Chapter 1

פרק א

The theme of this treatise, as the Rebbe notes, is stated in its subtitle:

Let us understand, [at least] in a small measure, the statement of the Zohar,1 that2 Shema Yisrael…is yichuda ilaah (“higher-level Unity”) and3 Baruch shem kvod malchuto leolam vaed is yichuda tataah (“lower-level Unity”). For vaed equals echad through the substitution (and thereby the descent) of letters,4 as stated in the Zohar.

לְהָבִין מְעַט מִזְּעֵר מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר, דִּ"שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל כוּ'" – הוּא "יִחוּדָא עִילָּאָה", וּ"בָרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד" – הוּא "יִחוּדָא תַּתָּאָה":

Thus, the object of Shaar Hayichud VehaEmunah will be to understand how it is possible to speak of two different levels of Divine Unity.

פֶּרֶק א

Chapter One

It is written:5 “Know this day and take it unto your heart that G‑d is the [mighty and just] L-rd in the heavens above and upon the earth below; there is none other.”6

"וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם וַהֲשֵׁבוֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ, כִּי ה' הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת – אֵין עוֹד".

The verse, if understood simplistically, seems to declare that there are no other gods dwelling in heaven or earth.

This requires explanation. For would it occur to you that there is a god “soaking” in the waters beneath the earth,

וְצָרִיךְ לְהָבִין: וְכִי תַעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתְּךָ שֶׁיֵּשׁ אֱלֹהִים נִשְׁרֶה בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ,

so that it is necessary to caution so strongly [and negate this thought by stating that one should] “take it unto your heart” and come to the realization that this is indeed not so?

שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהַזְהִיר כָּל כָּךְ "וַהֲשֵׁבוֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ"?

It is written: “Forever, O G‑d, Your word stands firm in the heavens.”7

הִנֵּה, כְּתִיב: "לְעוֹלָם, ה', דְּבָרְךָ נִצָּב בַּשָּׁמָיִם",

The Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, has explained this concept at length and made it widely known8 that this means:

וּפִירֵשׁ הַבַּעַל־שֵׁם־טוֹב זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה:

that “Your word” which you uttered, viz.,9 “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…,”

כִּי "דְּבָרְךָ" שֶׁאָמַרְתָּ "יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם וְגוֹ'" –

these very words and letters through which the heavens were created stand firmly forever within the firmament of heaven

תֵּיבוֹת וְאוֹתִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ, הֵן נִצָּבוֹת וְעוֹמְדוֹת לְעוֹלָם בְּתוֹךְ רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמַיִם,

and are forever clothed within all the heavens to give them life,

וּמְלוּבָּשׁוֹת בְּתוֹךְ כָּל הָרְקִיעִים לְעוֹלָם לְהַחֲיוֹתָם,

Note by the Rebbe: “The fact that these words were uttered thousands of years ago presents no problem,”

as it is written, “And the word of our L-rd shall stand firm forever,”10

כְּדִכְתִיב: "וּדְבַר אֱלֹהֵינוּ יָקוּם לְעוֹלָם",

and as it is likewise written, “And His words live and stand firm forever….”11

"וּדְבָרָיו חָיִים וְקַיָּימִים לָעַד כוּ'",

This refers not only to those creations such as the heavenly firmament which enjoy a permanent existence but also to those creatures which perish as individuals, with only their species continuing to exist. In all instances, the Divine life-force which created a particular creature must constantly be vested within it, incessantly creating and vivifying it anew, just as it ceaselessly recreates the heavenly firmament, as shall soon be explained.

For if the creative letters were to depart even for an instant, G‑d forbid, and return to their source, that source being the degree of G‑dliness from whence they emanate,

כִּי אִילּוּ הָיוּ הָאוֹתִיּוֹת מִסְתַּלְּקוֹת כְּרֶגַע חַס וְשָׁלוֹם וְחוֹזְרוֹת לִמְקוֹרָן,

all the heavens would become naught and absolute nothingness, and it would be as though they had never existed at all,

הָיוּ כָּל הַשָּׁמַיִם אַיִן וָאֶפֶס מַמָּשׁ, וְהָיוּ כְּלֹא הָיוּ כְּלָל,

exactly as before the utterance, “Let there be a firmament.”

וּכְמוֹ קוֹדֶם מַאֲמַר "יְהִי רָקִיעַ כוּ'" מַמָּשׁ.

Before that Divine utterance the firmament did not exist at all. Were the letters that constitute the Divine utterance to depart from the firmament, it would revert to the state of never having existed at all.

The Alter Rebbe now concludes that this is true not only of the firmament but of all created beings.

And so it is with all created things, in all the upper and lower worlds,

וְכֵן בְּכָל הַבְּרוּאִים שֶׁבְּכָל הָעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים,

and even this physical earth and the realm of the completely inanimate.

וַאֲפִילוּ אֶרֶץ הַלֵּזוּ הַגַּשְׁמִית וּבְחִינַת דּוֹמֵם מַמָּשׁ,

Even immobile beings that show no signs of animation or spirituality, not even the degree of animation observed in the process of growth in the vegetative world—even this extremely low life-form constantly harbors within it the Divine life-force that brought it into being.

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,

אִילּוּ הָיוּ מִסְתַּלְּקוֹת מִמֶּנָּה כְּרֶגַע חַס וְשָׁלוֹם הָאוֹתִיּוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁבָּהֶן נִבְרֵאת הָאָרֶץ בְּשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית,

it would revert to naught and absolute nothingness, exactly as before the Six Days of Creation.

הָיְתָה חוֹזֶרֶת לְאַיִן וָאֶפֶס מַמָּשׁ, כְּמוֹ לִפְנֵי שֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית מַמָּשׁ.

This thought was expressed by the Arizal12 when he said that even within that which appears to be utterly inanimate matter, such as stones or earth or water, there is a soul and spiritual life-force.

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר הָאֲרִ"י זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁגַּם בְּדוֹמֵם מַמָּשׁ, כְּמוֹ אֲבָנִים וְעָפָר וּמַיִם, יֵשׁ בְּחִינַת נֶפֶשׁ וְחַיּוּת רוּחָנִית.

That is, i.e, although they evince no demonstrable form of animation, [within them] are nevertheless enclothed the letters of speech from the ten utterances which give life and existence to inanimate matter,

דְּהַיְינוּ, בְּחִינַת הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר מֵעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת הַמְחַיּוֹת וּמְהַוּוֹת אֶת הַדּוֹמֵם,

enabling it to come into being out of the naught and nothingness that preceded the Six Days of Creation.

לִהְיוֹת יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן וָאֶפֶס שֶׁלִּפְנֵי שֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית.

The ten utterances usher inanimate matter into a state of existence, in contrast to its former state of nonbeing prior to the Six Days of Creation. Thus, the letters of the ten utterances which cause inanimate matter to be created are its soul and life-force.

Now, although the name אֶבֶן (“stone”) is not mentioned in the ten utterances recorded in the Torah, how, then, can we say that letters of the ten utterances are enclothed within a stone?

וְאַף שֶׁלֹּא הוּזְכַּר שֵׁם "אֶבֶן" בַּעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה,

Nevertheless, life-force flows to the stone from the ten utterances by means of combinations and substitutions of their letters,

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, נִמְשָׁךְ חַיּוּת לָאֶבֶן עַל יְדֵי צֵירוּפִים וְחִילּוּפֵי אוֹתִיּוֹת,

Whereby an alef, for example, may take the place of a hey, since both letters are articulated by the same organ of speech, and so on,

which are transposed in the “two hundred and thirty-one gates,” either in direct or reverse order,13 as is explained in Sefer Yetzirah,14

הַמִּתְגַּלְגְּלוֹת בְּרל"א שְׁעָרִים פָּנִים וְאָחוֹר, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּסֵפֶר יְצִירָה,

so that ultimately, the combination of letters [that forms] the name אֶבֶן descends from the ten utterances and is derived from them,

עַד שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּלְשֵׁל מֵעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת וְנִמְשָׁךְ מֵהֶן צֵירוּף שֵׁם "אֶבֶן",

and this combination of letters is the life-force of the stone.

וְהוּא חַיּוּתוֹ שֶׁל הָאֶבֶן.

And so it is with all created things in the world.

וְכֵן בְּכָל הַנִּבְרָאִים שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם,

The Holy Tongue, the Hebrew of the Torah, was the language used in creation. Thus, all created things are directly affected by their Hebrew names as well as by the component letters of their names. In this, the Holy Tongue is unlike other, arbitrary languages, the meaning of whose words is the result of mere consensus.

The names [of all creatures] in the Holy Tongue are the very letters of speech which descend, degree by degree, from the ten utterances recorded in the Torah,

הַשֵּׁמוֹת שֶׁנִּקְרָאִים בָּהֶם בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ – הֵן הֵן אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר, הַמִּשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוֹת מִמַּדְרֵגָה לְמַדְרֵגָה מֵעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה,

by means of substitutions and transpositions of letters through the “two hundred and thirty-one gates” until they reach a particular created thing and become invested in it, thereby giving it life.

עַל יְדֵי חִילּוּפִים וּתְמוּרוֹת הָאוֹתִיּוֹת בְּרל"א שְׁעָרִים, עַד שֶׁמַּגִּיעוֹת וּמִתְלַבְּשׁוֹת בְּאוֹתוֹ נִבְרָא לְהַחֲיוֹתוֹ.

This descent is necessary because individual creatures, unlike the more pervasive beings such as the heavens, earth, sun, and moon, cannot receive their life-force directly from the actual ten utterances recorded in the Torah,

לְפִי שֶׁאֵין פְּרָטֵי הַנִּבְרָאִים יְכוֹלִים לְקַבֵּל חַיּוּתָם מֵעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת עַצְמָן שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה,

for the life-force issuing directly from them is far greater than the capacity of the individual creatures; i.e., it is far too intense to serve as their life-force.

שֶׁהַחַיּוּת הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מֵהֶן עַצְמָן – גָּדוֹל מְאֹד מִבְּחִינַת הַנִּבְרָאִים פְּרָטִיִּים,

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,

וְאֵין כֹּחַ בָּהֶם לְקַבֵּל הַחַיּוּת, אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי שֶׁיּוֹרֵד הַחַיּוּת וּמִשְׁתַּלְשֵׁל מִמַּדְרֵגָה לְמַדְרֵגָה פְּחוּתָה מִמֶּנָּה, עַל יְדֵי חִילּוּפִים וּתְמוּרוֹת הָאוֹתִיּוֹת,

and by means of gematriot, their numerical values,

וְגִימַטְרִיָּאוֹת שֶׁהֵן חֶשְׁבּוֹן הָאוֹתִיּוֹת,

The life-force may be so muted that it reaches a created being not even through a transposition of letters but merely through their numerical equivalent.

until [the life-force] can be condensed and enclothed and a particular creature can be brought forth from it.

עַד שֶׁיּוּכַל לְהִתְצַמְצֵם וּלְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ וּלְהִתְהַוּוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ נִבְרָא פְּרָטִי.

And the name by which [the creature] is called in the Holy Tongue is a vessel for the life-force condensed into the letters of that name

וְזֶה שְׁמוֹ אֲשֶׁר יִקְרְאוּ לוֹ בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ, הוּא כְּלִי לַחַיּוּת הַמְצוּמְצָם בְּאוֹתִיּוֹת שֵׁם זֶה,

which has descended from the ten utterances recorded in the Torah that have the power and vitality to create a being ex nihilo and give it life forever.

שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּלְשֵׁל מֵעֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶם כֹּחַ וְחַיּוּת לִבְרוֹא יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן, וּלְהַחֲיוֹתוֹ לְעוֹלָם,

Why does it have the power to do so? For “the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one.”15 Just as G-d has the ability to create ex nihilo, so, too, do the ten utterances of the Torah.

דְּ"אוֹרַיְיתָא וְקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא כּוּלָּא חַד":