Portal of Unity and Belief: Chapter 09 – Part 2 – audio

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אבל הקב״ה, שהוא למעלה מן השכל והחכמה, לא שייך כלל לומר בו שאי אפשר להשיגו מפני עומק המושג

However, concerning the Holy One, blessed be He, Who transcends intellect and wisdom, it is not at all appropriate to say that one cannot comprehend Him because of the profundity of the concept,

כי אינו בבחינת השגה כלל

for He is not within the realm of comprehension at all.

והאומר עליו שאי אפשר להשיגו, הוא כאומר על איזה חכמה רמה ועמוקה שאי אפשר למששה בידים מפני עומק המושג

He who states that it is impossible to comprehend Him, is like one who says of some lofty and profound concept that it cannot be touched with the hands because of the depth of the concept.

שכל השומע יצחק לו, לפי שחוש המישוש אינו מתייחס ונופל אלא על עשייה גשמית, הנתפסת בידים

Whoever hears [this] will mock him, because the sense of touch refers and applies only to physical objects, which may be grasped by the hands.

וככה ממש נחשבת לגבי הקב״ה מדרגת השכל וההשגה כעשייה גשמית ממש

Exactly so, the level of intellect and comprehension in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, is considered as actual physical action.

ואפילו השגת שכלים שבעולמות עליונים, ואפילו מדרגת חכמה עילאה, המחיה את כולם

Even the comprehension of the [superior and spiritual] Intelligences in the higher worlds, and even the level of Supernal Wisdom of the World of Atzilut which gives life to them all [is considered so in relation to the Holy One, blessed be He],

כדכתיב: כולם בחכמה עשית

as it is written,2 “You have made them all with wisdom.”

All of creation is rooted in the wisdom of Atzilut. Nevertheless, even the Supernal Wisdom of Atzilut is considered as action in relation to G‑d, for G‑d transcends it infinitely. It is thus impossible to say that G‑d can or cannot be apprehended through intellect, inasmuch as intellect and wisdom are not at all the means by which G‑d can be grasped.

ומה שהקב״ה נקרא חכם בכתוב, וגם חז״ל כינו לו מדרגת ומעלת החכמה

As for the Holy One, blessed be He, being called “Wise” in Scripture, and our Sages, of blessed memory, have also referred to Him with epithets denoting the quality and level of wisdom,

היינו משום שהוא מקור החכמה, שממנו יתברך נמשך ונאצל מהות מדרגת חכמה עילאה, שבעולם האצילות

this is because He is the source of wisdom, for from Him issues and emanates the essence of the level of Supernal Wisdom, which is in the World of Atzilut.

וכן רחום וחסיד, על שם שהוא מקור הרחמים והחסדים

Likewise [He is called] Merciful and Kind, even though He utterly transcends mercy and kindness, because He is the source of mercy and kindness;

וכן שאר המדות

and likewise regarding the other emotive attributes; G‑d is referred to by the names of the other attributes because He is their source,

שכולן נמשכו ונאצלו ממנו יתברך

for they all proceed and emanate from Him.

ודרך וענין ההמשכה והאצילות, איך ומה, ידוע למשכילים

The manner and nature of the flow and emanation — how and what — i.e., how the intellectual and emotive attributes emanate from the Ein Sof which totally transcends them, and exactly what they are, for after they have emanated from Him they are wholly united with Him, is known to the savants.3



The Alter Rebbe now briefly explains the various tzimtzumim that had to take place in order to enable the attributes of Atzilut to emanate from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light.

סוד הצמצום באור אין סוף ברוך הוא

[This note will outline] the mystical principle of the tzimtzum of the Ein Sof-light,

Before the tzimtzum, G‑d’s infinite manifestation was predominant. Tzimtzum caused His capacity for limitation and finitude, which previously had been submerged within His infinite power, to be revealed.

וצמצום אדם קדמון

and the tzimtzum of Adam Kadmon, which is the highest state of existence after the tzimtzum, and the primal thought that contains and is the source of all subsequent emanations and creations,

וסוד הדיקנא

and the esoteric doctrine of [the tzimtzum of] Dikna.

The life-force that animates hair is exceedingly attentuated, to the point that cutting it causes no pain. Accordingly, the terms Dikna (lit., “beard”) and se‘arot (“hair”) are used to represent a certain form of tzimtzum.4

שסוד כל הצמצומים: לצמצם האור, שיתלבש בבחינת כלים די׳ ספירות

For the underlying purpose of all the contractions is to condense the light, in order to enable it to become enclothed within the vessels of the Ten Sefirot [of the World of Atzilut].

These “vessels” assume the specific form of wisdom or kindness. By contrast, the divine light that permeates these vessels is essentially simple. When, through tzimtzum, the vessels come into being and the light clothes itself within them and becomes fused with them, wisdom and kindness become one with G‑d.

והנה אחר שנתלבש אור אין סוף בבחינת כלים דחב״ד, אז שייך לומר מה שכתב הרמב״ם: הוא היודע והוא המדע והוא הידוע, ובידיעת עצמו וכו׳

It is only after the Ein Sof-light becomes clothed within the vessels of ChaBaD that Maimonides‘ statement [about the Holy One, blessed be He] is in place: “He is the Knower, and He is the Knowledge, and He is the Known,…and by knowing Himself [He knows all creation].”

לפי שבחינת כלים דאצילות נעשים נשמה וחיות לבריאה יצירה עשיה ולכל אשר בהם

For the vessels of Atzilut become the soul and life-force of [the Worlds of] Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, and all [the creatures] therein.

By “knowing Himself” with the knowledge that is to be found in the vessels of Atzilut, He also knows all the Worlds and creatures of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, since they derive their life-force from these vessels.

All this, however, can only come about after the various tzimtzumim have brought about the contraction of the light, enabling it to be vested in the vessels of Atzilut.

אבל בלי צמצום והלבשה הנ״ל, לא שייך כלל לומר: הוא היודע והוא המדע וכו׳

However, without the aforesaid tzimtzum and investiture [of the light in the vessels], it is not at all appropriate to say that “He is the Knower and He is the Knowledge…;” i.e., the whole category of knowledge cannot be ascribed to G‑d, even in so exalted a manner as in the statement that “He is the Knower.,”

כי אינו בבחינת וגדר דעת ומדע כלל, חס ושלום

for He is not within the realm and domain of knowing and knowledge at all, G‑d forbid,

אלא למעלה מעלה עילוי רב עד אין קץ, אפילו מבחינת וגדר חכמה

but infinitely elevated above even the level and the bounds of wisdom,

For even the statement that “He is the Knower.” implies restricting G‑d, so to speak, to one particular faculty — viz., wisdom, as distinct from (say) the attribute of kindness or mercy. G‑d, however, utterly transcends all such bounds,

עד שבחינת חכמה נחשבת אצלו יתברך כבחינת עשיה גשמית

to the extent that in relation to Him, the level of wisdom is considered like the level of physical action.


Before the note the Alter Rebbe had said that “the manner and nature of the flow and emanation — how and what — is known to the savants.” I.e., it is they who understand how from the Ein Sof-light there emanated the intellectual and emotive attributes, which even after their emanation are so completely fused with G‑d that it can be said that “He is the Knowledge….” The Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:

והנה אין לנו עסק בנסתרות

Now, we are not concerned with esoteric matters — how the emanations of the Sefirot from the Ein Sof-light came about, and the subsequent manner of their unity with Him,

אך הנגלות לנו: להאמין אמונה שלימה דאיהו וגרמוהי חד

but it is incumbent upon us to believe with complete faith, matters that are revealed to us — that He and His attributes, viz., the vessels and Sefirot, are One.

דהיינו: מדותיו של הקב״ה, ורצונו, וחכמתו ובינתו ודעתו עם מהותו ועצמותו

I.e., the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His will, and His wisdom and understanding and knowledge, [are One] with His Essence and Being,

המרומם לבדו רוממות אין קץ מבחינת חכמה ושכל והשגה

Who alone is exalted by infinite elevations above the level of wisdom and intellect and comprehension.

ולכן גם יחודו, שמתייחד עם מדותיו שהאציל מאתו יתברך, גם כן אינו בבחינת השגה

Hence, since He totally transcends intellect and comprehension, His union with the attributes which He emanated from Himself is also beyond the realm of comprehension;

להשיג איך מתייחד בהן

[i.e., it is impossible] to understand how He unites with them; rather, this may be apprehended only through faith.

ולכן נקראו מדותיו של הקב״ה, שהן הספירות, בזהר הקדוש: רזא דמהימנותא

In the holy Zohar, therefore, the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, which are the Sefirot, are called “the secret of faith,”

שהיא האמונה שלמעלה מן השכל

which is the faith that transcends intellect, for this concept cannot be grasped intellectually, but only through faith


1.Tehillim 104:24.

2.Tehillim 104:24.

3.Note of the Rebbe: “This is explained at greater length in many places in Chassidut, e.g., in Mitzvat Haamanat Elokut [in Derech Mitzvotecha of the Tzemach Tzedek].”

4.Note of the Rebbe: “This is explained more extensively in many places in Chassidut, e.g., in Shaar HaYichud [in Ner Mitzvah veTorah Or of the Mitteler Rebbe].”

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