אבל לגבי הקב״ה, מדרגת החכמה שהיא תחלת מחשבה וראשיתה, היא סוף מעשה אצלו

In regard to the Holy One, blessed be He, however, the level of wisdom — which [in all created beings] is the beginning of thought and its genesis — is to Him the final stage of action;

דהיינו שנחשבת כאילו היא בחינת ומדרגת עשייה לגבי הקב״ה

i.e., in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, [wisdom] is considered as if it were the quality and level of action,

כדכתיב: כולם בחכמה עשית

as it is written,1 “You have made them all with wisdom.”

At first glance, it would seem more appropriate for the verse to have said something such as “You have ‘intellected’ them all.” Why instead does it state, “You have made...,” when speaking of wisdom?

והיינו לומר, שכערך החיות שבעשיה גופנית וגשמיית לערך חיות החכמה

That is to say that [wisdom relative to Him] is as the quality of the life-force in physical and material action is in relation to the quality of the life-force of wisdom,

שהיא ראשית ומקור החיות באדם וכל הברואים גשמיים

[wisdom being] the beginning and source of the life-force in man and all the physical creatures.

I.e., the life-force of physicality is incomparably lower than wisdom, which is the source of all life-force.

שהוא כאין לגבי חיות שבאותיות הדבור, שהוא כאין לגבי חיות שבאותיות המחשבה

[For the life-force of physicality] is as nothing in comparison with the life-force in the letters of speech, which [in turn] is as nothing compared to the life-force in the letters of thought,

שהוא כאין לגבי חיות ומעלת המדות שמהן נמשכה מחשבה זו

which [in turn] is as nothing in comparison to the life-force and level of the emotive attributes from which this thought is derived,

For, as explained earlier, all letters of thought emanate from some emotion which brings them into being, so that the individual concerned should think these particular letters. Clearly, the life-force of these letters of thought bears no comparison to the life-force of the emotions from whence these letters emanate.

שהוא כאין לגבי חיות ומעלת ומדרגת החכמה בינה ודעת, מקור המדות

which [in turn] is as nothing in comparison to the life-force and level and degree of wisdom, understanding and knowledge, the source of the emotive attributes.

Thus, from the level of action to the lofty level of wisdom in the World of Atzilut there are but five levels, each of which is of no account in comparison to the level above it. Clearly, then, the lowest level of action is surely of absolutely no account in comparison to the highest level, which is the level of wisdom in the World of Atzilut. And just as action is infinitely distant from the wisdom of Atzilut,

כן ממש ערך מדרגת ומעלת החכמה, שהיא ראשית ומקור החיות שבכל העולמות

Exactly so is the quality and level of wisdom, the beginning and source of the life-force in all the worlds,

For we are speaking here of the Sefirah of Chochmah of the World of Atzilut, which is the source of the entire World of Atzilut, the highest of all the worlds. As such it is also the source of all the worlds below it. Now this level of wisdom is as nothing —

לגבי הקב״ה בכבודו ובעצמו

in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, in His Glory and Essence,

המרומם והמתנשא ריבוא רבבות מדרגות רוממות יותר מרוממות מדרגת החכמה על בחינת חיות שבעשיה

Who is elevated and exalted by myriads of degrees of elevation more than the quality of wisdom is elevated over the quality of the life-force in action,

שהיא רוממות חמש מדרגות לבד, שהן מדרגות בחינות עשיה ודבור ומחשבה ומדות ושכל

for this is an elevation of only five degrees, namely, the levels of action, speech, thought, the emotive attributes, and intellect.

אבל הקב״ה רם ומתנשא ממדרגת החכמה רבבות מדרגות כאלו עד אין קץ

The Holy One, blessed be He, however, is “high and exalted” above the level of wisdom by infinite myriads of such degrees.

This being so, why do we compare the distance of wisdom from G‑d to the distance of action from wisdom, when in actuality wisdom is infinitely more distant from Him?

רק מפני שאין בנבראים כח להשיג רק ההשתלשלות ממדרגת החכמה, שהיא ראשיתם, למדרגת עשיה השפלה

But inasmuch as it is within the power of created beings to comprehend only the descent from the level of wisdom, which is their beginning, to the level of action, which is the lowliest of levels,

לכך אנו אומרים שלגבי הקב״ה נחשבת מדרגת החכמה כמדרגת עשיה ממש

therefore we say that in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, the level of wisdom is considered exactly as the level of action.

We use this example simply because there is no greater descent in the realm of human experience than the descent from wisdom to action.

דהיינו לומר, שהוא רם ונשא ונעלה עילוי רב מאד מאד ממדרגת החכמה

That is to say: [G‑d] is “high and exalted” and very greatly elevated above the level of wisdom,

ולא שייך כלל לייחס אצלו שום ענין המתייחס לחכמה, אפילו בדרך מעלה ועילוי רב

and it is not at all appropriate to ascribe to Him anything that pertains to wisdom, even in a very lofty and sublime form, i.e., even if by doing so we mean to express how He transcends wisdom;

כגון לומר עליו שאי אפשר לשום נברא, עליונים ותחתונים, להשיג חכמתו או מהותו

for example, to say of Him that it is beyond the capacity of any higher or lower creature to comprehend His wisdom or His Essence.

Even this negative reference to wisdom is inappropriate, —

כי ענין ההשגה מתייחס ונופל על דבר חכמה ושכל, לומר שאפשר להשיגו או אי אפשר להשיגו מפני עומק המושג

For comprehension pertains and applies to a matter of wisdom and intellect, about which one can say that it can or cannot be understood because of the profundity of the concept.

אבל הקב״ה, שהוא למעלה מן השכל והחכמה, לא שייך כלל לומר בו שאי אפשר להשיגו מפני עומק המושג

However, concerning the Holy One, blessed be He, Who transcends intellect and wisdom, it is not at all appropriate to say that one cannot comprehend Him because of the profundity of the concept,

כי אינו בבחינת השגה כלל

for He is not within the realm of comprehension at all.

והאומר עליו שאי אפשר להשיגו, הוא כאומר על איזה חכמה רמה ועמוקה שאי אפשר למששה בידים מפני עומק המושג

He who states that it is impossible to comprehend Him, is like one who says of some lofty and profound concept that it cannot be touched with the hands because of the depth of the concept.

שכל השומע יצחק לו, לפי שחוש המישוש אינו מתייחס ונופל אלא על עשייה גשמית, הנתפסת בידים

Whoever hears [this] will mock him, because the sense of touch refers and applies only to physical objects, which may be grasped by the hands.

וככה ממש נחשבת לגבי הקב״ה מדרגת השכל וההשגה כעשייה גשמית ממש

Exactly so, the level of intellect and comprehension in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, is considered as actual physical action.

ואפילו השגת שכלים שבעולמות עליונים, ואפילו מדרגת חכמה עילאה, המחיה את כולם

Even the comprehension of the [superior and spiritual] Intelligences in the higher worlds, and even the level of Supernal Wisdom of the World of Atzilut which gives life to them all [is considered so in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He],

כדכתיב: כולם בחכמה עשית

as it is written,2 “You have made them all with wisdom.”

All of creation is rooted in the wisdom of Atzilut. Nevertheless, even the Supernal Wisdom of Atzilut is considered as action in relation to G‑d, for G‑d transcends it infinitely. It is thus impossible to say that G‑d can or cannot be apprehended through intellect, inasmuch as intellect and wisdom are not at all the means by which G‑d can be grasped.

ומה שהקב״ה נקרא חכם בכתוב, וגם חז״ל כינו לו מדרגת ומעלת החכמה

As for the Holy One, blessed be He, being called “Wise” in Scripture, and our Sages, of blessed memory, have also referred to Him with epithets denoting the quality and level of wisdom,

היינו משום שהוא מקור החכמה, שממנו יתברך נמשך ונאצל מהות מדרגת חכמה עילאה, שבעולם האצילות

this is because He is the source of wisdom, for from Him issues and emanates the essence of the level of Supernal Wisdom, which is in the World of Atzilut.

וכן רחום וחסיד, על שם שהוא מקור הרחמים והחסדים

Likewise [He is called] Merciful and Kind, even though He utterly transcends mercy and kindness, because He is the source of mercy and kindness;

וכן שאר המדות

and likewise regarding the other emotive attributes; G‑d is referred to by the names of the other attributes because He is their source,

שכולן נמשכו ונאצלו ממנו יתברך

for they all proceed and emanate from Him.

ודרך וענין ההמשכה והאצילות, איך ומה, ידוע למשכילים

The manner and nature of the flow and emanation — how and what — i.e., how the intellectual and emotive attributes emanate from the Ein Sof which totally transcends them, and exactly what they are, for after they have emanated from Him they are wholly united with Him, is known to the savants.3

הגהה

NOTE

The Alter Rebbe now briefly explains the various tzimtzumim that had to take place in order to enable the attributes of Atzilut to emanate from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light.

סוד הצמצום באור אין סוף ברוך הוא

[This note will outline] the mystical principle of the tzimtzum of the Ein Sof-light,

Before the tzimtzum, G‑d’s infinite manifestation was predominant. Tzimtzum caused His capacity for limitation and finitude, which previously had been submerged within His infinite power, to be revealed.

וצמצום אדם קדמון

and the tzimtzum of Adam Kadmon, which is the highest state of existence after the tzimtzum, and the primal thought that contains and is the source of all subsequent emanations and creations,

וסוד הדיקנא

and the esoteric doctrine of [the tzimtzum of] Dikna.

The life-force that animates hair is exceedingly attentuated, to the point that cutting it causes no pain. Accordingly, the terms Dikna (lit., “beard”) and se‘arot (“hair”) are used to represent a certain form of tzimtzum.4

שסוד כל הצמצומים: לצמצם האור, שיתלבש בבחינת כלים די׳ ספירות

For the underlying purpose of all the contractions is to condense the light, in order to enable it to become enclothed within the vessels of the Ten Sefirot [of the World of Atzilut].

These “vessels” assume the specific form of wisdom or kindness. By contrast, the divine light that permeates these vessels is essentially simple. When, through tzimtzum, the vessels come into being and the light clothes itself within them and becomes fused with them, wisdom and kindness become one with G‑d.

והנה אחר שנתלבש אור אין סוף בבחינת כלים דחב״ד, אז שייך לומר מה שכתב הרמב״ם: הוא היודע והוא המדע והוא הידוע, ובידיעת עצמו וכו׳

It is only after the Ein Sof-light becomes clothed within the vessels of ChaBaD that Maimonides‘ statement [about the Holy One, blessed be He] is in place: “He is the Knower, and He is the Knowledge, and He is the Known,…and by knowing Himself [He knows all creation].”

לפי שבחינת כלים דאצילות נעשים נשמה וחיות לבריאה יצירה עשיה ולכל אשר בהם

For the vessels of Atzilut become the soul and life-force of [the Worlds of] Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, and all [the creatures] therein.

By “knowing Himself” with the knowledge that is to be found in the vessels of Atzilut, He also knows all the Worlds and creatures of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, since they derive their life-force from these vessels.

All this, however, can only come about after the various tzimtzumim have brought about the contraction of the light, enabling it to be vested in the vessels of Atzilut.

אבל בלי צמצום והלבשה הנ״ל, לא שייך כלל לומר: הוא היודע והוא המדע וכו׳

However, without the aforesaid tzimtzum and investiture [of the light in the vessels], it is not at all appropriate to say that “He is the Knower and He is the Knowledge...;” i.e., the whole category of knowledge cannot be ascribed to G‑d, even in so exalted a manner as in the statement that “He is the Knower.,”

כי אינו בבחינת וגדר דעת ומדע כלל, חס ושלום

for He is not within the realm and domain of knowing and knowledge at all, G‑d forbid,

אלא למעלה מעלה עילוי רב עד אין קץ, אפילו מבחינת וגדר חכמה

but infinitely elevated above even the level and the bounds of wisdom,

For even the statement that “He is the Knower.” implies restricting G‑d, so to speak, to one particular faculty — viz., wisdom, as distinct from (say) the attribute of kindness or mercy. G‑d, however, utterly transcends all such bounds,

עד שבחינת חכמה נחשבת אצלו יתברך כבחינת עשיה גשמית

to the extent that in relation to Him, the level of wisdom is considered like the level of physical action.

END OF NOTE

Before the note the Alter Rebbe had said that “the manner and nature of the flow and emanation — how and what — is known to the savants.” I.e., it is they who understand how from the Ein Sof-light there emanated the intellectual and emotive attributes, which even after their emanation are so completely fused with G‑d that it can be said that “He is the Knowledge….” The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:

והנה אין לנו עסק בנסתרות

Now, we are not concerned with esoteric matters — how the emanations of the Sefirot from the Ein Sof-light came about, and the subsequent manner of their unity with Him,

אך הנגלות לנו: להאמין אמונה שלימה דאיהו וגרמוהי חד

but it is incumbent upon us to believe with complete faith, matters that are revealed to us — that He and His attributes, viz., the vessels and Sefirot, are One.

דהיינו: מדותיו של הקב״ה, ורצונו, וחכמתו ובינתו ודעתו עם מהותו ועצמותו

I.e., the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His will, and His wisdom and understanding and knowledge, [are One] with His Essence and Being,

המרומם לבדו רוממות אין קץ מבחינת חכמה ושכל והשגה

Who alone is exalted by infinite elevations above the level of wisdom and intellect and comprehension.

ולכן גם יחודו, שמתייחד עם מדותיו שהאציל מאתו יתברך, גם כן אינו בבחינת השגה

Hence, since He totally transcends intellect and comprehension, His union with the attributes which He emanated from Himself is also beyond the realm of comprehension;

להשיג איך מתייחד בהן

[i.e., it is impossible] to understand how He unites with them; rather, this may be apprehended only through faith.

ולכן נקראו מדותיו של הקב״ה, שהן הספירות, בזהר הקדוש: רזא דמהימנותא

In the holy Zohar, therefore, the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, which are the Sefirot, are called “the secret of faith,”

שהיא האמונה שלמעלה מן השכל

which is the faith that transcends intellect, for this concept cannot be grasped intellectually, but only through faith