In the Torah portion of Vaes’chanan, Moshe tells the nation:1 “Know today, and implant within your heart, that G‑d is L-rd in the heavens above and the earth below; there is nothing else.” Our Sages comment:2 “ ‘There is nothing else,’ in the entire universe.”

The verse implies that there is an order of progression in understanding Divine unity: It is easiest for man to comprehend G‑d’s unity as it relates to the “heavens above.” Later on, a person comes to understand that this unity applies to the “earth below” as well. Ultimately, he will come to the realization that G‑d’s unity extends to the “entire universe.”

What would lead a person to think that — G‑d forbid — His unity extends only to the heavens, for which reason the verse must specify that it also extends to the earth, and even to the entire universe?

The Alter Rebbe explains3 that since creation came from absolute nothingness, yesh me’ayin , the Divine creative power must be constantly vested within it in order for created beings to continue existing. Would this creative power withdraw for even an instant, creation would revert to its original state of absolute nothingness.

In this context, the Alter Rebbe quotes the Baal Shem Tov4 on the verse, “Forever, O L-rd, does Your word stand in the heavens,”5 that the Divine Utterance, “Let there be a firmament”6 is constantly vested within the heavens so as to enliven them.

The Alter Rebbe continues that this, of course, also applies to the physical world, and even unto those things that are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Utterances with which G‑d created the world.

The novel implication of the Baal Shem Tov’s commentary lies7 not only in the fact that the continued existence of all creation is forever dependent on G‑d’s creative power, but that this creative power is vested within the created entities themselves.

Logic would suggest that this vestment can only apply to heavenly creatures who, as spiritual and celestial beings, are an appropriate vessel for this Divine life-force. This, one may reason, is not the case with corporeal beings, who are not suitable vessels for G‑dliness. We could thus be led to think that while they too must constantly rely on the creative life-force, it is not vested within them.

The verse therefore informs us that this Divine unity applies also to the “earth below” — those beings mentioned in the Ten Utterances. It is equally true regarding even the lowest forms of life — “the entire universe” — including beings who are so lowly that they are not even named in the Ten Utterances.

This progression — heaven, earth, universe — also exists with regard to man’s spiritual service.

In order to ensure proper divine service, a person must prepare himself during his sleep the night before, for at that time the soul ascends and receives spiritual nourishment.8 Upon awakening, the person thus begins his new day empowered with heavenly vitality.

Through prayer, the Jew then sees to it that his reinvigorated soul is felt within his body, his earthly being. For the Jew’s body, because of its role in the performance of Torah and mitzvos, is likened to the loftier kinds of physicality delineated in the Ten Utterances.

Finally, there is the third level of man’s service, that of imbuing the “entire universe” with spirituality, including even those lowly things not mentioned in the Ten Utterances. This reveals that G‑d’s unity is identical in the heavens, the earth, and the universe as a whole — “there is nothing else.”

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIX, pp. 26-32.