This section focuses on the issue of changes in G‑d’s will. Here, too, it can be explained that a change in His will does not involve a change within Him, only within His light. It outlines the differences between G‑d’s will and mortal will, explaining that changes in man’s will affect his essence, while changes in G‑d’s will do not change His Essence. The Jewish people have been granted the unique power to bring about a change in G‑d’s will.


– IX –

וְהִנֵּה מֵעַתָּה נָבֹא לְבָאֵר גַּם כֵּן הַקֻּשְׁיָא בְּעִנְיַן שִׁנּוּי רָצוֹן אֶצְלוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

At this point, it is possible to explain the question raised concerning a change in G‑d’s will,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָנוּ אוֹמְרִים יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ כוּ'

as we say in our prayers: “May it be Your will.”

The previous sections explained that the changes in the emotive states which the Torah and our Sages attribute to G‑d do not involve a change within His Essence, because the change takes place only at the level at which G‑d’s light enclothes itself in the keilim. The light itself is simple. It is the differences between the keilim that bring about the difference in the manner in which it is expressed.

שֶׁמְּבַקְשִׁים שֶׁיִּרְצֶה כֵּן שֶׁיִּבָּנֶה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ

For example, we request that He desire to build the Beis HaMikdash,

שֶׁהוּא שִׁנּוּי מִמַּה שֶּׁמִּתְּחִלָּה אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה

which is a change from what His will was originally; i.e., previously, He did not desire this,

וְלָכֵן נֶחֱרַב בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ

and therefore the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed,

וְעַתָּה יִרְצֶה בּוֹ וְיִבְנֵהוּ

and now we are requesting that He desire it and rebuild it.

וְכֵן כְּשֶׁמְּבַקְשִׁים יְהִי רָצוֹן שֶׁיִּחְיֶה הַחוֹלֶה וְיִתְרַפֵּא מֵחָלְיוֹ

Similarly, when we request that His will be that a person who is sick should live and be healed from his sickness,

הַכַּוָּנָה שֶׁיִּשְׁתַּנֶּה רְצוֹנוֹ מִמַּה שֶּׁמִּתְּחִלָּה רָצָה לְחַלּוֹתוֹ כוּ'

our intent is that G‑d’s will should change from His original desire that the person be sick.

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה בְּכָל עִנְיְנֵי הַתְּפִלּוֹת

Similar concepts apply with regard to many prayers

שֶׁעִנְיָנָם הֲפָקַת רָצוֹן טוֹב מֵה',

which involve eliciting a positive change of G‑d’s will.

וּכְבָר נִתְקַשּׁוּ מְאֹד הַפִלְסוֹפִים בְּזֶה,

The philosophers had many difficulties with this concept.

As explained above, one of the fundamental axioms of faith is that G‑d does not change. For were He to change, He would not be one. There would be the manner in which He existed before the change and the manner in which He exists afterwards. Similar concepts appear to apply with regard to a change in His will.

וְהִנֵּה הַתּוֹסְפוֹת יוֹם טוֹב בְּאָבוֹת שָׁם הֶאֱרִיךְ בְּזֶה

Tosfos Yom Tov elaborates on this idea in his commentary to Avos 5:6,

בְּמַה שֶּׁכָּתַב הָרַמְבַּ"ם בְּדַעַת חַזַ"ל

explaining Rambam’s conception of our Sages’ position.

In that source, Tosfos Yom Tov states that Rambam explains that our Sages maintain that miracles do not represent a change in G‑d’s will because He implanted them within the order of the world from the very beginning of Creation. When He created the world, He ordained that the Sea would split for the Jewish people. Hence, its splitting – and similarly other changes in the natural order – do not involve change on G‑d’s part.

Tosfos Yom Tov does not accept this interpretation and explains that miracles could be conceived of as being willed at the time they occurred, because G‑d’s will – like His knowledge – is totally different from the will of mortals and hence does not necessitate change on His part.

וְשֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת לֹא כִוְּנוּ חַזַ"ל בְּזֶה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

In truth, however, this was not our Sages’ intent, G‑d forbid.

אֶלָּא דַעְתָּם כְּדַעַת רַמְבַּ"ם עַצְמוֹ

Instead, their position, as is that of Rambam himself, is that G‑d’s will can change,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב לְמָתַי אַעְתִּיר כוּ' (שְׁמוֹת ח' ה')

as indicated by the verse (Shmos 8:5): “For what time shall I pray…?”

That verse relates how Moshe asked Pharaoh for at which time he desired that Moshe pray for G‑d to stop the plague of the frogs. The Tzemach Tzedek is saying that the verse implies that G‑d’s will can change – from desiring that the plague continue to causing it to stop. Moreover, it appears that the cessation of the plague was not determined at the time of Creation, but rather was dependent on the particular hour that Moshe would mention in his prayer.

שֶׁיֵּשׁ שִׁנּוּי רָצוֹן,

which indicates that G‑d’s will does change.

וְעִם כָּל זֶה אֵינוֹ שִׁנּוּי בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ

Nevertheless, this does not constitute a change in His Essence,

לְפִי שֶׁאֵין רְצוֹנוֹ כִּרְצוֹנֵנוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁאֵין חָכְמָתוֹ כְּחָכְמָתֵנוּ

because His will does not resemble our will, just as His wisdom does not resemble our wisdom,

כִּי הוּא הַיּוֹדֵעַ וְכוּ',

for “He is the Knower, He is the Knowledge…,” as explained above.

וּבֵאוּר דְּבָרָיו הַיְנוּ עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּסֵפֶר יְצִירָה י' סְפִירוֹת בְּלִי מָ"ה

The statements of Tosfos Yom Tov can be explained based on the statements of Sefer Yetzirah that describe the Ten Sefiros as being “without substance,”

פֵּרוּשׁ בְּלִי מַהוּת שֶׁאֵינָן מֵעֶרֶךְ מַהוּת כֹּחוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַמֻּשָּׂגִים אֵלֵינוּ

i.e., that they are not comparable to the substance of the powers of the soul whose existence we can perceive.

The Sefiros of Atzilus are transcendent. Although they are identified with a specific attribute, they are G‑dly and thus far above the ordinary form of that attribute. Hence, Sefer Yetzirah refers to them as being “without substance.”

The word “substance” here is not meant literally, because we are speaking about spiritual entities, and in terms of spiritual existence, there is obviously no substance as we know it. Nevertheless, the spiritual powers above and those that exist in our own souls have a definition, as evident from the fact that they can be identified and distinguished from each other. This definition is the “substance” referred to by the Tzemach Tzedek.

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כְּמוֹ בִּכְתִיבָה בָּאֶצְבַּע

To illustrate by analogy: For example, when writing with our fingers,

שֶׁכּוֹתֵב אוֹת אַלֶ"ף

when we write the letter alef,

הֲרֵי תְּמוּנַת הָאוֹת נִמְשָׁךְ מִכֹּחַ הַמֵּנִיעַ שֶׁבַּיָּד

the image of the letter is drawn down from the power of movement in the hand,

שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ נִשְׁפָּע כָּל פְּרָטֵי צִיּוּר הָאוֹת

from which is derived all of the particulars of the design of the letter.

וְכָל מַה שֶּׁיִּמָּצֵא אַחַר כְּתִיבָה עַל הַנְּיָר הָיָה תְּחִלָּה בְּכֹחַ הַמֵּנִיעַ שֶׁבָּאֶצְבַּע בִּפְרָטֵי פְרָטִיּוּת

Everything that is later visible after the letter has been written on paper existed previously in potential in the power of movement in the fingers in all its particulars.

וְעִם כָּל זֶה לֹא הָיָה מִמַּהוּת אוֹתִיּוֹת הַכְּתוּבוֹת עַל הַנְּיָר בָּאֶצְבַּע

Nevertheless, the physical substance of the letters written on the paper did not exist within the fingers,

וְלֹא מִדֻּגְמָתָם כְּלָל

nor did anything at all similar to them exist within the writer’s hand.

שֶׁהֲרֵי הֵמָּה גַשְׁמִיִּים בִּתְמוּנָתָם וּבְמַהוּתָם

For the letters’ form and substance is physical

וְכֹחַ הַמֵּנִיעַ הַמְהַוֵּהוּ וּמַמְשִׁיכוֹ הוּא רוּחָנִי כוּ'

and the power of movement which brings them into being and draws them into existence is spiritual.

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה יוּבַן אֵיךְ שֶׁמֵּחָכְמָה דַאֲצִילוּת נִמְשָׁךְ לְהַוּוֹת מַהוּת שֵׂכֶל הָאָדָם הוּא כְּמוֹ כֵן

It can be understood that a similar transition from a more abstract to a more tangible state is reflected in the process through which mortal intellect is drawn down and brought into being from Chochmah of Atzilus.

שֶׁאֵין הַשֵּׂכֶל הַנִּפְעָל מֵעֶרֶךְ מַהוּת הַחָכְמָה דַאֲצִילוּת

For the intellect that is brought into being in a person is not of the same substance as Chochmah of Atzilus at all,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יֵשׁ אוֹת גַּשְׁמִי בְּכֹחַ הַמֵּנִיעַ שֶׁבָּאֶצְבַּע

just as a physical letter does not exist in the power of movement in the finger.

וּלְכָךְ נִקְרָאִים הַסְּפִירוֹת בְּלִי מָה

Therefore, the Sefiros are described as being relatively “without substance,”

כְּלוֹמַר בְּלִי מַהוּת הַנִּפְעָל מֵהֶם

i.e., not of the substance of the powers that are brought into being from them.

The intent is that the internal makeup of all existence derives from the Sefiros of Atzilus and their interrelation with one another. Nevertheless, the form of the attributes in Atzilus and the form of their derivatives in the lower realms are radically different. The Tzemach Tzedek explained the process in which the spiritual energy for the different elements of existence descend level after level in sec. 6 using the analogy of the sweetness of an apple, and in sec. 7 in the interpretation of the verse, “I am but dust and ashes.”

פֵּרוּשׁ שֶׁמַּהוּת הַנִּפְעָל מַהוּתוֹ הוּא

For the substance that is brought into being is substance that we can relate to,

שֶׁהוּא כֹּחַ וּמְקוֹר הַשֵּׂכֶל

for it is the potential and the source for our intellect and other powers,

I.e., from G‑d’s attributes in Atzilus are brought into being intermediate levels of spiritual existence – the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah – that serve as the source for the powers that mortals possess.

אֲבָל סְפִירַת חָכְמָה עַצְמָהּ אֵינָהּ מִמַּהוּת זֶה כְּלָל

The Sefirah of Chochmah, by contrast, is not of this type of existence at all.

Instead, it is entirely above all comparison to mortal powers. Although both are called Chochmah, they are of a different nature entirely. The Chochmah of Atzilus is G‑d’s Chochmah, completely unified with Him, as explained above with regard to the statement, “He is the Knower, He is the Object of Knowledge, and He is the Knowledge itself.” By contrast, in the realms below Atzilus, the knowledge and the knower are separate entities.

ְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה הָרָצוֹן שֶׁלּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ אֵינוֹ מִמַּהוּת רָצוֹן שֶׁלָּנוּ

Similarly, His will is not of the same nature as our will.

וְלָכֵן לֹא יִקְשֶׁה עָלֵינוּ כְּלָל מִשִּׁנּוּי הָרָצוֹן שֶׁגּוֹרֵם שִׁנּוּי בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

Therefore, a change in His will need not raise a question with regard to a change in His Being,

כִּי זֶה אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בְּרָצוֹן שֶׁלָּנוּ,

for such a concept is appropriate only when conceiving of will in mortal terms.

אֲבָל אַחַר שֶׁאֵין רְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ מִמִּין הָרָצוֹן אֲשֶׁר לָנוּ

His will, by contrast, is not the same type of will as ours

וְנֶעְלָם תַּכְלִית הַהֶעְלֵם

and, indeed, is hidden – i.e., inconceivable, because of its transcendence from our perception – in an ultimate manner of concealment,

לְפִי שֶׁהוּא וּרְצוֹנוֹ אֶחָד

for He and His will are one.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁעַצְמוּתוֹ נֶעְלָם תַּכְלִית הַהֶעְלֵם

Just as His Essence is hidden with the ultimate of concealment,

כָּךְ רְצוֹנוֹ נֶעְלָם מֵהַשִּׂיג מַהוּ

so too, His will is hidden from our comprehension.

לָכֵן נֵדַע שֶׁאֵין הָרָצוֹן הַהוּא פּוֹעֵל בּוֹ שִׁנּוּי

Thus, we can understand that willful action by G‑d does not bring about a change within Him.

וְאֵין לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה מֵרָצוֹן שֶׁלָּנוּ עַל רְצוֹנוֹ

One should not extrapolate from our will – which does involve a change of decision on our part – to His will,

כִּי אֵין בֵּינֵיהֶם שׁוּם דִּמְיוֹן כְּלָל,

for there is no comparison between them at all.

The advantage of willful activity is that the person involves himself in the activity. Nevertheless, such involvement requires change on the person’s part, for he must depart from his natural state and interact with his surroundings. Willful action on G‑d’s part also implies His involvement. Nevertheless, since all existence is one with Him, such involvement does not bring about change within Him.

וְזֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַנָּבִיא כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם וְגוֹ' (יְשַׁעְיָה נ"ה ח'),

This is the intent of the Prophet’s statement (Yeshayahu 55:8): “For My thoughts are not your thoughts.”

אֵלּוּ הֵם בֵּאוּר דִּבְרֵי הָרַמְבַּ"ם זַ"ל וְהַנִּמְשָׁכִים אַחֲרָיו

The above represents an explanation of the position of Rambam and those who follow his perspective

בְּהַתָּרַת קֻשְׁיַת עִנְיַן שִׁנּוּי הָרָצוֹן

in their resolution of the philosophical difficulty that stems from the concept of a change in G‑d’s will.

וְהוּא עַל דֶּרֶךְ מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ז' דִּבְרֵי הַפִלְסוֹפִים בְּעִנְיַן הַתֹּאָרִים

It is similar to the explanation given in section 7 regarding the philosophers’ position regarding the concept of the descriptive terms ascribed to G‑d,

שֶׁהֵם שׁוֹלְלִים

that these descriptions merely negate the conception that He lacks these qualities.

שֶׁכְּמוֹ כֵן נֹאמַר בְּעִנְיַן הָרָצוֹן

Similarly, with regard to will,

שֶׁלֹּא נֹאמַר בּוֹ שֶׁהוּא פּוֹעֵל בְּרָצוֹן אֶלָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁנָּבִין מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁאֵינוֹ פּוֹעֵל עַל צַד הַחִיּוּב

it was said that He acts willfully only so that we understand that He is not acting because He is compelled to do so,

בְּלִי כַוָּנָה וְרָצוֹן חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

i.e., without His own intent or will, Heaven forbid.

For were G‑d to act out of compulsion, then the entity compelling Him would exert a power and influence over Him, and thus He could not be an omnipotent G‑d.

וּלְפִיכָךְ הָרָצוֹן הַהוּא אֵינוֹ מְחַדֵּשׁ בּוֹ שִׁנּוּי כוּ'.

Therefore, G‑d’s will does not bring about change within Him.

וְכָל זֶה הוּא לְשִׁיטָתוֹ לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ג'

All the above follows Rambam’s approach which, as explained in section 3,

שֶׁהָרָצוֹן וְהַיְדִיעָה הוּא עַצְמוּתוֹ

maintains that will and knowledge are identified with His Essence.

אֲבָל לְפִי מַה שֶּׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל שֶׁהֵם רַק כֵּלִים

But according to the explanation given above, sec. 4, that will and knowledge are merely mediums (keilim)

וּמַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ מְרוֹמָם וּמִתְנַשֵּׂא מֵהֶם

and His Being and His Essence is exalted and uplifted far above them

וְאֵינוֹ בְּגֶדֶר תֹּאָרִים אֵלּוּ

and is not on the level of these qualities,

אִם כֵּן יוּבַן קֻשְׁיָא זוֹ בִּפְשִׁיטוּת,

the question regarding a change in G‑d’s will can be resolved simply.1

וְהוּא כִּי גַם שֶׁבְּזֶה דְּבָרָיו נְכוֹנִים בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁהָרָצוֹן וְהַחָכְמָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה נִקְרָא בְּלִי מָ"ה

Although there is truth to Rambam’s statements, for G‑d’s will and wisdom are “without substance,”

שֶׁאֵינָן מִמַּהוּת חָכְמָה וְרָצוֹן שֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

i.e., that they are not of the same nature as the wisdom and will that exist within our souls,

מִכָּל מָקוֹם לְגַבֵּי עַצְמוּתוֹ נִקְרָאִים כֵּלִים אוֹ לְבוּשִׁים

nevertheless, in relation to His Essence, they can be described as mediums or garments,

וּכְמַאֲמַר אֵלִיָּהוּ

as the hymn Pasach Eliyahu states:2

דְּאִתְקְרִיאוּ גוּפִין לְגַבֵּי לְבוּשִׁין דִּמְכַסְיָן עֲלֵיהוֹן

“They – the Sefiros of Atzilusare called limbs with regard to the garments which cover them.”

The intent of the analogy of “limbs” is to refer to an entity that is an integral part of a greater entity, like our limbs which are integral parts of our bodies. Our garments, by contrast, are extraneous to our beings and hence can be changed at will. Implied is that the Sefiros of Atzilus are referred to as limbs only in relation to the realms – the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah – below them.

אֲבָל לְגַבֵּי לְמַעְלָה מֵהֶם גַּם הֵם אִתְקְרִיאוּ לְבוּשִׁין כוּ'

With regard to the levels above them, they are called “garments.”

When comparing the Sefiros of Atzilus, i.e., G‑d’s attributes, to the levels below Atzilus, the analogy of limbs is appropriate. For unlike the levels below Atzilus, which represent created entities with a sense of self, the Sefiros of Atzilus are G‑d’s powers and identified with Him. Nevertheless, the above is a relative statement, for G‑d’s Essence is far above His attributes. From the standpoint of His Essence, all attributes are extraneous to Him and in relation to this level, they can be considered as “garments.”

וּלְפִיכָךְ שִׁנּוּי רָצוֹן הוּא שִׁנּוּי מֵהִתְלַבֵּשׁ לְבוּשׁ אָדֹם לִלְבוּשׁ לָבָן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

Therefore, a change in G‑d’s will is comparable, for example, to a change from a red garment to a white one.

שֶׁאֵין זֶה גוֹרֵם שִׁנּוּי בְּגוּף הַמֶּלֶךְ

This does not bring about a change in the body of the king himself,

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַבְּגָדִים שׁוֹנִים זֶה מִזֶּה,

even though the garments are different from each other.

וּבֵאוּר הָעִנְיָן יוּבַן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

The explanation of this idea can be understood through the example

מִמַּה שֶּׁאָנוּ רוֹאִים שִׁנּוּי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת לְבוּשִׁים שׁוֹנִים גַּם כֵּן לְגַבֵּי כֹּחוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ

of the changes undergone through the enclothement of the powers of the soul in different garments,

שֶׁכְּמוֹ כֵן אֵין שִׁנּוּי הַלְּבוּשִׁים פּוֹעֲלִים שִׁנּוּי בְּכֹחַ הַנֶּפֶשׁ,

but, as in the above analogy, the change in garments does not bring about a change in the powers of the soul.

לְמָשָׁל אָדָם שֶׁהוּא חָכָם בִּמְלָאכוֹת הַרְבֵּה

For example, a person has wisdom relating to many different crafts;

שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ חָכְמָה וְשֵׂכֶל לִכְתּוֹב>

he has the wisdom and the knowledge to write

וּלְהִתְחַכֵּם בִּמְלֶאכֶת הַכְּתִיבָה לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ עַל בֻּרְיָהּ

and he can deepen his knowledge about calligraphy and learn the deeper dimensions of this craft.

וְיֵשׁ בְּשִׂכְלוֹ גַם כֵּן יְדִיעָה לְהִתְחַכֵּם בִּמְלֶאכֶת הָאֲרִיגָה וְהַצִּיּוּר וְכַיּוֹצֵא בִּשְׁאָר מְלָאכוֹת,

However, his mind also possesses the intellectual capacity to gain wisdom about the crafts of weaving, drawing, and the like.

As will be explained, all of these different manifestations of knowledge are like garments when compared to the person’s fundamental power of knowledge.

וְהִנֵּה הַמְּלָאכוֹת חֲלוּקוֹת זוֹ מִזּוֹ בְּמַהוּתָם

Now, the very natures of these crafts differ from one another,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ הֶפְרֵשׁ בֵּין מַהוּת הַכְּתִיבָה לְמַהוּת הָאֲרִיגָה,

for there is a difference between the nature of calligraphy and the nature of weaving.

וּכְשֶׁפּוֹעֵל הַמְּלָאכָה נִמְשָׁךְ כֹּחַ מִשִּׂכְלוֹ

When a person performs one of these crafts, power is drawn down from his mind.

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁוַּדַּאי אֵין מַהוּת הַגֶּשֶׁם בְּשִׂכְלוֹ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

Even though the physical substance involved in the craft certainly does not exist in his mind,

עִם כָּל זֶה סִבַּת הַהֶפְרֵשׁ שֶׁבֵּינֵיהֶם יִתְהַוֶּה תְּחִלָּה בְּמַהוּת הַשֵּׂכֶל הַפּוֹעֲלָם

the difference between the way he performs these different crafts begins in the nature of the thought that controls their functioning.

שֶׁלִּמְלָאכָה זוֹ יֻמְשַׁךְ הַשְׂכָּלָה הַמְיֻחֶדֶת לָהּ

To perform a given craft, the knowledge unique to it must be drawn down,

וְלִמְלָאכָה אַחֶרֶת יֻמְשַׁךְ הַשְׂכָּלָה אַחֶרֶת

and for another craft, other knowledge must be drawn down.

וְלָכֵן יִשְׁתַּנּוּ הַמְּלָאכוֹת,

As a result, the nature of these crafts will vary.

וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹמַר שֶׁהֵם כֹּחוֹת שׁוֹנִים מַמָּשׁ

It cannot be said that these are actually different powers;

רוֹצֶה לוֹמַר שֶׁכֹּחַ הַשֵּׂכֶל הַמַּמְצִיא הַשְׂכָּלָה בִּכְתִיבָה הוּא מַהוּת אַחֵר מִכֹּחַ הַמַּמְצִיא הַשְׂכָּלוֹת בַּאֲרִיגָה

i.e., that the power of intellect that conceives of an idea involving the craft of calligraphy is of a different nature from the power that conceives of ideas involving the craft of weaving.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּרְאֶה לִכְאוֹרָה מֵאֲשֶׁר אָנוּ רוֹאִים

Seemingly, this is the explanation for a phenomenon we witness,

שֶׁיֵּשׁ בִּבְנֵי אָדָם חִלּוּקִים

i.e., that there are people with different mental abilities.

זֶה סְגֻלַּת שִׂכְלוֹ לְהִתְחַכֵּם בִּמְלָאכָה אַחַת וְלֹא יוֹדֵעַ בִּמְלָאכָה אַחֶרֶת כְּלָל

One has the mental gift of being able to gain wisdom relating to one craft and he knows nothing about another one,

וְזֶה לְהֵפֶךְ,

while another person has directly opposite tendencies.

וְנֹאמַר שֶׁזֶּהוּ לְפִי שֶׁשִּׂכְלוֹ מְיֻחָד לִמְלָאכָה זוֹ וְחָסֵר מִמֶּנּוּ כֹּחַ הַשַּׁיָּךְ לִמְלָאכָה אַחֶרֶת,

Nevertheless, were we to say that this one’s intellectual capacities are uniquely adapted to this craft and he is lacking the potential to learn what is associated with the other craft,

שֶׁזֶּה אֵינוֹ בֶּאֱמֶת

this would not be true,

כִּי כֹּחַ הַשֵּׂכֶל אֶחָד הוּא

for there is one power of intellect.

וְהוּא כְּמוֹ הִיּוּלִי לְגַבֵּי הַהַשְׂכָּלוֹת הַנִּמְשָׁכִים מִמֶּנּוּ

It is like a hyle 3 in relation to the concepts drawn down from it,

שֶׁיָּכוֹל לְהִתְחַכֵּם בְּכָל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה

for a person can gain wisdom concerning any subject he desires.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁאָנוּ רוֹאִים כְּשֶׁאָדָם אֶחָד יוּכַל לַעֲשׂוֹת ב' הַמְּלָאכוֹת

This is evident from the fact that a person who can perform two tasks

אֵינוֹ מַרְגִּישׁ שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה מְלָאכָה זוֹ נִמְשָׁךְ מִכֹּחַ זֶה

does not feel that when he is performing one of the tasks, one power is being drawn down,

וְשֶׁבַּאֲחֶרֶת נִמְשָׁךְ מִכֹּחַ אַחֵר,

and when he performs the other task, another power is being drawn down.

אֶלָּא הַכֹּל מִכֹּחַ אֶחָד

Instead, everything involves one power,

הוּא כֹּחַ חָכְמָה שֶׁבּוֹ,

his power of wisdom.

אַךְ עִקַּר הָעִנְיָן הוּא כֵּן

The fundamental point of the analogy is that,

בֶּאֱמֶת שֶׁכֹּחַ הַשֵּׂכֶל אֶחָד הוּא

in truth, there is one power of intellect

שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּכֹחוֹ לִפְעוֹל כָּל הַהַשְׂכָּלוֹת שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם

and it has the potential to conceive of all the concepts that exist.

וְנִקְרָא הִיּוּלִי,

With regard to them, it is called the hyle.

וְהָעִנְיָן שֶׁמִּתְחַכֵּם בּוֹ הוּא כְּמוֹ לְבוּשׁ אֵלָיו

The particular subject to which he devotes his wisdom is like a garment for the hyle.

וּכְשֶׁנּוֹתְנִים לְפָנָיו לְבוּשׁ זֶה מִתְלַבֵּשׁ בּוֹ

Thus, when one garment is placed before this power of intellect, he clothes himself in that garment;

וְהַיְנוּ לְהַשְׂכִּיל בִּמְלֶאכֶת הַכְּתִיבָה כְּשֶׁרוֹצֶה בּוֹ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

e.g., to learn about the craft of calligraphy when he desires to.

וּלְפִי תֹּאַר הַלְּבוּשׁ

According to the nature of this garment,

e.g., the craft of calligraphy or of weaving, the concepts involved in their performance will differ.

כָּךְ יִהְיוּ הַהַשְׂכָּלוֹת מְיֻחָדִים לִכְתִיבָה עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל שׁוֹנִים מִן הַהַשְׂכָּלוֹת הַמְיֻחָדוֹת לַאֲרִיגָה

For example, the concepts unique to calligraphy will differ from those unique to weaving,

שֶׁזֶּהוּ לְבוּשׁ אַחֵר,

for weaving constitutes a different garment for the power of intellect.

וְלָכֵן יֻמְשַׁךְ מִכָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד פְּעֻלָּה מְיֻחֶדֶת מֵחֲמַת שִׁנּוּיֵי הַלְּבוּשִׁים

Therefore, a different activity is drawn down for each one of them, because of the change in the garments.

וְעִם כָּל זֶה לְגַבֵּי הַשֵּׂכֶל עַצְמוֹ אֵין שִׁנּוּי מִהְיוֹתוֹ מִתְלַבֵּשׁ בִּכְתִיבָה אוֹ בַּאֲרִיגָה

Nevertheless, with regard to the power of intellect itself, there is no difference if it is enclothed in calligraphy or in weaving.

(וּמַה שֶּׁזֶּה סְגֻלָּתוֹ יוֹתֵר לִמְלָאכָה אַחַת מִלְּזוּלָתָהּ

(The fact that we find one person with greater skill in one craft than another

זֶהוּ לְפִי שֶׁמַּכִּיר הַמְּלָאכָה יוֹתֵר וְיוֹדֵעַ הַלְּבוּשׁ בְּטוֹב

is because he is more familiar with this task and knows this “garment” well,

אֵיךְ לְהַלְבִּישׁ בּוֹ אֶת הַשֵּׂכֶל

and appreciates how to enclothe his mind in it.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן לְגַבֵּי הַשֵּׁנִי שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ בְּטִיב לְבוּשׁ אַחֵר יוֹתֵר)

In contrast, another person knows a different “garment” better.)

The preceding paragraphs were all an analogy: The power of intellect is simple in relation to its expression in different fields, and those different fields of expression can be considered “garments.” Similarly, focusing on the analogue, G‑d is simple and His different powers (the Sefiros) can be considered His “garments.”

וְהִנֵּה כְּמוֹ שֶׁלְּגַבֵּי כֹּחוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ נִקְרָאוֹת הַמְּלָאכוֹת לְבוּשִׁים

Just as the different crafts are considered garments in relation to the powers of the soul,

כָּךְ יוּבַן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל לְמַעְלָה

so, too, can the parallel in the spiritual realms be understood.

לְפִי מַה שֶּׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל שֶׁמַּהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ אֵינוֹ מֵעֶרֶךְ מַהוּת הַסְּפִירוֹת כְּלָל

According to what was explained previously, G‑d’s Essence and Being is not at all comparable to the nature of the Sefiros.

אֶלָּא הוּא הֲוָיָה פְּשׁוּטָה

Instead, His Essence and Being is simple existence.

וְאִם כֵּן אֲפִלּוּ הַסְּפִירוֹת בְּעַצְמָן וּמַהוּתָן

As such, even the essence and nature of the Sefiros themselves,

שֶׁהֵם כֹּחַ הַחָכְמָה וְהָרָצוֹן כוּ'

i.e., the powers of wisdom, will, and the like,

הֵם בְּחִינוֹת לְבוּשִׁים לְגַבֵּי אוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא

are considered garments in relation to G‑d’s infinite light

הַמַּאֲצִילָם שֶׁמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בָּהֶם

from which they emanate and which enclothes itself in them.

כִּי הוּא אוֹר פָּשׁוּט

For it is a simple light

וְיוּכַל לְהַחֲיוֹת מַהוּת שֵׂכֶל כְּמוֹ מַהוּת רָצוֹן בְּשָׁוֶה

that can give life to the nature of intellect and the nature of will equally,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁהַשֵּׂכֶל הוּא הִיּוּלִי לְגַבֵּי הַמְּלָאכוֹת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

just as intellect functions as a hyle with regard to the various crafts mentioned above.

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁי' סְפִירוֹת הֵם בְּלִי מָ"ה

Although the Ten Sefiros are “without substance”

וְאֵינָן בְּעֶרֶךְ כֹּחוֹת נַפְשִׁיּוֹת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

and are not comparable to the powers of our soul, as mentioned above,

for the powers of our souls are limited, defined entities and this cannot be said with regard to the Sefiros of Atzilus,

מִכָּל מָקוֹם אֶצְלוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ הֵם כְּמוֹ לְבוּשִׁים

they are like garments when compared to G‑d.

וְאֵין שִׁנּוּי בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ אִם מִתְלַבֵּשׁ בִּלְבוּשׁ אָדֹם

And there is no change within Him whether He clothes Himself in a red garment,

שֶׁהִיא מִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

i.e., the attribute of Gevurah, for example,

לִכְשֶׁמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בִּלְבוּשׁ לָבָן

or a white garment,

שֶׁהוּא מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן

which refers to the quality of sublime Chessed.

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הַפְּעֻלּוֹת שׁוֹנוֹת מִצַּד שִׁנּוּיֵי הַלְּבוּשִׁים כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

Although the difference in these garments brings about a difference in activities, as mentioned above

בִּמְשַׁל שִׁנּוּי הַמְּלָאכוֹת מִשִּׁנּוּי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת הַשֵּׂכֶל

– like the different crafts performed because of the different fields of knowledge in which intellect enclothes itself –

וְעִם כָּל זֶה אֵינוֹ שִׁנּוּי כְּלָל בָּאוֹר הַמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ

there is no change at all in the light that enclothes itself in the Sefiros.

שֶׁהוּא פָּשׁוּט

The light is simple

וְשָׁוֶה מַמָּשׁ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּחֶסֶד

and is manifest in an equal manner when it is enclothed in the attribute of Chessed

עִם כְּשֶׁמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בִּגְבוּרָה

as when it is enclothed in the attribute of Gevurah,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאֵין שִׁנּוּי לְגַבֵּי הַשֵּׂכֶל עַצְמוֹ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

just as there is no change with regard to the power of intellect itself despite its different manifestations, as explained above.

וּבְהַקְדָּמָה זוֹ שֶׁהִקְדִּים אֵלִיָּהוּ

After the preface of this concept – which the hymn Pasach Eliyahu1 first mentions,

שֶׁהַסְּפִירוֹת הֵם כְּמוֹ הַלְּבוּשִׁים

that the Sefiros are like garments

שׁוּב לֹא יַעֲלֶה עַל לֵב מַשְׂכִּיל הַקֻּשְׁיָא בְּעִנְיַן שִׁנּוּי הָרָצוֹן לְמַעְלָה

– the question of a change in the will of G‑d will no longer arise in the heart of a thinking person.

שֶׁמִּתְּחִלָּה רָצָה כָּךְ וְאַחַר כָּךְ בְּאֹפֶן אַחֵר

He will not be troubled by the fact that first G‑d wanted one thing and then another,

כְּמוֹ מִתְּחִלָּה רָצָה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה חֻרְבַּן הַבַּיִת לְגֹדֶל הָעֲוֹנוֹת

for example, first He desired that the Beis HaMikdash be destroyed because of the people’s great sins

וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִרְצֶה בְּהִבָּנוֹתוֹ

and then He desired that it be rebuilt.

שִׁנּוּי רָצוֹן זֶה הַיְנוּ שֶׁהוּא יִתְבָּרִֵךְ הֶחֱלִיף מִלְּבוּשׁ אָדֹם לִלְבוּשׁ לָבָן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

This change in His will is, for example, like Him changing from a red garment to a white one.

שֶׁאֵין שִׁנּוּי כְּלָל בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ הַלּוֹבֵשׁ אֶת הַלְּבוּשׁ

It does not necessitate a change within G‑d, the One Who wears the garment.

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר כַּלְּבוּשׁ תַּחֲלִיפֵם כוּ' (תִּלִּים ק"ב כ"ז)

Concerning this, it is written (Tehillim 102:27): “Like a garment, You change them.”

וּמַה שֶּׁשִּׁנּוּי רָצוֹן גּוֹרֵם שִׁנּוּי בְּהָרוֹצֶה

The concept that a change in will brings about a change in the one whose will is involved

הַיְנוּ בְּאָדָם

applies to mortals,

שֶׁרְצוֹנוֹ הִיא כֹּחַ מֻרְכָּב בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ

for their will and their essence are a compound.

Man’s essence is one entity and his powers are other, separate entities and the two are intertwined.

וּכְשֶׁרוֹצֶה מִתְפַּעֶלֶת עַצְמוּת נַפְשׁוֹ

Thus, when a person’s will is aroused, the essence of his soul is also affected and activated.

וּמִמֵּילָא בְּשִׁנּוּי הָרָצוֹן יִהְיֶה שִׁנּוּי הַהִתְפַּעֲלוּת בַּנֶּפֶשׁ

Therefore, a change in will involves activity within the soul itself.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן לְמַעְלָה שֶׁהָרָצוֹן הוּא כְּמוֹ לְבוּשׁ

With regard to G‑d, by contrast, His will is only like a garment,

וּכְשֶׁהוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ רוֹצֶה בּוֹ אֵינוֹ מִתְפָּעֵל בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ

and when He wills something, His Essence is not affected,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאֵין הָעַצְמוּת מִתְפָּעֵל מִן הַלְּבוּשׁ

just like the essence of the soul is not affected by a garment,

וְכִמְשַׁל הַמַּיִם בַּכְּלִי כוּ'

or like the analogy of water placed into a colored container.

As explained above,4 the water only appears to take on the color of the container. In actuality, it remains unchanged. Similarly,

וּלְפִיכָךְ שִׁנּוּי הָרָצוֹן אֵינוֹ גוֹרֵם שִׁנּוּי בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ

a change in how G‑d’s will is expressed does not cause a change in His Essence,

שֶׁהֲרֵי גַם בְּאָדָם

for even with regard to a mortal,

מַה שֶּׁמַּחֲלִיף לְבוּשָׁיו אֵינוֹ גוֹרֵם שִׁנּוּי בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ כוּ'

changing his garments does not involve a change in his essence.

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלְּגַבֵּי הָרָצוֹן עַצְמוֹ יִהְיוּ שִׁנּוּיִים

Even though there will be a change with regard to the attribute of will itself, that does not necessitate a change within His Essence. For,

כְּבָר אָמַרְנוּ לְמַעְלָה שֶׁהַי' סְפִירוֹת וּמִכְּלָלָם הָרָצוֹן נֶאֶצְלוּ לְאַחַר הַצִּמְצוּם מִן הַזִּיו וְהָאוֹר

as we stated above, the Ten Sefiros, including the attribute of will,5 emanate from G‑d’s radiance and light after the tzimtzum.

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּקְרָא אֱלֹקוּת

Although they are referred to as G‑dliness,

אֵינוֹ מֵעֶרֶךְ עַצְמוּתוֹ

they are not on the level of His Essence

וְהַשִּׁנּוּי שֶׁבָּהֶם אֵינוֹ פוֹעֵל שִׁנּוּי בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

and a change in them does not involve a change in G‑d Himself.

אֶלָּא שֶׁהוּא יִתְבָּרֵךְ מֵאִיר וּמִתְלַבֵּשׁ בָּהֶם

Instead, He shines and enclothes Himself in them.

שֶׁהוּא עִנְיַן הַקַּו שֶׁנִּמְשָׁךְ מֵהָאוֹר שֶׁלִּפְנֵי הַצִּמְצוּם

This revelation and enclothement is achieved through the kav, which is drawn down from the light before the tzimtzum

וּבוֹ אֵין שִׁנּוּיִים כְּלָל

– but in Him, there is no change at all.

רַק כְּמוֹ הִתְחַלְּפוּת לְבוּשִׁים

It is like changing clothes:

שֶׁפּוֹשֵׁט אֵלּוּ וְלוֹבֵשׁ אֲחֵרִים כוּ'

taking off one set and putting on another.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁמְּבַקְשִׁים יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ

This is the intent of the request in our prayers “May it be Your will”:

כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁיִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בִּבְחִינַת רָצוֹן זֶה וְיִשְׁתַּנֶּה הַלְּבוּשׁ כוּ'

that He enclothe Himself in one will rather than another by changing the garment.

וּבְהִשְׁתַּנּוֹת הַלְּבוּשׁ יֻמְשַׁךְ רַב טוֹב וְחֶסֶד לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

By changing the garment, abundant good and kindness will be drawn down to the Jewish people

according to the request that was made.

אַךְ מִכָּל מָקוֹם הַכֹּחַ הַזֶּה לִפְעוֹל מֵהַמֶּלֶךְ הִשְׁתַּנּוֹת מַלְבּוּשָׁיו

Nevertheless, the potential to motivate a king to change his garments

אֵינוֹ כִּי אִם עַל יְדֵי מְקֹרַב הַמֶּלֶךְ

exists only within one who is close to the king,

כְּמוֹ הָעֶבֶד שֶׁמַּכִּיר בְּטִיב לְבוּשָׁיו

like an attendant who knows the quality of the king’s garments

וְגַם יָכוֹל לְהִתְקָרֵב לְגוּפוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ

and can also come close to the king himself

וְיִפְעוֹל אֶצְלוֹ שֶׁיַּחֲלִיף מִלְּבוּשׁ זֶה לִלְבוּשׁ אַחֵר

and motivate him to change from one garment to another.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן אִישׁ נָכְרִי אֲשֶׁר לֹא מֵעַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ הוּא

In contrast, an outsider who is not one of the king’s attendants

אֵינוֹ מַכִּיר לְבוּשָׁיו

does not recognize his garments,

וְגַם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִתְקָרֵב לְגוּפוֹ שֶׁל הַמֶּלֶךְ וּלְבַקֵּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ עַל כָּכָה,

nor can he come close to the king himself and ask him to do this.

עַל כֵּן בַּקָּשָׁה זוֹ בְּאָמְרֵנוּ יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ כוּ' אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְבַדָּן

Similarly, in the analogue, it is for this reason that the request “May it be Your will” can only be made by the Jewish people,

כְּדִכְתִיב בְּכָל קָרְאֵנוּ אֵלָיו

as it is written:6 For which… nation has G‑d close to it, as is G‑d, our L-rd, whenever we call upon Him.”

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל עָלוּ בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה פְּנִימִיּוּת אַבָּא וְאִמָּא

For Israel arose in the inner thought of Abba v’Ima, “the Supernal Father and the Supernal Mother,” a term used to refer to the Sefiros of Chochmah and Binah

שֹׁרֶשׁ כָּל הָאֲצִילוּת

– the source for all of Atzilus

וְיֵשׁ לְנִשְׁמָתָן שַׁיָּכוּת לִלְבוּשִׁים שֶׁל אוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא

and their souls share a connection with the garments of G‑d’s infinite light

(כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר אֵלִיָּהוּ

(as stated in Pasach Eliyahu:1

לְבוּשִׁין תְּקִינַת לוֹן דְּמִנַּיְהוּ פָּרְחִין נִשְׁמָתִין לִבְנֵי נָשָׁא

“You have made garments for them from which souls issue forth to man.”

וּלְפִי מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּמִצְוָה א'

According to the explanation given in the maamar which focuses on the first mitzvah mentioned in Sefer HaChinuch,7

יֵשׁ בְּנִשְׁמוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל גַּם כֵּן הֶאָרַת אֵין סוֹף שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַכֵּלִים

a radiance of Ein Sof that transcends the keilim is manifest within the souls of the Jewish people.

וְהוּא מִבְּחִינַת הָעַצְמוּת

It stems from G‑d’s Essence.

עַיֵּן שָׁם בְּסִיּוּם הַדְּרוּשׁ

See the conclusion of that maamar.

וְלָכֵן יְכוֹלִים לְהִתְקָרֵב אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ עַצְמוֹ וְלוֹמַר לוֹ דֵּעָה בְּעִנְיַן הַלְּבוּשִׁים

Therefore, the Jewish people have the potential to come close to the King Himself and render an opinion regarding His garments,

שֶׁיַּחֲלִיף מִזֶּה לְזֶה כוּ')

suggesting that He switch from one to another.)

עַד שֶׁיַּלְבִּישׁוּהוּ בְּאָמְרָם יְהִי רָצוֹן

Because of their inner connection to G‑d, they can dress Him in garments, as it were, by saying “May it be Your will,”

דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁיִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בִּסְפִירַת הָרָצוֹן

causing Him to enclothe Himself in the Sefirah of will

וְיִפְעַל פְּעֻלָּה חֲדָשָׁה בִּמְצִיאוּת הַנִּבְרָאִים

and bring about a new development in the manner in which the created entities exist,

לַהֲפוֹךְ מִיָּם לְיַבָּשָׁה

for example, to transform water into dry land,

כִּי כֹּל אֲשֶׁר חָפֵץ ה' עָשָׂה (תִּלִּים קל"ה ו')

as it is written (Tehillim 135:6): “Whatever G‑d desires, He does.”

שֶׁבִּרְצוֹתוֹ בְּדָבָר מִיָּד נַעֲשֶׂה כֵּן

For when He desires something, it is brought about immediately,

וְכַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ח' עַל פָּסוּק כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי וְגוֹ'

as explained in section 8 with regard to the verse “My thoughts are not your thoughts.”

וְגַם עַל יְדֵי רְצוֹנוֹ נִמְשָׁךְ לִבְחִינַת הַדִּבּוּר עֶלְיוֹן לְשַׁנּוֹת הַצֵּרוּפִים

Moreover, through His will, influence is drawn down to the sublime speech8 causing a change in the permutations of the Divine utterances through which the world is created.

All existence is brought into being through G‑d’s speech. As explained in Tanya,9 the Ten Utterances of Creation are the mediums through which the world was brought into existence, not only at the original time of Creation, but at all times. Thus, changes and permutations of the order and forms of the letters of G‑d’s speech alter the nature of existence on this material plane.

וְזֶה סוֹד מִי שֶׁאָמַר לְשֶׁמֶן וְיַדְלִיק יֹאמַר לְחֹמֶץ וְיַדְלִיק (תַּעֲנִית כ"ה א')

This is the mystical secret implied by the statement (Taanis 25a): “He Who said that oil should burn will say that vinegar should burn.”

וְאָז יִתְהַפֵּךְ הַמְּצִיאוּת שֶׁל הַנִּבְרָא עַל יְדֵי שִׁנּוּי צֵרוּפוֹ הַמְחַיֶּה אוֹתוֹ.

For through the permutations of the letters that bring vitality to a created being, the nature of its existence is also changed.

As explained in Tanya,9 the Hebrew letters that form the name of every entity communicate its vitality and life-energy. Through the permutation of these letters, the nature of the entity is changed.

וְכָל שִׁנּוּי רָצוֹן זֶה

None of these changes in G‑d’s will

וְשִׁנּוּי צֵרוּפֵי הַדִּבּוּר

or these permutations of the forms of His speech

אֵינוֹ גוֹרֵם שִׁנּוּי בְּאוֹר הָעַצְמוּת הַמְלֻבָּשׁ בְּתוֹכָן

bring about a change in the essential light enclothed in them,

דְּהַיְנוּ הָרוֹצֶה בָּרָצוֹן וְהַמְדַבֵּר בְּדִבּוּרוֹ

nor in the One Who desires through His will and speaks through His speech,

לְפִי שֶׁהֵן רַק כְּמוֹ לְבוּשִׁים

because speech and even will are merely garments.

וְלֹא כִּרְצוֹן הָאָדָם לְגַבֵּי נַפְשׁוֹ

The manner in which the attribute of will exists and functions in the spiritual realms is not comparable to the relationship between a person’s power of will and his soul,

וְכִמְשַׁל הַמַּיִם בַּכְּלִי

as indicated by the analogy of water in different containers

שֶׁכָּתַבְתִּי פֶּרֶק ה' בְּשֵׁם הָרְמַ"ק

quoted in section 5 in the name of Ramak.

וְכֵן הוּא מָשָׁל הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל לְגַבֵּי הַשֵּׂכֶל מִכְּתִיבָה לַאֲרִיגָה

The same point is communicated by the analogy of the knowledge needed for calligraphy and weaving mentioned above.

וְהַכֹּל עוֹלֶה בְּקָנֶה אֶחָד

All these explanations follow a single thread,

לוֹמַר שֶׁהַסְּפִירוֹת הֵם רַק כִּלְבוּשִׁים

i.e., that the Sefiros are merely garments

שֶׁאֵין הַמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בָּהֶם מִשְׁתַּנֶּה בְּשִׁנּוּיִים כוּ',

that do not bring about change within the One Who clothes Himself in them.

וְעִקַּר סִבַּת כֹּחַ זֶה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל

The fundamental reason why the Jews have the power to effect what appears to be a change in G‑d’s will

הוּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיְּכוֹלִים לִמְסוֹר נַפְשָׁם עַל קִדּוּשׁ הַשֵּׁם

is that they have the potential to sacrifice their lives for the sanctification of G‑d’s name

(שֶׁזֶּהוּ מִצַּד שָׁרְשָׁם בָּעַצְמוּת כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר)

(which, in turn, comes about because of their source in G‑d’s Essence, as explained in another source).

וְכֹחַ זֶה הוּא מַעֲלֶה מַ"ן [מַיִּין נוּקְבִין] לְאַבָּא וְאִמָּא>

This power brings about an arousal from below to Abba v’Ima, i.e., the Sefiros of Chochmah and Binah,

לִהְיוֹת גּוֹרֵם יִחוּד אַבָּא וְאִמָּא עַל יְדֵי תּוֹסְפוֹת אוֹר חָדָשׁ מֵאֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא

to bring about their union because of the generation of new light from the Ein Sof.

The root of the Jews’ souls lies in G‑d’s Essence. How is this essential quality expressed? Through self-sacrifice. Thus, when a Jew sacrifices his life for the sanctification of G‑d’s name, he brings the essence of his soul into revelation. This activity on his part evokes the revelation of essential light from G‑d’s Essence. As that essential light is drawn down, it brings about the unification of opposites on all planes, including the unification of Chochmah and Binah (the Sublime Father and Mother referred to above). The unity of these Sefiros allows this essential light to be drawn into the lower realms, changing the nature of existence on this material plane.

וְעַל פִּי הַמְשָׁכָה חֲדָשָׁה זוֹ שֶׁמֵּאַבָּא וְאִמָּא>

Due to this generation of new influence from Abba v’Ima,

שֶׁהֵם הַשֵּׂכֶל

i.e., the intellectual qualities,

יִשְׁתַּנּוּ גַם כֵּן צֵרוּפֵי אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר

the permutations of the letters of the sublime speech will also change,

כִּי בְּחָכְמָה יָסַד אָרֶץ (מִשְׁלֵי ג' י"ט)

for “Through Chochmah, the earth was established” (Mishlei 3:19),

“The earth” refers to the quality of Malchus that is identified with speech.

שֶׁהַדִּבּוּר נִמְשָׁךְ מֵהַשֵּׂכֶל

as in the physical realm, where speech is drawn down from intellect.

וְיִשְׁתַּנֶּה צֵרוּף שֶׁל הַחוֹלֶה

This will cause a change in the permutation of the letters of sublime speech controlling, for example, the fate of a sick person,

מִמָּוֶת לְחַיִּים כוּ'

changing the order of the letters in a manner that will lead to a change from death to life.

וְנִמְשָׁךְ מֵהַהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת דֶּרֶךְ כֵּלִים דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

The energy evoked through an arousal of G‑d’s will is drawn down in a chainlike process of descent through the Spiritual Cosmos through the keilim of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah

עַד שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ לַעֲשִׂיָּה מַמָּשׁ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ז'.

until it reaches the physical expression of Asiyah, as explained in section 7.

וְעוֹד יִתְבָּאֵר תֹּכֶן עִנְיַן יְהִי רָצוֹן כוּ' לְפִי מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב שָׁם בְּמִצְוַת תְּשׁוּבָה פֶּרֶק ג'

The request “May it be Your will” can also be explained according to what is written in the maamar concerning the mitzvah of Teshuvah, section 3,10

עַל פָּסוּק סְלַח לָנוּ

regarding the expression,11 “Forgive us, O G‑d, for we have sinned,”

שֶׁיֵּשׁ כַּמָּה בְּחִינוֹת רָצוֹן

which elaborates on the several levels that exist within G‑d’s will.

אִית רָצוֹן וְאִית רָצוֹן

There is one level of will and another, higher will

וְגַם רַעֲוָא דְרַעֲוִין,

and there is “the will of wills.”

וּפֵרוּשׁ יְהִי רָצוֹן שֶׁיֻּמְשַׁךְ מֵרַעֲוָא דְרַעֲוִין

The expression “May it be Your will” is a request that from “the will of wills”

רָצוֹן הַמָּקוֹר לִרְצוֹנוֹת

– the will that is the source of all wills –

יֻמְשַׁךְ רָצוֹן חָדָשׁ

a new will be drawn down

לִמְחוֹל לַחוֹטֵא

to forgive the sinner.

וְאָז יִחְיֶה מֵחוֹלָאָתוֹ

Then the sinner will recover from his sickness and live.

Through teshuvah, a new will is aroused, bringing about atonement for the person’s sin. This heals him from his sickness.

שֶׁאֵין יִסּוּרִים בְּלֹא עָוֹן,

Why did the sickness arise? Our Sages taught: there is no suffering without sin.12

לְפִי שֶׁהֶעָוֹן הוּא נֶגֶד רְצוֹנוֹ

The sin is against G‑d’s will,

שֶׁרוֹצֶה בְּקִיּוּם מִצְוֹתָיו

for it is His will that His commandments be fulfilled.

וְהַמְּחִילָה הִיא הַמְשָׁכַת רָצוֹן חָדָשׁ מֵרַעֲוָא דְרַעֲוִין

Forgiveness and therefore the sinner’s recovery comes from a new will from G‑d’s will of wills,

שֶׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵרָצוֹן שֶׁבַּמִּצְוֹת,

that transcends His will for mitzvos.

The mitzvos relate to a level of G‑dliness that recognizes and enclothes itself within the limitations of this world, while the level of will to which teshuvah relates transcends those limitations entirely.

וְהִתְעוֹרְרוּת רַעֲוָא דְרַעֲוִין הַיְנוּ עַל יְדֵי צָעַק לִבָּם מִפְּנִימִיּוּת הַלֵּב,

The will of wills is aroused through crying out from the inner dimensions of the heart.

וְכֵן עַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה אִית רָצוֹן שֶׁלְּמַטָּה מִן הַשֵּׂכֶל

Similarly, there is a level of will below intellect,

וְהוּא תִּפְאֶרֶת דְּאִמָּא

the quality of Tiferes within the Sublime Mother, i.e., Binah,

שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה כֶּתֶר לְזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין

which serves as Kesser for Z’eir Anpin.

וְהַנְהָגַת הָרָצוֹן זֶה הוּא עַל יְדֵי הַשֵּׂכֶל

This level of will is controlled by intellect

וְשָׁאֲלוּ לַחָכְמָה נֶפֶשׁ הַחוֹטֵאת בַּמֶּה תִּתְכַּפֵּר כוּ' (יִלְקוּט שִׁמְעוֹנִי יְחֶזְקֵאל שנ"ח עַיֵּן שָׁם)

and that level does not allow for repentance, as our Sages state (Yalkut Shimoni, Yechezkel, sec. 358, consult that text):13 The attribute of Chochmah was asked: “How can a soul that sinned gain atonement?”

אָמְרָה תָּמוּת

The attribute of Chochmah replied that the sinner should die,

כִּי הִיא בְּחִינַת דִּין גַּם כֵּן

for Chochmah is also associated with judgment,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הַחַיָּט,

as stated by the Chayat.14

וְכַאֲשֶׁר אוֹמְרִים יְהִי רָצוֹן הַיְנוּ שֶׁיֻּמְשַׁךְ מֵרָצוֹן הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַשֵּׂכֶל

When we say “May it be Your will,” the intent is for influence to be drawn down from the sublime will that transcends intellect

אֶל רָצוֹן הַזֶּה

to the level of will that relates to worldly existence.

וְאָז מִתְמַלֵּא רַחֲמִים

Then His will becomes filled with mercy.

וּכְמוֹ בְּמִנְחַת שַׁבָּת

There is a parallel with regard to Shabbos afternoon

שֶׁנִּקְרָא עֵת רָצוֹן

which is called “a time of will”

מִצַּד הִתְגַּלּוּת מִצְחָא דַאֲרִיךְ בְּמִצְחָא דְזָ"א

because of the revelation of the forehead of Arich Anpin in the forehead of Z’eir Anpin.

As the Tzemach Tzedek proceeds to explain, the term “forehead” refers to an approach that does not depend on logic. “The forehead of Arich Anpin” refers to an approach motivated by mercy that transcends logic, while “the forehead of Z’eir Anpin” refers to a resolve that was originally motivated by logic, but lacks the vitality that stems from continued intellectual involvement.

כִּי מִצְחָא דְזָ"א הוּא הַהֶסְכֵּם שֶׁנִּשְׁאָר מֵרָצוֹן הַנּוֹלָד עַל פִּי הַשֵּׂכֶל

To explain by analogy: The forehead of Z’eir Anpin refers to the resolution that remains from the will that originates in an intellectual understanding of the value of an activity.

When a person is intellectually involved in the decision he made, he is willing to debate the matter and give room to the opposite perspective, even if he does not accept it. If, however, his thought is diverted and no longer focused on the activity, all that remains is his decision to carry it out. Since that decision was already made, he will defend it stubbornly, refusing to listen to any other view. Its firmness is not, however, a sign of inner strength, but rather indicates a lack of vitality that prevents him exercising the flexibility that accompanies broad vision.

כַּאֲשֶׁר מִסְתַּלֵּק הַשֵּׂכֶל וְהַהִתְבּוֹנְנוּת

When a person understands that an activity is desirable, his will is aroused to involve himself in it. Afterwards, however, it is possible that his thought and meditation will be withdrawn from that activity, and as a result, his desire for it is also reduced.

וְנִשְׁאָר הַהֶסְכֵּם לְבָד

All that will remain is the resolution to carry it out.

The person has not changed his mind about performing the activity, but he has diverted his attention and, as a result, his commitment lacks energy.

שֶׁאָז יִהְיוּ דִינִין בְּיוֹתֵר עַל הָעוֹבֵר רְצוֹנוֹ

At this level, there will be more severe opposition15 to someone who acts against his will

כִּמְשַׁל הַקָּטָן שֶׁהוּא אַכְזָרִי יוֹתֵר

like a child who can be very cruel

מֵחֶסְרוֹן הַחָכְמָה

because of his lack of wisdom.

שֶׁהִיא מְקוֹר הָרַחֲמִים גַּם כֵּן

For wisdom is also the source of mercy,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב אָבִינוּ אָב הָרַחֲמָן

as implied by the expression:16 “Our Father, merciful Father.”

Avinu, translated as “our Father,” can be understood as a reference to Chochmah, wisdom.

אֶלָּא שֶׁלְּגַבֵּי הָרָצוֹן שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַחָכְמָה נִקְרֵאת דִּין,

Nevertheless, with regard to the will that transcends wisdom, i.e., the will of wills, Chochmah is called “judgment.”

For on the levels above Chochmah, there is no possibility for another perspective, while wisdom can see another’s point of view and thus judge between the two perspectives.

וְלָכֵן מִמִּצְחָא דְזָ"א מִתְעָרִין כ"ד בָּתֵּי דִינִין

Therefore, from the forehead of Z’eir Anpin, 24 courts of judgment are aroused,

וְכַד מִצְחָא דְעַתִּיקָא קַדִּישָׁא אִתְגְּלִי כּוּלְהוּ אִשְׁתְּכָכוּ

but when the forehead of the Atika Kadisha is revealed, all judgments are silenced,

For when the level above intellect is revealed, the negative qualities that might be revealed within Z’eir Anpin become nullified.

כִּי הוּא מְקוֹר הָרַחֲמִים

for it is the source of mercy.

וְזֶהוּ פֵּרוּשׁ יְהִי רָצוֹן

This is the meaning of the request “May it be Your will,”

כְּלוֹמַר גַּלֵּה רְצוֹנְךָ הַפָּשׁוּט

i.e., reveal Your simple will,

מְקוֹר הָרַחֲמִים

which is the source of mercy,

בְּרָצוֹן שֶׁלְּמַטָּה בְּזָ"א,

in the lower will that is manifest in Z’eir Anpin.

וְכָל שִׁנּוּיִים אֵלּוּ אֵינֶנּוּ שִׁנּוּי בְּאוֹר הָעַצְמוּת שֶׁבָּהֶם

All of these changes do not involve a change in the essential light enclothed in the Sefiros,

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל בַּמָּשָׁל

as explained above in the analogy of light shining through glass.

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן לְגַבֵּי מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

Certainly, there is no change in His Being and Essence,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב עָלָה אֱלֹקִים בִּתְרוּעָה (תִּלִּים שׁם)

שֶׁאוֹר הָעַצְמוּת שֶׁבָּהֶם הוּא זִיו לְבָד

for the essential light in the Sefiros is merely a ray

שֶׁהַזִּיו אֵינוֹ פּוֹעֵל שִׁנּוּי בַּמָּאוֹר

and the ray does not bring about any change in the Source of light.

שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ שִׁנּוּי זֶה

For even the change of the color of light

עִם שֶׁאֵינוֹ אֲמִתִּי

– which is not a true change –

אֵין בּוֹ

does not take place with regard to His Essence,

וְכַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל בְּאֹרֶךְ פֶּרֶק ה':

as explained in detail in section 5.

וְהִנֵּה עַל פִּי כָּל מַה שֶּׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל יוּבַן

On the basis of all the above, we can understand

מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב יִבְחַר לָנוּ אֶת נַחֲלָתֵנוּ אֶת גְּאוֹן יַעֲקֹב אֲשֶׁר אָהֵב סֶלָה (תִּלִּים מ"ז ה'),

the verse (Tehillim 47:5): “He will choose our inheritance for us, the glory of Yaakov that He loves, Selah,”

וְאוֹמְרִים זֶה לִפְנֵי תְּקִיעַת שׁוֹפָר בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה,

which we recite before the blowing of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah.

כִּי הִנֵּה בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה הוּא חֲזָרַת הַדְּבָרִים לְקַדְמוּתָן

For on Rosh HaShanah, all of G‑d’s creative energy returns to its initial state.

וְהוּא בְּחִינוֹת עֲלִיּוֹת (אוֹרוֹת) הַמַּלְכוּת

This represents the ascent of (the lights of) Malchus, as (ibid.:6) states: “Elokim ascends through the shofar blasts.”

G‑d’s name Elokim is identified with the quality of tzimtzum that is expressed through the Sefirah of Malchus. On Rosh HaShanah, Malchus ascends to its source within G‑d’s inner will and has to be drawn down again through the Divine service of the Jewish people.

וְכַאֲשֶׁר הוּא עוֹלֶה בְּעִלּוּי אַחַר עִלּוּי עַד רוּם הַמַּעֲלוֹת

When it ascends, it rises level after level until the highest peaks,

בִּבְחִינַת פְּנִימִית הַכֶּתֶר

to the inner dimension of Kesser.

אֲזַי גַּם הַחִיצוֹנִים עוֹלִים אַחֲרֶיהָ

Then the extraneous forces – the kabbalistic term for the forces of unholiness – also ascend after it,

בִּבְחִינַת אֲחוֹרַיִם לִינַק

attaching themselves to the hindmost dimension to derive nurture

וּלְקַבֵּל מִמֶּנָּה

and receive vitality from the lights of Malchus on this elevated level,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב כָּל הָעַמִּים תִּקְעוּ כָף כוּ' (שָׁם ב')

as it is written (ibid.:2): “All nations, join hands”

נְדִיבֵי עַמִּים נֶאֱסָפוּ כוּ' (שָׁם י')

and (ibid.:10): “The nobles of the people gathered.”

For on Rosh HaShanah, vitality is drawn down not only to the Jewish people but also to the world at large.

וְלִהְיוֹת כִּי בְּחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּת הַכֶּתֶר הוּא בְּחִינַת מְקוֹר הַתַּעֲנוּגִים

The other nations can receive nurture at this level, because the inner dimension of Kesser is the source of all pleasures.

שֶׁמִּפְּנֵי הָרוֹמְמוּת בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ

On its lofty, essential plane,

יוּכַל לְהִתְמַשֵּׁךְ גַּם לְמִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָאוּי כָּרָאוּי

there exists the possibility that its influence can also be drawn down to one who is not worthy to the same degree as to one who is worthy,

כִּי הוּא לְמַעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת רָצוֹן שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה

for this level is above the will enclothed in the Torah,

כְּדִכְתִיב אִם צָדַקְתָּ מַה תִּתֶּן לוֹ (אִיּוֹב ל"ה ז')

as implied by the verse (Iyov 35:7): “If you acted righteously, what have you given Him?”

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ח',

as mentioned in section 8 above.

To receive influence from a level of G‑dliness that has already been drawn down within the limitations of worldly existence, one has to refine oneself. Since the light enclothes itself in the vessels of Seder HaHishtalshelus (the Spiritual Cosmos), refining our vessels (our bodies and the material entities with which we come in contact) and making them worthier enables them to receive more light. The levels of G‑dliness that transcend limitation are too elevated to enclothe themselves in a vessel. Instead, they shine in an encompassing manner (bederech makif). Hence, refining a vessel will not make it more suitable to receive this light, and even one who is totally unrefined may also access it.

כְּעִנְיַן שְׂמָמִית בְּיָדַיִם תְּתַפֵּשׂ וְהִיא בְּהֵיכְלֵי מֶלֶךְ וְכוּ' (מִשְׁלֵי ל' כ"ח)

This relates to the explanations offered17 for the verse (Mishlei 30:28): “The spider seizes its prey with its arms, while it is in the palace of the king.”

Many translate the latter phrase as “[although] it is in the palace of the king,” i.e., outwardly, a spider’s existence is a contradiction to the palace of the king. According to Chassidus, however, it is the fact that it is located in the palace of the king that allows for the spider’s existence. In an ordinary home, the spider would be noticed and done away with. By contrast, because the palace of the king is so great, the spider goes unnoticed and may continue to exist.

לְזֹאת אָנוּ אוֹמְרִים יִבְחַר לָנוּ אֶת נַחֲלָתֵנוּ

Therefore, – i.e., to insure that the Divine influence is conveyed to Israel alone – we say: “He will choose our inheritance for us.”

פֵּרוּשׁ שֶׁיָּאִיר אוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִבְּחִינַת עַצְמִיּוּת הָעֹנֶג בִּבְחִינַת חוֹתָם

This is a request that G‑d’s infinite light and the essence of pleasure will shine forth through a seal,


i.e., with a limit,

לְהַגְבִּיל הַשֶּׁפַע לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְבָד

restricting the influence to the Jewish people alone,

בְּסִטְרָא דִקְדֻשָּׁה

in the realm of holiness,

כְּפִי מַה שֶׁבָּא הָרָצוֹן בַּתּוֹרָה

as expressed through the will manifest in the Torah.

וְזֶהוּ עִנְיַן הַחֲתִימָה בְּיוֹם כִּפּוּר בִּנְעִילָה

This is the concept of the sealing of G‑d’s decrees at the time of the Neilah service on Yom Kippur.

וְדַי לַמֵּבִין:

This is sufficient for a person of understanding.


In this section, the Tzemach Tzedek focuses on the question of a change in G‑d’s will. This is a more problematic issue because just as with a person, the power of will is closer to his “self” than his emotions are, so, too, the power of G‑d’s will is closer to His Essence and less affected by a k’li.

There is a Rabbinic opinion that all the “changes” within G‑d’s will – like the parting of the Sea and other miracles – are not truly a change in His will but were included in His original will for Creation. Nevertheless, the more widely accepted view is that G‑d’s will does change. Nevertheless, in contrast to man and his will, the will of G‑d can change without His Essence being changed.

Based on the concept of the enclothement of G‑d’s light in the Sefiros, this explanation can be understood as follows: All G‑d’s powers, including will, are like garments. Therefore, a change in G‑d’s will is comparable to changing garments. Obviously, such a change does not bring about a change in the person wearing the garments. In the analogue, G‑d’s light is simple. It expresses itself in different ways according to the garments in which it is enclothed.

The concept that a change in will brings about a change in the one whose will is involved applies to mortals, for their personality is a compound and their essence is intertwined with their powers. Thus, when a person’s will is aroused, the essence of his soul is also affected. Therefore, a change in will involves activity within the soul itself. With regard to G‑d, by contrast, His will is only like a garment, and when He wills something, His Essence is not affected, just as the essence of the soul is not affected by a garment.

The potential to bring about a change in G‑d’s will is given over to the Jewish people, just as the potential to motivate a king to change his garments only exists within one who is close to the king. Why do the Jews have this power? Because a radiance of Ein Sof that stems from G‑d’s Essence manifests within the souls of the Jewish people. As a result, they have the potential to sacrifice themselves with mesirus nefesh. Therefore, because they are essentially one with G‑d, the Jews alone are able to change G‑d’s will.

When G‑d’s will is changed, influence is drawn down from His Essence, through the Sefiros of Atzilus, and that influence descends through the Spiritual Cosmos (Seder HaHishtalshelus) until eventually it brings about a change in entities on the material plane.