Time is revealed in a sequence in which higher levels of existence include several units of time as one, following a pattern similar to that of particular entities which come into being from a general category. The existence of time is relevant only to mortals. With regard to G‑d, by contrast, it is said: “You were the same before the world was created and You are the same after the world has been created.”

— XII —

Now, we can also gain a more thorough understanding

וְעַתָּה יוּבַן גַּם כֵּן

of how time comes into being from G‑d

בְּעִנְיַן הִתְהַוּוּת הַזְּמַן מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

Who is totally above time,

שֶׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מִן הַזְּמַן לְגַמְרֵי

even above the concept of an unlimited span of time, as mentioned above,

וַאֲפִלּוּ מִן הַמֶּשֶׁךְ הַבִּלְתִּי מְשֻׁעָר כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

as stated by Rema.1

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָרְמַ"ע

Selections from Derech Mitzvosecha (SIE)

Derech Mitzvotecha dives into reasons behind mitzvot such as tzitzit, tefillin, prayer, belief in G-d, loving a fellow Jew, starting a family and many others. Five generations later, the author`s grandson and successor, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, has often advised those seeking to begin study of Chasidic philosophy to study this fundamental work.

Instead, He always was and always continues to exist;

אֶלָּא הוּא בִּבְחִינַת הֹוֶה תָּמִיד

see the gloss of Tosfos Yom Tov to Avos, ch. 5:6.

עַיֵּן תּוֹסְפוֹת יוֹם טוֹב בְּאָבוֹת פֶּרֶק ה',

The manner in which time comes into being also follows the same pattern as that of particular entities coming into being from a general category.2

וְהִתְהַוּוּתוֹ הוּא גַם כֵּן בִּבְחִינַת כְּלָל וּפְרָט

It is like many individual entities coming into being from oneness.

עַל דֶּרֶךְ הִתְהַוּוּת הָרִבּוּי מִן הָאַחְדּוּת,

For time is also divided into many limited units,

שֶׁהִתְחַלְּקוּת הַזְּמַן הוּא רִבּוּי חֲלָקִים גְּבוּלִיִּים

like the entire multitude of limited entities.

עַל דֶּרֶךְ רִבּוּי הַנִּמְצָאִים בַּעֲלֵי גְבוּל,

There is a general light that includes all the particular created beings as one

וְיֵשׁ בְּחִינַת אוֹר כְּלָלִי שֶׁכּוֹלֵל כֻּלָּם כְּאֶחָד

and this same light also includes all the units of time as one.

וּכְמוֹ כֵן כּוֹלֵל כָּל חֶלְקֵי הַזְּמַן כְּאֶחָד מַמָּשׁ

This is the level at which G‑d “gazed and surveyed all existence until the end of time”3 in one glance.4

וְזֶהוּ בְּחִינַת צוֹפֶה וּמַבִּיט עַד סוֹף כָּל הַדּוֹרוֹת בִּסְקִירָה אַחַת,

This one glance includes the entire span of the six millennia of the world’s existence as one.

שֶׁסְּקִירָה אַחַת כּוֹלֶלֶת כָּל הַזְּמַן דְּשִׁית אַלְפֵי שְׁנֵי כְּאֶחָד,

Afterwards,5 from this glance, there is a division into several lesser units, each representing a different emotional attribute and

וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִמְשָׁךְ מִסְּקִירָה זוֹ בְּהִתְחַלְּקוּת לְכַמָּה בְּחִינוֹת

each one including a large span of time,

וְכָל בְּחִינָה כּוֹלֶלֶת זְמַן רַב

but not the entire span of six millennia.

אַךְ לֹא כָּל הַזְּמַן דְּשִׁית אַלְפֵי שְׁנֵי

With regard to these divisions, it is said (Tehillim 90:4): “For 1,000 years are like yesterday in Your eyes.”

וּבִבְחִינוֹת אֵלּוּ נֶאֱמַר כִּי אֶלֶף שָׁנִים בְּעֵינֶיךָ כְּיוֹם אֶתְמוֹל (תִּלִּים צ' ד').

For each of these divisions, referred to as “days,” includes a millennium as one. These days are identified with the Seven Middos of Atzilus.6

שֶׁבְּחִינָה אַחַת הַנִּקְרֵאת יוֹם כּוֹלֶלֶת זְמַן אֶלֶף שָׁנָה בְּבַת אַחַת,

Afterwards, these lesser levels of light divide into even smaller units,

וְאַחַר כָּךְ מִתְחַלְּקִים לַחֲלָקִים

with each unit also including a long span of time,

שֶׁכָּל חֵלֶק גַּם הוּא כּוֹלֵל זְמַן רַב

but less than the previous level.

אַךְ פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה

An example of this process is Rosh HaShanah

וְהוּא עִנְיַן רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה

on which is drawn down one unit that includes the entire span of 365 days of the year in one glance.

שֶׁבּוֹ בַיּוֹם נִמְשָׁךְ בְּחִינָה אַחַת שֶׁכּוֹלֶלֶת כָּל הַזְּמַן דְּשס"ה יְמֵי הַשָּׁנָה בִּסְקִירָה אַחַת,

Afterwards, the light is divided into twelve Rashei Chodashim,

וְאַחַר כָּךְ מִתְחַלֵּק לְי"ב רָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים

with each Rosh Chodesh including the span of 30 days.

שֶׁרֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ כּוֹלֵל הַזְּמַן דְּל' יוֹם

Afterwards, it is divided into days

וְאַחַר כָּךְ לְיָמִים

and then hours.

וְאַחַר כָּךְ לְשָׁעוֹת

The latter are identified with the different forms of G‑d’s names Havayah and A-donai.7

הֵם צֵרוּפֵי הֲוָיָ' וְאַדְ'

Each of these forms includes all the minutes of the hour in one glance.

שֶׁכְּלָלוּת הַצֵּרוּף כּוֹלֵל כָּל הָרְגָעִים שֶׁל הַשָּׁעָה בִּסְקִירָה אַחַת

Afterwards, the Divine light is divided into moments.8

וְאַחַר כָּךְ מִתְחַלֵּק לִרְגָעִים

This is the smallest unit of time.

וְהוּא הַזְּמַן הַיּוֹתֵר אַחֲרוֹן,

The explanation of the concept that many units of time can be included together as one

וּבֵאוּר הָעִנְיָן אֵיךְ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת הַזְּמַן נִכְלָל הַרְבֵּה בְּבַת אַחַת,

can be understood on the basis of the concept explained previously,

הוּא עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁהִקְדַּמְנוּ לְמַעְלָה

that G‑d’s Essence is entirely above time.

שֶׁעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ לְמַעְלָה מִן הַזְּמַן לְגַמְרֵי

Instead, He exists continuously.

אֶלָּא בִּבְחִינַת הֹוֶה תָּמִיד,

The existence of the concept of time came about as a result of the contraction and expansion of G‑d’s light that took place in the beginning of the creation of the world,

וַהֲוָיַת שֹׁרֶשׁ הַזְּמַן הוּא מֵחֲמַת צִמְצוּם וְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת שֶׁהָיָה בְּהַתְחָלַת בְּרִיאַת הָעוֹלָם

as explained in section 6.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ו'

This pattern is referred to in the writings of the AriZal as mati velo mati.

וְנִקְרָא זֶה מָטֵי וְלֹא מָטֵי בְּכִתְבֵי אֲרִיזַ"ל

This term literally means “it reaches, but it does not reach.” It refers to the process in which the keilim are brought into existence from the light. As the light extends, it reaches (mati) the reshimu, which is the source from which the keilim come into existence. Nevertheless, as it interfaces with the reshimu, it withdraws (lo mati). The degree of expansion and withdrawal the light undergoes defines the nature of the particular k’li.

The interplay between these phases of contraction and expansion causes the interval of a moment.

וְהִנֵּה בְּחִינַת הַצִּמְצוּם וְהַהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הוּא גוֹרֵם שֶׁהִיַּת זְמַן הָרֶגַע

Accordingly, the Divine influence breaks up into many smaller units,

וְלָכֵן כֹּל שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הִתְחַלְּקוּת הַשֶּׁפַע לַחֲלָקִים רַבִּים

each of which must be drawn down after the withdrawal of the unit of Divine influence that preceded it.

וְכָל חֵלֶק הֲרֵי צָרִיךְ לְהִתְמַשֵּׁךְ אַחַר שֶׁמִּסְתַּלֵּק חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁקְּדָמוֹ

This pattern in which influence is drawn down and then withdrawn is called mati velo mati,

אִם כֵּן הַמְשָׁכַת וְהִסְתַּלְּקוּת הָא' נִקְרָא מָטֵי וְלֹא מָטֵי

i.e., the expansion and withdrawal, which together with the manifold variation of Divine attributes,

הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת וְהִסְתַּלְּקוּת וְרִבּוּי הַהִתְחַלְּקוּת

will lead to a multitude of moments.

יִהְיֶה רִבּוּי רְגָעִים

To illustrate by analogy: the process of a person’s breathing

וְכִמְשַׁל הַנְּשִׁימָה שֶׁבָּאָדָם

draws down vitality from the heart to the limbs

הִיא בְּחִינַת הַמְשָׁכַת הַחַיּוּת מִן הַלֵּב

through a process of withdrawal and expansion.

בְּהִסְתַּלְּקוּת וְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת

Taking many breaths will require an interval of time,

וּמֵרִבּוּי הַנְּשִׁימוֹת יִהְיֶה זְמַן מָה

for it is necessary that one either precede or follow another.

לְפִי שֶׁבְּהֶכְרֵחַ כָּל אַחַת קוֹדֶמֶת אוֹ מִתְאַחֶרֶת לַחֲבֶרְתָּהּ,

In the analogue, we find that even though G‑d’s infinite light is above time,

וְנִמְצָא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא הוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַזְּמַן

the entities that come into existence through Him follow an order of precedence,

אֲבָל בַּנִּמְצָאִים הַנִּמְשָׁכִים מִמֶּנּוּ יִהְיֶה בְּחִינַת קְדִימָה וְאִחוּר

depending on the sequence in which they are drawn down.

מֵחֲמַת סֵדֶר הַמְשָׁכוּתָם

It was explained above that initially, a general light that was one inclusive unit was drawn down.

וּלְפִי שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל שֶׁמִּתְּחִלָּה נִמְשָׁךְ הָאוֹר כְּלָלִי הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינָה אַחַת

Accordingly, there was just one contraction and expansion,

לָכֵן הָיָה רַק בְּחִינַת צִמְצוּם וְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת אַחַת

which is referred to as “one glance.”

וְנִקְרֵאת סְקִירָה אַחַת

This is the mystic secret implied by the expression “He gazed and surveyed all existence until the end of time” in one glance.

וְזֶה סוֹד צוֹפֶה וּמַבִּיט עַד סוֹף כָּל הַדּוֹרוֹת בִּסְקִירָה אַחַת

Afterwards, this light was divided into Six Attributes,

וְאַחַר כָּךְ שֶׁנִּתְחַלֵּק לְשִׁשָּׁה בְּחִינוֹת

i.e., the Six Middos alluded to in the verse (I Divrei HaYamim 29:11): “Yours is the greatness,…”

הֵן שִׁשָּׁה מִדּוֹת שֶׁבַּפָּסוּק לְךָ ה' הַגְּדֻלָּה וְכוּ' (דִּבְרֵי הַיָּמִים א' כ"ט י"א)

As each one is drawn down after the other,

וְכָל אַחַת עַל כָּרְחָךְ נִמְשֶׁכֶת אַחַר זוּלָתָהּ

producing six phases of mati velo mati, as mentioned above.

יִהְיֶה שִׁשָּׁה מִינֵי מָטֵי וְלֹא מָטֵי הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל

They are called “six days,”

וְהֵן הַנִּקְרָאִים שִׁשָּׁה יָמִים

and each day includes a millennium, as explained above.

שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד כּוֹלֵל אֶלֶף שָׁנָה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

This is what is meant by the expression “the order of time” used by the Midrash as cited in the previous section.

וְזֶהוּ הַנִּקְרָא סֵדֶר הַזְּמַן

This term was chosen because, in truth, it is not time in a complete sense as we know it.

כִּי בֶּאֱמֶת אֵינוֹ זְמַן גָּמוּר כְּשֶׁלָּנוּ

Nevertheless, it is called “the order of time” because it is drawn down in separate units in sequence:

אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּקְרָא סֵדֶר הַזְּמַן לְפִי שֶׁהַמְשָׁכוֹתָיו בִּבְחִינַת הִתְחַלְּקוּת

first Chessed, then Gevurah, and then Tiferes, etc.

תְּחִלָּה חֶסֶד וְאַחַר כָּךְ גְּבוּרָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ תִּפְאֶרֶת וְכוּ'

The concept of time in a complete sense derives only from Malchus as it is drawn down into the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah,

רַק מִבְּחִינַת מַלְכוּת בִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה יִתְהַוֶּה זְמַן גָּמוּר

as it is written:9 “He reigns, He reigned and He will reign,”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב מֶלֶךְ מָלָךְ וְיִמְלוֹךְ

associating the concepts of past, present, and future with G‑d’s sovereignty.

שֶׁהוּא עִנְיַן עָבָר הֹוֶה וְעָתִיד

Nevertheless, even in those realms, the process of downward progression also involves first bringing into being a general unit from which particulars are drawn down.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם הוּא גַם כֵּן בִּבְחִינַת כְּלָל וּפְרָט

For in the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, the Divine influence does not have to be divided to the same extent

כִּי בִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהִתְחַלֵּק הַשֶּׁפַע לַחֲלָקִים כָּל כָּךְ

as in our lowly world.

כְּמוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַשָּׁפָל שֶׁלָּנוּ

Thus, one unit in the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah may include many myriads of units that come into being in our lowly world.

וְנִמְצָא בְּחִינָה אַחַת דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה כּוֹלֵל חֲלָקִים רִבּוֹא רְבָבוֹת דְּעוֹלָם הַשָּׁפָל

Therefore, one glance on these higher levels may include ten or fifteen years of time in this world.

וְלָכֵן בִּסְקִירָה אַחַת יֻכְלְלוּ עֲשָׂרָה אוֹ ט"ו שָׁנִים,

On this basis, we can understand a story involving the Baal Shem Tov.

וּמִזֶּה מוּבָן הַמַּעֲשֶׂה דְּבַעַל שֵׁם טוֹב

On one Rosh HaShanah, he saw and comprehended what would take place in the future,

שֶׁצָּפָה וְהִשִּׂיג בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה מַה שֶּׁהָיָה אַחַר כָּךְ

as is well known with regard to the incident involving his brother-in-law, R. Gershon of Kitov, and a sage from the Holy Land.

כַּיָּדוּעַ הַמַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁל גִּיסוֹ ר' גֵּרְשׁוֹן קוּטֶעבֶר עִם הֶחָכָם בְּאֶרֶץ הַקֹּדֶשׁ

The Baal Shem Tov wrote him all the particulars of that incident before it actually took place.

שֶׁכָּתַב לוֹ הַבַּעַל שֵׁם טוֹב כָּל הַמַּעֲשֶׂה טֶרֶם שֶׁהָיְתָה בְּפֹעַל

Now, the Baal Shem Tov’s soul had not ascended to the heights of the general, primeval light of Adam Kadmon mentioned above,

וַהֲגַם שֶׁלֹּא הָיְתָה עֲלִיַּת נִשְׁמָתוֹ בִּכְלָל הַקָּדוּם דְּאָדָם קַדְמוֹן הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

but merely to the heichalos10 of Yetzirah.

אֶלָּא בְּהֵיכָלוֹת דִּיצִירָה

Nevertheless, even on that level,

מִכָּל מָקוֹם הֲרֵי גַם שָׁם

it is possible for fifteen years to be included in a single glance, as mentioned above.

יוּכַל לִהְיוֹת נִכְלָלִים ט"ו שָׁנִים בִּסְקִירָה אַחַת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

In a similar way, on Rosh HaShanah, the portion of vitality allotted to the entire year is drawn down.

וְלָכֵן הִנֵּה בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה שֶׁנִּמְשָׁךְ בּוֹ חֵלֶק הַחַיּוּת עַל כָּל הַשָּׁנָה

Therefore, it is called Rosh, “the head,”

שֶׁלָּכֵן נִקְרָא רֹאשׁ

for just as the head contains the vitality for the entire body,

כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהָרֹאשׁ כּוֹלֵל חַיּוּת כָּל הַגּוּף

Rosh HaShanah contains the entire span of time for that entire year in one glance.

הִנֵּה כּוֹלֵל גַּם כֵּן כָּל הַזְּמַן בִּסְקִירָה אַחַת

Similarly, all the vitality for the entire month is contained within Rosh Chodesh.

וְכֵן עַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה בְּרֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ לְגַבֵּי כָּל הַחֹדֶשׁ,

This is the mystic secret implied by our Sages’ statement that before the world came into being there existed “the order of time.”

וְזֶה סוֹד מַאֲמַר רַזַ"ל מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהָיָה סֵדֶר זְמַנִּים קֹדֶם לָכֵן

The intent is that before the creation of our lowly world,

פֵּרוּשׁ קֹדֶם בְּרִיאַת הָעוֹלָם הַשָּׁפָל

on the level of the emanation of the world of Nekudim where the breaking of the vessels of Tohu11 occurred

שֶׁאָז נֶאֶצְלוּ עוֹלַם הַנְּקֻדִּים שֶׁשָּׁם הָיָה הַשְּׁבִירָה

– as our Sages said, “These did not bring Me satisfaction,…” –

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב דֵּין לָא הַנְיָן לֵיהּ כוּ'

there existed “the order of time.”

אָז הָיָה כְּבָר סֵדֶר זְמַנִּים

It was not time in a complete sense.

וְלֹא זְמַן גָּמוּר

Nevertheless, the Ten Sefiros emanated in sequence:

אֶלָּא אֲצִילוּת י' סְפִירוֹת

First, Chessed was drawn down

שֶׁמִּתְּחִלָּה נִמְשָׁךְ חֶסֶד

and then Gevurah.

וְאַחַר כָּךְ גְּבוּרָה

This represents “the order of time.”

הֲרֵי זֶה סֵדֶר הַזְּמַן,

Afterwards, in the realms of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah,

וּלְאַחַר כָּךְ בִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

actual time was brought into being.

נִתְהַוָּה זְמַן גָּמוּר,

In this material world, the sublime influence must be divided into many different particular elements,

וְלִהְיוֹת כִּי בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה צָרִיךְ שֶׁפַע עֶלְיוֹנָה לְהִתְחַלֵּק לַחֲלָקִים רַבִּים כָּל כָּךְ

so much so that from one attribute in Atzilus is brought into being one thousand years,

עַד שֶׁמִּמִּדָּה אַחַת דַּאֲצִילוּת יִתְהַוֶּה אֶלֶף שָׁנָה

for it is divided into a thousand levels.

כִּי תִּתְחַלֵּק לְאֶלֶף מַדְרֵגוֹת

Each one of those levels divides into 365 units,

שֶׁכָּל אַחַת מִתְחַלֶּקֶת לְשס"ה בְּחִינוֹת

and each one of those divides into a sub-unit which receives vitality from one of the 24 forms of the names Havayah and A-donai

שֶׁכָּל אַחַת מִתְחַלֶּקֶת לְכ"ד צֵרוּפִים

which represent the hours.

שֶׁהֵם שָׁעוֹת

For in order for the vitality of every form of G‑d’s name to be enclothed in this world,

שֶׁכָּל צֵרוּף כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתְלַבֵּשׁ חַיּוּתוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה

it is necessary that this vitality be divided into very many portions

מֻכְרָח לְהִתְחַלֵּק לַחֲלָקִים רַבִּים כָּל כָּךְ

so that an interval of an hour would be brought into being from them,

עַד שֶׁיִּתְהַוֶּה מֵהֶם מֶשֶׁךְ שָׁעָה

according to the collection of the phases of contraction and expansion,

לְפִי קִבּוּץ הַצִּמְצוּם וְהַהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת

with each portion existing for the duration of a moment.

שֶׁל כָּל חֵלֶק שֶׁשּׁוֹהֶה זְמַן רֶגַע

On this basis, we can understand that “the order of time” refers to the array and sequence of the attributes in the spiritual realms. For the quality of each attribute defines the nature of the unit of time that comes into being because of it. For example, the first millennium of creation stemmed from the attribute of Chessed (kindness). Therefore, mankind was given abundant blessings, as reflected in lifespans of close to 1000 years, even though the people’s conduct was decadent and they were not worthy.12

And through the collection of all the moments,

וּמִקִּבּוּץ הָרְגָעִים

the duration of an hour is brought into being.

תִּתְהַוֶּה מֶשֶׁךְ שָׁעָה

For this is a great general principle:

כִּי זֶהוּ כְּלָל גָּדוֹל

To the extent that the influence is drawn down to lower levels,

שֶׁכָּל שֶׁהַשֶּׁפַע תִּתְמַשֵּׁךְ לְמַטָּה יוֹתֵר

it is forced to divide to a greater degree.

מֻכְרַחַת לְהִתְחַלֵּק בְּיוֹתֵר

For example, when the light of a candle is in its initial place,

כְּמוֹ אוֹר הַנֵּר שֶׁבִּמְקוֹמוֹ

it occupies a very small space,

הוּא מַחֲזִיק מָקוֹם מוּעָט

but the light that diffuses from it fills up a large place

וְהָאוֹרָה הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט מִמֶּנּוּ מְמַלֵּא מָקוֹם גָּדוֹל

– a house or the like.

כְּבַיִת וְכַיּוֹצֵא

Similar concepts apply in the communication process between a teacher and a student.

וְכֵן בְּרַב לְתַלְמִיד

When a teacher desires to bring down his thoughts to communicate to a student on a low level,

כְּשֶׁיִּרְצֶה לְהַשְׁפִּילוֹ לְתַלְמִיד קָט הָעֶרֶךְ

he is forced to use many words and ideas to break down his idea into individual points

יַכְרִיחֶנּוּ לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּתֵבוֹת וּדְבָרִים רַבִּים לְחַלְּקוֹ

so that the student whose thinking process is less developed can grasp it.

כְּפִי שֶׁיַּשִּׂיגֶנּוּ הַתַּלְמִיד כוּ'

When, by contrast, he seeks to communicate to a student with more understanding,

וּכְשֶׁיַּשְׁפִּיעַ לְתַלְמִיד נָבוֹן יוֹתֵר

he does not have to speak with so many words.

לֹא יִצְטָרֵךְ לְדַבֵּר דְּבָרִים רַבִּים כָּל כָּךְ

Thus, “few words hold much content,”13

נִמְצָא הַמּוּעָט מַחֲזִיק הַמְרֻבֶּה

like a general principle which contains many particulars.

כִּכְלָל לִפְרָט

Similar concepts apply with regard to the relationship between thought and speech.

וְכֵן הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה לְגַבֵּי הַדִּבּוּר

What will take a moment of thought

שֶׁמַּה שֶּׁיַּחֲזִיק בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה בְּרֶגַע

will take a much longer time to explain in speech.

יִצְטָרֵךְ בְּדִבּוּר לִשְׁהוֹת זְמַן רַב לְפָרְשׁוֹ כוּ',

From the above is understood

וְנִמְצָא מוּבָן מִזֶּה עַל כָּל פָּנִים

that the reason for the division of the Divine influence into different attributes in the spiritual realms

שֶׁסִּבַּת הִתְחַלְּקוּת הַשֶּׁפַע

is also the reason for time being brought into existence.

הוּא סִבַּת הִתְהַוּוּת הַזְּמַן

For as mentioned above, time reflects the transition from one Divine attribute to another as His light is drawn down through a process of expansion and contraction.

To the extent that the Divine influence is in a more general state,

וְכָל שֶׁהַשֶּׁפַע הִיא בְּהִתְכַּלְלוּת יוֹתֵר

many units of time will be included as one on that level, as explained above,

אֲזַי גַּם הַזְּמַן נִכְלָל שָׁם חֲלָקִים רַבִּים כְּאֶחָד כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

until in the general light mentioned above,

עַד שֶׁנִּמְצָא שֶׁבְּאוֹר כְּלָלִי הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

everything is included as one.

נִכְלָל הַכֹּל כְּאֶחָד

This refers to the one thought and the one glance

וְהִיא מַחֲשָׁבָה אַחַת וּסְקִירָה אַחַת

that includes all time, as explained above.

שֶׁכּוֹלֵל כָּל הַזְּמַן כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

This is the intent of our Sages’ comment (Gittin 60a) that “the Torah was given as a sealed entity,” i.e., as a single unit.

וְזֶהוּ עִנְיַן מַאֲמַר רַזַ"ל תּוֹרָה חֲתוּמָה נִתְּנָה (גִטִּין ס' א')

In that Talmudic discussion, there is another opinion that the Torah was given passage by passage.

וּלְחַד מַאן דְּאָמַר מְגִלָּה מְגִלָּה נִתְּנָה

Now, in truth, the Torah was given at different times.

כִּי בֶּאֱמֶת הֲרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הִיא בִּזְמַנִּים חֲלוּקִים

The passage concerning Noach was said at the time of the Flood,

פָּרָשַׁת נֹחַ נֶאֶמְרָה בִּזְמַן הַמַּבּוּל

followed later by the passage concerning Avraham,

וּפָרָשַׁת אַבְרָהָם אַחַר כָּךְ

and then the passage of Yaakov sending angels,

וְכֵן פָּרָשַׁת וַיִּשְׁלַח יַעֲקֹב אַחַר כָּךְ

and then the Giving of the Torah

וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַתַּן תּוֹרָה

and later the mitzvah of Yom Kippur and the like.

וְאַחַר כָּךְ מִצְוַת יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא

This all represents the manner in which the passages were revealed,

אֶלָּא שֶׁזֶּהוּ כְּפִי שֶׁבָּאָה בְּגִלּוּי

as it is written (Shmos 4:4): “And G‑d said to Moshe,”

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה (שְׁמוֹת ד' ד')

i.e., the sublime speech

מִבְּחִינַת דִּבּוּר עֶלְיוֹן

as it is revealed in the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah

שֶׁמִּתְגַּלֶּה בִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

according to the conception of time that prevails in these realms.

כְּפִי הַזְּמַן שֶׁלָּהֶם

In those realms, the conception of time is different, depending on the degree of the contraction of Divine light which characterizes that realm.

Nevertheless, in the Torah’s source in Adam Kadmon,

אֲבָל בְּשֹׁרֶשׁ הַתּוֹרָה בְּאָדָם קַדְמוֹן

in the original general category mentioned above,

בִּכְלָל הַקָּדוּם הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

all of the passages of the Torah are included as one. On that higher level, all future events are included in one glance.

כּוֹלֶלֶת כֻּלָּם כְּאַחַת

This is the intent of the opinion which maintains that the Torah was given as a sealed entity.

וְזֶהוּ דַּעַת הָאוֹמֵר חֲתוּמָה נִתְּנָה

It was explained above that even the original general category emanated forth after the tzimtzum,

וְלִהְיוֹת כִּי נִתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל שֶׁגַּם הַכְּלָל הַקָּדוּם הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל הוּא נֶאֱצַל לְאַחַר הַצִּמְצוּם

for “the general category contains no more than its particular elements.”14

מֵאַחַר שֶׁאֵין בִּכְלָל אֶלָּא מַה שֶּׁבִּפְרָט

The fact that there is a connection between the general category and the individual identities of the particular elements comprised within implies that we are speaking about a level after the tzimtzum. For before the tzimtzum, anything other than G‑d’s light exists merely as potential.

With regard to G‑d’s Essence, however, “He is not any of these attributes at all.”15

אֲבָל עַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ לַאו מִכָּל אִנּוּן מִדּוֹת אִיהוּ כְּלָל,

Therefore, He is above time entirely and fundamentally,

לָכֵן הוּא לְמַעְלָה מֵהַזְּמַן לְגַמְרֵי וְעִקָּר

to the extent that to speak of “one glance” is also not appropriate.

עַד שֶׁגַּם סְקִירָה אַחַת לֹא יִתָּכֵן לוֹמַר,

Certainly, this is true with regard to the “order of time” in Atzilus.

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן סֵדֶר הַזְּמַן שֶׁבְּמִדּוֹת דַּאֲצִילוּת,

Instead, He contracted His light into one thought and one glance

אֶלָּא שֶׁהוּא מְצַמְצֵם אוֹרוֹ לִהְיוֹת בְּחִינַת מַחֲשָׁבָה וּסְקִירָה אַחַת

to include all entities that would exist and the entire span of time as one.

לִכְלוֹל כָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים וְהַזְּמַן שֶׁבָּהֶם כְּאַחַת:

From the above, one can understand to a certain degree the apparent paradox between G‑d’s omniscience and a person’s free choice.

וּמִזֶּה מוּבָן מְעַט מִזְּעֵיר עִנְיַן הַיְדִיעָה וּבְחִירָה

G‑d’s omniscience relates to the first general category in which He surveys all time with one glance, a level above the tzimtzum.

שֶׁהַיְדִיעָה הִיא בִּכְלָל הַקָּדוּם שֶׁסּוֹקֵר כָּל הַזְּמַן בִּסְקִירָה אַחַת

Nevertheless, His knowledge on this level does not compel man’s choice.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵינָהּ מַכְרַחַת הַבְּחִירָה

For man’s choice is on a lower plane,

שֶׁהַבְּחִירָה הִיא לְמַטָּה

where particulars have already been drawn down from the general category.16

כְּשֶׁכְּבָר נִמְשְׁכוּ בִּבְחִינַת פְּרָט מִן הַכְּלָל,

On the basis of the above, it can be thoroughly understood how time is subsumed to the level above time.

וּלְפִי זֶה יוּבַן גַּם כֵּן בְּטוּב טַעַם בִּטּוּל הַזְּמַן לְגַבֵּי לְמַעְלָה מֵהַזְּמַן

For time was brought into being through tzim­tzumim and the division of the Divine influence

מֵאַחַר שֶׁהַזְּמַן נִתְהַוָּה עַל יְדֵי צִמְצוּמִים וְהִתְחַלְּקוּת הַשֶּׁפַע

through the process of withdrawal and expansion.

בִּבְחִינַת הִסְתַּלְּקוּת וְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת

Now, the entire concept of tzimtzumim and withdrawal applies only with regard to us,

וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁכָּל הַצִּמְצוּמִים וְהַהִסְתַּלְּקוּת אֵינָן אֶלָּא לְפָנֵינוּ

but before Him, everything is as if it never existed;

אֲבָל קַמֵּיהּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ כֹּלָּא כְּלָא

it is like it was before the creation of the world.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁהָיָה קֹדֶם בְּרִיאַת הָעוֹלָם,

Hence, even the existence of time is of no importance,

אִם כֵּן גַּם מְצִיאַת הַזְּמַן הוּא כְּלָא חֲשִׁיב

for “You were the same before the world was created and You are the same after the world has been created.”

וְאַתָּה הוּא עַד שֶׁלֹּא נִבְרָא כוּ'

It is as if the world does not exist at all,

וּכְאִלּוּ אֵינוֹ מַמָּשׁ

for space is of no importance to Him,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהַמָּקוֹם כְּלָא חֲשִׁיב

for He is “the place of the world.”17

עַד שֶׁהוּא מְקוֹמוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם

Implied is that everything exists within G‑d’s creative power, like an idea that exists in the mind of the person who conceived it.18

This is sufficient for a person of understanding.

וְדַי לַמֵּבִין:


In this section, the Tzemach Tzedek continues the explanation of the principle that G‑d is above time and elaborates on the concept of “the order of time” that exists in the spiritual realms.

He explains that the manner in which time comes into being also follows the same pattern as that of particular entities coming into being from a general category. There is a general light that includes all the particular created beings as one, and this same light also includes all the units of time as one. This rung is identified with the level of Adam Kadmon at which G‑d “gazed and surveyed all existence until the end of time in one glance.” This one glance includes the entire span of the six millennia of the world’s existence.

Afterwards, from this glance, there is a division into several lesser units, each representing a different emotional attribute and including a large span of time; e.g., the first millennium is identified with the attribute of Chessed. Thus, it is said (Tehillim 90:4): “For in Your eyes 1,000 years are like a yesterday that has passed.” For each of these divisions, referred to as “days,” includes a millennium. This is what is meant by the expression “the order of time” used by the Midrash. It refers to the middos of Atzilus, and their interrelation to each other. Time is structured according to the pattern in which these attributes interact with each other.

Afterwards, these lesser levels of light divide into even smaller units, with each unit including a long span of time, but less than the previous level. For example, on Rosh HaShanah, a light that includes the entire span of 365 days of the year in one glance is drawn down. Afterwards, the light is further divided into twelve Rashei Chodashim, with each Rosh Chodesh including the span of (29 or) 30 days. Afterwards, it is divided into days and then from days into hours.

G‑d’s Essence, by contrast, is above time entirely. Moreover, He transcends entirely the “order of time.” Indeed, the existence of time is of no consequence to Him, as we say in our prayers: “You were the same before the world was created and You are the same after the world has been created.” Nevertheless, all time is included within Him in transcendent oneness.