Concluding the previous chapter, the Alter Rebbe explained that since G‑d is infinitely exalted above intellect, intellectual means are inadequate to grasp His absolute union with the Sefirot of the World of Atzilut. These are limited to the particular Divine attributes of wisdom, kindness, and so on. The Zohar thus terms these attributes “the secret of faith,” for their union with the Divine beggars mortal comprehension.

אך מכל מקום

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the Sefirot transcend intellect and comprehension,

הואיל ודברה תורה כלשון בני אדם, לשכך את האוזן מה שהיא יכולה לשמוע

since1 “the Torah speaks as in the language of man” in order to2 “modulate for the ear what it is able to hear,”

לכך ניתן רשות לחכמי האמת לדבר בספירות בדרך משל

permission has been granted to the Kabbalists (lit., “the scholars of truth”) to speak allegorically of the Sefirot.

Note of the Rebbe: “The use of the term משל (‘allegory’) stresses that the allegory and its object are not identical, but merely that there is a similarity between the relationship that subsists among the particulars of the analogy to the relationship that subsists among the particulars of the analogue. There is, however, no connection at all between the particular aspects of the analogy and the analogue.

“Here, for instance: the sun’s rays and the sun do not compare in any way at all to the Sefirot and their Source. The analogy refers only to the manner in which the sun’s rays are united (i.e., related) with the sun itself. This analogy makes it easier for us to comprehend the unity of the Sefirot with their Source.”

וקראו אותן אורות

[The Kabbalists] called [the Sefirot] “lights”, using terminology borrowed from the revelation of light,

כדי שעל ידי המשל הזה, יובן לנו קצת ענין היחוד של הקב״ה ומדותיו

so that by means of this metaphor, the nature of the unity of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His attributes, will be somewhat understood by us.

שהוא, בדרך משל, כעין יחוד אור השמש שבתוך גוף כדור השמש, עם גוף השמש שנקרא מאור

It is, by way of illustration, like the unity of the sunlight that is within the solar globe, with the solar globe [itself], which is called not only “sun” but also a “luminary,” inasmuch as it emits light,

כמו שכתוב: את המאור הגדול וגו׳

as it is written,3 that G‑d created “the greater luminary...,” i.e., the very source of light.

והזיו והניצוץ המתפשט ומאיר ממנו נקרא אור, כמו שכתוב: ויקרא אלקים לאור יום

The radiation and the beam which spreads forth and shines from it is called “light”, as it is written,4 “And G‑d called the light — day.”

וכשהאור הוא במקורו, בגוף השמש, הוא מיוחד עמו בתכלית היחוד

When the light is within its source in the orb of the sun, it is united with it in absolute unity,

כי אין שם רק עצם אחד, שהוא גוף המאור המאיר

for there, within the sun, there is only one entity, namely, the body of the luminary which emits light;

It would hardly be reasonable to say that within the orb of the sun there exist two things: the luminary and its light. Within the sun globe, only the sun itself exists.

כי הזיו והאור שם עצם אחד ממש עם גוף המאור המאיר, ואין לו שום מציאות כלל בפני עצמו

for there the radiation and light is absolutely one being with the body of the luminary which illuminates, and it has no existence by itself at all.

The appearance of radiation and light outside the sun would seem to indicate that light exists within the sun itself, for if it reaches out and illuminates the whole world it is surely found within its source. In fact, however, when sunlight is considered at the stage at which it is found within the luminary itself, it is so completely identified with it that it cannot be termed light at all; within the sun, the light has no existence with an independent identity.5

וכדברים האלה ממש ויותר מזה, הן מדותיו של הקב״ה ורצונו וחכמתו בעולם האצילות, עם מהותו ועצמותו, כביכול

Precisely in this manner, and even more so, is [the unity of] (on the one hand) the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Will and wisdom in the World of Atzilut, with (on the other hand) His Essence and Being, as it were,

המתלבש בתוכם ומתייחד עמהם בתכלית היחוד

Who becomes clothed in them — in the Sefirot of Atzilut — and unites with them in perfect unity,

מאחר שנמשכו ונאצלו מאתו יתברך, על דרך משל, כדרך התפשטות האור מהשמש

since they derived and emanated from Him just as (by way of analogy) light is diffused from the sun.

אך לא ממש בדרך זה, רק בדרך רחוקה ונפלאה מהשגתינו, כי גבהו דרכיו מדרכינו

However, [G‑d’s unity with His attributes] is not exactly in this manner, i.e., like the fusion of the sun with the light which is still within it, but in a manner which is remote and concealed from our comprehension, for6 His ways are higher than our ways.

ומכל מקום, לשכך האוזן

Nevertheless, despite its superior manner of unity, since one must “modulate for the ear [what it is able to hear],”

נשמע ונתבונן ממשל אור השמש המיוחד ובטל במקורו, ואינו עולה בשם בפני עצמו, רק שם המקור לבדו

we can perceive and comprehend that just as in the analogy, the light of the sun which is united with and nullified in its source has no name of its own, only the name of its source,

כך כל מדותיו של הקב״ה ורצונו וחכמתו אינן עולות ונקראות בשמות אלו כלל

so too, all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Will and wisdom, are not designated and called by these names at all, relative to Him,

אלא לגבי הנבראים, עליונים ותחתונים

but only in relation to the creatures which are (Note of the Rebbe:) “below the World of Atzilut, i.e., in Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, these [creatures] being” [both] higher and lower,

שהווייתם וחיותם והנהגתם, שהקב״ה מהוה ומחיה אותם ומנהיגם

which are brought into existence and given life and guided in their conduct by the Holy One, blessed be He,

הוא ברצונו וחכמתו ובינתו ודעתו, המתלבשות במדותיו הקדושות

through His Will and wisdom and understanding and knowledge, which garb themselves in His holy emotive attributes, such as Chesed, Gevurah and Tiferet.

Thus, the Sefirot are termed Chochmah, Binah, Daat, Chesed, and so forth, in relation to the beings which are created and vivified by G‑d through His Will and wisdom, and so forth, which clothe themselves in the emotive attributes.

כדאיתא במדרש: בעשרה דברים נברא העולם, בחכמה בתבונה ובדעת וכו׳

As it is stated in the Midrash,7 “By means of ten things was the world created: by wisdom, by understanding and by knowledge,...

דכתיב: ה׳ בחכמה יסד ארץ, כונן שמים בתבונה, בדעתו תהומות נבקעו וגו׳

as it is written,8 ‘G‑d founded the earth with wisdom; He established the heavens with understanding; with His knowledge the depths of the abyss were burst open,’...“;

We thus see from the Midrash9 that the world was created by means of “ten things”, i.e., the Ten Sefirot.

וכמאמר אליהו: דאפיקת עשר תיקונין, וקרינן להון עשר ספירן

and as expressed by Elijah, in the passage that opens with Patach Eliyahu, and forms part of the introduction to Tikkunei Zohar, “You have brought forth ten Tikkunim (‘garments’), and we call them ten Sefirot,

לאנהגא בהון עלמין סתימין דלא אתגליין, ועלמין דאתגליין

through which to direct hidden worlds unrevealed (i.e., worlds that transcend mortal comprehension) and worlds revealed (i.e., worlds that are accessible to mortal comprehension),

ובהון אתכסיאת כו׳

and through them You conceal Yourself...“ — from created beings, so that they will not be able to perceive the Divine life-force that creates and vivifies them.

The Alter Rebbe now offers an instance of how creation came about through the Sefirot.

על דרך משל, ביום ראשון מששת ימי בראשית נגלית מדת החסד, כלולה מכל מדותיו הקדושות, ורצונו וחכמתו ובינתו ודעתו מלובשין בה

For example, on the first of the Six Days of Creation, the attribute of kindness — comprised of all [G‑d’s] holy emotive attributes, with His Will and wisdom and understanding and knowledge enclothed in it — was revealed,

וברא בה את האור, במאמר: יהי אור

and with [this attribute] He created light, through the utterance, “Let there be light,”

שהיא בחינת התפשטות והמשכת האור לעולם מלמעלה, והתפשטותו בעולם מסוף העולם עד סופו, שהיא בחינת מדת חסד

which is a diffusion and flow of light into the world from above, and its diffusion in the world from one end to the other. This [creation of light] is [an expression of] the attribute of kindness, for Chesed is characterized by diffusion and revelation.

רק מפני שכלולה גם ממדת גבורה

Yet, because [the attribute of kindness] also includes the attribute of might (for the attributes of Atzilut all incorporate each other),

לכן לא היה רוחני כאור שלמעלה ממש

therefore [the light] was not as spiritual as the actual Supernal Light,

וגם נתלבש בעולם הזה, שהוא בבחינת גבול ותכלית, שהוא מהלך ת״ק שנה מהארץ לרקיע וממזרח למערב

and it also became enclothed in this world, which is finite and limited, for10 “it is a journey of five hundred years from earth to heaven and from east to west.”

These limitations would not have come to pass were creation to proceed undiluted from the attribute of kindness, which diffuses without limitation. However, since the attribute of might — the source of limitation — is incorporated within this kindness, creation is finite.

At any rate, because the attribute of kindness was revealed and was dominant during the first day of creation, created beings related to Chesed — such as light — came into existence on that day.

וכן ביום שני נגלית מדת גבורה, כלולה משאר מדות, ורצונו וכו׳

In like manner, on the second day there was revealed the attribute of might, which is composed of the other emotive attributes and His Will, and so on, i.e., ChaBaD,

וברא בה הרקיע, במאמר: יהי רקיע בתוך המים, ויהי מבדיל בין מים למים

and with [the attribute of might, G‑d] created the firmament, through the utterance, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

שהיא בחינת צמצום וגבורות, להעלים מים העליונים הרוחניים ממים התחתונים

This [separation of the waters by the firmament] is an expression of tzimtzum and restraints (Gevurot), to conceal the upper spiritual waters from the lower waters.

ועל ידי זה נתגשמו התחתונים, בהבדלם מהעליונים

Through this separation from the upper waters, the lower waters became material.

This materiality was brought about through the tzimtzum and concealment which emanate from the attribute of might — the attribute that was revealed and dominant during the second day of creation.

ומדת חסד כלולה בה, כי: עולם חסד יבנה

The attribute of kindness is included in [this attribute], for11 “the world is built with kindness,” (Note of the Rebbe: “[and the very act of building itself is] an expression of kindness”),

Thus, even where might prevails, it is tempered by the attribute of Chesed.

שהכל כדי שתראה היבשה ואדם עליה לעבוד את ה׳

for all this — the division of the waters — is in order that dry land appear and man [live] upon it to serve G‑d; thus, this too is ultimately an expression of kindness.

וכן כולן

And so with them all: each of the other emotive attributes was likewise revealed on each subsequent day, in order to bring created beings into existence.

וזהו שאמר אליהו בתיקונים שם: לאחזאה איך אתנהיג עלמא בצדק ומשפט כו׳

And it is this thought that Elijah expressed in the Tikkunim, loc. cit.: “[The purpose of the emanation of the Sefirot was] to show how the world is conducted with…righteousness and justice;...

צדק איהו דין, משפט איהו רחמי כו׳, כולא לאחזאה איך אתנהיג עלמא

righteousness is…law (i.e., the attribute of Gevurah), justice is…mercy…; all [the revelation of the attributes] is to show how the world is conducted;

אבל לאו דאית לך צדק ידיעא, דאיהו דין

but it is not that You have a knowable righteousness, which is law,

ולאו משפט ידיעא, דאיהו רחמי

nor a knowable justice, which is mercy,

ולאו מכל אינון מדות כלל

nor any of these [other] attributes at all.“

This means to say that righteousness and justice exist as separately identifiable attributes only relative to worlds and created beings. As regards G‑d Himself, “it is not that You have” these attributes. In relation to Him, they do not exist independently at all, being completely unified with Him, just as sunlight enjoys no independent identity when within the sun

Commentary of the Rebbe on Chapter Ten

In the course of the frabrengen of Yud-Tet Kislev, 5728, the Rebbe explained the statement in the beginning of ch. 10 regarding the unity of the Divine attributes with the Ein Sof. The Alter Rebbe there likens their unity to “the unity of the sunlight that is within the solar globe, with the solar globe [itself].”

The Alter Rebbe goes on to say that the sun’s rays are found not only outside the solar globe but must also surely exist to an even greater degree within their source — the sun. Nevertheless, insofar as sunlight is to be found within its source, it is united with it to such a degree that “it has no existence by itself at all.” It therefore cannot be deemed “light”, for within the sun globe “there is only one entity, namely, the body of the luminary which emits light.”

Turning from the analogue to the analogy, the Alter Rebbe now says: “Precisely in this manner, and even more so,” is G‑d’s unity with His attributes. So perfect, indeed, is this unity, that the attributes are not called by any names at all, whether Will, wisdom, kindness, or whatever, for they are all truly One with G‑d Himself.

* * *

A number of points here call for clarification. To begin with: As soon as the Alter Rebbe proposes the analogy of the unity of the sun’s light with the sun, and before he even begins to explain it in detail, he mentions that the sun “is called a ‘luminary,’” and buttresses this point by citing a proof-text from Scripture (“the greater luminary”). He then goes on to say that “the radiation…which…shines from it is called ‘light’, as it is written, ‘And G‑d called the light — day.’”

Now this is somewhat problematic. Firstly: All that is necessary to know concerning the sun’s unity with its light while this light is within it, is that the sun serves as the source of the light. (We are then able to adduce that when something is found within its source, it does not possess a personality of its own.) Why is it important to let us know that the sun is called a luminary and its radiation is called light?

Secondly: Granting that a valid reason exists for the Alter Rebbe’s need to explain that the sun is a luminary, is it necessary to seek proof for this from Scripture? If the sun radiates light, then surely it is by definition a luminary.

Thirdly: Even more perplexing is why the Alter Rebbe not only informs us (as above) of the other most elementary fact — that the radiation of the sun is called light — but finds it necessary to go on to cite Scriptural evidence for this. All this seems to be completely superfluous. Furthermore, what innovative insights are we intended to glean from the verse that tells us that “G‑d called the light — day”?

These questions become even stronger when we bear in mind that the same illustration of the unity of sunlight with the sun, has already been used in ch. 3, and even earlier, in ch. 33 of the first part of Tanya. There the Alter Rebbe did not find it necessary to inform us that the sun is a luminary and that its rays are light, and understandably, no proof is sought from Scripture.

With regard to ch. 33, one might answer that since the Alter Rebbe himself indicates that the illustration will be treated at length elsewhere, and it is only mentioned there parenthetically, he does not go into detail at that stage. In ch. 3 of our text, however, this illustration is treated at length. If it is indeed necessary for the Alter Rebbe to spell out the above-mentioned details, why does he not do so in ch. 3?

We are thus compelled to conclude that here, in ch. 10, when repeating the illustration of the sunlight that is still in the sun, the Alter Rebbe seeks to explain something new — something that warrants the additional details that were previously unnecessary.

In order to understand the difference between what the Alter Rebbe sought to teach in each of these two cases, it is first necessary to explain the subject of each of these two analogues (which become understandable through their common analogy). And they are indeed different.

The analogy in ch. 10 seeks to explain the unity of G‑d with the Supernal Sefirot: although they bear not the slightest comparison with G‑d, they are nevertheless united with Him, to the point that “He and His attributes are One,” in perfect and uncompounded unity.

This is indeed mind-boggling. Ch. 9 made it clear that the Divine attributes are even more distant from G‑d Himself than the distance that separates the lowly level of action from the lofty level of wisdom — so distant, in fact, that we cannot even negate wisdom in relation to G‑d. How, then, can we possibly say that the attributes are united with Him in perfect unity?

In order to explain this, the Alter Rebbe proposes the analogy of sunlight within the sun. Light, too, while found within the sun is absolutely united with it. (This is a novel aspect of the concept that is not found in the preceding chapters.)

In order to explain in turn how this is the case, the Alter Rebbe first had to state that the sun is called a luminary and its rays are called light (as shall soon be explained). This is not true of ch. 3, where the Alter Rebbe seeks to explain (not the unity of the Sefirot, but rather) how created beings are nullified and of no account in relation to the Divine life-force that creates them constantly ex nihilo.

Since created beings are absolute nothingness in relation to the creative force that brings them into existence and provides them with life, it is thus clearly impossible to imagine, G‑d forbid, that they are united with Him; it is impossible to say that “He and His creation are One,” heaven forbid. The reason is simple: Since all of creation is truly naught in relation to G‑d, there exists no being which we could describe as being united with Him.

Ch. 10, by contrast, deals with the manner in which the Sefirot are united with G‑d. Concerning this unity the Alter Rebbe provides the analogy of the sunlight that is still within the sun, at which stage “it is united with it in absolute unity.”

This aspect of unity is made more readily understandable in the analogy by explaining that the sun is called a luminary and that its rays are called light, and by citing Scripture to prove this point.

The Alter Rebbe intends to stress that only that which radiates beyond the sun is called light; the light as found within the sun is not deemed light at all. Since this is a novel thought, he finds support for it by citing the verse, “And G‑d called light — day.” This verse tells us that the defining characteristic of light is “day”, as opposed to the darkness of “night”. This means to say that light refers, like the term “day”, to actual and visible illumination. By contrast, that which does not express itself overtly in actual illumination as light does by day is not deemed to be light. (This is true even when it exists, but its existence is assimilated in its source.)

The reason that light while found in its source is not considered to be light is self-understood: while there, it is one with its source in a state of absolute unity. Were it to be designated as light, we would then have within the orb of the sun two distinct entities — the luminary and the light. But this cannot be, for the source of light is deemed by the proof-text to be a luminary to the exclusion of all else: only one entity exists there, namely, the luminary. Saying that sunlight is united with the sun itself in absolute unity signifies that it is exclusively so, that even the light that is to be found in the luminary has no separate identity as light, but is itself [assimilated within the] luminary.

This detail is crucial to the analogue, namely, to the understanding that G‑d’s unity with His attributes is a perfect and absolute unity (as mentioned at the beginning of ch. 8). It is therefore clear that “all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Will and wisdom, are not designated and called by these names at all,” as the Alter Rebbe says in ch. 10. Were the attributes to be designated by the names Will, wisdom, kindness, might, and so on, then there would be, G‑d forbid, a compound of G‑d Himself (the infinite Ein Sof-light) with His attributes.

In order for this to be understood in the analogue, it is necessary for the Alter Rebbe to explain in the analogy as well, that only that which spreads forth beyond the sun is called “light”; while found within its source, however, it “has no name of its own at all, only the name of its source” — the luminary.