The subject of this letter, the ten sefirot of the World of Atzilut and of the other worlds, is a fundament of both Kabbalah and Chasidut.

All the worlds are both created and conducted by means of the sefirot, the emanations by which the various attributes of Divinity become manifest. Thus, we find in the discourse beginning Patach Eliyahu,1 “You are He Who has brought forth ten ‘garments,’ and we call them ten sefirot, through which to direct hidden worlds, which are not revealed, and revealed worlds.”

The ten sefirot demonstrate both G‑d’s infinite power (koach habli-gvul) and His finite power (koach hagvul). For, as is pointed out by the author of Avodat Hakodesh, “The Or Ein Sof (‘the [infinite] Ein Sof-light’) is שְׁלֵימוּתָא דְכוֹלָא (‘the completeness of everything,’ or ‘the most complete entity of all’): hence, just as He has infinite power, so does He have finite power. For if you were to say that He possesses infinite power but lacks finite power, then you minimize His completeness—and He is the most complete entity of all.”2

It is within the sefirot that infinity and the finite first coalesce, as it were, in order for worlds to be created and directed. For the sefirot are composed of both orot (“lights”) and kelim (“vessels”). The orot of the sefirot are simple and formless. Since they are not limited by specific characteristics (such as chochmah or chesed), they reflect G‑d’s infinite power as revealed within the sefirot. The kelim, by contrast, do have specific characteristics and thereby reveal G‑d’s power of limitation and finitude. It is thus through the sefirot that the Ein Sof-light, which is by definition infinite, creates and conducts the finite worlds.

Since both the orot and the kelim, which together comprise the sefirot, are utterly united with the Ein Sof-light, for “He and His orot are One; He and His kelim are One,”3 it is possible for the worlds to be created and animated by the Ein Sof and still be finite—for, as explained above, the sefirot are infused with a capability for finitude.

The garbing of the Ein Sof-light within the sefirot is known as “man,” as in the verse, “And upon the likeness of the throne, there was a likeness of man,”4 for “man” denotes a visage comprising ten sefirot.

The Kabbalah deals mainly with the sefirot as they exist in the supernal worlds, as in the World of Atzilut. In addition to the above, Chasidut gives closer attention to the sefirot insofar as they appear as the ten corresponding faculties of a Jew’s soul, which derive and evolve from them.5 Thus, on one hand, the middah (the mortal attribute or spiritual emotion) of chesed, for example, derives from the supernal sefirah of chesed, and so on. But conversely, too, when a Jew utilizes the ten soul-powers within him in his Divine service here below, he is able to affect their source, the sefirot of the higher worlds.

The knowledge and understanding of the ten sefirot Above, as well as the knowledge of the evolvement of the worlds, is in itself “a great and lofty mitzvah,” as the Alter Rebbe writes below in Kuntres Acharon.6 This understanding leads to a love and fear of G‑d, which are the source and root that motivate the performance of all mitzvot, as explained in Likkutei Torah.7 Moreover, a comprehension of the sefirot and their corresponding soul-powers inspires a Jew’s spiritual service with vitality and elevates it.

“To understand the allegory and metaphor, the words of the wise and their riddles,”8 with respect to the sefirot:

"לְהָבִין מָשָׁל וּמְלִיצָה דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים וְחִידוֹתָם" בְּעִנְיַן הַסְּפִירוֹת,

The commentaries note that “allegory and metaphor” refers to the Written Torah, which includes allegorical passages which are true at both the allusive and the literal levels. An example would be, “Seek life with the woman whom you love.”9 Although in this context, “woman” is a metaphor for the wisdom of the Torah, the verse retains its simple meaning as well.

The commentaries note further that “the words of the wise and their riddles” refers to the Oral Torah: “the words of the wise” refers to those things that are revealed to all while “their riddles” refers to those things which need to be revealed and solved.

By applying this phrase to the sefirot, the Alter Rebbe is indicating that the sefirot contain all four levels—allegory, metaphor, words of the wise, and riddles, for the sefirot are found both Above in the spiritual worlds as well as within a Jew’s soul.

It is known throughout the land10 from the mouth of heavenly saints, may their souls rest in Eden,

מוּדַעַת זֹאת בָּאָרֶץ מִפִּי קְדוֹשֵׁי עֶלְיוֹן נִשְׁמָתָם עֵדֶן,

enabling us to somewhat comprehend the verse, “And from my flesh shall I behold G‑d,”11

לְקָרֵב קְצָת אֶל הַשֵּׂכֶל, מַאי דִּכְתִיב "וּמִבְּשָׂרִי אֶחֱזֶה אֱלוֹהַּ",

that [this verse] speaks of a partial understanding of G‑d’s blessed Divinity from [a consideration of] the soul, which is vested in the flesh of man.

שֶׁהַכַּוָּונָה הִיא לְהָבִין קְצָת אֱלֹהוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ מִנֶּפֶשׁ הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בִּבְשַׂר הָאָדָם,

This refers only to the dimension of the soul that animates the body, for, as the Rebbe notes, the essence of the soul, like the spirituality that transcends this world at large, remains incomprehensible to man.

This [correspondence between the soul and its Creator] accords with the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory, on the verse, “Give praise, my soul, [to G‑d]”12:

וְעַל פִּי מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה עַל פָּסוּק: "בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי וְגוֹ'"

“Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, [permeates the world,] so does the soul [permeate the body].”13

"מַה הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא כוּ', אַף הַנְּשָׁמָה כוּ'",

Since the Sages go on to enumerate other similarities between the soul and G‑d, it is clear that from the soul, we are able to catch a glimpse of things as they exist Above.

But how, indeed, can we possibly compare the soul to G‑d?

The Alter Rebbe therefore goes on to quote the Zohar: The soul derives from the innermost aspect of G‑dliness, thus sharing characteristics with the supernal sefirot and with Divinity itself. We are therefore able to understand G‑dliness through the analogy of the soul.

[This correspondence likewise] accords with the teaching of the Zohar on the verse, “And He blew into his nostrils a soul of life”14:

וְעַל פִּי מַאֲמַר הַזֹּהַר עַל פָּסוּק: "וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים";

“He who blows, blows from within him,”15 i.e., from his inwardness and his innermost being.

"מַאן דְּנָפַח, מִתּוֹכֵיהּ נָפַח",

Unlike speech, which utilizes only the external aspect of the speaker’s breath, blowing emits the innermost breath. Thus, when Scripture states that “He blew into his nostrils a soul of life,” it means to indicate that the soul derives from the innermost aspects of G‑dliness, as explained in Iggeret Hateshuvah, ch. 4.

For even a nefesh (i.e., a soul of the lowest grade) of Asiyah (i.e., the lowest world) derives from the union of za (acronym for z’eyr anpin, i.e., the bracket of six masculine middot, or emotive attributes) with nukva (i.e., the feminine attribute called malchut) of Asiyah,

וַאֲפִילוּ נֶפֶשׁ דַּעֲשִׂיָּה הִיא בָּאָה מִזִּיוּוּג זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא דַּעֲשִׂיָּה,

I.e., a nefesh in the World of Asiyah is born of the union of the above masculine and feminine middot (this union being called the yichud (or zivug) of זו"נ, which is an acronym for ז"א וְנוּקְבָא),

and of [the union of] their mochin (i.e., ChaBaD, an acronym for the intellective soul-faculties of chochmah, binah, and daat, together constituting the mochin of za-and-nukva in the World of Asiyah), which are the Chayah and Neshamah of za-and-nukva.

וְהַמּוֹחִין שֶׁלָּהֶם שֶׁהֵם בְּחִינַת חַיָּה וּנְשָׁמָה דִזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא,

Foreshadowing the abovementioned union at the level of the lower (emotive) sefirot, the union which first brings a nefesh to the stage of potential creation is that which takes place at the level of the higher (intellective) sefirot. The two partners to this union are the soul-level called Chayah, representing the level of chochmah16 (the masculine element), and the soul-level called neshamah, representing the level of binah17 (the feminine element).

Thus, even a soul that is merely of the level called nefesh comprises all the sefirot of the World of Asiyahchochmah, binah, za (the six emotive attributes), and nukva (malchut).

These, in turn, are the external aspects of the kelim of za-and-nukva of Atzilut.

שֶׁהֵן הֵן אֲחוֹרַיִים דְּכֵלִים דִּזְעֵיר אַנְפִּין וְנוּקְבָא דַּאֲצִילוּת,

For the kelim of za-and-nukva of Atzilut illuminate and are infused within the sefirot of the World of Asiyah.18 The sefirot of Asiyah are thus the external aspects of the kelim of za-and-nukva of Atzilut.

And they (the kelim of Atzilut) are truly Divine,

שֶׁהֵם אֱלֹהוּת מַמָּשׁ,

for in them radiates the [infinite] Ein Sof-light, which is vested and concealed in the chochmah of Atzilut, for reasons explained in the Alter Rebbe’s Note to ch. 35; indeed, the infinite light vested in chochmah illuminates all the kelim of the sefirot of Atzilut:19The supernal father ‘nests’ in Atzilut,”

שֶׁבְּתוֹכָם מֵאִיר אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא הַמְלוּבָּשׁ וְגָנוּז בְּחָכְמָה דַאֲצִילוּת,

and “He (the [infinite] Ein Sof-light) and His kelim are one in Atzilut.”

דְּ"אִיהוּ וְגַרְמוֹהִי חַד" בַּאֲצִילוּת,

Since the sefirot of Atzilut are the internal aspect of the sefirot of Asiyah, the [infinite] Ein Sof-light is thus vested within the sefirot of Asiyah.

Hence, since the soul derives from these sefirot, it follows that the [infinite] Ein Sof-light radiates in the soul of man as well, vested and concealed in the light of its chochmah, in order to animate man.

וְעַל כֵּן, גַּם בְּנִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם מֵאִיר אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, מְלוּבָּשׁ וְגָנוּז בְּאוֹר הַחָכְמָה שֶׁבָּהּ, לְהַחֲיוֹת אֶת הָאָדָם.

And from it (the soul), man is enabled to understand something of the supernal sefirot,

וּמִמֶּנָּה יוּכַל הָאָדָם לְהָבִין קְצָת בִּסְפִירוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנוֹת,

for they all radiate in his soul, which comprises them.

שֶׁכּוּלָּן מְאִירוֹת בְּנִשְׁמָתוֹ הַכְּלוּלָה מֵהֶן.

Since the soul derives from the ten sefirot and hence comprises ten corresponding faculties, man can arrive at an understanding of the supernal sefirot through contemplating the dynamics within his own soul.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to make it perfectly clear that the sefirot are, however, infinitely higher than the corresponding faculties within the soul. Indeed, even Abraham’s attribute of chesed could in no way compare to the chesed of the sefirot, notwithstanding the fact that Abraham was considered a “chariot” to G‑d,20 i.e., a self-effacing vehicle with no direction or desire other than that of his Rider.

However, it is necessary to state first what I heard from my master, R. Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, peace be to him, on the verse, “And I am dust and ashes.”21

אַךְ צָרִיךְ לְהַקְדִּים, מַה שֶּׁשָּׁמַעְתִּי מִמּוֹרִי עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם עַל פָּסוּק "וְאָנֹכִי עָפָר וָאֵפֶר",

Our father Abraham, peace be to him, said this of the illumination from his soul which radiated in his body from the light of the supreme chesed,

שֶׁאָמַר אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם עַל הֶאָרַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ הַמְּאִירָה בְּגוּפוֹ מֵאוֹר חֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן,

and that is his attribute: the attribute of ahavah rabbah (“magnanimous love”), that derived from the parent sefirah called chesed of Atzilut,

וְהִיא מִדָּתוֹ מִדַּת "אַהֲבָה רַבָּה",

for he loved (an alternative reading: “with which he loved”) the Holy One, blessed be He, with a love so great and sublime that he became a chariot unto the Holy One, blessed be He.

(נוסח אחר: שֶׁבָּהּ הָיָה) שֶׁהָיָה אוֹהֵב אֶת הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא אַהֲבָה גְדוֹלָה וְעֶלְיוֹנָה כָּל כָּךְ, עַד שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה "מֶרְכָּבָה" לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא.

Abraham’s degree of nullification to G‑d was that of a vehicle to its driver, having no independent will whatsoever. This is even greater than the subservience of a slave to his master, for the slave retains a will of his own.

Now, one might possibly assume that the type of chesed and love as it exists above in the supernal sefirot is of a similar nature to the attribute of abundant love [exemplified by] our father Abraham, peace be to him,

וְסָלְקָא דַעְתָּךְ אֲמִינָא, שֶׁבְּחִינַת חֶסֶד וְאַהֲבָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה בַּסְּפִירוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנוֹת, הִיא מֵעֵין וְסוּג מַהוּת מִדַּת "אַהֲבָה רַבָּה" שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם,

though surpassing it infinitely.

רַק שֶׁהִיא גְדוֹלָה וְנִפְלָאָה מִמֶּנָּה לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה עַד אֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית,

For it is known of the supernal middot (“attributes”) that though their mode of emanation is finite, they themselves are essentially without end or limit,

כַּנּוֹדָע מִמִּדּוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנוֹת שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם [נוסח אחר: קֵץ] סוֹף וְתַכְלִית מִצַּד עַצְמָן,

because the [infinite] Ein Sof-light actually radiates and is vested within them,

כִּי אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא מֵאִיר וּמְלוּבָּשׁ בְּתוֹכָם מַמָּשׁ,

and “He and His middot (i.e., the kelim of the sefirot) are One”; i.e., just as He is infinite, so are they.

וְ"אִיהוּ וְגַרְמוֹהִי חַד".

As regards the soul of man, however, which is vested in corporeality, in man’s body,

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּנִשְׁמַת הָאָדָם הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בַּחוֹמֶר,

its attributes are finite and limited.

שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְמִדּוֹתֶיהָ קֵץ וּגְבוּל,

Thus, to revert to the above example, it is abundantly clear that the supernal sefirah of chesed is infinitely loftier and more wondrous than its worldly counterpart—the attribute of chesed and love in Abraham’s soul, which was vested within his body.

Nevertheless, one might possibly assume that its attributes are of the same type as the supernal attributes.

אֲבָל מִכָּל מָקוֹם סָלְקָא דַעְתָּךְ אֲמִינָא שֶׁמִּדּוֹתֶיהָ הֵן מֵעֵין וְסוּג מִדּוֹת הָעֶלְיוֹנוֹת.

Until now, the Alter Rebbe has explained that the supernal sefirah of chesed is infinitely higher than Abraham’s attribute of love in this world. Now, in order to negate a comparison from any perspective whatsoever, he goes on to state that Abraham’s attribute of love is infinitely lower than the supernal sefirah of chesed.

This is why he said, “I am dust and ashes,”

וְלָזֶה אָמַר: "וְאָנֹכִי עָפָר וָאֵפֶר",

that is, like ashes, which are the essence and substance of the burned wood,

דִּכְמוֹ שֶׁהָאֵפֶר הוּא מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ שֶׁל הָעֵץ הַנִּשְׂרָף,

for [the wood] was previously composed of the four basic elements—Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, of which all matter is compounded,22

שֶׁהָיָה מוּרְכָּב מִד' יְסוֹדוֹת: אֵשׁ רוּחַ מַיִם עָפָר,

and the three elements of Fire, Water, and Air passed away

וְג' יְסוֹדוֹת אֵשׁ מַיִם רוּחַ – חָלְפוּ וְהָלְכוּ לָהֶם

and were consumed in the smoke that came into being through their combination, as is known.

וְכָלוּ בֶּעָשָׁן הַמִּתְהַוֶּה מֵהַרְכָּבָתָן כַּנּוֹדָע,

As to the fourth element of the wood, namely its component of Earth, which goes downward, and does not ascend with the smoke,

וִיסוֹד הַד' שֶׁהָיָה בָּעֵץ – שֶׁהוּא הֶעָפָר שֶׁבּוֹ הַיּוֹרֵד לְמַטָּה

and over which the fire has no dominion,

וְאֵין הָאֵשׁ שׁוֹלֶטֶת בּוֹ,

it is this that remains in existence and constitutes the ashes.

הוּא הַנִּשְׁאָר קַיָּים, וְהוּא הָאֵפֶר.

Now, the whole of the essence of the wood, with its tangible substantiality, which does not result from the Fire, Water, and Air within it, its matter, and its form in terms of length, width, and density, which were visible to the eye before it was burned,

וְהִנֵּה, כָּל מַהוּת הָעֵץ וּמַמָּשׁוֹ וְחוּמְרוֹ וְצוּרָתוֹ בְּאוֹרֶךְ וְרוֹחַב וְעוֹבִי שֶׁהָיָה נִרְאֶה לָעַיִן קוֹדֶם שֶׁנִּשְׂרַף,

derived basically from the element of Earth within it,

עִיקָּרוֹ הָיָה מִיסוֹד הֶעָפָר שֶׁבּוֹ,

except that the Fire, Water, and Air were also compounded in it,

רַק שֶׁאֵשׁ מַיִם רוּחַ כְּלוּלִים בּוֹ,

for Earth is the most material of them all, of all the elements, having [dimensions of] length, width, and density,

כִּי הֶעָפָר הוּא חוּמְרִי יוֹתֵר מִכּוּלָּן, וְיֵשׁ לוֹ אוֹרֶךְ וְרוֹחַב וְעוֹבִי,

which is not the case with Fire and Air.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּאֵשׁ וְרוּחַ,

And even Water, that does contain these dimensions, appears only sparingly in wood.

וְגַם הַמַּיִם הֵם מְעַט מִזְּעֵיר בָּעֵץ,

Thus, as to all the dimensions [in wood] of length, width, and density, “All is of the earth, and all returns to earth,”23

וְכָל אָרְכּוֹ וְרָחְבּוֹ וְעוֹבְיוֹ "הַכֹּל הָיָה מִן הֶעָפָר וְהַכֹּל שָׁב אֶל הֶעָפָר",

i.e., to the ashes that remain after the Fire, Water, and Air have been separated from it.

שֶׁהוּא הָאֵפֶר הַנִּשְׁאָר אַחֲרֵי שֶׁנִּפְרְדוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אֵשׁ מַיִם רוּח.

Thus, the ash that remains is what was formerly the essence of the wood.

Now, just as there is neither a quantitative nor a qualitative resemblance or proportion between (on one hand) the ashes and (on the other hand) the essence of the tree which, before being burned, had sizeable dimensions of length, width, and density,

וְהִנֵּה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָאֵפֶר אֵין לוֹ דִּמְיוֹן וְעֵרֶךְ אֶל מַהוּת הָעֵץ הַגָּדוֹל בְּאוֹרֶךְ וְרוֹחַב וְעוֹבִי קוֹדֶם שֶׁנִּשְׂרַף, לֹא בְּכַמּוּתוֹ וְלֹא בְּאֵיכוּתוֹ,

even though it (the wood) is its very essence and substance, and from it (the wood) did it (the ash) come into being,

אַף שֶׁהוּא [הוּא] מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ וּמִמֶּנּוּ נִתְהַוָּה –

precisely so, metaphorically speaking, did our father Abraham, peace be to him, speak of his distinctive attribute, the attribute of kindness and love, which radiated within him and was vested in his body.

כָּךְ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל אָמַר אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם עַל מִדָּתוֹ, מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד וְהָאַהֲבָה הַמְּאִירָה בּוֹ וּמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בְּגוּפוֹ,

For though it was this very attribute of the love and supreme chesed of Atzilut that radiated in his soul, which was a chariot to [the will of] heaven,

דְּאַף שֶׁהִיא [הִיא] מִדַּת הָאַהֲבָה וְחֶסֶד הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁבָּאֲצִילוּת הַמֵּאִיר בְּנִשְׁמָתוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה מֶרְכָּבָה עֶלְיוֹנָה,

nevertheless, as it descended downward to vest itself in the body,

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן בְּרִדְתָּהּ לְמַטָּה לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּגוּפוֹ

by means of the evolution of the worlds from one level to another, by means of many contractions,

עַל־יְדֵי הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת הָעוֹלָמוֹת מִמַּדְרֵגָה לְמַדְרֵגָה עַל־יְדֵי צִמְצוּמִים רַבִּים,

there was no semblance or proportion between the essence of the light of the love that radiated within him and the essence of the light of the love and supreme chesed of Atzilut,

אֵין דִּמְיוֹן וְעֵרֶךְ מַהוּת אוֹר הָאַהֲבָה הַמֵּאִיר בּוֹ אֶל מַהוּת אוֹר אַהֲבָה וְחֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן שֶׁבָּאֲצִילוּת,

except of the sort of proportion and semblance that exists (metaphorically speaking) between the essence of the element of Earth, which became ashes, and its essence and quality in its original state as a tree, “pleasant to the sight and good for food.”24

אֶלָּא כְּעֵרֶךְ וְדִמְיוֹן מַהוּת הֶעָפָר שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה אֵפֶר אֶל מַהוּתוֹ וְאֵיכוּתוֹ כְּשֶׁהָיָה "עֵץ נֶחְמָד לְמַרְאֶה וְטוֹב לְמַאֲכָל" עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל,

Indeed, [the incomparability of Abraham’s chesed and the chesed of Atzilut] exceeds [the incomparability of the ash and the tree] by thousands of degrees of separation.

וְיוֹתֵר מִזֶּה, לְהַבְדִּיל בַּאֲלָפִים הַבְדָּלוֹת,

Nevertheless, the Torah speaks in human phraseology, by way of allegory and metaphor, hence its use of the analogy of the tree, despite its inherent disproportion.

רַק שֶׁ"דִּבְּרָה תוֹרָה כִּלְשׁוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם" בְּמָשָׁל וּמְלִיצָּה:

Surely, then, the attributes and soul-powers of an ordinary Jew in this world bear absolutely no comparable relation to the sefirot from which they derive. Nonetheless, since his soul-powers do after all derive from the sefirot and are illuminated by them, he can attain some degree of understanding of G‑dliness from that dimension of the soul that animates his body. And this is the meaning of the verse, “From my flesh shall I behold G‑d.”

Now, as regards the totality of the ten sefirot [as they appear] in the soul of man,

נוֹדָע לַכֹּל [בְּדֶרֶךְ כְּלָל. בכתב יד ליתא], שֶׁהַמִּדּוֹת נֶחְלָקוֹת בְּדֶרֶךְ כְּלָל לְז' מִדּוֹת,

it is known to all25 that the emotive attributes divide into seven general categories,26

וְכָל פְּרָטֵי הַמִּדּוֹת שֶׁבָּאָדָם – בָּאוֹת מֵאַחַת מִז' מִדּוֹת אֵלּוּ,

and each of the particular attributes in man derives from one of these seven attributes,

שֶׁהֵן שׁוֹרֶשׁ כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת וּכְלָלוּתָן,

for they are the root of all the attributes and their generality,

שֶׁהֵן: מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ בְּלִי גְבוּל,

namely: the attribute of chesed (“lovingkindness”), [which is a thrust] to diffuse benevolence [to all] without limit;

וּמִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה – לְצַמְצֵם מִלְּהַשְׁפִּיעַ כָּל כָּךְ, אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ [נוסח אחר: כָּל עִיקָּר] כְּלָל,

the attribute of gevurah (“stern limitation and contraction”), [which seeks] to restrain such a degree of diffusion or to withhold diffusion altogether27 [from certain individuals],

וּמִדַּת הָרַחֲמִים – לְרַחֵם עַל מִי שֶׁשַּׁיָּיךְ לְשׁוֹן רַחֲמָנוּת עָלָיו,

and the attribute of rachamim (“compassion”), [which seeks] to pity a person to whom compassion is appropriate28 and to extend benevolence to him as well, although he may be unworthy of it.

וְהִיא מִדָּה מְמוּצַּעַת בֵּין גְּבוּרָה לְחֶסֶד,

[Rachamim] is the mediating attribute between gevurah and chesed,

שֶׁהִיא לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ לַכֹּל, גַּם לְמִי שֶׁלֹּא שַׁיָּיךְ לְשׁוֹן רַחֲמָנוּת עָלָיו כְּלָל,

the latter of which would diffuse benevolence to all, even to a person to whom compassion is not at all appropriate,28

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ חָסֵר כְּלוּם וְאֵינוֹ שָׁרוּי בְּצַעַר כְּלָל.

inasmuch as he lacks nothing and is in no state of trouble whatsoever.29

וּלְפִי שֶׁהִיא מִדָּה מְמוּצַּעַת, נִקְרֵאת "תִּפְאֶרֶת",

Because the attribute of chesed is unlimited, it desires to benefit even someone who lacks nothing. The attribute of rachamim, by contrast, being also compounded of gevurah, will not seek to diffuse indiscriminately. At the same time, rachamim pleads the cause of any individual who is in a pitiable state, however unworthy he may be.

Because [the attribute of rachamim] is the mediating attribute, it is called tiferet (“beauty”),

כְּמוֹ בִּגְדֵי תִּפְאֶרֶת עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל,

by analogy with beautiful garments

שֶׁהוּא בֶּגֶד צָבוּעַ בִּגְוָונִים הַרְבֵּה מְעוֹרָבִים [בּוֹ. בכתב יד ליתא] בְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהוּא תִּפְאֶרֶת וְנוֹי,

which are30 dyed with many colors blended31 in a way that gives rise to beauty and decoration.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בֶּגֶד הַצָּבוּעַ בְּגָוֶון אֶחָד לֹא שַׁיָּיךְ בּוֹ לְשׁוֹן תִּפְאֶרֶת.

To a garment dyed in one color, however, one cannot apply the term tiferet, which implies the beauty of harmony. And since the attribute of rachamim is compounded of chesed and gevurah, the term tiferet is appropriate.

וְאַחַר כָּךְ, בְּבוֹא הַהַשְׁפָּעָה לִידֵי מַעֲשֶׂה,

Afterward, once the attribute of either chesed, gevurah, or tiferet is aroused to dispense benevolence, as the diffusion is realized,

דְּהַיְינוּ בִּשְׁעַת הַהַשְׁפָּעָה מַמָּשׁ

that is, at the time of the actual diffusion,

צָרִיךְ לְהִתְיַעֵץ אֵיךְ לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ, בְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁיּוּכַל הַמְקַבֵּל לְקַבֵּל הַהַשְׁפָּעָה,

it is necessary to deliberate how to diffuse in such a way that the recipient will be able to absorb the effusion.32

כְּגוֹן שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ דְּבַר חָכְמָה לְלַמְּדָהּ לִבְנוֹ,

For example, when one wishes—and this is a powerful desire—to convey and teach an intellectual subject to his son:

אִם יֹאמְרֶנָּה לוֹ כּוּלָּהּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא בְּשִׂכְלוֹ – לֹא יוּכַל הַבֵּן לְהָבִין וּלְקַבֵּל,

If he will tell it to him in its totality, just as it appears in his own mind, the son will be unable to understand and to absorb it.

רַק שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְסַדֵּר לוֹ בְּסֵדֶר וְעִנְיָן אַחֵר,

This could happen either (a) because the concept as understood by the father is too abstract and subtle for the son and needs to be lent a more tangible garb, such as a parable, or (b) because the concept is too comprehensive and too diverse and needs to be broken down into digestible segments, only some of which will be presented to the son.

Rather, one needs to arrange [it] for him in a different order and context, such as by providing an example from an alternative context,

"דָּבָר דָּבוּר עַל אוֹפְנָיו",

“every word fitly spoken,”33 presenting first one side of the issue at hand and then the other,

מְעַט מְעַט,

little by little, a little of the concept at a time.

וּבְחִינַת עֵצָה זוֹ נִקְרֵאת "נֶצַח" וְ"הוֹד",

The concept thus needs to contract with regard to its “length,” by lowering its stature until it is within the grasp of the recipient, and with regard to its “breadth,” by reducing its manifold details to match the capacity of the son or student.

This deliberation, regarding how best to present the concept, is referred to [by the terms] netzach and hod.

שֶׁהֵן "כְּלָיוֹת יוֹעֲצוֹת";

These [attributes] are “the kidneys that advise,”34 in a manner similar to their physical counterpart,

וְגַם [נוסח אחר: וְהֵן] "תְּרֵין בֵּיעִין", הַמְבַשְּׁלִים הַזֶּרַע,

and they are also (in spiritual terms) the two testicles that prepare the spermatozoa,35

שֶׁהִיא הַטִּפָּה הַנִּמְשֶׁכֶת מֵהַמּוֹחַ,

Like their physical counterpart, the attributes of netzach and hod adapt the effusion of the concept.

i.e., the drop that issues from the brain.36

דְּהַיְינוּ דְּבַר חָכְמָה וָשֵׂכֶל הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מִשֵּׂכֶל הָאָב, שֶׁלֹּא יוּמְשַׁךְ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא שֵׂכֶל דַּק מְאֹד בְּמוֹחוֹ וְשִׂכְלוֹ,

That is, [they adapt] an intellectual subject deriving from the father’s mind in such a way that it will not issue unmodified, i.e., as a very subtle concept in his brain and intellect,

רַק יִשְׁתַּנֶּה קְצָת מִדַּקּוּת שִׂכְלוֹ וְיִתְהַוֶּוה שֵׂכֶל שֶׁאֵינוֹ דַק כָּל כָּךְ,

but that it change somewhat from the subtlety of his intelligence and become a somewhat less subtle concept,

כְּדֵי שֶׁיּוּכַל הַבֵּן לְקַבֵּל בְּמוֹחוֹ וַהֲבָנָתוֹ,

so that the son will be able to absorb [it] in his mind and understanding.

וְהוּא מַמָּשׁ, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּטִפָּה הַיּוֹרֶדֶת מֵהַמּוֹחַ

This is truly analogous to the seminal drop which descends from the brain;

שֶׁהִיא דַקָּה מְאֹד [מְאֹד], וְנַעֲשֵׂית גַּסָּה וְחוּמְרִית מַמָּשׁ בַּכְּלָיוֹת וּתְרֵין בֵּיעִין.

it is extremely tenuous, and, through the kidneys and the two testicles, it becomes truly concrete and corporeal.

וְגַם "נֶצַח" וְ"הוֹד" נִקְרָאִים "שְׁחָקִים" וְ"רֵחַיִים" שֶׁ"שּׁוֹחֲקִים מָן לַצַּדִּיקִים",

This process parallels the progressive concretization of a concept as it descends to match the capacity of the recipient.

The Alter Rebbe now speaks of yet another function of the attributes of netzach and hod—separating a concept into its various components.

Netzach and hod are also referred to as “grinders” and “millstones” because they “grind the mannah for the righteous,”37 like the heaven which is named Shechakim (שְׁחָקִים), for it “grinds (שּׁוֹחֲקִים) the mannah for the righteous.”

כְּמוֹ, הַטּוֹחֵן [חִטִּים] בָּרֵחַיִים, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, שֶׁמְּפָרֵר הַחִטִּים לַחֲלָקִים דַּקִּים מְאֹד,

Just as, by way of example, a person who grinds [wheat]38 with millstones crumbles it into very fine parts,

כָּךְ צָרִיךְ הָאָב לְהַקְטִין הַשֵּׂכֶל וּדְבַר חָכְמָה שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ לִבְנוֹ,

so, too, does the father need to taper the insight or the intellectual subject he wishes to convey to his son,

וּלְחַלְּקָם לַחֲלָקִים רַבִּים וְלוֹמַר לוֹ מְעַט מְעַט בְּמוֹעֵצוֹת וָדַעַת.

and to divide them into many parts, relating [them] to him gradually, with devices and discernment.

וְגַם בִּכְלַל בְּחִינַת "נֶצַח" הוּא לְנַצֵּחַ וְלַעֲמוֹד נֶגֶד כָּל מוֹנֵעַ הַהַשְׁפָּעָה וְהַלִּימּוּד מִבְּנוֹ מִבַּיִת וּמִחוּץ,

Dividing a concept in this way so as to be able to determine what should be presented and what should be withheld is a contraction of the concept’s depth. Thus, netzach and hod serve to contract its length, breadth, and depth—the concept in all its dimensions.

The category of netzach also comprises prevailing39 and standing up against anything, from within or from without, that withholds from his son the transmission of beneficial influence or learning.

מִבַּיִת – הַיְינוּ לְהִתְחַזֵּק נֶגֶד מִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה וְהַצִּמְצוּם שֶׁבָּאָב עַצְמוֹ,

“From within” means firmly resisting the attribute of gevurah and tzimtzum within the father himself,

שֶׁהִיא מְעוֹרֶרֶת דִּינִים בִּרְצוֹנוֹ עַל בְּנוֹ,

for it arouses (within his will) contentions against his son,

לוֹמַר שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָאוּי לְכָךְ עֲדַיִין

arguing that he is not yet fit for this [profound knowledge].

(בכתב יד נרשם: חָסֵר)

There now follows a parenthetical note in the text which states:

(A note in the manuscripts: Omission.)

וּבְחִינַת "יְסוֹד" הִיא, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, הַהִתְקַשְּׁרוּת שֶׁמְּקַשֵּׁר הָאָב שִׂכְלוֹ בְּשֵׂכֶל בְּנוֹ

I.e., according to some of the manuscripts which were compared to the previous printed editions of Iggeret Hakodesh when the current edition was being prepared for publication,40 there is an omission here in the text.

The Rebbe notes that prevailing over influences “from without” is even more important to explain than prevailing over influences “from within.” The fact that this explanation is lacking points to an omission in the text.

In addition: According to the translation offered above that “The category of netzach also comprises…,” there is nothing amiss in the Alter Rebbe’s failure to explain a corresponding aspect within hod, for hod comprises no such corresponding aspect. However, the translation may also be rendered: “In general, the category of netzach also entails….” If this is indeed the proper rendition, then the question arises, why was there no corresponding statement as to the general function of hod? Its absence likewise demonstrates that there is an omission in the text.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain the attribute of yesod.

The category of yesod is, by way of example, the bond by which the father binds his intellect to the intellect of his son

בִּשְׁעַת לִמּוּדוֹ עִמּוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה וְרָצוֹן, שֶׁרוֹצֶה שֶׁיָּבִין בְּנוֹ;

while teaching him with love and willingness, for he wishes his son to understand.

וּבִלְעֲדֵי זֶה, גַּם אִם הָיָה הַבֵּן שׁוֹמֵעַ דִּבּוּרִים אֵלּוּ עַצְמָם מִפִּי אָבִיו [שֶׁמְּדַבֵּר בַּעֲדוֹ וְלוֹמֵד לְעַצְמוֹ]

Without this [bond], even if the son would hear the very same words from the mouth of his father [41as he speaks and studies to himself],

לֹא הָיָה מֵבִין כָּל כָּךְ כְּמוֹ עַכְשָׁיו,

he would not understand [them] as well as now,

שֶׁאָבִיו מְקַשֵּׁר שִׂכְלוֹ אֵלָיו וּמְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים בְּאַהֲבָה וָחֵשֶׁק, שֶׁחוֹשֵׁק מְאֹד שֶׁיָּבִין בְּנוֹ,

when his father binds his intellect to him and speaks with him face-to-face42 with love and desire, because he desires very much that his son understand.

[בכתב יד קודש אדמו"ר בעל צמח צדק נשמתו עדן, (בדרוש "כי ידעתיו" סעיף י"ג שהועתק שם לשון זה) – ליתא תיבות אלו]

The father does not merely want to enlighten his son; his desire stemming from yesod is powerful because it is driven by pleasure.

[43In the holy handwriting of the Tzemach Tzedek, of blessed memory, (in the discourse entitled Ki Yedaativ, sec. 13,44 where this passage is quoted,) the above words (“as he speaks and studies to himself”) are not to be found.]

וְכָל מַה שֶּׁהַחֵשֶׁק וְהַתַּעֲנוּג גָּדוֹל, כָּךְ הַהַשְׁפָּעָה וְהַלִּימּוּד גָּדוֹל,

The reason for this omission: Not only is there a difference between (a) what the son passively absorbs when he hears his father studying independently and (b) what he absorbs when his father actively teaches him, but even when the father is actually teaching, the presence or absence of the quality of yesod will determine whether or not his son’s mind will be ignited by the fire of his own desire to communicate.

And the greater the desire and delight of the father, the greater is the influence and the learning,45

שֶׁהַבֵּן – יוּכַל לְקַבֵּל יוֹתֵר, וְהָאָב – מַשְׁפִּיעַ יוֹתֵר,

because then the son is able to absorb more and the father communicates more, proportionally.

כִּי עַל־יְדֵי הַחֵשֶׁק וְהַתַּעֲנוּג, מִתְרַבֶּה וּמִתְגַּדֵּל שִׂכְלוֹ בְּהַרְחָבַת הַדַּעַת לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ וּלְלַמֵּד לִבְנוֹ

For through the desire and delight, and with a contented disposition, his own insight is heightened and amplified so that he can bestow enlightenment upon his son and teach him.

(וּכְמוֹ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת מַמָּשׁ, רִבּוּי הַזֶּרַע הוּא מֵרוֹב הַחֵשֶׁק וְהַתַּעֲנוּג,

(46This parallels, to draw a metaphor from [the attribute of yesod in] the sphere of the truly physical, the profusion of spermatozoa that results from heightened desire and delight,

וְעַל־יְדֵי זֶה מַמְשִׁיךְ הַרְבֵּה מֵהַמּוֹחַ,

through which much is elicited from the brain, which is its source.

וְלָכֵן הִמְשִׁילוּ חַכְמֵי הָאֱמֶת לְזִיוּוּג גַּשְׁמִי, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר).

This is why the Kabbalists, seeking to illustrate the imparting of knowledge out of a sense of pleasure, used the analogy of a physical union, for there are a number of similarities between these two expressions of the attribute of yesod, as will be explained.)47

וְהִנֵּה, מִדּוֹת אֵלּוּ הֵן בְּחִינוֹת חִיצוֹנִיּוֹת שֶׁבַּנֶּפֶשׁ,

Now, these emotive attributes—those involved in imparting enlightenment, and the like—are the external aspects of the soul.

וּבְתוֹכָן מְלוּבָּשׁוֹת מִדּוֹת פְּנִימִיּוֹת,

Within them are vested the inner attributes, which bring about the external attributes involved in the actual imparting of knowledge,

שֶׁהֵן בְּחִינוֹת אַהֲבָה וְיִרְאָה כוּ'.

i.e., the faculties of love and awe, and so on.

דְּהַיְינוּ, עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, בָּאָב הַמַּשְׁפִּיעַ לִבְנוֹ מֵחֲמַת אַהֲבָתוֹ,

This may be compared to the case of a father who bestows enlightenment upon his son because of his love for him,

וּמוֹנֵעַ הַשְׁפָּעָתוֹ מִפַּחְדּוֹ וְיִרְאָתוֹ, שֶׁלֹּא יָבֹא לִידֵי מִכְשׁוֹל, חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

The internal aspect of the attribute involved is love, and its external aspect is kindness.

and withholds his influence because of his dread and fear lest [his son] come to some downfall, heaven forfend.

וּמְקוֹר וְשֹׁרֶשׁ מִדּוֹת אֵלּוּ, הַפְּנִימִיּוֹת וְהַחִיצוֹנִיּוֹת,

The father’s fear and dread are thus the internal aspect of his gevurah, the attribute that completely or partially withholds the flow of instruction.

The remaining emotive attributes are all offshoots of love and fear (as explained in Part I, ch. 3, above), and accordingly, they too possess internal and external aspects.

Having dealt with the middot, the seven emotive attributes of the soul, the Alter Rebbe now proceeds to discuss the intellective attributes which give birth to them.

The source and root of these internal and external emotive attributes,

הוּא מֵחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ,

is the ChaBaDan acronym for the intellectual faculties of chochmah, binah, and daat—of one’s soul,

כִּי לְפִי שֵׂכֶל הָאָדָם – כָּךְ הֵן מִדּוֹתָיו,

for a person’s emotive traits are in proportion to his intellect.

כַּנִּרְאֶה בְּחוּשׁ, שֶׁהַקָּטָן, שֶׁהַחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁלּוֹ הֵן בִּבְחִינַת קַטְנוּת – כָּךְ כָּל מִדּוֹתָיו הֵן בִּדְבָרִים קְטַנֵּי הָעֵרֶךְ.

This is empirically evident; with a child, for example, whose ChaBaD are in a state of pettiness, all his emotive traits, too, relate to insignificant things, and as he matures in age and understanding, his emotive traits correspondingly aspire to worthier goals.

וְגַם בִּגְדוֹלִים "לְפִי שִׂכְלוֹ יְהוּלַּל אִישׁ",

With adults, too, the emotive traits develop in proportion to the intellect, for “According to his intelligence is a man praised.”48

כִּי לְפִי רוֹב חָכְמָתוֹ – כָּךְ הוּא רוֹב אַהֲבָתוֹ וְחַסְדּוֹ.

Since the term “man” (איש) is an appelative for the emotive traits (cf. the verse, “As is a man, so is his gevurah49), the previously quoted verse is teaching us that a person’s emotive traits are praiseworthy in proportion to the stature of his ChaBaD.

For the extent of his love and kindness corresponds to the extent of his wisdom,

וְכֵן שְׁאָר כָּל מִדּוֹתָיו פְּנִימִיּוֹת וְחִיצוֹנִיּוֹת, מְקוֹרָן הוּא מֵחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת שֶׁבּוֹ.

and all his other internal and external traits likewise have their source in his ChaBaD.

וְהָעִיקָּר – הוּא הַדַּעַת שֶׁבּוֹ, הַנִּמְשָׁךְ מִבְּחִינַת הַחָכְמָה וּבִינָה שֶׁבּוֹ,

Most important to the development of the spiritual emotions is one’s daat, which derives from one’s chochmah and binah.

כַּנִּרְאֶה בְּחוּשׁ, כִּי לְפִי שִׁינּוּי דֵּעוֹת בְּנֵי אָדָם זֶה מִזֶּה כָּךְ הוּא שִׁינּוּי מִדּוֹתֵיהֶם.

A thinker first grasps the essence of a concept through the seminal flash of illumination afforded by his faculty of chochmah; he next understands it fully by means of the analysis and amplification which are the function of his faculty of binah; ultimately, he must immerse himself in concentration on the concept, binding and unifying himself with it to the point that—beyond mere intellective comprehension—he also senses and experiences it with his faculty of daat.

It is this faculty that is critical to the development of his middot, such as the spiritual emotions of love and awe of G‑d, for daat provides them with their substance and vitality, as explained in Part I, ch. 3.

This is readily observable, for the differences between the emotive traits of various people corresponds to the differences in their respective degrees of daat.

וְהִנֵּה, כָּל זֶה הוּא רַק עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל לְבַד,

Now, all this—the abovementioned effect of the emotive traits upon the resultant teaching or influence—is only by way of allegory and does not provide a completely true picture of the sefirot as they exist within man’s soul,

כִּי כָּל זֶה הוּא בַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַשִּׂכְלִית הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה שֶׁבָּאָדָם, הַבָּאָה מִקְּלִיפַּת נוֹגַהּ.

for all this applies to the rational soul, which is the lower one in man, and derives from kelipat nogah.

אַךְ בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ, בַּנֶּפֶשׁ הָעֶלְיוֹנָה הָאֱלֹהִית, שֶׁהִיא "חֵלֶק אֱלוֹהַּ מִמַּעַל",

This “lower soul” naturally inclines to “lower” (i.e., corporeal) matters so that even its intellect goes only as far as understanding the composition, and so on, of mundane things. For although the kelipah, which is the source of this soul, is kelipat nogah, a kelipah whose darkness is relieved by a ray of good, nevertheless, it is wholly bound up with mundanity.

But in true fact, with regard to [the sefirot in] the higher, Divine soul, which is a “part of G‑d above,”50

כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת, פְּנִימִיּוֹת וְחִיצוֹנִיּוֹת, הֵן לַה' לְבַדּוֹ.

all the internal and external attributes are [directed] to G‑d alone: the Divine soul is concerned with spiritual things alone so that both its (internal) love and (external) chesed are concentrated purely on G‑dliness.

כִּי מֵחֲמַת אַהֲבַת ה' וּמֵרוֹב חֶפְצוֹ לְדָבְקָה בוֹ,

For because of one’s love of G‑d and because of one’s great desire to cleave unto Him,

הוּא חָפֵץ חֶסֶד כְּדֵי לִידָּבֵק בְּמִדּוֹתָיו,

he desires with all his being [to practice] chesed in order to cleave to His attributes.

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה עַל פָּסוּק "וּלְדָבְקָה בוֹ": "הִדָּבֵק בְּמִדּוֹתָיו".

This accords with the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory, on the verse, “And to cleave unto Him”51: “Cleave unto His attributes.”52

וְכֵן בְּמִדַּת הַגְּבוּרָה –

Just as G‑d is compassionate, so should mortal man be compassionate; just as G‑d has an innate desire to practice kindness, so should a person’s inner desire to practice kindness be motivated by a desire to cleave to G‑d.

As to the attribute of chesed, then, both its internal aspect (love) and its external aspect (kindness) are directed purely to G‑dly things.

It is likewise with the attribute of gevurah, whose internal aspect is fear; it, too, is experienced only for G-dly causes:

לְהִפָּרַע מִן הָרְשָׁעִים וּלְעָנְשָׁם בְּעוֹנְשֵׁי הַתּוֹרָה,

for example, to punish and chastise the wicked with the punishments of the Torah,

וְכֵן, לְהִתְגַּבֵּר עַל יִצְרוֹ וּלְקַדֵּשׁ אֶת עַצְמוֹ בַּמּוּתָּר לוֹ,

and also to prevail over one’s [evil] inclination and to sanctify himself in that which is permitted to him,53

וְלַעֲשׂוֹת גָּדֵר וּסְיָיג לַתּוֹרָה,

and to put up a fence and a hedge around the Torah,54

מִפְּנֵי פַּחַד ה' וְיִרְאָתוֹ, פֶּן יָבֹא לִידֵי חֵטְא חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

because of the dread and fear of G‑d, lest he might come to sin, heaven forfend.

וְכֵן לְפָאֵר אֶת ה' וְתוֹרָתוֹ בְּכָל מִינֵי פְּאֵר,

In order to ensure that he will not come to sin, a person may thus choose to sanctify himself and refrain from “one hundred portals of the permissible so as not to transgress in one portal of the prohibited.”55

To summarize the above conclusions regarding the first two of the seven middot, or spiritual emotions: Not only is a man’s attribute of chesed directed to G‑dly matters, but so, too, is his attribute of gevurah—both in its internal aspect, viz., the fear of G‑d, and in its external manifestations in his rigorous observance of the Torah and its mitzvot.

Likewise, by exercising the attribute of tiferet (lit., “beauty”), [a man seeks] to glorify G‑d and His Torah in all ways possible, such as by possessing a beautiful sefer Torah, beautiful tefillin, and the like,

וּלְדָבְקָה בִּשְׁבָחָיו בְּכָל בְּחִינוֹת נַפְשׁוֹ,

and to cleave to His praises [by praising G‑d] with all the faculties of his soul:

דְּהַיְינוּ בְּהִתְבּוֹנְנוּת שִׂכְלוֹ וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ,

that is, by intellectual and thoughtful meditation on the greatness of G-d, which blossoms into the singing of His praises,

גַּם בְּדִיבּוּרוֹ.

and likewise, when he speaks, his praises are not empty words but grow out of his preparatory meditation.

וְכֵן לַעֲמוֹד בְּנִצָּחוֹן נֶגֶד כָּל מוֹנֵעַ מֵעֲבוֹדַת ה' וּמִלְּדָבְקָה בוֹ,

“[Praising G‑d] with all the faculties of his soul” thus means that the worshipper utilizes his intellect and emotions as well as all three “garments” of his soul (i.e., the soul’s media of self-expression), viz., thought, speech, and action (for speech constitutes mini-action56). Alternatively, “[praising G‑d] with all the faculties of his soul” may mean: all those aspects of the soul that relate to praise, i.e., intellect, thought, and speech.

Likewise, by exercising the attribute of netzach, [a man seeks] to prevail triumphantly against anything that would restrain [him] from the service of G‑d and from cleaving unto Him,

וְנֶגֶד כָּל מוֹנֵעַ מִלִּהְיוֹת כְּבוֹד ה' מָלֵא אֶת כָּל הָאָרֶץ,

and against anything that would restrain [the state of revelation in which]57 the entire earth is filled with the glory of G‑d,

כְּמִלְחֲמוֹת ה' אֲשֶׁר נִלְחַם דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם.

like the wars for G‑d fought by King David, peace to him, which derived from his attribute of netzach.

וְכֵן לְהִשְׁתַּחֲווֹת וּלְהוֹדוֹת לַה',

Likewise, by exercising the attribute of hod,58 which implies self-abnegation, and acknowledging the transcendence of that which defies his mortal understanding, [a man seeks] to prostrate himself and to [self-effacingly] praise G‑d,

אֲשֶׁר מְחַיֶּה וּמְהַוֶּה אֶת הַכֹּל, וְהַכֹּל בָּטֵל בִּמְצִיאוּת אֶצְלוֹ, וְכוּלָּא קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא חֲשִׁיב, וּכְאַיִן וָאֶפֶס מַמָּשׁ.

Who animates and creates everything and before Whom everything is essentially nonexistent and esteemed as truly nothing and null.

וְאַף שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ מַשִּׂיגִים אֵיךְ הוּא הַכֹּל אֶפֶס מַמָּשׁ קַמֵּיהּ,

Though we cannot apprehend just how everything is truly as null before Him,

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, מוֹדִים אֲנַחְנוּ בְּהוֹדָאָה אֲמִיתִּית שֶׁכֵּן הוּא בֶּאֱמֶת לַאֲמִיתּוֹ.

nevertheless, we acknowledge and genuinely concede that in absolute truth, such is the case.

וּבִכְלָל זֶה גַּם כֵּן, לְהוֹדוֹת לַה' עַל כָּל הַטּוֹבוֹת אֲשֶׁר גְּמָלָנוּ,

From the very depths of his soul, the Jew acknowledges that G‑d’s “supernal daat” and knowledge that everything is essentially nonexistent before Him is true and that the mortal understanding of our “inferior daat”—that creation does indeed exist, except that it is nullified to Him—results from the limited compass of our earthbound perspective.59 This acknowledgment results from the self-abnegation expressed by the attribute of hod.

This [attribute] also includes the expression of gratitude60 to G‑d for all the favors that He has bestowed upon us,

וְלֹא לִהְיוֹת כְּפוּי טוֹבָה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

so that [we] should not be ungrateful, G‑d forbid.

וּבִכְלָל זֶה, לְהוֹדוֹת עַל כָּל שְׁבָחָיו וּמִדּוֹתָיו וּפְעוּלּוֹתָיו בַּאֲצִילוּת וּבְרִיאַת עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים,

This [attribute of hod] also includes the offering of thanks to G‑d for all His praiseworthy [deeds], and His attributes and His workings in the emanation and creation of the upper and lower worlds,

שֶׁהֵם מְשׁוּבָּחִים עַד אֵין תַּכְלִית [נוסח אחר: חֵקֶר],

for they are praiseworthy to no end,61

וְנָאִים וּרְאוּיִם אֵלָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ וְיִתְעַלֶּה,

and are becoming and befitting Him, blessed and exalted be He.

וְהוּא מִלְּשׁוֹן "הוֹד וְהָדָר".

The term [hod is here to be understood] as in the phrase hod vehadar (“majesty and splendor”62).

וְכֵן בְּמִדַּת "צַדִּיק יְסוֹד עוֹלָם",

And likewise [engaged in one’s Divine service is] the attribute of [yesod (lit., “foundation”), as in the phrase], “The tzaddik is the foundation of the world,”63

לִהְיוֹת נַפְשׁוֹ קְשׁוּרָה בַּה' חַיֵּי הַחַיִּים,

In the above analogy, it was by means of the attribute of yesod that the father communicated with his son and disciple through bonds of desire and pleasure. So, too, in the realm of Divine service, the attribute of yesod involves cleaving to G‑d with intense desire and pleasure,

so that one’s soul is bound up with G‑d, the Fountainhead of Life,

וּלְדָבְקָה בוֹ בִּדְבִיקָה וַחֲשִׁיקָה, בְּחֵשֶׁק וְתַעֲנוּג נִפְלָא.

cleaving to Him with an attachment and a desire, out of a wondrous love and delight, all of which are expressions of the attribute of yesod.

וּבְמִדַּת מַלְכוּת, לְקַבֵּל עָלָיו עוֹל מַלְכוּתוֹ וַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ

And as for the [Divine soul’s] attribute of malchut, [the worshipper seeks thereby] to accept upon himself the yoke of G‑d’s sovereignty and of His service,

כַּעֲבוֹדַת כָּל עֶבֶד לַאֲדוֹנוֹ בְּאֵימָה וּבְיִרְאָה.

like the service of any servant to his master, i.e., out of awe and fear.

Up to this point, the Alter Rebbe has explained how the seven middot exist within the Jew’s G‑dly soul. These emotive attributes are activated by the three intellective faculties—the sefirot of ChaBaD (chochmah, binah, and daat), which are now to be explained.

Now, the source and root of all the attributes are in the ChaBaD.

וּמְקוֹר וְשׁוֹרֶשׁ כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת הֵן מֵחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת,

That is: chochmah is the source of the intellect which apprehends G‑d and His wisdom, His greatness, and the holy attributes wherewith He conducts and animates all the higher and lower worlds;

דְּהַיְינוּ: הַחָכְמָה – הִיא מְקוֹר הַשֵּׂכֶל הַמַּשִּׂיג אֶת ה' וְחָכְמָתוֹ וּגְדוּלָּתוֹ וּמִדּוֹתָיו הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת שֶׁמַּנְהִיג וּמְחַיֶּה בָּהֶן כָּל הָעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים,

binah is the contemplation of this apprehension of G‑d’s greatness and His holy attributes

וּבִינָה – הִיא הַהִתְבּוֹנְנוּת בְּהַשָּׂגָה זוֹ

in the length, breadth, and depth of one’s understanding,

בְּאוֹרֶךְ וְרוֹחַב וְעוֹמֶק בִּינָתוֹ,

The “length” of a particular concept—in this case, the greatness of the Creator—entails drawing it down from its lofty abstraction (by way of a parable, for example) to a level of intelligibility. The “breadth” of the concept refers to the multitudinous components and ramifications that await one’s mastery. Its “depth” refers to the challenge of plumbing its seemingly limitless profundity.

in order64 “to understand (or deduce) one matter out of another,”65

לְהָבִין דָּבָר מִתּוֹךְ דָּבָר,

and from this apprehension to beget its offspring,

וּלְהוֹלִיד מֵהַשָּׂגָה זוֹ – תּוֹלְדוֹתֶיהָ,

which are the attributes of love and awe,

שֶׁהֵן מִדּוֹת אַהֲבָה וְיִרְאָה

The thinker’s understanding of the greatness of G‑d gives birth to emotions—a love and a fear of Him.

and the other attributes born in the Divine soul, which contemplates and meditates upon G‑d’s greatness as to how “His greatness is unfathomable.”66

וּשְׁאָרֵי מִדּוֹת הַנּוֹלָדוֹת בַּנֶּפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית, הַמַּשְׂכֶּלֶת וּמִתְבּוֹנֶנֶת בִּגְדוּלַּת ה'. כִּי, "לִגְדוּלָּתוֹ אֵין חֵקֶר",

One aspect of G‑d’s greatness is such that the Divine soul, when contemplating it, is overwhelmed by fear and dread.

וְיֵשׁ בְּחִינַת גְּדוּלַּת ה', שֶׁעַל־יְדֵי הִתְבּוֹנְנוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הָאֱלֹהִית בָּהּ – תִּפּוֹל עָלֶיהָ אֵימָתָה וָפַחַד

This is yirah tataah (“the lower level of fear”), which is an aspect of malchut.

שֶׁהִיא יִרְאָה תַּתָּאָה, שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת מַלְכוּת,

There is another aspect of the greatness of G‑d from [the contemplation of] which derives yirah ilaah (“the superior level of fear”), in which one is awed out of bashfulness.

וְיֵשׁ בְּחִינַת גְּדוּלַּת ה' – שֶׁמִּמֶּנָּה בָּאָה יִרְאָה עִילָּאָה, יִרְאָה בּוֹשֶׁת,

There is also an aspect [of G‑d’s greatness] from [the contemplation of] which derives ahavah rabbah (“the great love”),

וְיֵשׁ בְּחִינָה שֶׁמִּמֶּנָּה בָּאָה – אַהֲבָה רַבָּה,

and still another aspect [of G‑d’s greatness] from [the contemplation of] which derives ahavah zutta (“the lesser love”).

וְיֵשׁ בְּחִינָה שֶׁמִּמֶּנָּה בָּאָה – אַהֲבָה זוּטָא.

All these levels of ahavah and yirah are internal emotive attributes that are fathered by ChaBaD.

The same applies to the external attributes, i.e., chesed and so on; they, too, emanate from ChaBaD.

וְכֵן בַּמִּדּוֹת הַחִיצוֹנִיּוֹת, שֶׁהֵן חֶסֶד כוּ'.

Now, the faculty of daat must be vested within all these [emotive attributes],

וּבְכוּלָּן צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת מְלוּבָּשׁ בָּהֶן בְּחִינַת הַדַּעַת,

for it represents the bond with which the soul is bound and embedded in this apprehension

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת הִתְקַשְּׁרוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ, הַקְּשׁוּרָה וּתְקוּעָה בְּהַשָּׂגָה זוֹ

as it apprehends some aspect of G‑d’s greatness, from which one of these attributes is born within it.

שֶׁמַּשֶּׂגֶת אֵיזֶה עִנְיָן מִגְּדוּלַּת ה', שֶׁמִּמֶּנָּה נוֹלְדָה בָּהּ אֵיזֶה מִדָּה מֵהַמִּדּוֹת,

Once the soul has apprehended some aspect of G‑d’s greatness, it must bind itself to this comprehension through the faculty of daat.

For by a momentary removal of daat from this apprehension,

כִּי בְּהֶיסַּח הַדַּעַת כְּרֶגַע מֵהַשָּׂגָה זוֹ –

the emotion born of it is also withdrawn

מִסְתַּלֶּקֶת גַּם כֵּן הַמִּדָּה הַנּוֹלְדָה מִמֶּנָּה,

from its [prior] state of manifestation in the soul [back] into concealment [within the soul],

מֵהַגִּילּוּי בַּנֶּפֶשׁ אֶל הַהֶעְלֵם,

to exist there in potentia but not in actuality.

לִהְיוֹת בָּהּ בְּכֹחַ וְלֹא בְּפוֹעַל.

It is the faculty of daat—a prolonged and constant involvement in the subject being contemplated—that reveals and actualizes the emotive experience of love or fear.

That is why the term daat is applied to coition,67 for it signifies a bond that results in issue, just as out of daat are born the emotions.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא הַזִּיוּוּג בִּלְשׁוֹן "דַּעַת", מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא לְשׁוֹן הִתְקַשְּׁרוּת.

This is the faculty of daat tachton, the lower level of daat, which extends into the attributes and vests itself in them to animate and sustain them.

וְזֶהוּ בְּחִינַת דַּעַת תַּחְתּוֹן [נוסח אחר: הַדַּעַת הַתַּחְתּוֹן], הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט בַּמִּדּוֹת וּמִתְלַבֵּשׁ בָּהֶן לְהַחֲיוֹתָן וּלְקַיְּימָן.

There is also a faculty of daat elyon, a superior level of daat, through which the source of the intellect that apprehends the profundity of a concept is bound and connected [to it]—

וְיֵשׁ בְּחִינַת דַּעַת הָעֶלְיוֹן, שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת הִתְקַשְּׁרוּת וְחִיבּוּר מְקוֹר הַשֵּׂכֶל הַמַּשִּׂיג עוֹמֶק הַמּוּשָּׂג,

like a point or a flash of lightning that flashes over one’s mind—

שֶׁהוּא כִּנְקוּדָּה וּכְבָרָק הַמַּבְרִיק עַל שִׂכְלוֹ,

so that [the concept] will extend downward.

שֶׁיִּתְפַּשֵּׁט לְמַטָּה

The profundity of the apprehended concept will thereby come to be understood

וְיָבֹא עוֹמֶק הַמּוּשָּׂג לִידֵי הֲבָנָה,

with extensive clarification, in length and breadth,

בְּהַרְחָבַת הַבֵּיאוּר בְּאוֹרֶךְ וְרוֹחַב,

this stage being the function of the faculty of binah, which is known as rechovot hanahar (lit., “the expanses of the river”), as will be explained in its place.68

שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת בִּינָה, הַנִּקְרֵאת "רְחוֹבוֹת הַנָּהָר", כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ:

The faculty of daat elyon unifies chochmah with binah. For chochmah is the intuitive flash of illumination that would vanish as quickly as it appeared, if it were not anchored by daat in the comprehension of binah, whereby this seminal point assumes length and breadth. Chochmah is thus likened to a wellspring whose waters issue forth drop by drop while binah is likened to a broad and deep river. It is the function of daat elyon to draw the wellsprings of chochmah into the river of binah.

The function of daat tachton, by contrast, is that of binding the intellective faculties of ChaBaD with their resultant emotions so that one’s intellectual activity will illuminate them and provide them with vitality and continuity.

In summary, this discourse demonstrates how all the ten faculties of the Divine soul engage in an ongoing relationship with their G‑dly source. Indeed, to recall the Alter Rebbe’s opening lines, an understanding of this dynamic within oneself enables one to experience the truth of the verse, “From my flesh shall I behold G‑d,’’ and to gain some measure of understanding of the supernal sefirot.