָּל מִדּוֹת אֵלּוּ,

because He is exalted and uplifted above all these qualities.

וּבְעֶרֶךְ זֶה נֶאֱמַר אִם צָדַקְתָּ מַה תִּתֶּן לוֹ (אִיּוֹב ל"ה ז')

With regard to this level, it is written (Iyov 35:7): “If you acted righteously, what have you given Him?”

וְרַבּוּ פְשָׁעֶיךָ מַה תַּעֲשֶׂה לּוֹ (אִיּוֹב ל"ה ו')

and (ibid.: 6): “If your transgressions multiply, what have you done to Him?”

I.e., G‑d’s Essence is, by nature, entirely above being affected by any and all acts, whether positive or negative, performed by mortals.1

שֶׁאֵין הַמִּצְוֹת וְהָעֲבֵרוֹת תּוֹפְסִים מָקוֹם כְּלָל

On this level, neither our mitzvos, nor our transgressions are at all significant

לִהְיוֹת הוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ מִתְפָּעֵל בְּעַצְמוֹ מֵהֶם

to cause His Essence to be affected by them.

The Tzemach Tzedek’s words should not be interpreted to mean that G‑d’s Essence does not relate to our conduct. Instead, the intent is that – in and of themselves – our deeds are not significant enough to affect Him. Nevertheless, as implied by the analogy the Tzemach Tzedek employs further on in the text, G‑d chooses that our deeds should affect Him.2

גַּם בְּעֶרְכּוֹ לֹא יִתָּכֵן הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת,

Indeed, on that level, the very concept of being aroused to emotive activity is not relevant.

וּמַה שֶּׁהוּא שָׂמֵחַ מִמַּעֲשֵׂה הַצַּדִּיקִים וְכוֹעֵס עַל הָרְשָׁעִים

The fact that G‑d derives happiness from the deeds of the righteous and becomes angered by the deeds of the wicked

אֵין זֶה בַּאֲמִתַּת עַצְמוּתוֹ

does not mean that this involves His true Essence.

רַק שֶׁמַּאֲצִיל מִדּוֹת אֵלּוֹ מֵאוֹרוֹ עַל יְדֵי צִמְצוּם,

Rather, these attributes emanate from His light through the tzimtzum

כְּדֵי לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ עַל יָדָן לַצַּדִּיקִים וְלָרְשָׁעִים

in order to endow the righteous and the wicked with influence as is appropriate.

כְּפִי הַמִּסְתָּעֵף מִן הַשִּׂמְחָה וּכְפִי הַמִּסְתָּעֵף מִן הַכַּעַס.

The influence granted comes about as if it resulted from happiness and from anger.

G‑d does not feel either happiness or anger. Nevertheless, He rewards or punishes man as if He would be motivated by such qualities. For example, if a person acts kindly, G‑d grants him kindness, for the person’s act is of the type that would evoke happiness on G‑d’s part, as it were.

וּמֵעַתָּה קֻשְׁיָא זוֹ הַשְּׁנִיָּה אֵינָהּ נִמְלֶטֶת מִב' עִנְיָנִים

Thus, this second question must be resolved in either of two ways, as will be explained.

שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְפָרְשָׁהּ אִם רוֹצֶה לוֹמַר קֻשְׁיָתְךָ כָּךְ,

One could say that the intent of the question is:

אֵיךְ יָכוֹל לְהִתְפָּעֵל מִמַּעֲשֵׂה הַצַּדִּיקִים וְהָרְשָׁעִים

How can G‑d be aroused to activity by the deeds of the righteous and the deeds of the wicked,

לְזֶה בְּשִׂמְחָה וְעַל זֶה בְּכַעַס

reacting to one with happiness and to the other with anger,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁבְּעַצְמוּתוֹ אֵין הַנִּבְרָאִים תּוֹפְסִים מָקוֹם

since the created beings are of no significance at all with regard to His Essence,

וּמִמִּי יִתְפָּעֵל כוּ'

and thus, from whom will He be aroused to activity?

תְּשׁוּבָתְךָ בְּצִדְּךָ

The resolution of this question is that

הִנֵּה בֶּאֱמֶת קַמֵּיהּ עַצְמוּתוֹ אֵין הַנִּבְרָאִים תּוֹפְסִים מָקוֹם כְּלָל

in truth, before His Essence, the created beings are not significant at all

וּבְטֵלִים בִּמְצִיאוּת מַמָּשׁ

and their existence is entirely batel,

כְּזִיו הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ

like the radiance of the sun in the orb of the sun

שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה בְּשֵׁם בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ כְּלָל

which is not even worthy of being called by an independent name.

All that is perceived is the orb of the sun; the radiance is not perceived as an independent entity at all,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים חֵלֶק ב' (פֶּרֶק ג'),

as explained in Tanya, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 3.

וְהִנֵּה בֶּאֱמֶת שֶׁהוּא בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ אֵינוֹ מִתְפָּעֵל מִמַּעֲשֵׂיהֶם כְּלָל

For in truth, He in His Essence is not affected by the actions of the created beings at all,

וְכַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל בְּפֵרוּשׁ אִם צָדַקְתָּ וְרַבּוּ פְשָׁעֶיךָ כוּ'

as stated above in the interpretation of the verses: “If you acted righteously…,” and “If your transgressions multiply….”

אֲבָל לְגַבֵּי הַהֶאָרָה אֱלֹהִית שֶׁהוּא מֵאִיר מִמֶּנּוּ אַחַר הַצִּמְצוּם כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

Nevertheless, the ray of G‑dliness that shines from Him after the tzimtzum has descended to the level where it is affected by their actions, as explained above.

הִנֵּה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא אֱלֹהִית

Although it is G‑dly,

לְגֹדֶל הַצִּמְצוּם הֶעָצוּם שֶׁהַהֶאָרָה הַזֹּאת

because of the awesome tzimtzum that this ray has undergone,

אֵינָהּ מֵעֶרֶךְ הָאוֹר וְהַזִּיו הַבִּלְתִּי בַּעַל גְּבוּל

it is not comparable to the infinite light and radiance

לֹא מִנֵּיהּ וְלֹא מִקְצָתֵיהּ

at all – not to any degree –

וְנִקְרָא רְשִׁימוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ו',

and is called a mere trace (reshimu), as explained in section 6.

וְהֶאָרָה זוֹ הִיא בְּחִינַת י' סְפִירוֹת

This radiance includes Ten Sefiros:

חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַעַת חֶסֶד־גְּבוּרָה־תִּפְאֶרֶת כוּ'

ChaBaD, ChaGaT, etc.

יִתָּכֵן שֶׁעַל פִּי הַדַּעַת הַמְצֻמְצָם

It is possible that based on this limited level of knowledge, the knowledge that permeates the Sefiros of Atzilus,

(רוֹצֶה לוֹמַר לְגַבֵּי מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נִקְרָא מְצֻמְצָם)

(which is limited when compared to His Essence and His Being,)

הַהוּא יִהְיֶה הִתְפַּעֲלוּת מַמָּשׁ מִמַּעֲשֵׂה הַצַּדִּיקִים וְהָרְשָׁעִים

there will be an actual arousal as a result of the deeds of the righteous and the wicked,

עַל זֶה בְּשִׂמְחָה וְעַל זֶה בְּכַעַס

to happiness and to anger as is appropriate.

כִּי בִּבְחִינַת דַּעַת זֶה שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ נִמְשָׁךְ הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת

For with regard to the level of knowledge from which the arousal of sublime emotive activity stems,

הֵם תּוֹפְסִים אֵיזֶה מָקוֹם

the created beings are significant

עַד שֶׁכְּדַאי הֵם שֶׁתָּנוּחַ עֲלֵיהֶם הַקְּפֵידָא וְהַכַּעַס אוֹ הַשִּׂמְחָה כְּפִי מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם,

to the extent that they will arouse objection, anger, or happiness according to their deeds.

כִּי בְּחִינוֹת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַעַת וּבְחִינוֹת מִדּוֹת חֶסֶד־גְּבוּרָה־תִּפְאֶרֶת אֵלּוּ

For the intellectual attributes of ChaBaD and the emotive attributes of ChaGaT

הֵם בְּהֶאָרָה אֱלֹהִית שֶׁכְּבָר נִתְצַמְצֵם

exist within the ray of G‑dliness that has already undergone tzimtzum

וְנִתְעַלֵּם מִמֶּנָּה מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ הַבִּלְתִּי בַּעַל גְּבוּל בֶּאֱמֶת,

and, in truth, His infinite Essence and Being has already become hidden from them.

וּמִסִּבַּת הַצִּמְצוּם הַזֶּה נִרְאִים הַנִּבְרָאִים לְאֵיזוֹ יֵשׁ וְדָבָר

As a result of the tzimtzum, the created beings appear as entities of significance and importance,

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁקַּמֵּיהּ הֵם כְּלָא חֲשִׁיבִין

even though before Him, they are of no significance.3

כִּי זֶהוּ קַמֵּיהּ דַּוְקָא

For this lack of significance applies “before Him,” i.e., with regard to His Essence,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא בִּידִיעָתוֹ שֶׁלִּפְנֵי הַצִּמְצוּם

as the created beings are perceived by His knowledge before the tzimtzum.

(אָמְרֵנוּ שֵׁם יְדִיעָה לְשַׁכֵּךְ הָאֹזֶן

(The use of the term “knowledge” is merely an analogy,

כִּי אֵינוֹ בְּגֶדֶר מַדָּע)

because at that level, there is no concept of knowledge as we understand it.)

The term “knowledge,” comprehending an entity objectively, is not appropriate at these sublime levels. For knowledge implies limitation, and at these levels there is no limitation at all.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בִּבְחִינַת הֶאָרָה זוֹ שֶׁלְּאַחַר הַצִּמְצוּם

Nevertheless, with regard to the ray that shines after the tzimtzum, by contrast,

יִתָּכֵן הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת לְשִׂמְחָה אוֹ לְכַעַס

it is possible to speak of being aroused to joy or to anger,

לְחֶסֶד וּגְבוּרָה כוּ'

to Chessed or Gevurah,

כִּי הַנִּבְרָאִים תּוֹפְסִים אֵיזֶה מָקוֹם מֵחֲמַת הַצִּמְצוּם,

since the created beings are somewhat significant at this level because of the tzimtzum.

שֶׁזֶּה עִנְיָנוֹ לְהַעֲלִים הָאוֹר וְהַחַיּוּת מֵאֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא

For this is the purpose of the tzimtzum: to conceal the light and the vitality that radiates from the Ein Sof,

לִהְיוֹת מַהוּת הַמִּתְהַוֶּה נִכָּר לְיֵשׁ וְדָבָר

so that the substance of the entity brought into existence will be seen as significant and a yesh,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים שָׁם (פֶּרֶק ד')

as explained in Tanya, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah,(ch. 4,)

עַל פָּסוּק שֶׁמֶשׁ וּמָגֵן ה' אֱלֹקִים (תִּלִּים פ"ד י"ב)

in the interpretation of the verse (Tehillim 84:12): “For the sun and a shield are Havayah and Elokim.

אֶלָּא שֶׁשָּׁם מְדַבֵּר בְּצִמְצוּם שֶׁמֵּאֲצִילוּת לִבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

There, however, the subject of the discussion is the tzimtzum from Atzilus to Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah

לְהַוּוֹת נִבְרָאִים בַּעֲלֵי גְבוּל

to allow for limited created beings to come into existence.

וּכְמוֹ כֵן צִמְצוּם הָרִאשׁוֹן לִהְיוֹת חָלָל שֶׁיִּתְהַוּוּ י' סְפִירוֹת גַּם כֵּן מֵעֵין זֶה

Nevertheless, similar concepts also apply with regard to the first tzimtzum that brought about the empty cavity wherein the Ten Sefiros came into being.

שֶׁצִּמְצוּם זֶה הַמַּעְלִים

That tzimtzum brought about concealment,

עַד שֶׁיּוּכַל לִהְיוֹת חָל בְּחִינַת הִתְפַּעֲלוּת

making it possible for there to be an emotive arousal within the middos of Atzilus

מֵאִתְעֲרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא עַל דֶּרֶךְ הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

as a result of an awakening from below, as explained above.

As our Sages state,4 G‑d relates to the created beings in a manner described as “measure for measure,” for example, man’s arousal of kindness evokes G‑d’s kindness. Nevertheless, for such interaction to take place, a tzimtzum is necessary in order to limit G‑dliness to the extent that His attributes share a commonality with those of mortals and will respond to them.

וְאִם תַּעֲמִיק עוֹד לְחַזֵּק קֻשְׁיָתְךָ,

One may look deeper and reinforce the question:

How is it possible for there to be an arousal of emotional activity even within the Sefiros of Atzilus? Seemingly, just as G‑d’s Essence is transcendent and above being affected by the deeds of mortals, so too, the Sefiros of Atzilus are transcendent. True, the Sefiros are defined entities, while

וְתֹאמַר הֲרֵי מִכָּל מָקוֹם הוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ עַצְמוֹ הַבִּלְתִּי בַּעַל גְּבוּל וּבִלְתִּי בַּעַל שִׁנּוּיִים וְהִתְפַּעֲלוּת,

It is postulated that His Essence is infinite and unchanging, never being aroused.

הוּא הַמְצַמְצֵם אוֹרוֹ לְהָאִיר מִמֶּנּוּ הֶאָרָה מְצֻמְצֶמֶת

He contracted His light in order to shine a limited ray from it

שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מִמֶּנָּה הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת,

to allow for an emotive arousal in response to the actions of the created beings.

וַהֲרֵי הֶאָרָה מְצֻמְצֶמֶת זוֹ אֲדוּקָה הִיא בּוֹ

Now, this limited ray clings to Him

וּמִמֶּנּוּ נִמְשֶׁכֶת בְּכָל רֶגַע,

and is being drawn down from Him at every moment.

אִם כֵּן אֵיךְ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת,

How then is it possible that there be an emotive arousal within the ray as a result of the actions of the created beings,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁבְּעַצְמוּתוֹ אֵין זֶה תּוֹפֵס מָקוֹם כְּלָל,

since with regard to His Essence, all of the created beings are not significant at all?

וַהֲלֹא הוּא הַמְצַמְצֵם עַצְמוֹ

He is the One Who caused Himself to undergo tzimtzum

הוּא מַכִּיר עַצְמוּתוֹ

and He recognizes His Essence,

שֶׁקַּמֵּיהּ גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ עַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ הַבִּלְתִּי בַּעַל גְּבוּל,

for it is revealed and known before Him that His Essence is unlimited.

אִם כֵּן אֵיךְ יִהְיֶה הִתְפַּעֲלוּת בְּהֶאָרָה מְצֻמְצֶמֶת

If so, how is it possible for there to be emotive arousal within the limited ray

שֶׁהוּא הוּא הַמְצַמְצֵם עַצְמוֹ,

whose tzimtzum He brought about within Himself?

The Tzemach Tzedek raises a difficulty, for the explanation that there is the possibility for emotive arousal within the realm of limitation established by the Sefiros is problematic. The difficulty stems from the fact that the sublime middos are extensions of His Essence. Hence, just as worldly existence is not significant with regard to His Essence, it should also not be significant with regard to the sublime middos.

הִנֵּה הַתְּשׁוּבָה בְּזֶה גַם כֵּן גְּלוּיָה כַּאֲשֶׁר נַעֲמִיק מְעַט יוֹתֵר בִּדְבָרִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל

The resolution of this question also becomes apparent when one takes a slightly deeper approach to the above concepts.

וְטֶרֶם כֹּל אַצִּיעָה לְפָנֶיךָ מָשָׁל גַּשְׁמִי

Initially, I will offer an analogy in material terms

אֲשֶׁר מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּאֵר הַקֻּשְׁיָא יוֹתֵר וּתְשׁוּבָתוֹ בְּצִדּוֹ,

that will clarify the question and its ultimate resolution.

וְהוּא כְּמוֹ הָאָב הַמַּדְרִיךְ בְּנוֹ קָטָן בֶּן שְׁנָתוֹ,

The analogy involves a father who desires to train his one-year-old son,

לְהוֹעִילוֹ בְּאֵיזֶה עִנְיָן

to improve him in a particular matter,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁמְּלַמְּדוֹ לֵילֵךְ אוֹ לְדַבֵּר

e.g., to teach him to walk or talk.

וּמַרְאֶה לוֹ בַּעֲשׂוֹתוֹ רְצוֹנוֹ פָּנִים שׂוֹחֲקוֹת

When the child carries out his father’s will, the father shows him a smiling countenance,

וּמְמַלֵּא מִשְׁאֲלוֹתָיו וְנוֹתֵן לוֹ אֱגוֹזִים וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא

satisfies his desires, and gives him nuts and the like, to reinforce the son’s positive behavior.

וּבְעָבְרוֹ רְצוֹנוֹ מַרְאֶה לוֹ פָּנִים זוֹעֲפוֹת וּמוֹנֵעַ מִשְׁאֲלוֹתָיו הַלָּלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ,

Conversely, if the son violates his father’s will, the father shows him an angry countenance and withholds the things that the son desires from him.

וּבֶאֱמֶת בְּדַעַת הָאָב עַצְמוֹ גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ שֶׁאֵין הַבֵּן לְמִעוּט הַשְׂכָּלָתוֹ בְּעֶרֶךְ

Now, in truth, the father is aware that because of the son’s limited intellectual capacity, the son is not on a level

שֶׁיָּחוּל שֵׁם הִתְפַּעֲלוּת אֵלָיו

that the father would be emotionally aroused to such an extent by the son’s actions.

Nothing his son does is really significant enough for him to be aroused. Of course, the father loves his son and cares about him, but the son’s acts in and of themselves are not important to the father. Certainly, those acts mean a lot to the father but not because of the acts themselves, but because it is his son who performed them. For example, when his son takes his first steps, those steps do not benefit the father.

אֶלָּא שֶׁזֶּה מַרְאֶה לוֹ כֵּן

Nevertheless, the reason he shows him these responses

רַק כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתְחַזֵּק הַבֵּן בָּעִנְיָן הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

is only so that the son will be reinforced to adopt these behaviors, as explained above.

When the son sees his father’s reaction and encouragement, the son will be motivated to continue this course of conduct.

וּמַרְאֶה לוֹ אֵיךְ שֶׁרָאוּי לְהִתְפָּעֵל מִמֶּנּוּ עַל פִּי שֵׂכֶל הַמְצֻמְצָם כָּמֹהוּ וְשֶׁמִּתְפָּעֵל בְּזֶה,

The father shows emotions to the child in the manner that is appropriate to respond to the child’s conduct and acts as if he is affected by his conduct in a manner befitting the child’s limited understanding.

The actions the child performs are not, in and of themselves, on a level sufficient to arouse such an emotional response on the part of the father. Nevertheless, out of his love for his child, the father goes beyond his ordinary pattern and involves himself with his child on his child’s level in order to train him.

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה יוּבַן לְמַעְלָה

The analogue to the above can be understood in the spiritual realms.

שֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ אֵין הַנִּבְרָאִים תּוֹפְסִים מָקוֹם כְּלָל

In truth, in relation to G‑d’s Essence, the created beings are not significant

שֶׁיָּחוּל עֲלֵיהֶם שֵׁם הִתְפַּעֲלוּת

and are not worthy of generating an emotive arousal,

דִּכְלָא וּכְאַיִן וְאֶפֶס מַמָּשׁ חֲשִׁיבִין

for all existence is actually considered as nothingness and void before Him.

וְאֵיךְ יִהְיֶה הִתְפַּעֲלוּת עַל דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ

How is it possible that something that does not exist generate emotive arousal?

וּכְאָמְרָם אֵין לְךָ דָבָר שֶׁחוּץ מִמֶּנּוּ

And it is said: There is no existence aside from Him,

כִּי מִמְּךָ הַכֹּל (דִּבְרֵי הַיָּמִים א' כ"ט י"ד),

as it is written (I Divrei HaYamim 29:14): “Everything is from You.”

אַךְ שֶׁמַּעֲלִים אוֹרוֹ הַגָּדוֹל

Nevertheless, He hides His great light

וּמְגַלֶּה רְשִׁימוּ בִּלְבָד

and reveals only a trace of it

שֶׁהוּא עִנְיַן דַּעַת הַמְצֻמְצָם

which brings into being a framework of limited knowledge

עַד שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ יוּכַל לִהְיוֹת נִמְשָׁךְ הִתְפַּעֲלוּת עַל הַנִּבְרָאִים,

from which an emotive arousal can be drawn down in response to the created beings.

The Tzemach Tzedek has thus resolved the first aspect of the question raised above. For in truth, the actions of the created beings are not, in and of themselves, significant enough to generate emotive arousal on G‑d’s part. That is possible only because G‑d chose, as it were, to enable them to generate such an arousal.

וְאִם כֵּן תִּקְשֶׁה וְתֹאמַר

If so, however, a further question can be raised:

כְּמוֹ שֶׁבַּמָּשָׁל אֵין לְדַעַת הַמְצֻמְצָם וְהַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת שֶׁהָאָב מַרְאֶה לִבְנוֹ מְצִיאוּת כְּלָל,

In the analogy, the limited intellectual parameters of the interaction and the emotional arousal that the father shows to the son have no genuine existence at all.

שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין הָאָב מִתְפָּעֵל בֶּאֱמֶת

For the father is not truly emotionally aroused,

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁקַּמֵּיהּ גָּלוּי דַּעְתּוֹ הָרְחָבָה

since he is conscious of his own adult level of understanding,

שֶׁאֵין הַבֵּן בְּעֶרֶךְ שֶׁיָּחוּל עָלָיו הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת

and the son’s actions are not on the level to have generated such an arousal in an adult. Thus, the father is really just acting out those emotions. They do not really exist.

אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּרְאֶה לְהַבֵּן כְּאִלּוּ מִתְפָּעֵל,

It is merely that to the son, it appears that the father is emotionally aroused.

וְתֹאמַר שֶׁכְּמוֹ כֵן לְמַעְלָה

Similarly, it could be said that in the spiritual realms,

אֵין לְהַסְּפִירוֹת שֶׁהֵם הַמִּדּוֹת הַנִּזְכָּרוֹת לְעֵיל מְצִיאוּת כְּלָל

the Sefiros which are the emotive qualities, the seven middos, do not truly exist;

On a deeper level, this also applies with regard to the Sefiros of ChaBaD, G‑d’s intellectual attributes.

אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּרְאֶה אֵלֵינוּ כֵּן,

it only appears to us that they do.

The Tzemach Tzedek is stating that, apparently, since the limited framework of existence of Atzilus has no genuine existence in and of itself – i.e., it exists only because G‑d chose to make it – it cannot be considered as true being.

אָמְנָם הָעִנְיָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ כֵן

This, however, is not true,

מִפְּנֵי כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתָיו מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵינוּ וְלֹא דְרָכָיו דְּרָכֵינוּ

for His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.5

שֶׁכַּאֲשֶׁר יְדַמֶּה הָאָדָם בְּשִׂכְלוֹ לְהַוּוֹת אֵיזוֹ מְצִיאוּת שֶׁיִּהְיֶה

When a person uses his imagination and thinks about bringing a particular entity into being,

הִנֵּה מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ לֹא תַפְעִיל

his thought will have no effect

וְהָיָה כְּלֹא הָיָה

and the thought will be as if it had never existed

עַד יִפְעַל

unless he acts

וְיֵצֵא לְפֹעַל עַל יְדֵי כְּלִי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה

and brings about a deed through the medium of action.

וְאֵין כֵּן מַחְשְׁבוֹתָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ

This is not true with regard to G‑d’s thoughts.

כִּי כַּאֲשֶׁר עוֹלֶה בִּרְצוֹנוֹ וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ לְהַוּוֹת וּלְהַאֲצִיל

When it arises in His will and thought to bring into being and emanate a framework of existence,

הֲרֵי דַי כֹּחַ מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ לְהַוּוֹת וּלְהִפָּעֵל הָאֲצִילוּת הַלָּז,

His thought alone is sufficient to bring about this emanation and cause its existence.

וְנִמְצָא כִּי כַּאֲשֶׁר שִׁעֲרָה דַעְתּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ לְצַמְצֵם אוֹרוֹ

Thus, when His thought construed the contraction of His light

וּלְהָאִיר בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּם

so that it would shine in the mode of tzimtzum

עַד לִהְיוֹת מִזֶּה בְּחִינַת חָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַעַת

until the Sefiros of ChaBaD would be brought into existence

וְהִתְפַּעֲלוּת הַמִּדּוֹת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

thus allowing for the arousal of the emotive qualities mentioned above –

הִנֵּה בֶּאֱמֶת הָיָה כֵן

in truth, this actually takes place;

וְנִתְהַוּוּ מְצִיאוּת הַלָּז

i.e., this framework of being is brought into existence

וְהָיָה לָהֶם מְצִיאוּת

and the existence of the Sefiros is genuine.

וּבְעֶרֶךְ זֶה אֵין הַמָּשָׁל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל מֵהָאָב לַבֵּן דּוֹמֶה לַנִּמְשָׁל

In this respect, the analogy of the father’s relationship to his son is not appropriate for the analogue.

שֶׁבַּמָּשָׁל אֵין לְהַצִּמְצוּם מְצִיאוּת כְּלָל

For in the analogy, the limitation on the father’s part – the feelings which he lowers himself to show in response to his son’s conduct – does not really exist at all,

כִּי אֵין בִּיכֹלֶת שֵׂכֶל הָאָדָם לְהַוּוֹת דְּבַר מָה

because a person’s mind does not have the potential to bring anything into existence.

Man’s thoughts and desires remain on the level of thought, and unless they are brought down to speech and action, they will never produce anything tangible.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן לְמַעְלָה

This is not true in the spiritual realms,

כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתָיו מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵינוּ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

for His thoughts are not our thoughts, as mentioned above.

G‑d’s thought and desire, by contrast, bring about actual existence. True, it is existence on a refined level, above our material world, but it does exist.

Thus, the question raised by the analogy is resolved, because an analogue to the realm of emotion brought about by the father’s choice does in fact exist Above. As a result of this emotive activity, the middos of Atzilus came into being.

וְהִנֵּה עַל פִּי בְּחִינַת אוֹר שֶׁבָּא לְאַחַר הַצִּמְצוּם

Behold, through the medium of the light that comes after the tzimtzum,

הוּא שֶׁבָּא וְנִמְשָׁךְ כָּל הַהַשְׁפָּעוֹת בְּהָעוֹלָמוֹת

all the types of influence are drawn down into the world,

וּכְמַאֲמַר אֵלִיָּהוּ

as the hymn Pasach Eliyahu states:6

לְאַנְהָגָא בְהוֹן עָלְמִין סְתִימִין דְּלָא אִתְגַּלְיָן וְעָלְמִין דְּאִתְגַּלְיָן

“…to direct hidden realms that are not revealed, and revealed realms.”

וְשׁוּב לֹא יִקְשֶׁה הַקֻּשְׁיָא הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל מִפְּנֵי מָה יִתְפָּעֵל

After the above explanation, the above question, “What brings about arousal within G‑d?” is no longer difficult.

כִּי הַהַנְהָגָה הִיא עַל יְדֵי הַהֶאָרָה שֶׁאַחַר הַצִּמְצוּם

For the worlds are being controlled by the ray of Divine light that exists after the tzimtzum,

וְשָׁם רָאוּי וְיִתָּכֵן לִהְיוֹת הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת מֵאִתְעֲרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

and on that level, it is appropriate and possible for there to be emotive arousal in reaction to an awakening from below, as mentioned above.

וּמַה שֶּׁאָמַרְנוּ שֶׁהַצִּמְצוּם יֵשׁ לוֹ מְצִיאוּת

Our statement that the limited realm of existence brought about by the tzimtzum exists,

לֹא קָשֶׁה לְעִנְיַן הַמַּאֲמָר דְּכֹלָּא קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא חֲשִׁיב

does not present a difficulty when considered in light of the statement: “Everything is considered as nothing before Him,”

דְּמַשְׁמַע שֶׁהוּא כְּאַיִן וְאֶפֶס מַמָּשׁ

which implies that everything is nothingness and void.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּלִקּוּטֵי אֲמָרִים חֵלֶק ב' (פֶּרֶק ו')

For, as explained in Tanya, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 6,

כִּי אֵין הַכַּוָּנָה בְּפֵרוּשׁ כְּלָא שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם מְצִיאוּת כְּלָל

the intent is not that there is no existence whatsoever.

דְּזֶהוּ לָא מַמָּשׁ וְלֹא כְּלָא בְּכָ"ף הַדִּמְיוֹן

Were that to be the case, it would have been stated: “Everything is considered nothing” without using a כ(“as”) which denotes comparison.

וְזֶה הָיָה קֹדֶם שֶׁנִּבְרָא הָעוֹלָם

Such a state existed before the creation of the world, but not after Creation.


Moreover, we are forced to say that there is some type of existence,

דְּהָא פֵּרוּשׁ כֹּלָּא קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא חֲשִׁיבִין קָאֵי עַל עוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַגַּשְׁמִי

for the statement: “Everything is considered as nothing before Him,” refers to our material world,

וַהֲרֵי אָנוּ רוֹאִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ דּוֹמֵם צוֹמֵחַ חַי וּמְדַבֵּר אֲבָנִים וּבָתִּים וְעָפָר כוּ'

and we see that the world does exist. The world contains inanimate objects, plants, animals, humans, stones, houses, and earth, etc.

וְאֵיךְ הוּא לָא מַמָּשׁ,

How could it be said that it does not exist at all?

אֶלָּא פֵּרוּשׁ כְּלָא

Instead, the intent of the expression “is as nothing”

הַיְנוּ שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה בְּשֵׁם בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ

is that the world does not have an independent identity,

כְּזִיו הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ כְּשֶׁהוּא בְּגוּף הַכַּדּוּר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה בְּשֵׁם בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ כְּלָל

just as the radiance of the sun has no independent identity at all when it is in the orb of the sun.

לְהִתְרָאוֹת לְיֵשׁ

There, the radiance does not appear as a distinct entity,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא נִרְאֶה לְעֵינֵינוּ בְּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה שֶׁאֵין שָׁם כַּדּוּר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ

as it appears to our eyes in this world which is outside the orb of the sun.

אֶלָּא שָׁם לֹא נִרְאֶה רַק כַּדּוּר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ

When the radiance is within the sun, all that is seen is the orb of the sun,

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַזִּיו בָּטֵל בִּמְצִיאוּת,

because the existence of the radiance is entirely nullified.

וְאֵין הַכַּוָּנָה שֶׁאֵינוֹ נִמְצָא שָׁם כְּלָל

The intent is not that the radiance does not exist there at all.

שֶׁזֶּה אֵינוֹ כִּי וַדַּאי נִמְצָא שָׁם

This is not true, for the light certainly exists in the sun’s orb. Were it not to exist there, it could not come into existence outside the sun.

בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת

Indeed, the light exists there more powerfully than it does elsewhere,

אֶלָּא שֶׁבָּטֵל

but its existence is batel.

These lines give us an understanding of the term batel (בטל), one of the more frequently used terms in Chabad Chassidus. To explain by illustrating the use of the concept in halachah (Jewish Law): Our Sages (Sukkah 3b-4a) speak of a sukkah that is more than 20 cubits high and therefore unacceptable. If one seeks to reduce the height of the sukkah by placing straw on its floor, the sukkah is acceptable, provided one makes the straw batel, i.e., one must intend to leave the straw there permanently. Although the straw previously existed as an independent entity, its individual identity has been subsumed and it is now part of the sukkah, a greater, more encompassing entity.

The same concept applies with regard to the light of the sun being batel within the orb of the sun. The concept is not that the light is nullified and ceases to exist, but rather that it no longer exists independently and has taken on a new and higher identity. On this level, it can be seen as part of the orb of the sun. The classic analogy given for this is a candle that is included in a torch. It continues to shine. Nevertheless, its light is no longer its own individual light, but the light of the torch.

Similar concepts apply with regard to G‑d’s light being included in its Source and becoming batel. The intent is not that the light ceases to exist, but rather it is not perceived as an independent entity. It is subsumed within its Source and only the Source is perceived. Indeed, the oneness of the light with its source is more pronounced than the halachic parallel cited with regard to a sukkah, for G‑d’s light was never a distinct entity in its own right, while the objects that become batel to the sukkah were.

וְזֶהוּ פֵּרוּשׁ כְּלָא,

This is what is meant by “as nothing.”

שֶׁכְּמוֹ כֵן הֵם עִנְיַן כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת לְאַחַר בְּרִיאָתָם

Similarly, with regard to the worlds as they exist after Creation:

שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶם מְצִיאוּת

they do exist,

אֶלָּא שֶׁקַּמֵּיהּ הוּא כְּלָא

but before Him they are as nothing,

כְּבִטּוּל הַזִּיו כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

like the nullification of the radiance of the sun in the orb of the sun described above.

וְלֹא לָא מַמָּשׁ

It is not that they do not exist at all.

וְדַי לַמֵּבִין:

This is sufficient for a person of understanding.

וְהִנֵּה נִתְבָּאֵר יִשּׁוּב קֻשְׁיָא הַשְּׁנִיָּה בְּפַן הָאֶחָד שֶׁפֵּרַשְׁנוּ אוֹתָהּ

Thus, the second question raised at the beginning of this section has been resolved in one way, as we explained it.

וְהוּא אֵיךְ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת

The question was: How can there be an arousal of emotive activity on G‑d’s part?

שֶׁמִּמִּי יִתְפָּעֵל

What can bring about arousal within G‑d, for there is no existence outside of Him?

כִּי יָכוֹל וְיָכוֹל הוּא.

And it has been explained that there is the possibility for such an arousal,because we are speaking about the G‑dly light that shines after the tzimtzum.

וַעֲדַיִן יֵשׁ מָקוֹם לְפָרֵשׁ הַקֻּשְׁיָא זוֹ בְּפַן אַחֵר

There is, however, another manner in which this question can be resolved.

וְהוּא כִּי לָמָּה יִהְיֶה מְצַמְצֵם עַצְמוֹ לְהִתְפָּעֵל

As a preface, one could ask: Why is it necessary for Him to undergo tzimtzum and as a result be aroused by the deeds of the created beings?

וַהֲטוֹב טוֹב הָיָה אִם הָיָה מַנְהִיג הָעוֹלָם עַל יְדֵי אוֹרוֹ הַגָּדוֹל

Seemingly, it would have been preferable for Him to control the world through His great light

שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהֶאָרָה מְצֻמְצֶמֶת

that transcends the limited ray enclothed in the worlds.

לְהֵטִיב לַכֹּל,

In this way, He could be generous to all.

אַךְ בֶּאֱמֶת אֵין מִזֶּה קֻשְׁיָא כְּלָל

This, in truth, is not a question at all.

כִּי כְּבָר הִקְדַּמְנוּ לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ו'

For we have already explained in section 6

שֶׁאִם לֹא הַצִּמְצוּם לֹא הָיוּ מִתְהַוִּים כְּלָל הָעוֹלָמוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁהֵם בַּעֲלֵי גְבוּל

that without His light undergoing tzimtzum, the worlds would not be able to come into existence in the limited state they are at present.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁהַצִּמְצוּם מֻכְרָח לְצֹרֶךְ הִתְהַוּוּתָם

Now, just as the tzimtzum is necessary to bring them into being,

כָּךְ לְצֹרֶךְ הַהַנְהָגָה בּוֹ,

so, too, the tzimtzum is necessary to enable G‑d’s light to control these worlds.

For if the light that exists above the tzimtzum were revealed, the worlds could not exist in their present state.

וְעוֹד שֶׁאִם לֹא כֵן לֹא הָיוּ מַגִּיעִים לְהַתַּכְלִית וְקַבָּלַת הַגְּמוּל

Moreover, if the tzimtzum did not exist, the Jewish people would not reach their ultimate purpose and reward

עַל יְדֵי עִסְקָם בַּתּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת

through their involvement with the Torah and its mitzvos,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה עֹנֶשׁ כְּלָל

for there would be no punishment at all.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר פָּרָשַׁת קֹרַח דַּף קע"ח ב'

As the Zohar Vol. III, Parshas Korach, p. 178b, states:

הוּא דָּא עַתִּיקָא

“ ’He’7 – this is Atik.

Atik is identified with the inner dimension of Kesser. The Zohar is emphasizing that the fusion of judgment and kindness which the inner dimension of Kesser brings about is fundamental to the world being elevated to its perfect state.

אִלְמָלֵא דִינָא לָא אִשְׁתְּכַח בְּעָלְמָא

Were there no judgment in the world,

Judgment is identified with tzimtzum, for judgment requires focusing one’s attention on the issue at hand and rendering a decision that is commensurate with the positive and negative factors involved.

לָא הֲווּ יָדְעֵי בְּנֵי נָשָׁא מְהֵימְנוּתָא עִלָּאָה

men would not know the higher level of faith,

וְלָא יִשְׁתַּדְּלוּן בְּאוֹרַיְתָא וְלָא יְקַיְּמוּן פִּקּוּדֵי אוֹרַיְתָא,

nor would they labor in Torah study or observe the precepts of the Torah.”

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה אָמְרוּ רַזַ"ל טוֹב זֶה מַלְאַךְ חַיִּים מְאֹד זֶה מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת (בְּרֵאשִׁית רַבָּה פָּרָשָׁה ט' עַיֵּן שָׁם)

Similarly, on the verse:8 “And G‑d saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good,” our Sages (Bereishis Rabbah 9:10) comment: “ ’Good,’ this refers to the Angel of Life. ‘Very good,’ this refers to the Angel of Death.”

The Angel of Death is also identified with the concepts of judgment and limitation (see the other interpretations offered by our Sages in that chapter of the Midrash). Our Sages were implying that as a result of the challenges and judgment that exist in the world, man can achieve the ultimate good.

וּכְיָדוּעַ וְאֵין לְהַאֲרִיךְ בִּדְבָרִים הַגְּלוּיִם וִידוּעִים בְּדִבְרֵי רַזַ"ל:

These concepts are well known, and it is unnecessary to elaborate on the words of our Sages that are of public renown.

וְהִנֵּה עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל יוּבַן הֵיטֵב הַמִּדְרָשׁ

Based on the above, we can thoroughly understand the words of the Midrash:

אֱמֶת אָמַר אַל יִבְרָא שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ מָלֵא שְׁקָרִים חֶסֶד אוֹמֵר יִבְרָא שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ מָלֵא חֲסָדִים

The attribute of Truth said: ‘Do not create the world,9 for it is full of falsehoods.’ The attribute of Kindness said: ‘Create, because it is full of kindness.’ ”10

הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב עוֹלָם חֶסֶד יִבָּנֶה (בְּרֵאשִׁית רַבָּה פָּרָשָׁה ח' עַיֵּן שָׁם),

This is what is implied by the verse:11 “The world was created through kindness” (Bereishis Rabbah 8:5; consult that source).

וְצָרִיךְ לְהָבִין וְכִי הַחֶסֶד שֶׁהוּא מִמִּדּוֹתָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ אֵינוֹ אֱמֶת

Explanation is necessary: Is Kindness, which is one of G‑d’s attributes, not true?

וְלֹא יֹאמַר הִפּוּךְ מִן הָאֱמֶת,

Surely it would not say the opposite of truth!

וְכֵן צָרִיךְ לְהָבִין עִנְיַן מִדַּת אֱמֶת שֶׁבְּי"ג מִדּוֹת הָרַחֲמִים מָה עִנְיָנָהּ

Conversely, explanation is also necessary with regard to the attribute of Truth which is one of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. What is its nature?

For if truth opposes kindness, how can truth be one of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy?

וְכִי כּוּלְהוּ אֵינָן אֲמִתִּיִּים חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

And are the other Attributes of Mercy not true, Heaven forbid?

אַךְ הָעִנְיָן

The concept can, however, be explained as follows:

כִּי כְּבָר הֶאֱרִיכוּ בִּסְפָרִים

It is elaborated upon in sacred texts,

שֶׁפֵּרוּשׁ מִלַּת אֱמֶת לֹא יֵאָמֵר אֶלָּא עָלָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ לְבָד

that the adjective “true” can only be applied to G‑d,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב וַה' אֱלֹקִים אֱמֶת (יִרְמְיָה י' י')

as it is written (Yirmeyahu 10:10): “G‑d the L-rd is true,”

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ מְחֻיָּב הַמְּצִיאוּת

because He is mechuyav hametzius,12

שֶׁמְּצִיאוּתוֹ מֵעַצְמוּתוֹ

i.e., His existence comes from His own Essence

וְהָיָה הֹוֶה וְיִהְיֶה

and He is past, present, and future.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּכָל הַנִּמְצָאִים

All of the other entities that exist, by contrast,

שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם מְצִיאוּת מִצַּד עַצְמָן

do not exist by virtue of their own selves, for they were brought into existence out of nothingness by G‑d.

אֶלָּא מְצִיאוּתָם תָּלוּי בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

Instead, their existence is dependent on Him,

See Rambam,13who writes: “The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being who brought all existence into being. All the entities in the heavens, the earth… came into existence solely from the truth of His being.”

דְּהַיְנוּ עַל יְדֵי הַחַיּוּת שֶׁמֵּאִיר וּמַשְׁפִּיעַ בָּהֶם

i.e., on the vitality that shines forth and endows them with influence.

מִזֶּה הֵם קַיָּמִים

This enables their existence to continue.

אִם כֵּן אֵין מַהוּתָם הַנִּרְאֶה אֵלֵינוּ אֲמִתִּי כְּלָל

If so, their being as it appears to us is not true at all.

וְהָעִקָּר הוּא הַחַיּוּת הַמְהַוָּה אוֹתוֹ,

What is fundamentally important, i.e., the truth of their existence, is the life-energy that brings them into being.

וּלְפִי מַה שֶּׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל הִנֵּה בְּחִינַת אֱמֶת הוּא כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא קַמֵּיהּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ לִפְנֵי הַצִּמְצוּם

According to what was explained above, the attribute of Truth refers to G‑d’s perspective, how He looks at the world, as it were, i.e., a rung above the tzimtzum,

דְּכֹלָּא כְּלָא חֲשִׁיבִין

at which level all existence is as of no significance.

וְלָכֵן אָמַר אַל יִבְרָא שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ מָלֵא שְׁקָרִים

Therefore, this attribute said not to create, for the world is full of falsehood.

שֶׁהָעוֹלָם נִרְאֶה לְיֵשׁ וְדָבָר

For the world appears as a yesh and a significant entity,

וּבֶאֱמֶת שֶׁזֶּה שֶׁקֶר כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

and in truth, that is falsehood, as mentioned above.

אַךְ מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד הִיא אַחַר הַצִּמְצוּם

The attribute of Kindness, however, exists after the tzimtzum,

שֶׁאָז הוּא שֶׁיִּתָּכֵן הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

on which level it is possible that there be an arousal of G‑d’s attributes as mentioned above.

אָמַר שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ מָלֵא חֲסָדִים

Kindness said that the world is full of kindness,

כִּי הָאִתְעֲרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא תּוֹפֵס אֵיזֶה מָקוֹם כוּ'

emphasizing the positive dimension of man’s actions, because, on this level, an awakening from below is, in fact, significant.

וְכֵן הוּא עִנְיַן אֱמֶת שֶׁבְּי"ג מִדּוֹת

Similarly, the attribute of Truth in the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת תְּרֵין תַּפּוּחִין שֶׁבִּשְׁנֵי לְחָיַיִם

refers to the two mounds of the cheeks,

שֶׁהוּא מָקוֹם פָּנוּי מִשְּׂעָרוֹת

a place where there is no hair.14

וְהוּא בְּחִינַת גִּלּוּי הָאֵין סוֹף שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִן הַצִּמְצוּמִים

This refers to a revelation of the Ein Sof that is above the tzimtzumim

שֶׁזֶּה סוֹד הַשְּׂעָרוֹת

that are alluded to by the mystic secret of hair.15

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן י"ב מִדּוֹת הַנִּשְׁאָרִים הֵם מִבְּחִינַת שְׂעָרוֹת

The other Twelve Attributes, by contrast, are associated with hairs,

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת הַצִּמְצוּמִים

i.e., tzimtzumim,

לִהְיוֹת חֶסֶד וְרַחוּם כוּ'

to allow for kindness and mercy,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר בְּאֹרֶךְ

as explained at length in another source16

עַל פָּסוּק אֵלֶּה מַסְעֵי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כוּ' וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה כוּ' (בַּמִּדְבָּר ל"ג א' ב')

on the verse (Bamidbar 33:1-2): “These are the journeys of the Children of Israel…. And Moshe wrote….”

יְעֻיַּן שָׁם:

Consult that source.


In this section, the Tzemach Tzedek focuses on a further difficulty raised by the philosophers: Even after it has been explained that the emotive activity described in the Torah does not involve any change in G‑d’s Essence, a question still remains: If everything comes from G‑d, what could possibly motivate Him to emotive activity? What could cause Him to be happy or angry?

People respond emotionally when affected by other persons to whom they relate. Their feelings are aroused by situations around them. Can such statements be made about G‑d? Nothing exists outside of Him. Who or what then could possibly call forth an emotive response from Him?

In resolution it can be explained as follows: In His Essence, there is no activity at all. He is not angered nor does He rejoice. Instead, He is exalted far above all these qualities. On this level, neither our mitzvos nor our transgressions are significant at all: they do not cause Him to be affected by them and there is no concept of emotive arousal.

Nevertheless, the ray of G‑dliness that shines from Him after the tzimtzum has descended to the level where it is affected by man’s actions. Since the Sefiros come into being as a result of an awesome tzimtzum, it is possible that the deeds of the righteous and the wicked will elicit happiness and anger respectively. For on this lower level of G‑dliness, the created beings are significant.

Nevertheless, this explanation is problematic. For the Sefiros were not created as independent beings as were the other elements of Creation. They are emanations from His Essence and still united with it. Hence, just as mortal conduct creates no emotive response in His Essence, one might think that it would not generate emotive response within the Sefiros as well.

The Tzemach Tzedek resolves this difficulty with an analogy of a father who desires to train his small child to act in a given manner and offers positive or negative reinforcement by showing different emotions in response to his child’s conduct. Now, the father is not really angry or happy during this process, he is only using these responses for the son’s benefit so that he will learn to perform the particular task.

Similarly, in the analogue, the created beings are of no significance in relation to G‑d’s Essence. Nevertheless, He chooses to involve Himself with them and respond to their conduct.

The Tzemach Tzedek also raises the question: Why is it necessary for Him to undergo tzimtzum in order to be aroused by the deeds of the created beings? Seemingly, it would have been preferable for Him to control His world through His great light that transcends the limited ray enclothed in the worlds.

In resolution the Tzemach Tzedek states that, as explained in section 6, without His light undergoing tzimtzum, the worlds would not be able to come into existence in the limited state they are now. And just as the tzimtzum is necessary to bring them into being, so, too, it is necessary to maintain their existence.