This letter was addressed to R. Yehudah Leib Bistritzky, at that time one of the younger members of the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights.

B”H, Friday, 1 Elul, 5708

Greetings and blessings,

I received your letter. The questions that you ask are not klutz-kashas as you call them in your letter. On the contrary, they relate to fundamental issues. It is only that since we have become accustomed to [seeing] these [ideas], we do not pay attention to their content. [Indeed,] the fact that we refer to them frequently causes it to appear that they are thoroughly understood. Yet, after analysis, it appears that the majority of them are difficult to grasp and comprehend.

This is true with regard to any wisdom and science. The element that requires the deepest analysis is the element that includes the basic and fundamental concepts of this science.

Questions of this nature are difficult to explain in a letter, in particular [this is true] because the present time does not allow for elaboration. I will, nevertheless, write a brief [explanation].

Your question: Why is the world of Atzilus called “the world that is hidden from all living beings,” the world of Beriah called “the world of the throne,” the world of Yetzirah, the world of the angels, and the world of Asiyah, the world of the spheres?

Reply: Every entity that was fashioned with thought and wisdom has an intent and a purpose. Consequently, it is understandable that both the entity as it exists in general and its particulars must be made in a manner that will fulfill this purpose.

Our Sages informed us that the purpose of the creation of the worlds is for the purpose of the revelation of His Kingship (Tanya, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 7). This is also alluded in the verse (Yeshayahu 43:7): “Everything that is called by My name, indeed, it is for My glory that I have created it, formed it, and even made it,” as our Sages expounded at the conclusion of Avos, ch. 6.

It is a general principle that all of the matters on this plane have a source Above. This is particularly true with regard to the Kingship of Heaven. From it, kingship on the earthly plane is derived. As related in the words of our Sages (Berachos 58a), from [the conduct of] the Kingship of Heaven, it is possible to know the [proper form of] conduct for kingship on the earthly plane. Similarly, the relationship works in reverse. In order to understand a little about the Kingdom of Heaven, we should learn, based on our Sages’ instructions, from kingship on the earthly plane.

Based on the above, we can understand the wording frequently found in Midrashim with regard to G‑d:“To use an analogy: a king....” More [explicitly], we find the following at the beginning of Eichah Rabbah: “The Holy One, blessed be He, told the ministering angels: ‘What would a mortal king do...? I will do the same.’”

Our Sages taught us several particulars regarding [the Kingdom of Heaven] from [a comparison] to a mortal king and from kingship on this plane: [For example,] the subjects of the kingdom must be separate to a great extent from the king: distinct, of a different nature, and distant, as stated in Tanya, loc. cit. And as Rambam writes (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim, ch. 2) with regard [to a mortal king]: “We regard him with awe and fear.... He need not stand for any person, nor speak gently. He should refer to others only by name.”1

Nevertheless, [the people] will accept him as king because they appreciate — at least to a small degree — his greatness. Moreover, [the personality of] a [true] king ([i.e., one] who is fit to be a king) is such that the fact he is king does not describe him entirely.2 In his own personal sphere, he is an elevated individual. His connection with his people, however, stems from the fact that his name is called upon them3 and he leads them.

The manner in which he leads them is as follows: The people have no connection to the king’s personal and private traits. (This is alluded to in our Sages’ statement:4 “We do not look at [a king] while he is unclothed.”). [Moreover, even] the traits of a king that stem from the fact that he is a king over his people — and [hence] pictures within his own soul and wisdom the people’s needs and deficiencies — are still qualities which the people do not yet perceive.

Afterwards, the king goes to his palace and sits on his throne (Rambam, loc. cit.). According to the decisions he has made based on the wisdom of the inner reaches of his soul, he directs his officers with regard to the manner in which to conduct the kingdom. Sometimes, he also informs [them] of the reasons for [these directives]. It is clear that within the palace itself, with the king sitting on his throne, the people found there cannot possibly forget about the king. They have no need at all of proofs that the king exists.

The king’s desire, however, is that even the people in the peripheries of his kingdom will conduct themselves according to his directives. Therefore emissaries journey forth with the king’s commands in their hands to make them known to the entire nation. (No explanations are given for these commands at all.)

[Parallels to] all of the above — while [of course] making thousands of distinctions — exist Above: The king as he exists in his own personal sphere refers to existence before the tzimtzum.

When he is drawn to a lower level and pictures his people within his own inner wisdom — this refers to the world of Atzilus. It is called a world because he has already pictured in his wisdom the needs of his people. Nevertheless, it is “hidden from the eye of all living beings.” For, as above, the people do not perceive this.

When he goes to his palace — this refers to the world of Beriah, which resembles a king sitting on his throne while his subjects are batel. It is also called the hidden world, as explained above.

On a lower level, the angels — the emissaries — are sent out. This refers to the world of Yetzirah (and through a garment, this is revealed also in the world of Asiyah). In their hands are the king’s directives: acceptable, unacceptable, vindicated, liable.

Finally, we reach the peripheries of the country, the lowest realm, the realm of the spheres that are made up of both souls and bodies. From them come all the created beings in this lowly world.

With the blessing “Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption,”

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson