When G‑d desired to create the world, He caused His infinite light to undergo tzimtzum (contraction), for a limited world could come into being only after the light was withdrawn and an empty cavity (the reshimu) brought into existence. Afterwards, He shined a contracted vector (the kav) of the original light into the empty cavity, bringing the keilim into being.

Even though the keilim are distinct entities with a specific definition, they are described as G‑dly because they have no conception of self or individual existence. They are expressions of G‑dliness. Bringing these keilim into being does not involve change on G‑d’s part, because they are brought into being by His light and not His Essence.


– VI –

In the previous section, the Tzemach Tzedek questioned the definition of the keilim as G‑dliness and the fact that G‑d’s light does not change as it enclothes itself in them. To explain these issues, he elaborated on the uniqueness of G‑d’s light: how it does not cause Him to change, and yet is emanated willfully. Having clarified these points, he proceeds to expand on the subjects of or (“light”) and tzimtzum (“contraction”) so that he can clarify the concepts that he had raised originally.

וְהִנֵּה בְּסֵדֶר הִתְהַוּוּת הָעוֹלָמוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ הוֹדִיעָנוּ הַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרֵךְ עַל יְדֵי נְבִיאֵינוּ וַחֲכָמֵינוּ הַקְּדוֹשִׁים זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה

The order through which the world is brought into being from G‑d was revealed to us by G‑d through our prophets and the holy sages of blessed memory,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָאֲרִיזַ"ל אֲשֶׁר רוּחַ ה' דִּבֶּר בּוֹ

as was recorded by the AriZal through whom the spirit of G‑d spoke:1

שֶׁכְּשֶׁעָלָה בִּרְצוֹנוֹ הַפָּשׁוּט לִבְרוֹא הָעוֹלָם

When it arose in His simple will to create the world,

צִמְצֵם עַצְמוֹ בִּנְקֻדָּה הָאֶמְצָעִית

He contracted His Essence, i.e., His essential light, in a central point

וּפִנָּה מָקוֹם שָׁוֶה מִכָּל צְדָדָיו

and left vacant an evenly measured place on all sides.

וְנִקְרָא חָלָל וּמָקוֹם פָּנוּי

This is called the vacuum and the empty space.

רַק רְשִׁימוּ נִשְׁאַר שָׁם מִן הָאוֹר שֶׁהָיָה קֹדֶם

Only a reshimu(trace) remained from the light that originally existed.

וְאָמְנָם אֵינוֹ בְּחִינַת מִעוּט בְּהָאוֹר חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

Nevertheless, the light was not reduced, G‑d forbid;

רַק נִסְתַּלֵּק לַצְּדָדִים

it was merely moved to the sides.

וְאַחַר כָּךְ הִמְשִׁיךְ לְתוֹכוֹ קַו דַּק,

Then G‑d drew down a thin kav (vector of light) into the empty cavity, and all existence was brought into being through it.

וְהִנֵּה הִתְהַוּוּת הַכֵּלִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ה'

The keilimthat were mentioned above in section 5 were brought into being

הוּא מִן הָרְשִׁימוּ

from the reshimuthat remained.

וְהִתְהַוּוּת הָאוֹרוֹת שֶׁהֵם הָעַצְמוּת דִּלְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ה' הַמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בַּכֵּלִים

The oroswhich, as mentioned in section 5, are the essential lights2 that are enclothed in the keilim, come into being

הוּא מִן הַקַּו וְכוּ'.

from the kav.

וּלְפִי פְשׁוּטוֹ הַדָּבָר פִּלְאִי

According to its simple meaning, the above explanation is staggering.

אֵיךְ יִתָּכֵן צִמְצוּם וְסִלּוּק לַצְּדָדִים בְּאוֹר אֵין סוֹף

How is it possible to speak of a contraction of G‑d’s infinite light and it being “moved to the side”?

שֶׁאֵין לוֹ דְּמוּת הַגּוּף,

After all, G‑d’s light cannot be conceived of in physical terms3at all.

The Tzemach Tzedek questions why the Etz Chayim uses terms that involve space, even though we are speaking of G‑d’s infinite light, an unbounded entity, far above any conception of space.

וּמַה גַּם שֶׁהַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר אֲנִי ה' לֹא שָׁנִיתִי (מַלְאָכִי ג' ו')

Moreover, it is written (Malachi3:6): “I, G‑d, have not changed”

וַהֲרֵי עִנְיַן הַצִּמְצוּם הוּא שִׁנּוּי גָּדוֹל לִכְאוֹרָה,

and, seemingly, the tzimtzumrepresents a great change.

אַךְ עַל פִּי הָאָמוּר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ה' בֵּאוּר לְשׁוֹן אוֹר אֵין סוֹף

A resolution can, however, be offered based on the explanation in section 5 regarding the term Or Ein Sof(“G‑d’s infinite light”).

שֶׁזֶּהוּ עַל הַזִּיו הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט מִמֶּנּוּ

This term refers to the ray that radiates forth from Him

בִּרְצוֹנוֹ הַפָּשׁוּט

as a result of His simple will, a level of will far above the level of will that functions as conscious desire, as explained in sec. 5.

שֶׁלְּפִי שֶׁהָאוֹר הוּא מֵעֵין הַמָּאוֹר

Since the light is representative of the Source of light,

לָכֵן הוּא אֵין סוֹף

the light is also infinite

כְּמוֹ שֶׁעַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

like His Essence

אֵין לוֹ תְּחִלָּה וְתִכְלָה

which has neither beginning nor end.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא הָאוֹר אֵין סוֹף

For that reason, G‑d’s light is referred to as Or Ein Sof,literally, “the light that has no end,”

וְלֹא בִּלְשׁוֹן אֵין לוֹ תְּחִלָּה

and not Or Ein Lo Techilah (“the light that has no beginning”).

Were the intent to describe the light as being G‑d’s light, “the light of the Infinite One,” it would have been more appropriate to refer to it as “the light of He Who has no beginning,” for there are other entities which – as a result of G‑d’s will – have no end, but only He has no beginning. Instead, the intent is that Ein Sof describes the light; the light itself is Ein Sof, unending and infinite. That description is appropriate because this light has a beginning – G‑d’s Essence, its source – but no end, for it shines without any bounds or limitations.

אֶלָּא לְפִי שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת וְהַמְשָׁכָה הַהֶאָרָה

This light is a radiation and an extension of a ray.

לָכֵן נוֹפֵל עַל זֶה לְשׁוֹן אֵין סוֹף לְהַהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת כוּ'

Therefore, it can be described as radiating forth infinitely.

וּבִבְחִינַת הָאוֹר הַזֶּה הוּא שֶׁהָיָה הַצִּמְצוּם הָאָמוּר

It is within this infinite light that the tzimtzum took place

וְלֹא בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

and not within G‑d’s Essence, Heaven forbid.

וּפֵרוּשׁ וְעִנְיַן הַצִּמְצוּם הַיְנוּ

To explain the tzimtzum,it is necessary to first understand that

לִהְיוֹת כִּי יְכֹלֶת הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַהֶאָרָה הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל הַנִּקְרָא אֵין סוֹף מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

the potential of the ray – which is called Ein Sof (infinite) – to extend outward from Him

הֲרֵי בִּיכָלְתּוֹ לְהָאִיר בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית מַמָּשׁ

is actually an infinite potential, without any limit or end,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁעַצְמוּתוֹ הוּא בִּלְתִּי בַּעַל גְּבוּל

just as His Essence is unlimited.

וְלָזֹאת לֹא הָיוּ מִתְהַוִּים מִמֶּנּוּ נִבְרָאִים בַּעֲלֵי גְבוּל כְּמוֹ שֶׁהֵם עַתָּה

Accordingly, limited created beings such as those that exist now could not come into being from this light.4

אֶלָּא הָיוּ בְּסִגְנוֹן אַחֵר,

From that level, creation would be of a different nature.

וְלָכֵן צִמְצֵם עַצְמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יָאִיר רַק מְעַט זְעֵיר שָׁם מִנִּי כְּלָלוּת הַהֶאָרָה

Therefore, because He desired to create a limited world, He contracted His light so that there would shine forth only a small dimension of the original, general light

מַה שֶּׁלְּגַבֵּי עֶצֶם הַהֶאָרָה כְּלָא חֲשִׁיבִין

which, when compared to the essence of this general light, is of no importance,

וּכְעֶרֶךְ הַגְּבוּל מַמָּשׁ לְגַבֵּי הַבִּלְתִּי בַּעַל גְּבוּל

and the relation of this ray to that general light is comparable to the relationship of limited entities to that which is unlimited.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא רְשִׁימוּ

For this reason, what remains from the light is called a reshimu (a trace),

כְּמוֹ הַכּוֹתֵב דָּבָר וּמוֹחֲקוֹ שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר רְשִׁימוּ

like a person who writes and then erases the writing in which instance, a trace (reshimu) remains.

וְאֵין בִּרְשִׁימוּ כְּלָל מִגּוּף הַדָּבָר הַנִּכְתָּב

That trace does not contain any of the substance that was originally written,

שֶׁנְּטָלוֹ כֻּלּוֹ

for it was removed entirely.

רַק זֵכֶר וּרְשִׁימוּ בְּעָלְמָא

It is only a trace and a vestige.

כָּךְ הֶאָרָה זוֹ שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר לְהָאִיר כְּלָא חֲשִׁיבִין לְגַבֵּי עֶצֶם הָאוֹר

Similarly, this ray, i.e., the reshimu,5that remains to illuminate after the tzimtzum is of no importance at all when compared to the essence of the light,

שֶׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת אֵין סוֹף מַמָּשׁ,

which is actually Ein Sof.

וְהִנֵּה הָאוֹר שֶׁנִּסְתַּלֵּק מִלְּהָאִיר הַיְנוּ שֶׁנִּכְלַל בַּמָּאוֹר

Through the tzimtzum, the light that was removed and prevented from shining was included in the Source of Light

כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיָה מִקֶּדֶם שֶׁהֵאִיר

as it existed there before it shined forth.

וְלָכֵן אֵין שׁוּם שִׁנּוּי כְּלָל בְּעַצְמוּתוֹ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם מִצִּמְצוּם זֶה

Therefore, this tzimtzum did not bring about any change in His Essence, Heaven forbid,

כִּמְבֹאָר לְעֵיל מִמָּשָׁל גַּשְׁמִי

as explained above with an analogy in physical terms:

בִּמְאוֹר הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ

the luminary of the sun,

שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִשְׁתַּנֶּה בְּרִבּוּי וּמִעוּט הַמְשָׁכַת הַזִּיו מִמֶּנּוּ,

which does not undergo change whether the radiance from it is drawn down abundantly or minimally.

וְגַם בְּהַהֶאָרָה עַצְמָהּ אֵין בָּהּ שִׁנּוּי

Moreover, even the ray itself – the original radiance of Divine light that shined before the tzimtzum; the general light mentioned above – does not undergo a change,

שֶׁאֵינָהּ עוֹלָה בְּשֵׁם בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ כְּלָל

for it has no independent identity at all,

אֶלָּא כְּלוּלָה בַּמָּאוֹר

but is instead included in the Source of Light,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר אִם יִרְצֶה ה',

as will be explained, with G‑d’s help.

וְהַמָּשָׁל בְּזֶה מֵחַיּוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט בַּגּוּף

An analogy to this can be taken from the life-energy of the soul that extends into the body,

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת זִיו עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ה'

for that is also a ray, by way of analogy, as explained in section 5.

וְהִנֵּה כְּשֶׁמַּעֲצִים הָעַיִן נִכְלָל כֹּחַ הָרְאִיָּה בְּעַצְמוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ

Now, when the eye is closed, the power of sight is included in the essence of the soul;

וְלֹא שֶׁחָלַף הָלַךְ לוֹ לְגַמְרֵי

it has not departed and disappeared entirely,

שֶׁהֲרֵי אָנוּ רוֹאִים שֶׁבְּפָתְחוֹ מִיָּד יִהְיֶה כְּמִקֶּדֶם

as is evident from the fact that when the person opens his eyes, it is obvious that he immediately sees as he did before.

וְכֵן אֲפִלּוּ בְּסוּמָא שֶׁאֵין הַכֹּחַ רְאִיָּה מִתְפַּשֵּׁט

Even a blind man, whose power of sight is not expressed, possesses that potential.

הַיְנוּ שֶׁכָּלוּל בְּעַצְמִיּוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ

It is just not revealed and is instead included in the essence of his soul.

וְלָכֵן הוּא מוֹלִיד אָדָם רוֹאֶה

Evidence of this is that the blind man will father a son who can see.

If he did not possess the power of sight in the essence of his soul, he would not be able to transmit it to his son.

וַהֲרֵי מוּבָן שֶׁאֵין הַנֶּפֶשׁ מִשְׁתַּנֵּית עַל יְדֵי זֶה בְּעַצְמוּתָהּ

It is thus understood that in its essence, the soul does not change

מִצִּמְצוּם אוֹ הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת אוֹרָהּ,

as a result of the contraction or expression of its light.

וְכֵן יוּבַן בְּכֹחַ הָרְאִיָּה עַצְמוֹ

Similarly, with regard to the power of sight itself,

שֶׁמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט מִמֶּנּוּ הֶאָרָה לִרְאוֹת בְּרָחוֹק ס' אַמָּה עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

a ray extends from it, enabling a person to see a distance of sixty cubits, for example.6

אִלּוּ יְצֻיַּר שֶׁבִּיכֹלֶת הָאָדָם לְצַמְצֵם שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאֶה רַק ד' אַמּוֹת עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

Now, if it were conceivable that a person could constrict his power of sight so that he would only see for four cubits,

יִהְיֶה יֶתֶר הַכֹּחַ נִכְלָל בְּעֶצֶם כֹּחַ הָרְאִיָּה שֶׁבָּעַיִן וְלֹא יִתְפַּשֵּׁט כוּ'

the remainder of his power of sight would continue to exist. It is only that it would not be revealed and would be included in the essence of the power of sight in the eye and would not be expressed.

וְעַל פִּי מְשָׁלִים אֵלּוּ יוּבַן עִנְיַן צִמְצוּם בְּאוֹר הָאֵין סוֹף

According to these analogies, we can understand the concept of the tzimtzum of G‑d’s infinite light.

שֶׁנִּכְלָל הָאוֹר בַּמָּאוֹר הוּא עַצְמוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

The light is included in the Source of Light, G‑d’s Essence,

וְנִשְׁאָר בִּבְחִינַת גִּלּוּי הֶאָרָה מְצֻמְצֶמֶת

and what remains is only the revelation of a limited ray,

וְנִקְרָא רְשִׁימוּ

a reshimu.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵינוֹ שׁוּם שִׁנּוּי בּוֹ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם,

Nevertheless, there is no change within Him, Heaven forbid, for the entire concept of tzimtzum applies only with regard to His light and not with regard to Him.

(אַךְ אֵיךְ שֶׁאֵינוֹ שׁוּם שִׁנּוּי גַּם בְּהָאוֹר

(Moreover, the explanation of how there is also no change with regard to the light – and that the totality of G‑d’s light continues to exist,

כִּי הַגִּלּוּי וְהַצִּמְצוּם אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא לְגַבֵּי הַמְקַבְּלִים

for the concepts of revelation and contraction are relevant only to the recipients,

אֲבָל לְגַבֵּי עַצְמוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ אֵין שִׁנּוּי כְּלָל

but from the perspective of His Essence, there is no change with regard to the light at all,

כִּי לְעוֹלָם הָאוֹר כָּלוּל בַּמָּאוֹר

since the light is truly included in the Source of Light

וּבָטֵל בִּמְצִיאוּת

and its individual existence is utterly nullified

וְאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה בְּשֵׁם בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ

and its own identity is not perceived at all –

נִתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר בְּבֵאוּר הָאוֹצְרוֹת חַיִּים),

is clarified in another source, in the maamar entitled “the explanation of Otzros Chayim.”)7

וְהִנֵּה מֵהֶאָרָה מְצֻמְצֶמֶת הַנִּזְכֶּרֶת לְעֵיל

Behold, from the ray, the kav, that shines after the tzimtzum, and is constricted by it,

הוּא שֶׁנִּתְהַוּוּ הַכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת

the keilimof Atzilus came into existence,

וְרֵאשִׁיתָן הַחָכְמָה

the first of which is Chochmah. Chochmah represents a synthesis of conflicting thrusts.

עִם הֱיוֹת שֶׁעִנְיָנָהּ בְּחִינַת הַבִּטּוּל

Its character is bittul,

כִּי חָכְמָה כֹּחַ מָ"ה

for Chochmah (חכמה) is koach mah (כח מ"ה), “the power of non-being,”

Chochmah represents a transitional state in Seder Hishtalshelus, the chainlike order of spiritual existence. On one hand, it is intellectual awareness, a defined and limited potential. On the other hand, because it is characterized by bittul, it can appreciate the light that transcends limitation. Chochmah is

שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת הַהַשְׂכָּלָה אֵיךְ שֶׁהָאֵין סוֹף הוּא לְבַדּוֹ הוּא כוּ'

the conceptualization of how the Ein Sof alone is True Existence and there exists nothing besides Him.8

וְכֵן כָּל הַכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת

Similarly, all the keilim of Atzilus are characterized by bittul.

The keilim of Atzilus have no sense of individual identity, but instead are totally subsumed in G‑dliness. Nevertheless, as the Tzemach Tzedek proceeds to explain, they still have a specific definition.

מִכָּל מָקוֹם הֵם בְּחִינַת מְצִיאוּת מֻגְדָּר וּמֻגְבָּל

Nevertheless, they are defined and limited entities

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאַתָּה אוֹמֵר חָכְמָה חֶסֶד כוּ'

as reflected in the fact that they are called Chochmah, Chessed,etc.

שֶׁאֵינוֹ בְּעֶרֶךְ עַצְמוּתוֹ

Thus, they are not comparable to His Essence,

שֶׁהוּא הֲוָיָה פְּשׁוּטָה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

which is a simple Being, as explained above,

וְהִתְהַוּוּתָן הוּא עַל יְדֵי צִמְצוּם הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

and they come into existence through the tzimtzum mentioned previously

מִן הָאוֹר וְהַזִּיו כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

from G‑d’s ray and radiance, as explained above.

וְעִנְיַן צִמְצוּם זֶה הוּא הִפּוּךְ מֵעִנְיַן הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת עִלָּה וְעָלוּל

The need for there to be a tzimtzum to create the keilim reflects how they are of a different nature than His Essence and even His light. For bringing an entity into being through tzimtzum is the opposite of it coming into existence through a chainlike series of cause and effect relationships (ilah v’alul).

שֶׁבְּהַהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת הֲרֵי הֶעָלוּל הוּא מֵעֶרֶךְ הָעִלָּה

In the latter type of relationships, the effect is comparable to the cause and representative of it.

Even though a descent is involved in a cause and effect relationship, the cause and the effect share a commonality. This is indicated by the analogy of a chain, where the lower portion of the upper link descends below the highest point of the lower link and there is a certain segment that is shared by both. Take, for example, the manner in which intellect spawns emotion: Intellectually, a person can appreciate the value of a particular entity or course of conduct. When he takes this awareness to heart and identifies with it, he is aroused with love and desire for that entity or course of conduct. There is a commonality between the cause, the intellectual awareness, and the effect, the emotion aroused. Moreover, the emotion is dependent on the person remaining aware of the thoughts which prompted these feelings.

In contrast, when an entity is brought into being through tzimtzum, there is no connection between the source of the entity brought into being and that entity itself. They are on two discrete planes of existence.

וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתַב הָרְמַ"ק עִנְיַן הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת עִלָּה וְעָלוּל וְכֵן הוּא בְּזֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ פַּרְשַׁת בְּרֵאשִׁית

Although we find that Ramak9 – and also the Zohar (Parshas Bereishis)10 – do employ the terminology of ilah v’alul,

הַיְנוּ בְּהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת הַסְּפִירוֹת בַּסְּפִירוֹת עַצְמָן

that is with regard to the chainlike progression from one Sefirah to another Sefirah.

And even in an extended sense, from one world to another, as the Tzemach Tzedek proceeds to illustrate.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן הִתְהַוּוּת הַכֵּלִים מֵאֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא

In contrast, with regard to the keilimcoming into existence from the Ein Sof,

אִלּוּ הָיָה מֵאִיר בִּבְחִינַת עִלָּה וְעָלוּל

were He to radiate His light in a manner similar to a cause and effect relationship,

גַּם מֵהָאוֹר וְהַזִּיו

even from His light and radiance,

i.e., even though His light and radiance is not His Essence,

לֹא הָיָה כְּלָל הִתְהַוּוּת מְצִיאַת חָכְמָה

it would be impossible for Chochmah to come into being.

אֲפִלּוּ חָכְמָה דַאֲצִילוּת

This applies even to the Chochmah of Atzilus.

There is no way a defined entity, like Chochmah, can come into being from His infinite light without tzimtzum.

מֵאַחַר שֶׁהִיא מָקוֹר דְּמָקוֹר לְהִתְהַוּוּת שֵׂכֶל אֱנוֹשִׁי דֶּרֶךְ רִבְבוֹת הִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּת

For even the Chochmah of Atzilus serves as the ultimate source for mortal intellect to come into being through myriads of chainlike descents

עַל יְדֵי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת בְּחָכְמָה שֶׁבְּי' סְפִירוֹת דַּעֲשִׂיָּה

through its enclothement in the Ten Sefirosof Asiyah.

The fact that the lower forms of wisdom come into being from the Chochmah of Atzilus indicates that the Chochmah of Atzilus itself is limited and incomparable to G‑d’s infinite light.

וְאֵיךְ שֶׁתִּהְיֶה דַּקָּה מִן הַדַּקָּה

True, the Sefiros of Atzilus represent a refined form of existence. They are far loftier than existence as we know it.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁיְּצֻיַּר דַּקּוּת מְתִיקוּת הַשֵּׂכֶל לְגַבֵּי מְתִיקוּת הַתַּפּוּחַ

To explain by analogy, the sweetness of an idea when compared to the sweetness of an apple

וְכֵן יְצַיֵּר מַעֲלַת שִׁנּוּי מַהוּת חָכְמָה הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל מֵחָכְמוֹת דִּבְרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

is somewhat representative of the distance between the Chochmah of Atzilus and Chochmah in the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.

אַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵינָן בְּעֶרֶךְ הָאוֹר הַפָּשׁוּט הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

Nevertheless, this level of Chochmah is not at all comparable to the simple light described above.

To flesh out the analogy used by the Tzemach Tzedek: The term sweetness is applied in many different contexts. For example, food is described as being sweet, a melody is called sweet, a person is referred to as sweet, and there is even, as the Tzemach Tzedek mentioned, an expression, a geshmaka seichel, a sweet idea. Now, within each of these categories themselves, there are many levels. There are many different types of sweet foods, songs, and persons. However, the difference between two types of sweet food is of a totally diverse nature than the difference between sweet food and a sweet song. The sweetness of both foods can be tasted by the palate, while the sweetness of a song requires the use of higher senses, and the sweetness of a person and an idea cannot be perceived by our physical senses at all. Nevertheless, the same term is used to describe all these four types of sweetness.11 In other words, the same motif can exist on different planes and in different forms, and the lower manifestation of the motif can be seen as an analogy for the higher one.

A similar concept applies regarding the different levels of spiritual existence. As they descend from a higher plane to a lower one, the multiple expressions of Divine life-energy take on different forms and manifestations. In that vein, Chassidus12interprets the verse describing King Shlomoh’s wisdom:13 “He related 3000 analogies.” King Shlomoh would relate 3000 analogies for every Torah concept, i.e., he would see – and explain to others – every Torah idea as it exists on 3000 planes of existence. The rationale for the number 3000 can be explained as follows: There are ten Sefiros which interrelate in manifold ways. 1000 can be understood as referring to 10 cubed, i.e., each Sefirah on two levels of interrelation with each of the others. Now, there are three created realms: Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah. King Shlomo understood a concept as it exists on the level of the Chochmah of Chochmah of Chochmah of the world of Beriah and was able to communicate it to one whose understanding was on the level of Malchus of Malchus of Malchus in the world of Asiyah. The analogies he gave were manifestations of the same concept on a lower level of existence.

The keilim of Atzilus do not come into being from their source through such a process.

אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי צִמְצוּם עָצוּם דַּיְקָא

Instead, the keilim come into being through an awesome tzimtzum

שֶׁהוּא שִׁנּוּי מִמַּהוּת לְמַהוּת,

which involves a transition from one type of being to another.

A chain-like progression is not sufficient. It is necessary for there to be a radical transition that can only be accomplished through tzimtzum.

אָמְנָם אַף עַל פִּי כֵן נִקְרָאִים הַכֵּלִים הַלָּלוּ אֱלֹקוּת

Nevertheless, although they are distinct entities, these keilim are still called G‑dliness,

שֶׁאֵינָן בִּבְחִינַת נִפְרָד וּבְרִיאָה בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָם

for they are not separate and independent creations

כְּמוֹ בְּחִינַת חֶסֶד דְּמִיכָאֵל עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

like, for example, the kindness embodied in the archangel Michael.

שֶׁמִּיכָאֵל הוּא מְצִיאוּת רוּחָנִי נִפְרָד בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ

For Michael is a separate and independent spiritual entity,

אֶלָּא שֶׁמִּשְׁתּוֹקֵק אֵלָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

who yearns for G‑d.

As will be explained, the term beriah, “creation,” implies an entity with a consciousness of self. The archangel Michael, despite his great love for G‑d, is still an entity with a consciousness of self. Indeed, precisely that consciousness motivates his great yearning for G‑d. For since he is refined, he realizes that the most complete form of self-fulfillment comes in transcending one’s self and giving oneself over to G‑d.

וְסִבַּת הִתְהַוּוּתוֹ בִּבְחִינַת נִפְרָד לְגַמְרֵי

The reason Michael was created as entirely a separate entity

וְכֵן בְּכָל הַנִּבְרָאִים

– and this also holds true for all the other created beings –

הוּא מֵחֲמַת הֶעְלֵם הָאוֹר וְחַיּוּת בָּהֶן

is because of the concealment of the light and life-energy

מִמִּדַּת גְּבוּרָתוֹ

through His attribute of Gevurah

כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתְרָאֶה הַנִּבְרָא בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ לְיֵשׁ וְנִפְרָד

so that every created being would appear as a separate entity and a yesh

עִם שֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת קַמֵּיהּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ הוּא כְּלָא חֲשִׁיב,

even though, in truth, the created being is of no importance before Him.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בַּכֵּלִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל

This is not true with regard to the above- mentioned keilim,

שֶׁאֵין מַהוּת הַחָכְמָה עוֹלֶה בְּשֵׁם בְּרִיאָה בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

for the substance of Chochmah of Atzilus is not an independent entity, Heaven forbid,

אֶלָּא שֶׁהִיא אֱלֹקוּת מַמָּשׁ

but is actual G‑dliness.

שֶׁהַחָכְמָה הִיא חָכְמָתוֹ

For the Chochmah is His Chochmah

וְכֵן בִּינָתוֹ וְדַעְתּוֹ וְחַסְדּוֹ כוּ'

and the same applies with regard to His Binah,His Daas,and His Chessed, etc.,

דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁהוּא הַמְצַמְצֵם אוֹרוֹ לִהְיוֹת מֵאִיר בְּצִמְצוּם

i.e., He contracts His light so that it shines in a concentrated manner

עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בְּחִינַת חָכְמָה וּבְחִינַת חֶסֶד וְכוּ'

until the attributes of Chochmahand Chessed

מְאִירִים בְּגִלּוּי מִמֶּנּוּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

shine from Him in a revealed manner

כְּדֵי לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ עַל יְדֵי כֹּחוֹת אֵלּוּ אֱלֹהוּתוֹ בָּעוֹלָמוֹת

in order to convey His G‑dliness to the worlds through these powers

כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ עַל אֹפֶן שֶׁהֵם עַתָּה

so that the worlds will exist in their present state.

G‑d could create a world without employing the intermediary of the Sefiros, but the creation of the world as it exists in its present state – a limited realm, yet one in which through Divine service, G‑dliness can be perceived –

שֶׁזֶּה אִי אֶפְשָׁר זוּלָתִי

can only be achieved

עַל יְדֵי הֶאָרָתוֹ עַל יְדֵי י' סְפִירוֹת אֵלּוּ דַוְקָא,

through His radiance shining through these Ten Sefiros.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרְאוּ הַי' סְפִירוֹת אֲצִילוּת וְלֹא בְּרִיאָה

Therefore, these Sefirosare referred to as Atzilusand not Beriah.

כִּי אֲצִילוּת נִגְזַר מִלְּשׁוֹן וַיָּאצֶל מִן הָרוּחַ (בַּמִּדְבָּר י"א כ"ה)

For the meaning of the name Atzilusis indicated by the phrase (Bamidbar11:25): “And He radiated forth (vaya’tzel) from the spirit that was upon him,”

שֶׁהוּא הַפְרָשַׁת הֶאָרָה מֵרוּחוֹ שֶׁל מֹשֶׁה לְע' הַזְּקֵנִים

i.e., an emanation of a ray from the spirit of Moshe to the seventy elders,

בִּבְחִינַת זִיו לְבָד

but only a ray.

True, Moshe’s energy was radiated to the elders. However, all they received was a ray of his powers. The essence of Moshe’s powers, by contrast, were not conveyed to them.

שֶׁכָּךְ הָאֲצִילוּת הֵמָּה מִבְּחִינַת זִיו וְאוֹר הָאֵין סוֹף

Similarly the Sefiros of Atzilus represent the radiance and the light of the Ein Sof.

וְלֹא בְּרִיאָה לִהְיוֹת נִפְרָד חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

They are not creations with separate identities, Heaven forbid,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁהַזִּיו הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל מֵאִיר בָּהֶם בְּגִלּוּי

since this ray shines within them in a revealed manner

וְלֹא נִתְצַמְצֵם כָּל כָּךְ

and has not been contracted to the extent

עַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁמִּתְצַמְצֵם כְּשֶׁמְּחַיֶּה אֶת הַנִּבְרָא

that it is contracted when it gives vitality to a created being.

כְּמִיכָאֵל שֶׁנִּתְצַמְצֵם כָּל כָּךְ

For example, when the archangel Michael, the archangel of Chessed,is brought into being, the light is so contracted

עַד שֶׁיִּרְאֶה מִיכָאֵל עַצְמוֹ לְיֵשׁ וְנִפְרָד

that Michael sees himself as a separate and independent entity.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא בְּרִיאָה

Therefore, he is referred to as a beriah,creation.”

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּי' סְפִירוֹת הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל

This is not true with regard to these Ten Sefiros. They have no sense of individual identity.

וְלָכֵן נִקְרָאִים אֲצִילוּת גַּם מִלְּשׁוֹן אֵצֶל וְסָמוּךְ כוּ'

For this reason, they are called Atzilus,for that term also has the connotation of eitzel,“close to Him,” and near.14

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם לְגַבֵּי מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ הוּא צִמְצוּם עָצוּם מִן הַזִּיו הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל

Nevertheless, when compared to His Essence and Being, they have undergone an awesome contraction from the radiance described above.

וּבֶאֱמֶת שֶׁמַּהוּתָן רָחוֹק יוֹתֵר מִמַּהוּת אוֹר הָאֵין סוֹף

In truth, the nature of their being is very different from the nature of the being of G‑d’s infinite light

שֶׁמִּתְעַלֶּה מֵהֶן עִלּוּי רַב

which transcends them exceedingly.

יוֹתֵר מֵעִלּוּי מַהוּת הַסְּפִירוֹת עַל הַנִּבְרָא הַנִּפְרָד הַגָּמוּר

Indeed, the degree of its transcendence is greater than the degree of the transcendence of the Sefiros over a created being which is utterly separate from G‑d,

עַד שֶׁשְּׁנֵיהֶם שָׁוִים קַמֵּיהּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

to the extent that both the Sefiros and a created being are considered the same before Him.

For both the Sefiros and the created beings are limited entities, while G‑d’s infinite light is utterly transcendent.

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ד' עַל פָּסוּק כֻּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ

As mentioned above in section 4, the verse “You made them all with wisdom”

שֶׁסְּפִירַת הַחָכְמָה עִם הַדּוֹמֵם דַּעֲשִׂיָּה שָׁוִים מַמָּשׁ קַמֵּיהּ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

can be interpreted as meaning that the Sefirah of Chochmah and an inanimate object in the world of Asiyah are actually the same not only in relation to G‑d’s Essence,

וַאֲפִלּו לְגַבֵּי אוֹרוֹ הַפָּשׁוּט

but even in relation to His simple light.

עִם שֶׁהוּא זִיו בִּלְבָד

For although this simple light is only a ray,

כִּי הָאוֹר הוּא מֵעֵין הַמָּאוֹר,

it is still representative of the Source of Light.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם נִקְרָאִים אֱלֹקוּת מַמָּשׁ

Nevertheless, the Sefiros are called actual G‑dliness,

שֶׁהֵם חָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ כוּ'

for they are His wisdom and His understanding, etc.

וְהֵם חַיּוּת מַמָּשׁ לְהַנִּבְרָאִים

The Sefiros serve as life-energy to grant life to the created beings

לְהַחֲיוֹתָן מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ

and bring them into being from nothingness.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁמֵּחֶסֶד דַּאֲצִילוּת יִתְהַוֶּה מִיכָאֵל דִּבְרִיאָה

For from the Chessed of Atzilus,the archangel Michael is brought into being in Beriah.

שֶׁהֲרֵי הַחֶסֶד דַּאֲצִילוּת הוּא חֶסֶד שֶׁלּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

For the Chessedof Atzilusis His Chessed,

וְעַל יְדֵי הַחֶסֶד הַזֶּה הוּא מַשְׁפִּיעַ לְמִיכָאֵל מִמַּהוּת חֶסֶד זֶה

and through this Chessed,He conveys influence to Michael from the substance of this Chessed

וּמְהַוֵּהוּ מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ

and brings him into being from nothingness, enabling him to serve as a source to dispense Chessed for the lower realms.

וְכֵן בְּכָל הַי' סְפִירוֹת

Similar concepts apply with regard to all the Ten Sefiros.

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר אִיהוּ וְגַרְמוֹהִי חַד

Concerning this, it is said:15 “He and His causations, i.e., keilim, are one,”

שֶׁהֵן אֱלֹקוּת מַמָּשׁ

for they are actual G‑dliness

לִבְרוֹא מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ

that serve as a medium to create and bring entities into being from nothingness.

וְדַי לַמֵּבִין.

This is sufficient for a person of understanding.

וְהִנֵּה נִתְבָּאֵר יִשּׁוּב קֻשְׁיָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה דְפֶרֶק ה'

Thus, a resolution has been offered for the first question raised in section 5:

אֵיךְ הַכֵּלִים הֵם אֱלֹקוּת מַמָּשׁ וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן לְגַבֵּי מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ הֵם אֵין עֲרוֹךְ

How is it possible for the keilim to be considered actual G‑dliness and yet be incomparable to the Essence and Being of G‑d?

וְזֶה פֵּרוּשׁ לְשׁוֹן אֱלֹקוּת גֶעטְלִיךְ

For this is the interpretation of the term “G‑dliness,”

וְלֹא אֱלוֹהַּ בְּעַצְמוֹ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

i.e., expressions of Him, but not G‑d Himself, Heaven forbid.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאַתָּה אוֹמֵר כֹּחוֹת נַפְשִׁיּוֹת

To cite a parallel: when we speak of powers of the soul

מַחֲשֶׁבֶת הַנֶּפֶשׁ וְדִבּוּרָהּ

– the soul’s potential for thought, for speech, and the like

וְאֵינָן עַצְמִיּוּת הַנֶּפֶשׁ

these are not the essence of the soul,

אֶלָּא הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת כֹּחוֹתֶיהָ

but the expressions of its powers.

Every person’s soul is a simple, undefined entity. His soul powers, wisdom, emotion, speech, and the like, by contrast, are specific and defined in nature.

וְלֹא שֶׁהֵם דָּבָר נִפְרָד כִּרְאוּבֵן לְגַבֵּי שִׁמְעוֹן וְכוּ'

Nevertheless, they are not separate entities as one person is in relation to another – for the soul’s powers are identified with the soul,

וְכַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ד'

as explained in section 4.

וְהִתְהַוּוּתָן עַל יְדֵי הַצִּמְצוּם הַנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

The limitation that exists within the keilim comes about because they are brought into being through the tzimtzum, as explained above.

וְהִנֵּה עִנְיַן הַקַּו הַמֵּאִיר בַּכֵּלִים

The kavwhich shines in the keilim

הוּא מִבְּחִינַת הָאוֹר שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַצִּמְצוּם

comes from the light that preceded the tzimtzum.

וְהוּא פָּשׁוּט בְּתַכְלִית הַפְּשִׁיטוּת

It is simple, in ultimate simplicity,

וְנַעֲלֶה מַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מֵאוֹר הָרְשִׁימוּ

and far loftier than the light of the reshimu.

The kav represents revealed light that reflects its infinite source, while the light of the reshimu is hidden.16

אֶלָּא שֶׁלְּגַבֵּי הָאוֹר וְהַזִּיו בְּעַצְמוֹ

Nevertheless, when compared to the light and radiance of the Ein Sof itself,

נִקְרָא הֶאָרָה לְבָד

the light of the kav is merely a ray.

וְהוּא הֶאָרָה דְהֶאָרָה מִמַּהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמִיּוּתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ

It is thus a ray of a ray – i.e., the light before the tzimtzum is merely a ray, and the kav is a ray from it – from G‑d’s Essence and Being.

וְגַם בְּחִינַת קַו לְבָד

Moreover, the kav is merely a vector.

שֶׁעִנְיַן הַקַּו הוּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ אֹרֶךְ וְאֵין לוֹ רֹחַב

The term “vector” implies that it possesses only the dimension of length, but not a second dimension, breadth.

וְרוֹצֶה לוֹמַר שֶׁמּוֹרֶה עַל מִעוּט הָאוֹר

The intent is thus to imply a reduction of the light,

שֶׁזֶּהוּ מִעוּט הָרֹחַב

i.e., that its breadth was reduced.

וּבְחִינַת הָאֹרֶךְ מוֹרֶה עַל אֹרֶךְ מֶשֶׁךְ יְרִידָתוֹ בָּעוֹלָמוֹת אֲצִילוּת־בְּרִיאָה־יְצִירָה־עֲשִׂיָּה

The concept of length reflects the extent of its descent through

שֶׁמֵּאִיר בְּכָל עוֹלָם כְּעֶרְכּוֹ

the worlds of Atzilus, Beriah, Yetzirah,and Asiyah,

for it shines in every world according to its level.

וְהַיְנוּ עַל יְדֵי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּתוֹ בַּכֵּלִים דַּאֲצִילוּת

This is possible because of its enclothement in the keilimof Atzilus.

Were it not for this enclothement, the light would be too transcendent to shine within and have an effect on the lower levels.

וְזֶה סוֹד הָעַצְמוּת הַמִּתְלַבֵּשׁ בַּכֵּלִים

This is the mystic secret of the essential light that enclothes itself in the keilim,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָרְמַ"ק

as explained by Ramak.

וְאָמַר שֶׁהָעַצְמוּת הוּא פָּשׁוּט בְּתַכְלִית

He states that the essential light is ultimately simple,

אֶלָּא שֶׁנַּעֲשֵׂית בּוֹ תְּמוּנָה עַל יְדֵי הַהִתְלַבְּשׁוּת בַּכֵּלִים

except that it is given form through its enclothement in the keilim.

שֶׁהַהֶאָרָה הַמְּאִירָה בִּכְלִי חָכְמָה

For the ray that shines in the k’liof Chochmah

נַעֲשָׂה בָּהּ תְּמוּנָה פְּרָטִית

is adapted, shaped, as it were, in a particular form

לִהְיוֹת כֹּחַ וְחַיּוּת לְהַחָכְמָה

to serve as the power and vitality for Chochmah

וְהַהֶאָרָה הַמְּאִירָה בִּכְלִי הַחֶסֶד נַעֲשֵׂית בָּהּ תְּמוּנָה פְּרָטִית

and the ray that shines in the k’liof Chessedis adapted in a particular form

לִהְיוֹת אוֹר כֹּחַ וְחַיּוּת לְהַחֶסֶד

to serve as the power and vitality for Chessed.

אֶלָּא שֶׁהַשִּׁנּוּי בָּהֶם אֵינוֹ קָנוּי בַּאֲמִתַּת עַצְמוּתָם

The difference between these different expressions of the light does not affect their true essence.

אֶלָּא כְּמוֹ שִׁנּוּי הַמַּיִם בַּכְּלִי

Instead, it is like the change of the color of water depending on the color of the container in which it is placed

וְשִׁנּוּי גְּוָן הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לְפִי מַרְאֵה הָעֲשָׁשִׁית

or the change of the color of sunlight according to the color of the glass through which it shines.

וְלָכֵן יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת הִתְחַלְּפוּת הָאוֹרוֹת

Because of the simplicity of this light, it is possible that there will be a substitution of light,

אוֹר הַחֶסֶד בִּכְלִי הַגְּבוּרָה

i.e., the light of Chessed can shine in the k’liof Gevurah,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב הָאֲרִיזַ"ל.

as the AriZalstates.17

וּלְהַשְׂכִּיל קְצָת עִנְיַן הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת הַקַּו בַּכֵּלִים יוּבַן עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל

We can conceptualize to a certain extent the enclothement of the kavin the keilimthrough the comprehension of an analogy to the power of pleasure.

כִּי הִנֵּה אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא נִקְרָא מְקוֹר הַתַּעֲנוּגִים

The Ein Sofis referred to as the source of pleasure,

כִּי הַתַּעֲנוּג הוּא הַכֹּחַ הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט בַּמֶּרְחָב יוֹתֵר מִכָּל כֹּחוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ

for the power of pleasure diffuses and extends itself to a wider sphere than all of the other powers of the soul.

כְּנִרְאֶה בַּעֲלִיל מֵרִבּוּי מִינֵי הַתַּעֲנוּגִים

This is visible in actual fact from the many different types of pleasure

שֶׁיֵּשׁ בִּרְאִיָּה שְׁמִיעָה רֵיחַ דִּבּוּר

that we receive through the powers of sight, hearing, smell, and speech.

וְכָל תַּעֲנוּגֵי עוֹלָם הַזֶּה הֵם מִפְּסֹלֶת תַּעֲנוּג הָעֶלְיוֹן

Now, all of the pleasures of this world are merely the waste product of the sublime pleasure

שֶׁנָּפַל בִּשְׁבִירַת הַכֵּלִים

that fell during the destruction of the keilim18

וְאֵין עֲרוֹךְ לְגַבֵּי תַּעֲנוּג שֶׁבְּגַן עֵדֶן הַתַּחְתּוֹן

and are of no comparison to the pleasure experienced in the lower Gan Eden,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר עַל פִּי מַאֲמַר רַזַ"ל מוּטָב דְּלִידַיְנֵיהּ כוּ'(חֲגִיגָה ט"ו ב')

as explained in another source with regard to our Sages’ statement (Chagigah15b) with regard to Achair: “It is preferable that he be judged and enter the World to Come.”

Achair (Rabbi Elisha ben Avuya) was a great scholar, but had committed many severe transgressions. Hence, after his death, a Heavenly voice declared that rather than undergo the harsh punishments of Gehinnom necessary to purify himself before he could receive a portion of the World to Come, it would be preferable for him to forgo both the punishments and that eternal reward. Rabbi Meir, his colleague and student, however, prayed for Achair’s soul, maintaining – as stated in the above quote – that it was preferable for Achair to be judged so that his soul would ultimately receive these pleasures.

Chassidus19 explains that from Rabbi Meir’s words, it can be inferred that the pleasures of even the lower Gan Eden are so great that it was worth undergoing all of the suffering in Gehinnom to receive them.

וְיֵשׁ עֲלִיּוֹת לְאֵין קֵץ וְתַכְלִית בְּעִנְיַן רִבּוּי הַתַּעֲנוּג

There are, however, an infinite and unbounded number of higher levels with regard to the multitude of types of pleasure that exist in the spiritual realms.

וּמְקוֹר הַתַּעֲנוּגִים הוּא אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא

The source of pleasure is the Ein Sof,

פֵּרוּשׁ הָאוֹר וְזִיו

i.e., His light and its radiance,

וְלֹא עַצְמוּתוֹ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

but not His Essence, Heaven forbid.

וְהֶאָרַת הַתַּעֲנוּג מִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּכָל כֹּחוֹת הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל

The ray from this pleasure enclothes itself in all of the powers mentioned above;

שֶׁהֵם הַי' סְפִירוֹת חָכְמָה וּבִינָה

i.e., the Ten Sefiroswhich are Chochmah, Binah,etc..

וּמַגְדִּילָם וּמְחַיֶּה אוֹתָם

Pleasure enhances and vitalizes them,

כַּמָּשָׁל בָּאָדָם

as can be seen regarding pleasure in the human sphere.

שֶׁלְּפִי עֶרֶךְ הַתַּעֲנוּג שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָאָדָם בְּשֵׂכֶל

To the extent that a person experiences intellectual pleasure,

כָּךְ יִתּוֹסֵף שִׂכְלוֹ לְחַדֵּשׁ

so will his ability to develop new concepts be enhanced,

Pleasure energizes a person and enables him to tap the latent potential that exists within his soul more easily.

בְּאֹרֶךְ וְרֹחַב כוּ'

increasing the length and breadth of his thought processes.

וְהִנֵּה עַל יְדֵי הִתְלַבְּשׁוּת הַקַּו בְּהַכֵּלִים

Similarly, just as pleasure infuses all the different levels of spiritual existence and powers of the soul with energy and vitality, so too, the enclothement of the kavin the keilim

הוּא חַיּוּת הַכֵּלִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל

endows these abovementioned keilim with life-energy.

וְנִקְרָא נְשָׁמָה לְי' סְפִירוֹת

The kav is thus called the soul of the Ten Sefiros,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר אֵלִיָּהוּ כַּמָּה גוּפִין תְּקִינַת לוֹן

as Eliyahu states:20 “You have established several bodies for them.”

שֶׁהַכֵּלִים הֵם כִּמְשַׁל הַגּוּף שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת כְּלִי לְאוֹר הַנֶּפֶשׁ שֶׁבּוֹ

For the keilimare like the body which is a vessel for the light of the soul enclothed in it,

אֶלָּא שֶׁמִּתְאַחֲדִים יַחַד כְּיִחוּד הַנֶּפֶשׁ עִם הַגּוּף

except that the keilimbecome unified with the light in a manner similar to the unity of the body with the soul.

The qualification “except that....” is added because unlike an ordinary container which is separate from its contents, the keilim become identified with the light enclothed within them, like the body becomes identified with the soul.

וְעַל יְדֵי זֶה הוּא הַשְׁפָּעַת חַיּוּת הָאֱלֹהוּת בָּעוֹלָמוֹת

In this way, Divine life-energy is drawn down into the worlds

לִבְרוֹא מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ

to bring them into existence from nothingness

בְּכֹחַ הָאֵין סוֹף הַמְלֻבָּשׁ בָּהֶם עַל יְדֵי הַכֵּלִים

by means of the infinite power invested in the worlds through the medium of the keilim.

The structure and form of the keilim enable the infinite power of the light to bring about the creation of entities that have a sense of independent existence.

וּכְמוֹ הָאָדָם שֶׁנּוֹתֵן בְּיָדוֹ

This resembles a person giving a present with his hand

בְּכֹחַ הַמְלֻבָּשׁ בַּיָּד כוּ',

through the power invested in his hand.

וְעַתָּה יוּבַן גַּם כֵּן הַקֻּשְׁיָא שְׁנִיָּה דִלְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ה'

On this basis, it is possible to resolve the second question raised in section 5:

אֵיךְ שֶׁאֵין שִׁנּוּי בְּאֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִמַּה שֶּׁפּוֹעֵל פְּעֻלּוֹת שׁוֹנוֹת בְּכֵלִים שׁוֹנִים

How can there be no change in the Ein Sof even though He brings about different activities through different keilim?

וְאֵינוֹ כְּמוֹ הָאוּמָן שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּנֶּה בְּעַצְמוֹ מֵחֲמַת שִׁנּוּיֵי הַכֵּלִים כוּ'

In resolution, it can be explained that He is not like a craftsman who personally undergoes changes because of the different keilimhe uses,

לְפִי שֶׁהִתְלַבְּשׁוּת אוֹרוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ בַּכֵּלִים לִפְעוֹל עַל יָדָן הוּא רַק בִּבְחִינַת אוֹר וְזִיו לְבָד

because the enclothement of His light in the different keilimto bring about these different activities involves only His light and radiance,

וְגַם בְּחִינַת הֶאָרָה דְהֶאָרָה לְבָד

and more particularly, only a ray of a ray.

וְגַם הַהֶאָרָה בְּעַצְמָהּ הַשִּׁנּוּי בָּהּ אֵין אֲמִתִּי

Moreover, the radiance itself does not undergo a true change.

אֲבָל בּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ אֵין שׁוּם שִׁנּוּי כְּלָל חַס וְשָׁלוֹם

And His Essence does not undergo any change, Heaven forbid,

הֲגַם שֶׁכָּל הַפְּעֻלּוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ דַוְקָא

although all the different activities stem from Him,

כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל:

as explained above.


In this section, the Tzemach Tzedek expands on the subjects of or (“light”) and tzimtzum (“contraction”). He begins by quoting the AriZal’s description of the process in which the world came into being, relating that when it arose in G‑d’s simple will to create the world, He contracted His light in a central point and left vacant an evenly measured place on all sides. This is referred to as tzimtzum. Only a reshimu (trace) remained from the light that originally existed. Nevertheless, the light itself was not reduced, G‑d forbid; it was merely “moved to the sides,” as it were. Then, G‑d drew down a thin kav (vector of light) into the empty cavity, and all existence was brought into being through it.

From the interaction of the reshimu and the kav, the keilim that were mentioned above in section 5 are brought into being. The oros, i.e., the essential lights enclothed in the keilim, stem from the kav.

The Tzemach Tzedek clarifies these points by elaborating on the meaning of the term Or Ein Sof (“G‑d’s infinite light”). Since the light is representative of the Source of Light, the light is also infinite like the Ein Sof (the Infinite One), and thus has no end. It is within this infinite light and not within G‑d’s Essence, Heaven forbid, that the tzimtzum took place. This tzimtzum is an absolute necessity. Since this infinite light is incapable of being defined or categorized in any way, limited created beings such as those that exist now could not come into being from it.

Instead, it was necessary for the light to undergo contraction so that afterwards there would shine forth only a small dimension of the original, general light. That small dimension of light is referred to as the kav.

The light that was removed was absorbed in the Source of Light, where it existed before it originally emanated outward. Therefore, this tzimtzum did not bring about any change in His Essence, Heaven forbid, because the light is one with Him before and after the tzimtzum. An analogy is given that the sun does not undergo any change regardless of whether its light reaches the world or not. Even the ray of G‑d’s light itself does not undergo a change; it is merely included in the Source of Light.

To clarify the necessity for tzimtzum, the Tzemach Tzedek contrasts a descent via tzimtzum with a chainlike series of cause and effect relationships (ilah v’alul). In such relationships, the effect is comparable to the cause.

As an example of ilah v’alul, the Tzemach Tzedek states that Chochmah of Atzilus serves as the ultimate source for human intellect, enabling the latter to come into being through myriads of chainlike descents. Although the difference between the two is awesome, there is a fundamental similarity between the two. Both are described as intellect. Thus, the difference between them is not at all comparable to the difference between Chochmah of Atzilus and G‑d’s essential light that shined before the tzimtzum. Therefore, for Chochmah and all the other attributes to come into being, a tzimtzum – allowing for a radical transition from one type of being to another – is necessary.

Although these keilim impart a specific, individual nature to each of the Sefiros, they are still called G‑dliness, for they are not separate and independent entities. Thus, there is an awesome difference between the Sefirah of Chessed (“kindness”) and the kindness embodied in the archangel Michael. Michael is a separate and independent entity. In contrast, the k’li of Chessed is not an independent entity but is actual G‑dliness. It is His kindness.

Therefore, these Sefiros are referred to as Atzilus and not Beriah. Atzilus has the connotation of eitzel, “close to Him,” and near. The term Beriah, by contrast, implies the creation of a new entity from nothingness.

Although the nature of these keilim is very different from the nature of G‑d’s infinite light, the Sefiros of Atzilus are called actual G‑dliness, for they are His wisdom and His understanding, etc. Because they are identified with Him, the Sefiros are able to grant life to the created beings and bring them into being from nothingness.

Based on these concepts, it is possible to resolve the second question raised in section 5: How can there be no change in the Ein Sof even though He brings about different activities through different keilim? G‑d does not undergo change because all of the activities involve only His light. Hence, His Essence does not undergo any change, Heaven forbid, although all the different activities stem from Him, as explained above.