The two aspects of the flame relate to two kinds of hitbonenut, contemplation in prayer. This chapter presents the system of the 'lower' contemplation focusing on the Divine Radiance that fills all worlds. This method of contemplation is described via a commentary on Psalm 145, Ashrei, a prayer that plays an important role in Pesukei d'Zimra ("Verses of Praise") of the Morning Service.

Chasidic teachings speak of two aspects of the Divine: Memalei kol almin — the Divine Radiance filling all worlds, and sovev kol almin — that which surrounds all worlds.

By focusing on the lower radiance, the worshipper seeks to elevate it and thereby unite it with the more exalted level of radiance. This elevation takes place through song, the melodious process of prayer. The worshipper bears in mind that at the same time the angels and souls are also singing in the upper worlds with the same goal. When the unification takes place, a stream of blessing pours forth from the highest levels to the lowest, flowing through all the worlds.

The worshipper serves as the agent for this cosmic spiritual interaction.


In order to better understand all of the above, let us first consider the well known idea that there are two kinds of contemplation. The first is the subject of G‑d's Oneness as it appears from man's perspective,1 which is the level of memalei kol almin2, and the aspect of Baruch shem k'vod malchuto l'olam vaed [Blessed be the Name of the glory of His kingship for ever],3 which is in the level of the Divine Name Elokim4. (This corresponds to the lower radiance, also termed the "dark radiance" mentioned above — as relating to the individual soul, created in the Divine Form.5)

The second is contemplating the subject of G‑d's Oneness as it appears from G‑d's perspective,6 of sovev kol almin,7 of Havaya, which is the aspect of Shema Yisrael8 (termed earlier as Supernal Radiance, the bright radiance, sown for the supernal tzaddik).

Explanation of Psalm 145:1 (Ashrei): 1. The Name Elokim

This is explained elsewhere9 on the verse "I will exalt You, my G‑d [Elokei], the King"10: This refers to malchut of Atzilut, the source of all the worlds, which is expressed in the name Elokim. Elokim implies power and mastery, like in the verses "and the powerful ones [eyley] of the land"11 and "their claims should come to Elokim,"12 meaning to the Judge [master]. And both these qualities [of power and mastery] are unified above in "the Living G‑d and eternal King,"13 i.e., in the power and the Divine radiance which bring all that exists into being ex nihilo. This is the power of the Divine life-force, active in that which is created.14

Hence G‑d is called "Elokay haElokim" (G‑d of spiritual forces),15 meaning that He is the power and source of all divine forces. These are termed Bnei haElokim, "children of Elokim," which are the angels,16 intermediary divine powers imbued with individual spiritual radiance. They emerge from the divine ayin and enter the realm of created existence. Thus G‑d is called the G‑d of these forces. The Gentiles too term Him "Elokay haElokim."17

The same is regarding [the concept of mastery] expressed in the Divine Name A-D-N-Y,18 He Who is known as Master over all,19 as the phrase, "Almighty G‑d is the master (Adon) over all works,"20 and the verse, "great is our Master, and [with] immense power."21 This is the second aspect of the Name Elokim, the concept of a Judge,22 as in the verse, "Will the Judge of the whole world not work justice?",23 which implies sovereignty and kingship. (And similarly the verse, "you are a Prince of Elokim").24

2. Kingship

Both [these themes of power and kingship] are one. For malchut, which is the lowest aspect of the ten sefirot of Atzilut, is the first source of the coming into being of all the worlds and creatures ex nihilo, as in the verse, "Your Kingship is a kingship over all worlds, and Your dominion is throughout all generations."25

We can compare this quality with human kingship: Kingship is only an external aura, spreading from the essence of the king, insofar that his reign and his power extend over his people. This aura of kingship is not considered an inner quality of his being, like the faculty of love or of wisdom. Thus the verse states "G‑d is King; He has garbed Himself with grandeur."26 He is "robed" and veiled27 to be King over the worlds, for this quality of kingship is only an external garment.

3. Exalting the Aspect Elokim

Despite this [apparently secondary nature of kingship], King David said "I will exalt You, my G‑d (Elokei), the King." Elokei signifies the name Elokim, the Divine life-force active in that which is created, i.e., memale kol almin. And "I will exalt You, [actual] Elokei, the King," for even though this quality of malchut is only an external aura, its root is very exalted, namely keter malchut.28

4. The King Alone, Beyond

[The exalted level of keter malchut] implies the level of G‑dly exaltedness which emanates solely from Himself. At this level He is called "the King who is exalted alone,"29 completely beyond that [lower] level at which G‑d is called King over the worlds and created things. This [higher level] is malchut of Atzilut as it is purely within Atzilut30 (and this is signified by the large daled of the word Echad [One], in the Shema31).

5. Unification

The verse ["I will exalt You"] is saying that even Elokim, the Divine life-force within the worlds, shall be exalted higher and higher so as to be at the level of "the King," termed "the King who is exalted alone."32 This is the unification of memale kol almin with sovev kol almin.

This unification is also expressed in the words, "Only one, life of the worlds, King"33: "Only one" means that blessed G‑d is utterly alone, in the yichuda ila'ah of Atzilut, where He and His radiance are truly one.34

6. Eliciting Divine Radiance

[Yet at the same time] He is called "the life of the worlds," for His quality as King spreads out through tzimtzum35 to be King over the world, and this is the radiance which spreads from above to below. (And this is like the large daled of Echad, and while saying it one bears in mind36 to express G‑d's kingship in the heavens and the earth and the four corners of the world.)37

And occasionally the liturgy reads: "the King who is the only one, life of the worlds,"38 meaning that the King who is exalted alone is [actually] elicited to be the life of the worlds.

Similarly regarding the ascent39 from below to above [that preceded the descent], exalting "my G‑d, the king" as He is the king, the Only One, exalted alone — so that then G‑d as He is in His essence should subsequently be elicited into the worlds. This is [the verse's conclusion], "and I will bless Your Name for ever and ever."

This is also the theme of Blessed be the Name of the glory of His kingship for ever and ever: Malchut is termed "Name," as in the verse "And David made a name,"40 and we pray that the Name of the glory of His kingship should be blessed [i.e. elicited]41 below, also into the worlds of separation,42 with the eternity of Ein Sof. The word vaed means "eternity,"43 and is the equivalent of the word Echad (One) by exchanging letters.44

7. Exalting G‑d Through Our Praises

How can we exalt "my G‑d, the King"? Through songs and praises,45 in which one declares that all worlds and angels are absolutely abnegated, dissolving to nothing, through their song. Through this one elevates the quality of malchut in order that it should receive influx from keter malchut. The words Keter yitnu lecha ("they give a Crown to You") [in the Kedushah of Musaf] express this, as is known.

(Explanation of Baruch She'amar)

(This is also the meaning of the words: "praised and extolled by His pious ones and servants"46 — meaning souls and angels of the worlds Beriah, Yetzirah, Asiyah47 — "and with the songs of David Your servant we will praise You..." and so on, until "and we will make You King... our King, our G‑d" so that You should be "the Only One, life of the worlds, King" — below, as You are above — "praised and extolled for ever," with the eternity of Ein Sof, meaning malchut of Ein Sof itself, which is called "His great Name," as is known.)

8. G‑d's Kingship Is Expressed In Worlds Without End

Thus we say [in Ashrei] "To tell people" — meaning, the souls — "of His might": This "might" refers to the tremendous power of tzimtzum48 in order that the glory of the Essence of His Kingship49 should be expressed in worlds without limit, extending lower and lower, just as there is no limit above, in His exaltedness, in His very essence.

A proof [that the source of the worlds is the exalted Divine Essence50] is the fact that this Essence spreads also within the veiled Divine force, to become the source of the coming into being of worlds with infinite variety of detail.51 Hence the verse, "Great is our Master, and [of] immense power"52 — without any limit.

9. The Infinite Quality of Existence

(It is written in Sefer Yetzirah53: "the measure of the Creator of Existence54 is 236 myriads of thousands of parsangs,"55 and 236 is the numerical value56 of v'rav koach ("immense power"), as explained elsewhere). It is also written, "maidens (alamot) without number"57 — "Do not read the word as alamot, maidens, but as olamot, worlds."58 [And another example of the myriad variety and number of G‑d's creations is] the verse, "is there any number to His hosts?"59

(Now although the verse says "He brings out their hosts [i.e. the stars] by number"60 [implying that there is a limit in existence], such is His might that He is able to veil His power [so that it is expressed in a finite number of stars]. Nonetheless there is no limit to this spreading forth [of Divine creative power], as stated in Sefer Yetzirah, "five stones build 120 houses"61 — like the 120 combinations of the five Hebrew letters of the Name Elokim — "from there on try and calculate, there is no limit!",62 as explained elsewhere).

10. Conclusion Of The Explanation Of Ashrei

This is what is meant [in Ashrei] by the verse, "to tell people of His Might," and the next verse, "Your Kingship is the Kingship of all the worlds."63

(Hence the Zohar's comment on the verse, "G‑d, do not be silent"64: "the Lower Radiance calls continuously to the Higher Radiance, and is never at rest."65 This complies with the verse "in order that glory should sing to You"66: the lower glory of malchut in the lower worlds of B'ya67 sings to the upper glory of keter malchut, as explained above).


The expression of the spiritual oil is achieved by hitbonenut, contemplation in prayer, of which there are two kinds: 1) Memalei kol almin, the Divine Name Elokimyichuda tata'ah; 2) Sovev kol almin, the Divine Name Havayayichuda ila'ah.

Yichuda tata'ah: This method of contemplation is described via a commentary on Pesukei d'Zimra (Verses of Praise) in Shacharit, the commentary for the most part focuses on Psalm 145, Ashrei, as follows:

I will exalt You, my G‑d [Elokei], the King:

Malchut of Atzilut consists of two aspects: a) power, mastery; b) judgement, sovereignty.  Malchut is the last of the sefirot and the primary source for all creatio ex nihilo. It is rooted in the King who is exalted alone.

King David prayed that the G‑dly active power — Elokei — be united with the King who is exalted alone, by way of yichuda tata'ah of memalei kol almin. Hence, Only One, life of the worlds: Just as the level of G‑dly exaltedness is united by way of yichuda ila'ah with the ten sefirot of Atzilut, similarly may malchut be elevated (I will exalt You) to subsequently elicit --

and I will bless Your Name forever:

I.e., I will elicit, through my Divine service, Your essential Name — the source of malchut, that it may flow forever — with the infinity of Ein Sof.

This elevation takes place through song and praise by the tongue of His pious ones (the souls) and His servants (the angels). This is To make known to men (the souls) His mighty acts, the infinite division within Creation, which comes from the essential transcendence of keter malchut. Thus, it is specifically malchut that infuses life-force into the infinite number of creations, and yet to each in a set, distinctive measure. The worshipper is the agent for this cosmic spiritual interaction.

By contemplating the above, the worshipper reveals the spiritual oil described in Chapter Three.