It is well known that there are two approaches in avodah : (1) Divine service through joy [and (2) Divine service through humility. In this chapter we will discuss the first.

Joy in avodah can be attained] by understanding and meditating upon the greatness of G‑d [which is manifest] in the creation ex nihilo.

[A.] In the first place, the creation of something from nothing is a wondrous thing that man cannot even truly imagine. (See the beginning of the maamar entitled Samach Tesamach , 5657.) Moreover, creation of something from nothing is not the same as the relation between cause and effect.

When we say cause and effect [in chassidic writings called ilah v’alul], we understand that the cause is enclothed in the effect and the effect is conscious of the cause. There is thus a [basic] relationship between the two. By contrast, in the case of creation of something from nothing there is an unbridgeable gulf between the Source [the Creator] and the result [the object created]. The Divine creative force is hidden, and is not “enclothed” in the creature as in the case of cause and effect.

Paradoxically, however, the Divine creative force must be constantly present within the created being; without it, it would return to a state of nothingness. For material existence is something new. [Before creation, the physical did not exist. Hence, its existence is maintained only when the creative force which gives it existence is present,] for any new entity must constantly be revitalized [by the force which brought it into being]. If not, the new entity will [return to its original state of nothingness and] cease to exist.

Such [a relationship] does not exist in the case of a cause and effect progression, for the effect remains even after the cause has ceased to exist. For example, it is possible for an emotion to continue to exist after the idea [which prompted it] has been forgotten, for in essence, the emotion is not newly created. [Strictly speaking, the idea is not the cause of the emotion, but rather the instrument which called it forth.] Having previously existed, the emotion can now continue to exist even after its reason has been forgotten. (Although hidden, [a trace of] the original concept in fact remains.) In the case of creation ex nihilo , however, because a new entity is being created, it must constantly be renewed. Only thus will its existence be maintained.

This, then, is the paradox of creation: There is both a tremendous gap, [with no similarity or point of comparison between the creation and the Creator,] yet simultaneously, the Divine force is constantly present within every individual creation, as it is written,1 “Forever, O L-rd, Your word stands in the heavens.” Both of these [seeming opposites] result from the creation ex nihilo. [Focusing one’s thoughts on this wondrous paradox is one example of how meditation can lead to joy in avodah.]

[B.] In the second place, one may meditate on the intrinsic greatness and exaltedness of the Infinite One,2 “Whose greatness is unfathomable.” When one thinks deeply and intensely [about this concept], meditating upon it until he grasps it well, [he will reach] a point where the G‑dly light, in all its greatness and rich exaltedness, shines in a revealed manner within his soul, and his soul will rejoice exceedingly. This is the joy of the soul in G‑d, its Maker. It will cling to G‑dliness with yearning and desire.

This, then, describes in general terms the avodah that stems from love, and [that results in] the soul’s clinging [to G‑d] and its rejoicing in G‑dliness, as one who loves rejoices in the beloved.

Divine service through joy resulting from one’s meditation on the greatness of G‑d, either as manifested in creation, or in itself. Creation ex nihilo entails an [infinite] gap (באין ערוך) between Creator and creation and [yet], simultaneously, a constant bond.