והנה מדת הקב״ה שלא כמדת בשר ודם

Now1 the nature of the Divine order is not like that of a human being, a creature of flesh and blood. Therefore human terms cannot adequately describe Divine qualites. Thus in our case:

שהאדם כשמדבר דבור, הרי הבל הדבור שבפיו הוא מורגש ונראה דבר בפני עצמו מובדל משרשו, שהן עשר בחינות הנפש עצמה

When a man says something, the breath of the spoken word may be sensed, and is perceived as an independent entity separated from its source, namely, the ten intellectual and emotional faculties of the soul itself.

While still encapsulated in its source, the word is utterly nullified; however, when it is spoken and it leaves its source, it takes on an identity of its own. This is true, however, only with regard to human speech.

אבל הקב״ה אין דבורו מובדל ממנו יתברך חס ושלום, כי אין דבר חוץ ממנו, ולית אתר פנוי מיניה

But the speech of G‑d is not, heaven forbid, separated from His Divine self. For nothing is outside of Him, and2 “no place is devoid of Him” — so that His speech is always contained within him.

ולכן אין דבורו יתברך כדבורנו חס ושלום כמו שאין מחשבתו כמחשבתינו, כדכתיב: כי לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם, וכתיב: כן גבהו דרכי מדרכיכם וגו׳

Therefore, His speech is not like our speech, G‑d forbid (just as, obviously, His thought is not like our thought, as it is written:3 “For My thoughts are not like your thoughts”; and it is also written:4 “So My ways are higher than your ways [and My thoughts higher than your thoughts].” Similarly, G‑d’s speech is different from human speech.

But if Divine speech is indeed never separated from G‑d, how can it be described as “speech” at all? Human speech constitutes communication only because the spoken word becomes separated from the speaker. (Thought, by contrast, because it remains within one’s soul, is hidden from all but the thinker himself.) But since nothing ever becomes separated from G‑d, the term “speech” seemingly provides us with no understanding at all of the nature of Divine communication.

In explanation, the Alter Rebbe states that speech is distinguished by two characteristics: (a) it reveals that which was previously hidden in the speaker’s thoughts; (b) it becomes separated from its source. Only the former characteristic of human speech is analogous to Divine “speech”, which reveals to Creation that which was hitherto hidden within G‑dliness.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

ולא נקרא דבורו יתברך בשם דבור רק על דרך משל, כמו שדבור התחתון שבאדם הוא מגלה לשומעים מה שהיה צפון ונעלם במחשבתו

G‑d’s speech is called “speech” only in order to illustrate that quality of revelation which it possesses. For just as man’s speech reveals to his audience what was hidden and concealed in his thoughts,

כך למעלה באין סוף ברוך הוא, יציאת האור והחיות ממנו יתברך מההעלם אל הגילוי, לברוא עולמות ולהחיותם, נקראת בשם דבור

so too the emergence of the light and life-force of the Ein Sof from concealment before creation into revelation through the act of creation, for the purpose of creating and animating the worlds, is called “speech”.

In this case, the audience is the created being, which, from its own perspective at least, is separate from G‑d.

והן הן עשרה מאמרות שבהן נברא העולם

It is these revelations of Divine light and life-force that comprise the5 ten Divine utterances recorded in the Torah, namely,6 “And G‑d said, ‘Let there be light,’ ‘Let the earth sprout forth…,’” and so on, by which the world was created.

וכן שאר כל התורה נביאים וכתובים שהשיגו הנביאים במראה נבואתם

Likewise all the other words of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Holy Writings are also called “speech”, even though they were not revealed for the purpose of creation, since they too represent the Divine revelation which the Prophets perceived in their prophetic vision.

Hence, when we refer to G‑d’s revelation as His “speech”, the analogy extends only to speech as revelation and communication, but not to speech as something separate from the speaker — an idea which is not applicable to G‑dliness.

והרי דבורו ומחשבתו כביכול מיוחדות עמו בתכלית היחוד, דרך משל כמו דבורו ומחשבתו של אדם בעודן בכח חכמתו ושכלו

Thus, G‑d’s speech and thought are united with Him in absolute union, just like the speech and thought of man before he actually expresses them as speech and thought, rather as they are while still in his faculty of wisdom and intellect,

או בתשוקה וחמדה שבלבו קודם שעלתה מהלב למוח, להרהר בה בבחינת אותיות

or as they exist in a desire or craving that are still in the heart, before they rise from the heart to the brain, there to be meditated upon with the letters of thought.7

שאז היו אותיות המחשבה והדבור הזה, הנמשכות מחמדה ותשוקה זו, בכח בלב

At that point before one speaks or thinks, the letters of his speech and thought, which evolve from the aforementioned longing and desire, were still in a potential state in the heart,

ומיוחדות שם בתכלית היחוד בשרשן, שהן החכמה ושכל שבמוח, וחמדה ותשוקה שבלב

where they were absolutely unified with their source, namely, the wisdom and intellect in the brain, and the longing and desire in the heart.

In the case of a mortal, his thought and speech are completely unified with him before he speaks; at that point the letters which constitute his thought and speech are still telescoped within their source. In the case of the Creator, however, His “thought” and “speech” remain unified with Him even after He “thinks” and “speaks”: they are always within their source — the omnipresent G‑d, as the Alter Rebbe now concludes:

וככה ממש, דרך משל, מיוחדות דבורו ומחשבתו של הקב״ה בתכלית היחוד במהותו ועצמותו יתברך גם אחר שיצא דבורו יתברך אל הפועל בבריאות העולמות, כמו שהיה מיוחד עמו קודם בריאת העולמות

Precisely so, by way of analogy, are G‑d’s “speech” and “thought” absolutely united with His essence and being even after His “speech” has already become materialized in the creation of the worlds, just as it was united with Him before the worlds were created.

ואין שום שינוי כלל לפניו יתברך אלא אל הברואים המקבלים חיותם מבחינת דבורו יתברך בבחינת יציאתו כבר אל הפועל בבריאת העולמות

Thus, for G‑d, nothing whatever was changed by the revelation of His creative power in Creation. The change wrought by Creation exists only with regard to the created beings, who receive their life-force from G‑d’s Word when it proceeds (from concealment) to actualization, with the creation of the worlds.

For the created beings, the revelation of the creative power contained in G‑d’s Word represents the greatest possible change — the passage from nonexistence to existence, since they come into being only when the Divine Word begins to actually create worlds.

שמתלבש בהם להחיותם

at which time it clothes itself in these worlds, to give them life.

על ידי השתלשלות מעלה לעלול, וירידת המדרגות בצמצומים רבים ושונים

This process takes place through a gradual descent from level to level (with the higher level referred to as the עילה, the “cause”, and the lower level — the עלול, the “effect”), and a downward gradation by means of numerous and various contractions (tzimtzumim, i.e., a progressive decrease in the intensity of the revealed Divine powers).

עד שיוכלו הברואים לקבל חיותם והתהוותם ממנו ולא יתבטלו במציאות

G‑d’s Word descends and is contracted to the point where the created beings can derive their life-force and existence from it, without losing their identity.

An undimmed revelation of the G‑dly life-force would create beings whose identity would be utterly nullified within their life-force. It was G‑d’s intention that His creations perceive themselves to be separate from Him, and that through their own efforts they achieve a spirit of self-nullification vis-à-vis their Creator. To this end, G‑d revealed His creative power only through a series of contractions, whose effect the Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain:

וכל הצמצומים הם בחינת הסתר פנים, להסתיר ולהעלים האור והחיות הנמשך מדבורו יתברך, שלא יתגלה בבחינת גילוי רב שלא יוכלו התחתונים לקבל

All the contractions constitute a “veiling of the [Divine] Countenance”; that is, they veil and conceal the “face,” i.e., the essential aspects of the light and life-force that are derived from G‑d’s Word, so that it should not reveal itself with an intense radiance which the lower worlds would be incapable of receiving.

ולכן גם כן נדמה להם אור וחיות הדבור של מקום ברוך הוא המלובש בהם, כאלו הוא דבר מובדל ממהותו ועצמותו יתברך

Therefore too, because it is thus obscured through tzimtzum, the light and life-force of G‑d’s Word that is clothed in them appears to them as if it is something separate from G‑d Himself,

רק שנמשך ממנו יתברך כמו דבור של אדם מנפשו

and as though it only issues from Him, just as the speech of a human being issues from him but then becomes separated from him.

This false perception of the G‑dly life-force as something separate from G‑d is possible only because the life-force is hidden from creation by means of the tzimtzumim.

אך לגבי הקב״ה אין שום צמצום והסתר והעלם מסתיר ומעלים לפניו, וכחשכה כאורה

Yet, in regard to G‑d, no concealment or veil hides or obscures anything from Him; to Him,8 “‘darkness’ (concealment) and ‘light’ (revelation) are alike,”

כדכתיב: גם חשך לא יחשיך ממך וגו׳

as it is written:9 “Even the darkness does not obscure [anything] from You.”

This may also be interpreted: “Even the darkness does not obscure because it derives from You”; i.e., the veil of tzimtzum is itself of divine origin, and therefore it cannot obscure G‑dliness. For as the Alter Rebbe goes on to say, only a foreign body can constitute an obstruction; one cannot hide from his own self.

משום שאין הצמצומים והלבושים דבר נפרד ממנו יתברך, חס ושלום, אלא כהדין קמצא, דלבושיה מיניה וביה

For the tzimtzumim and the “veils” are not things distinct from Him, heaven forfend, since nothing is separate from G‑d, but are10 “like the turtle (or: ’snail‘), whose garment i.e., its shell is part of its body”; so too, the very “shell” — the process of tzimtzum — that hides G‑dliness is itself G‑dly.

כמו שכתוב: כי ה׳ הוא האלקים, וכמו שכתוב במקום אחר

Thus it is written:11 “G‑d — He is the Lord,” as is explained elsewhere.12

In Hebrew: “Yud-hei-vav-hei — He is Elokim.” The Four-Letter Name of G‑d denotes Divine revelation and transcendence, while the Name Elokim refers to G‑d’s power of self-concealment by which He vests Himself in creation. The equation points out that they are one; Elokim is G‑dly just as is the level of G‑dliness signified by the other Name. Thus, Elokim does not act as a veil obscuring G‑d, since it is essentially one with Yud-hei-vav-hei, the power of revelation.

ולכן קמיה כולא כלא חשיב ממש

Therefore, in His presence, all else is of absolutely no account.

Since G‑d is not affected by the tzimtzumim which make it possible for a created being to feel separate from Him, He perceives all the creations brought into being by His Word as being still within their source — Himself. There they are in a state of absolute nullification. From His perspective they are still nonentities, and the fact of their creation in no way detracts from His absolute unity — He is One alone after Creation just as He was before Creation.

——— ● ———