This letter was sent to R. David Meir Shulman.

B”H, 23 Menachem Av, 5710

Greetings and blessings,

I received your letter and I was happy to receive notice that your wife’s health continues to improve. May you always bring only news of goodness and kindness. Amen;so may it be G‑d’s will.

With regard to your comments concerning the series of maamarim entitled Mayim Rabbim, 5636:

a) In sec. 33, a distinction is made between creation at the outset and renewing the existing creation. Support is brought from Midrash Rabbah (Bereishis Rabbah 68:4) [which states]: “What does [the Holy One, blessed be He,] do from [creation] until now?”

You raise the issue: Certainly we are forced to say that the matter should not be understood in a simple sense — that G‑d was occupied with the creation of the world for six days.1 Your question does not, however, weaken the proof, for the proof is that however we will explain the passage in Bereishis Rabbah, it is obvious that there is a difference between the task of creation during the Six Days of Creation and that task afterwards.

In brief, the Midrash Rabbah can be explained as follows:

[A Roman matron asked R. Yossi bar Chalafta: “In how many days did the Holy One, blessed be He, create His world?”]

([The question can be interpreted as meaning: G‑d’s infinite] light) [identified with] “the Holy One,” ([Who is] sovev kol almin, “encompassing all the worlds”),

“blessed be He,” ([is] drawn down and revealed in a manner that [enables Him] to fill up all worlds, memale kol almin, i.e., permeating space and time.

In this [manner]) He created His world in how many days? ([I.e., how long was] this revelation drawn down?)

[R. Yossi answered:] “In six.”

[She asked:] “From then on, what does He do?” i.e., in what can this revelation be seen?

With regard to the basis for this explanation of the name “the Holy One, blessed be He,” see Likkutei Torah, Parshas Tazria, p. 22c, et al.

b) In the beginning of sec. 34, to illustrate how limitation is brought into being from [G‑d’s] infinite power, an analogy is brought from a stream that flows endlessly, and yet one can collect water from it with limited containers.

You raise a question, [noting that] the analogue in which the influence changes the recipient2 is different from the analogy in which the container is not changed as a result of the water collected with it. [You thus suggest] that the second analogy [given in that source] — the outpouring of wisdom from a great sage to a lesser student — is more appropriate.

Concepts similar to the first analogy, speaking about a river, [but not a stream,] are cited in many places in Chassidus (see Biurei Zohar, Parshas Vayishlach) with a little bit more explanation. There it is stated that because of the powerful flow of the current, [small] containers would be washed away. It is explained in Chassidus ([the maamar entitled] Havayah Yechatu, 5706) that there are three different possible [outcomes]:

a) that the containers would bebroken entirely;

b) that at the very least, they would be rendered ineffective to serve as containers whose function is to receive — and in this instance, they will be unable to hold the water, because of the power of the current — and [the water] will flow back [into the river];

c) at the outset, the water will not enter the container because of the infinite [power of] the flow.

In this analogy as well, the recipient, [the container,] is changed. With regard to a stream which flows drop by drop, however, [this is not relevant], for none of these three possibilities apply.

Some explanation can be added by first asking: Why are two analogies necessary? What does one add over the other? [The use of both] is certainly not an empty matter.

To explain the matter very briefly: At first glance, [influence from] an unlimited (or on a higher level, an infinite) entity must itself be infinite, since its source is not limited. This would include both the very nature of the influence and the matter that is conveyed. In truth, however, in both instances, this is not true.

[To explain this concept, the maamar] brings two analogies:

a) the analogy of the stream. There the flow is unceasing, but the matter which is conveyed is limited; it is only drops;

b) the analogy of the sage; there, on a revealed level, the flow stops, but — when compared to the recipient — the intellect of the mashpia [the sage] now appears infinite. For “until forty years, a person does not attain the understanding of his master.”3 It is forty years later, when he has developed in the interim, that he will understand the depth of the wisdom that [his teacher] granted him forty years previously.

In the analogue, it can be said that this is the difference between: a) the hosts of heaven — there each one individually exists for all time, but they do not have offspring. [Implied is that] the influence was ceased, but [they continue to exist because the vitality granted them is infinite (as explained in [Mayim Rabbim,] sec. 33); [and] b) the earthly hosts [whose species exist unceasingly], but which as individuals do not exist for all time. Nevertheless, they give birth to offspring. Thus the vitality granted to [each one] is limited, but the influence never ceases.

Elaboration is possible with regard to all the above, but, for a wise man, a mere allusion is sufficient.4 See also the beginning of the Tzemach Tzedek’s Sefer HaChakirah.

With blessings for combined health of the body and soul for both you and your household,

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson