Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VI, p. 107ff.

I. “And on the third day, when it was morning, there were sounds (Kolos) and lightning; and there was a heavy cloud on the mountain. And the sound (Kol) of the shofar [resounded] very powerfully... And the sound (Kol) of the shofar continued.... And G‑d answered him in a [loud] voice (Kol).”1

This verse mentions five Kolos, sounds or voices.2 Com­menting on this, the Talmud states:3 A person who brings joy to a bridegroom will acquire the Torah, for the Torah was given with five Kolos, and there are five Kolos mentioned with regard to a bridegroom: “the voice (Kol) of joy, the voice (Kol) of happiness, the voice (Kol) of a groom and the voice (Kol) of a bride, and a voice (Kol) stating: ‘Give thanks to the G‑d of Hosts.’”4

The reason a person who brings joy to a bridegroom will acquire the Torah is that there is an inner connection be­tween the fundamental nature of these two entities.5 (It is not appropriate to say that a person who brings joy to a bridegroom should acquire the Torah merely because the same number of Kolos are mentioned in both contexts with­out there being an inner connection between the two sub­jects. On the contrary,) the reason the same number of Kolos are mentioned with regard to both the Torah and a bride­groom is that there is an inner connection between them.

Thus the Alter Rebbe explains6 that the reason a person who brings joy to a bridegroom acquires the Torah is based on the principle “measure for measure.”7 The Torah itself (is called a bridegroom, because) the influence that it conveys to the Jewish people resembles the influence conveyed by a bridegroom to his bride.

The reason the Talmud [does not mention the thematic connection, and instead] focuses on the five Kolos mentioned in connection with the giving of the Torah (even though on the surface, it appears to be merely an external consequence) is that the number of Kolos mentioned in connection with the Torah and a bridegroom expresses the inner connection8 that reflects the essence of both the Torah and a bridegroom.

The Torah was given with five Kolos, the same number of Kolos mentioned with regard to a bridegroom, (not only because both the Torah and a bridegroom convey influence, for that is an obvious fact that does not require any proof, but also) because [they both convey the same type of influ­ence]. For the influence the Torah conveys to the Jewish people cannot be compared to a teacher’s conveying a concept to a student, but instead resembles the inner, lofty influence that a bridegroom conveys to his bride, as will be explained.

All concepts in Torah are precise and serve as a lesson. Similarly, the fact that the Talmud focuses on the number of Kolos mentioned in connection with the Torah and a bride­groom (and not merely that they share the same number of Kolos) indicates that the number five also provides a lesson for us in this context.

II. The unique quality associated with the Torah that is expressed by the mention of five9 Kolos (and which expresses the special connection between the Torah and a bridegroom) can be understood by prefacing the explana­tion of the concept of a Kol.

A Kol draws down and reveals an entity’s quality; some­thing that was previously hidden is revealed.10 For example, a human being’s voice reveals his intellect or his emotions.

Moreover, a person’s voice reflects and parallels the subject that it reveals. {For example, the tone of voice that expresses a command — a high and stern pitch — is different from the tone of voice which communicates an intellectual concept, as it is written:11 “The words of the wise are heard12 gently.”13}

Similarly, in the spiritual realms,14 there are different Kolos, modes of expression, each one distinguished from the other. The distinction between them reflects the difference in the objective each Kol is intended to accomplish.

From this, we can appreciate that the fact that the Torah was given with five different Kolos, modes of expression, indicates that there are five different dimensions, one higher than the other,15 each one being drawn down through one of the five types of Kolos.

This also explains the unique dimension of the Torah — that it was given with five voices. As is well known,16 the entire spiritual cosmos is divided into four types of worlds (which parallel the four forms of earthly existence: inani­mate objects, plants, animals, and humans17). Moreover, these four different levels are reflected, not only in the worlds which are brought into being, but also in G‑d’s name Havayah (v-u-v-h),18 the active agent which brings the worlds into existence. For this name contains the four letters that serve as the source for the four worlds19 (and within each world, for the four forms of existence: inanimate objects, plants, animals, and humans, in that world20).

Since G‑d “looked into the Torah and created the world,”21 it follows that the same pattern that applies to the life-energy vested in the worlds exists in the Torah. Indeed, [the order is reversed, the pattern begins in the Torah, and from] the Torah is drawn down [into the world]. And thus the Torah also contains the four levels ([that reflect the four letters] of the name Havayah.

Based on the above, we can understand the uniqueness of the fact that the Torah was given with five voices,22 i.e., together with the four levels that stem from the name Havayah and which are reflected in the spiritual cosmos, the Torah contains a fifth dimension which transcends the name Havayah (even the Yud of the name Havayah).

This concept is alluded to [in the first of the Ten Com­mandments] which begins (reflecting an order of descent from Above): Anochi Havayah E‑lokecha (“I am Havayah, your G‑d”). Anochi refers to “[G‑d] as [He] is [for Himself], who cannot at all be defined by a name, nor alluded to in a letter, or even in a point of a letter.”23 Havayah [refers to the four levels of the spiritual cosmos as above]. And E‑lokecha means “your strength24 and your life-energy.25 All five dimensions of the Torah, even the level that transcends the name Havayah, were endowed to [the Jews as they live in] this physical world. This represents the uniqueness of the Torah having been given with five voices.

III. We have no way of comprehending spiritual concepts as they exist on their own level. The only way we can [appreci­ate these concepts] is through the material entities that have their source in them. Through [understanding these material entities, and then through abstraction and deduc­tion,] we can develop some tentative assumptions with regard to the spiritual entities which are their source.26

Thus we can develop some conception of what is meant by the four letters of the name Havayah {and thus the awe­some uniqueness of the Torah which was given with five voices, transcending the name Havayah as explained above} by explaining the four forms of existence — inanimate objects, plants, animals, and humans — that exist in our world. For they “parallel the four letters of the name Havayah and receive influence from them.”27

[To explain:] The difference between inanimate matter and plants is that with regard to inanimate matter, we see only the actual physical entity; it does not express life at all. Although it possesses a “soul,” i.e., a source of spiritual, life-energy,28 [there is no outward manifestation of that spiritual energy]. With regard to plants, by contrast, it is obvious that they contain spiritual life-energy which cannot be perceived by our five senses.

(In a certain way,) this distinction is much greater than the distinctions between plants and animals or humans.29 For all of these entities share a common denominator; their spiritual vitality is revealed. (The difference between them involves merely the extent and the nature of that revelation, as will be explained.) With regard to inanimate matter, however, there is no revelation of the spiritual energy it contains.

Nevertheless, on the whole, the plant kingdom can be considered closer to inanimate matter than to animals or humans.30 Indeed, when the four forms of existence — inanimate objects, plants, animals, and humans — are divided into two categories: those which are predominantly associated with the body and those which are predomi­nantly associated with the soul, the plant kingdom, together with inanimate matter, are placed in the category of the body. Animals and humans, by contrast, are placed in the category of soul. 31 Indeed, the very Hebrew name for the plant kingdom, tzomei’ach, which means “growing,” is a marked contrast from the name for the animal kingdom, chai, which means “living.” The distinction between the two is reflected in the fact that before the flood, mankind was allowed to eat only plant-life and was not allowed to eat animals. 32

The reason for this difference can be explained as follows. [There are two qualities which distinguish the life-energy of] an animal:

a) The life-energy is associated with a soul, [a conscious entity with a sensation of self]. For this reason, an animal possesses the power of will33 (which expresses the soul34); and

b) Because the body and the soul are unified,35 the body is naturally affected by the will of the soul [and carries out its desires]36 to the extent that the definition [of the body changes].37 [It does] not [see itself as] matter, but is [iden­tified with] the soul.38

In contrast, not only does the life-energy of a plant not make a change in the nature of its body, but the life-energy is itself bodily oriented. For its entire purpose is to make the body grow and become larger.

IV. Another distinction between a plant and an animal is that the life-energy (and growth) of a plant is dependent on the fact that it is rooted in a specific place. (If it is uprooted from that place, it will no longer [be alive or] grow. The life-energy of an animal, in contrast, is not limited to any specific place.39

The reason for this distinction is that a material entity is defined by place. Thus, since the life-energy of a plant is [subordinate to] its body, it is limited to a specific place. In contrast, an animal’s life-energy is spiritual in nature and therefore it is not as bound by the limitations of place.

As mentioned above, although the two forms of exis­tence — inanimate matter and plants — both belong to the same category, i.e., the body, from a certain perspective, the difference between them is greater than the difference between a plant and an animal (see section III). Similarly (and indeed, to a greater extent), there is a distinction between the two forms of existence which are identified with the soul, animals and humans. For humans are entirely distinct from animals: humans are the chosen creations and all the other created beings (including animals) were created for the sake of serving humans.40

[As mentioned,] the point that distinguishes inanimate matter from other forms of existence (including plants) is that with regard to inanimate matter, all that is perceived is the material form (as stated above). Similarly with regard to the other extreme, the point which distinguishes mankind from the other created beings (even from animals) is that it is within mankind that the true concept of soul and spiritu­ality is expressed.

VI. The true description of spirituality is that it is not bounded by any particular boundary, [that its existence is higher] than what can be perceived, even by powers which are higher than the five senses that can appreciate a physical entity. A spiritual entity also has a specific definition which delineates its existence and separates it from another spiri­tual entity.41 Nevertheless, because of its spiritual nature (and its refinement), there is a sensation of peshitus42(simplicity43) within it which is above comprehension.44

The simplicity which can be perceived in spiritual enti­ties has several manifestations. Among them:

a) A spiritual entity does not contradict another entity.45 We see this point reflected with regard to refined, abstract ideas. The more refined and abstract they are, the less they contradict each other.46

b) Its spiritual nature causes it to seek to rise above itself. (We see this quality manifest in the [reflections of] spirituality [that exist] within [our] material [world]. For example, fire is the most refined of the four fundamental elements.47 Because of this spiritual quality, its nature48 is to ascend upward.49) For its true quality50 is not to remain [limited] within its particular identity, but to rise above it­self and become included in its source in the higher realms.

VII. The above also explains why humans reflect the true definition of soul and spirituality, because the advantage of humans over animals is the power of intellect51 which pos­sesses both of the above-mentioned qualities:

a) [A person’s] intellect is not confined by the nature of his emotional make-up. Since a person possesses an intel­lectual capacity,52 he is not forced to retain the fundamental tendencies to which he has an inherent inclination.53 (While other created beings, by contrast, cannot change their natures,) man has free choice to embrace any path he desires [to follow].54

This is also the reason why a person includes within himself all the other forms of existence contained within creation, (for which reason, he is called55 “a world in micro­cosm.”) For he is not confined by any limitations.56

b) The tendency of intellect is to (withdraw from itself57 and) approach a plane higher than itself. In this, there is also a fundamental difference between a human being (whose character is defined by intellect) and an animal (whose character is defined by emotions). For “the spirit of man ascends upward, and the spirit of an animal descends downward,”58 i.e., an animal has a tendency for material things, while a person seeks to rise above himself.

VIII. From the fact that a person is “a world in microcosm” (as explained in section VII), it can be understood that the four forms of existence that are found in the world in mac­rocosm also [have parallels] that are apparent59 in man’s “world in microcosm,” not only in his body, but also within his soul. As is explained within Chassidus,60 the letters [within our soul, see the definition which follows] repre­sent the quality of inanimate matter within the soul. Emotions parallel plant life, intellect, animals, and the source for the power of speech, humanity.

The concept can be explained as follows: The Hebrew word for letters, ,uh,ut, (relates to the word t,t61 as in the phrase62 reuc t,t, “morning is coming”) and is identified with manifestation and revelation. The letters [within our souls] are distinguished from the other powers of the soul in that the other powers affect the [character of the person himself], (for example, emotions describe an individual’s personality, whether he is a generous person or a stern individual).63 Letters, by contrast, are merely mediums through which the person’s powers become manifest and expressed. They themselves do not affect the person him­self.64

Since the letters are an external matter, the light of the soul is enclothed within them in a very limited way and is absolutely hidden to the extent that (overtly) no life-energy can be appreciated, not even life-energy that resembles growth. Therefore, they are considered as inanimate matter.

From this perspective, the difference between the letters and all of the other powers of the soul is far greater than the differences among the other powers themselves. For all of the other powers affect and express the person’s [character] itself; the light of the soul is revealed. (The difference between them is only in the degree and extent of that revelation, as will be explained.) With regard to letters, by contrast, their function is only to express and to reveal [the powers of the soul]. Therefore they resemble an entity that is distant from the soul.

(This parallels the relationship between inanimate matter and the other three forms of existence in the macrocosm. The fact that no life-energy at all is revealed in inanimate matter sets it aside from the other forms of exis­tence to a far greater extent than the distinctions among the other forms of existence in which the life-energy of the soul is revealed.)

IX. The parallel within man to the second type of existence, plant life, is the emotions. The emotions affect the soul and cannot at all be compared to stone, inanimate matter,65 as the letters can. On the contrary, the emotions involve a tremendous amount of energy and activity. Nevertheless, the life-energy invested in the emotions is not comparable, and indeed, remarkably different from the life-energy that characterizes the intellect.

The very fact that the nature of emotions involves activ­ity indicates that the emotions relate to a person as he is drawn out of his own sphere.66 Intellect, by contrast, does not take a person out of his sphere. No matter how many concepts a person understands, he may remain calm. This shows that the emotions do not affect a person as he exists for himself. They affect only the dimension of soul that shares a connection with others.

[To explain: What motivates emotion?] The positive qualities — or the qualities that are not positive — of another person or entity affect a person and cause him to draw closer to that person or entity with feelings of love, or retreat with feelings of fear.

Since the emotions involve only the aspect of soul which has a connection to an outside entity — in contrast to intellect which involves the soul as it is for itself — the emotions are considered as closer to the quality of letters than to the intellect. For both letters and emotions are not connected to the soul as it is for itself. Both have a connec­tion to other entities. (The difference is that the letters reflect only the influence drawn down from the soul, while the emotions affect the soul itself, as the soul is drawn outward.)

This resembles the relationship between the plant king­dom and the other three forms of existence in the macrocosm. For the life-energy of plants is bodily oriented. Therefore it is linked together with inanimate matter in the category of body, instead of being joined with animals and humans in the category of soul.

Just as the difference between animal and plant life is reflected in the fact that a plant is always rooted in a spe­cific place, while an animal can move wherever it desires (as explained in section IV), so, too, we find a similar parallel with regard to emotion and intellect (the analogues to plants and animals in the microcosm [of our souls]).

Emotions (and even the intellect which relates to the emotions) as they exist in their own right are anchored in a specific tendency from which they cannot depart. As his character [is defined by] the nature of his emotions, a person whose nature reflects the attribute of chesed ([which is expressed in] love) must remain within that fundamental thrust. Within that thrust itself, there will be growth from an underdeveloped state to maturity. From underdeveloped states of love, he can precede to more advanced levels. [But his fundamental character remains the same.] A similar motif also applies to a person whose character thrust expresses gevurah (severity and might).

This is not true with regard to intellect. Firstly, intellect itself is not limited to a specific character thrust (for we see that a person can comprehend a concept which he cannot — due to the nature of his intellectual [not only his emo­tional] tendencies — tolerate). Moreover, because of the true and fundamental nature of intellect (i.e., the level of intellect that is above connection to the emotions), a person is capable of bringing about change within the character and nature of his emotions.67

Furthermore, within the realm of intellect itself, [despite the fact that each of the three qualities] Chochmah, Binah, and Daas, [have different fundamental thrusts,] there are several individuals [who manifest excellence in] all three areas. In the realm of emotions, by contrast, the attributes of chesed and gevurah cannot [coexist and work in harmony] unless the person modulates his emotions with intellect.68

X. Despite the above, the quality of intellect represents merely the analogue to the level of the animal within a per­son’s soul. The human dimension (which is entirely distinct from the animal) is expressed in (the source for) the power of speech. Therefore, the term [in Lashon HaKodesh] used to describe humans is midaber (speaker) and not maskil (thinker).69

To explain: The spirituality and peshitus which rests within a person’s intellect empowers him to go beyond his limits and choose any path he desires, even one which runs contrary to his nature (indeed, even one which requires him to change his nature). Nevertheless, this peshitus is still associated with defined existence. The reason a person chooses (based on his intellect) an approach that runs contrary to his emotional makeup is that his intellect — [which is also a] defined entity — requires him to do so.

{Similar concepts apply with regard to the second dimension which expresses the spirituality humans possess (due to intellect) — the fact that “the spirit of man ascends upward.” Although a person’s quest to rise above himself takes him beyond his personal limits, nevertheless, [this too has an end-point]. For [this quest] stems from the fact that his intellect appreciates the advantage that exists in the higher level; (i.e., his mind forces him to understand that he is limited and there are matters that are above his intel­lect). Thus this [quests] itself stems from [and thus is bounded by] his personal existence.70

The power of speech, by contrast, reflects how a person is not bound by his own identity and can communicate with another individual. This unbounded quality is not con­nected with the person’s own existence (for the potential to speak to another person does not stem from the fact that his own identity obligates him to speak to the other person, but from the fact that the source for this power comes from a very lofty place within the soul, a level where there are no definitions; there are no distinctions that separate one person from another). Thus the power of speech reflects the true concept of spirituality and peshitus possessed by the soul.71

XI. The explanation of the nature and type of distinctions among the four forms of existence: inanimate matter, plants, animals, and humans (in the world at large, and in the microcosm of every individual) gives us some under­standing of the four spiritual realms: Asiyah, Yetzirah, Beriah, and Atzilus.

The initial72 origins of personal existence (yesh) is the world of Beriah. Nevertheless, since in the world of Beriah, the ayin (the simplicity of G‑dliness which transcends defi­nition) shines [powerfully], the perception is that true existence is not yesh (the individual existence of the created beings), but the ayin which brings it into being. This feeling nullifies the sense of yesh. {This parallels animal life in which the body is subservient to the soul; indeed, the mahus (identity) of the body is the soul (as explained in section III). Or to cite another parallel: intellect (the animal in man) has the tendency to be attracted to what is above itself [even though] this involves losing its individual identity.73}

Therefore the yesh of the world of Beriah is described as “simple substance” without form [or definition],74 in con­trast to the yesh of the worlds of Yetzirah and Asiyah where the substance is already given form: in Yetzirah, a general form, and in Asiyah, a particular form. {This parallels the plant kingdom and inanimate matter in which the body is given precedence. For even in the plant kingdom, the body of the plant is not subservient to its life-energy. Or to cite another parallel: the letters and the emotions which are both predominantly given over to entities outside oneself.}

Nevertheless, even the simple substance of the world of Beriah is still yesh, a substance and an entity. Its peshitus is only within the context of yesh (like intellect, which can be described as peshitus, but a peshitus that exists within the realm of definition, as explained in section X.)

The world of Atzilus, by contrast, is actual G‑dliness.75 It is entirely above the concept of yesh; it is ayin.76

XII. Although the four worlds of Atzilus, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah ([i.e.,] the spiritual dimension of the world of Asi­yah) are spiritual realms, they, nevertheless, share certain points of commonality with the four forms of existence in our material world: inanimate matter, plants, animals, and humans (and the parallels that exist within our souls). Similarly, there is also a parallel to these levels in the root and source which brings into being (— and therefore is much higher —) than these four worlds, the four letters of G‑d’s name v-u-v-h. ([Although it must be emphasized that these four letters represent spiritual levels] which are incomparably higher [than these material entities]), nevertheless, there is a similarity between these letters and the four forms of existence: inanimate matter, plants, animals, and humans which are drawn down from them after a vast process of descent and contraction.

Accordingly, we can appreciate that these four letters (including even the yud) do not represent the true peshitus of the Or Ein Sof. For these levels all share a connection to limited existence.

On this basis, we can appreciate the uniqueness of the fact that the Torah was given in connection with five Kolos, i.e., it contains a fifth dimension which transcends all the four levels [mentioned above]. This represents true peshitus. This exemplifies the essence of the Torah, the level which is united with the essence of Or Ein Sof.

On this basis, we can appreciate why the connection between a bridegroom and the Torah is expressed in the fact that they both relate to five Kolos. For the potential to conceive new life possessed by a bridegroom, (for “being fruitful and multiplying” is the purpose of a marriage,77) expresses the power of Ein Sof78 which transcends all of the characteristics of the four forms of existence mentioned above.

XIII. Without minimizing the greatness of the essence G‑dliness and the peshitus invested in the Torah which tran­scends the four letters of the name Havayah, [our Sages do not say that the Torah was given [only] with the fifth Kol. Instead,] they emphasize that the Torah was given with five Kolos. For when the Torah was given, the four levels which are connected to the four letters of G‑d’s name were also given. Indeed, the fifth and highest level was given together with them. For the Torah as a whole was given with five Kolos.

The reason for this is that [studying] the four levels of the Torah awakens the four levels of the soul: nefesh, ruach, neshamah, and chayah. And the fifth level arouses [the essence of the soul,] the level of yechidah which is connected with yachid, G‑d’s singular oneness.

All of the four levels of the Torah were given together79 so that the level of yechidah would [permeate and] shine within the levels of nefesh, ruach, neshamah, and chayah, which constitute a person’s individual existence. For this empowers him to make the world (which is composed of four forms of existence: inanimate matter, plants, animals, and humans) a dwelling for G‑d’s essence.80

(Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Metzora, 5717)