Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah

Let us understand [at least] in a small measure, the statement in the Zohar that Shema Yisrael,.. . is Yichudah Ilaah ("higher level Unity") and Baruch Shem K'vod Malchuto Leolam Vaed is Yichudah Tataah ("lower level Unity").

"Know this day and take unto your heart that Hava'ye is Elokim (G‑d is the Lord) in the heavens above and upon the earth below; there is no other." This requires explanation. For would it occur to you that there is a god dwelling in the waters beneath the earth that it is necessary to negate it so strongly [as to say,] "Take unto your heart?"

It is written: "Forever, O G‑d, Your word stands firm in the heavens." The Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, has explained that "Your word" which you uttered, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters.. .", these very words and letters stand firmly forever within the firmament of heaven and are forever clothed within all the heavens to give them life, as it is written, "The word of our G‑d shall stand firm forever" and "His words live and stand firm forever. ..." For if the letters were to depart [even] for an instant, G‑d forbid, and return to their source, all the heavens would become naught and absolute nothingness, and it would be as though they had never existed at all, exactly as before the utterance, "Let there be a firmament." And so it is with all created things, in all the upper and lower worlds, and even this physical earth, which is the "Kingdom of the silent" (inanimate). If the letters of the Ten Utterances by which the earth was created during the Six Days of Creation were to depart from it [but] for an instant, G‑d forbid, it would revert to naught and absolute nothingness, exactly as before the Six Days of Creation.

This same thought was expressed by the Ari, of blessed memory, when he said that even in completely inanimate matter, such as stones or earth or water, there is a soul and spiritual life-force— that is, the enclothing of the "Letters of speech" of the Ten Utterances which give life and existence to inanimate matter that it might arise out of the naught and nothingness which preceded the Six Days of Creation.

Now, although the name even (stone) is not mentioned in the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah, nevertheless, life-force flows to the stone through combinations and substitutions of the letters which are transposed in the "Two hundred and thirty-one gates," either in direct or reverse order, as is explained in the Sefer Yetzirah, until the combination of the name even descends from the Ten Utterances, and is derived from them, and this is the life-force of the stone. And so it is with all created things in the world— their names in the Holy Tongue are the very "letters of speech" which descend, degree by degree, from the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah, by means of substitutions and transpositions of letters through the "two hundred and thirty-one gates," until they reach and become invested in that particular created thing to give it life. [This descent is necessary] because individual creatures are not capable of receiving their life-force directly from the Ten Utterances of the Torah, for the life-force issuing directly from them is far greater than the capacity of the individual creatures. They can receive the life-force only when it descends and is progressively diminished, degree by degree, by means of substitutions and transpositions of the letters and by Gematriot, their numerical values, until the life-force can be condensed and enclothed and there can be brought forth from it a particular creature. And the name by which it is called in the Holy Tongue is a vessel for the life-force condensed into the letters of that name which has descended from the Ten Utterances in the Torah, that have power and vitality to create being ex nihilo and give it life forever. For the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one.