Likutei Amarim Chapter 43, Class 3

Continuation of Ch. 43

אך היראה עילאה, ירא בשת

However, as for yirah ila‘ah, a fear stemming from a sense of shame before G‑d’s greatness,

Fear of G‑d stemming from a sense of shame is similar to the shame and total sense of abnegation a person feels when he is in the presence of a truly outstanding tzaddik. 3 His shame is not from that great man’s external and revealed powers, as would be the case when one fears a king.

Fearing a king only involves fear of his externality, which finds expression in his rule. (Generally, the more extensive the king’s domain, the greater will be the fear of him.)

The same is true of the fear of G‑d which results from contemplating the “garments” and revelation of G‑dliness in all worlds. It is therefore termed yirah tata‘ah, a lower level of the fear of G‑d, inasmuch as it does not evoke the same degree of shame and self-nullification as is evoked by recognizing the greatness of a truly righteous person. There, the shame and fear is prompted by the great man’s essence; the nullification and shame will therefore be total. Thus, yirah ila’ah is a fear which stems from a sense of shame when one is confronted by G‑d’s greatness.

ויראה פנימית, שהיא נמשכת מפנימית האלקות שבתוך העולמות

and an inner fear that derives from the inward aspects of G‑dliness within the worlds,

wherein the person is cognizant of the inward and essential aspects of G‑dliness and not only of the external qualities of G‑dliness which are clothed in all the worlds. The worlds are wholly nullified before this inward aspect of G‑dliness with a complete and total nullification, bittul bimetziut. Awareness of this higher level of nullification leads to the higher level of fear, yirah ila‘ah.

עליה אמרו: אם אין חכמה, אין יראה

concerning this level of fear it was said by our Sages, “If there is no wisdom, there is no fear.” This level of fear must be prefaced by wisdom.

דחכמה היא כ״ח מ״ה

For 4 Chochmah is ko‘ach mah, the level of nullification which is termed mah (“What?”), as the verse says, 5 “…and we are mah” — a phrase that expresses the complete and total nullification which is termed bittul bimetziut,

והחכמה מאין תמצא

and 6 “Chochmah comes from ayin” (“nothingness”), for which reason Chochmah is ayin and nullity,

ואיזהו חכם, הרואה את הנולד. פירוש: שרואה כל דבר איך נולד ונתהוה מאין ליש, בדבר ה׳ ורוח פיו יתברך, כמו שכתוב: וברוח פיו כל צבאם

and our Sages said, moreover, 7 “Who is wise? He who sees that which is born [and created].” That is to say, that the wise person is he who sees how everything is born and created from non-being to being by means of the Word of G‑d and the breath of His mouth, as it is written, 8 “…and by the breath of His mouth all their hosts [were created].”

ואי לזאת, הרי השמים והארץ וכל צבאם בטלים במציאות ממש בדבר ה׳ ורוח פיו, וכלא ממש חשיבי, ואין ואפס ממש, כביטול אור וזיו השמש בגוף השמש עצמה

Therefore, the heavens and the earth and all their hosts, i.e., all of creation, are truly nullified out of existence within the Word of G‑d and the breath of His mouth — the level of their nullification is thus not that of bittul hayesh but of bittul bimetziut — and are accounted as nothing at all, as naught and nothingness indeed, just as the light and brightness of the sun are nullified within the body of the sun itself.

Once sunlight has left the sun one can perceive actual rays and illumination. However, when the light of the sun is found in its source, the body of the sun itself, it is completely nullified and does not exist in a luminous state; all that exists there is the source of light, the sun itself.

So, too, are all created beings nullified in their source, the Word of G‑d that creates them ex nihilo. When a person ponders this matter, it will so affect him that his nullification to G‑d will be at the level of bittul bimetziut.

ואל יוציא אדם עצמו מהכלל

And no man should except himself from this principle — from the principle governing all created beings, about which he understands that they are totally nullified to G‑d. He should realize:

שגם גופו ונפשו ורוחו ונשמתו בטלים במציאות בדבר ה׳

that also his body and Nefesh, Ruach and Neshamah are utterly nullified in the Word of G‑d that created them,

ודבורו יתברך מיוחד במחשבתו כו׳ וכנ״ל פרק כ׳ וכ״א באריכות, בדרך משל מנפש האדם, שדבור אחד מדבורו ומחשבתו כלא ממש כו׳

and His Word is united with His thought… and G‑d’s thought in turn is one with G‑d Himself. Thus, the nullification is not only to G‑d’s Word, but is a total nullification to G‑d Himself, as has been explained above at length ( 9 chs. 20 and 21), by analogy with the human soul, one utterance of whose speech and thought are veritably as nothing…, when compared to the power of speech which is limitless.

Surely, one word pales utterly in comparison to man’s thought, which is the source of speech. Even more so when a single utterance is compared to the source of thought — the power of intellect or emotion, depending on whether the individual is thinking about intellectual or emotional things. Surely, then, this spoken word cannot in any way be compared to the soul itself.

There is, however, a difference between man’s speech and G‑d’s. When a human being speaks, the sound emitted from his mouth departs from its source and becomes a separate entity. G‑d’s creative speech, however, never departs — heaven forbid — from its source, that source being G‑d Himself, Who is omnipresent. Thus, divine speech is always found within its source.

It now becomes even more clear that G‑d’s Word, the source of creation, is truly and totally nullified to and unified with G‑d. Thus all of creation is completely nullified to G‑d.

וזה שאמר הכתוב: הן יראת ה׳ היא חכמה

This is what is meant by the verse: 10 “Behold, the fear of G‑d, that is wisdom.”

For as explained earlier, the level of yirah ila‘ah and bittul bimetziut is the same as “wisdom”; it, too, is essentiallybittul bimetziut.

אך אי אפשר להשיג ליראה וחכמה זו אלא בקיום התורה והמצות על ידי יראה תתאה החיצונית, וזהו שאמרו: אם אין יראה, אין חכמה

However, one cannot attain this fear and wisdom except by means of the fulfillment of the Torah andmitzvot through yirah tata‘ah, which is an external fear. And this is what is meant by the statement, “If there is no fear, there is no wisdom.”

First must come yirah tata‘ah and the resulting performance of Torah and mitzvot; only then can one attain “wisdom” — yirah ila’ah and bittul bimetziut.



3.  The Alter Rebbe explains this comparison in greater detail in his Siddur, in his notes on Tikkun Chatzot.
4. See ch. 19.
5. Shmot 16:7.
6. Iyov 28:12.
7. Tamid 32a.
8. Tehillim 33:6.
9. Parentheses are in the original text.
10. Iyov 28:28

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