Likutei Amarim Chapter 49, Class 1

Beginning  of Chapter 49

The Alter Rebbe explained in the previous chapter that since the light and life drawn down from G‑d is infinite — Ein Sof, as its name indicates — therefore in order for this finite world to be created, the Divine light had to undergo a multitude of contractions (tzimtzumim). This was the only way that finite creation could proceed from the infinite light of Ein Sof; were it to have been drawn down in an orderly progression, finitude would have never resulted.

As will be explained later in this chapter, all these contractions were a result of G‑d’s love of the Jewish people and His desire that they have the opportunity to fulfill Torah and the mitzvot.

The Alter Rebbe will now describe these contractions in a general manner, and will conclude that just as G‑d “overcame all obstacles” because of His love for the Jews and created finite worlds and creatures, so, too, “as water mirrors the reflection of a face,” should every Jew overcome all obstacles and come to experience a love of G‑d. Moreover, just as G‑d brought forth His light into this world in a manner that transcended orderly and limited progression, so, too, should every Jew seek to serve G‑d not only in an orderly and limited fashion, but without limit, renouncing everything for the sake of his love of Him. Even limitations foisted upon him by the world’s very nature should not act as an impediment to his service of G‑d.

והנה אף כי פרטי בחינות ההסתר והעלם אור אין סוף ברוך הוא בהשתלשלות העולמות, עד שנברא עולם הזה הגשמי, עצמו מספר ומינים ממינים שונים

Even though the particular aspects of the nature of the obscuring and concealment of the [infinite] light of the blessed Ein Sof in the descent of the worlds, descending as they do ever lower until this material world was created, are too numerous to count and are of many diverse kinds,

כידוע לטועמים מעץ החיים

as is known to those who have tasted of the “Tree of Life,” the Kabbalah,

אך דרך כלל הם שלשה מיני צמצומים עצומים כלליים, לשלשה מיני עולמות כלליים, ובכל כלל יש רבוא רבבות פרטים, והם שלשה עולמות: בריאה, יצירה, עשיה, כי עולם האצילות הוא אלקות ממש

yet in general there are three levels of powerful and comprehensive “contractions” giving rise to three comprehensive Worlds, each category consisting of myriads upon myriads of particulars. These are the Worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah — for the World of Atzilut is G‑dliness itself.

Since Atzilut is G‑dliness itself it is not considered to be created ex nihilo, but rather is called Atzilut, which means an emanation from and an extension of G‑dliness — an illumination which comes from G‑d liness itself.

וכדי לברוא עולם הבריאה, שהן נשמות ומלאכים עליונים, אשר עבודתם לה׳ בבחינת חב״ד המתלבשים בהם

In order to create the World of Beriah, which consists of the higher souls and angels whose service to G‑d is in the sphere of the intellectual faculties of ChaBaD which are clothed in them — i.e., G‑dliness is revealed to them in an intellectual manner, through the three intellectual faculties of Chochmah, Binah and Daat,

והם משיגים ומקבלים מהם

and they i.e., the souls and angels apprehend them and receive [influence] from them — from ChaBaD which illumines them,

In order to create a world whose creations are not wholly nullified to G‑d — as is the case in Atzilut — but are only capable of knowledge and comprehension (and it will be noted that comprehension entails an awareness of one’s own being, in that comprehension presupposes an entity who is comprehending),

היה תחלה צמצום עצום כנ״ל

there necessarily preceded a powerful “contraction”, as mentioned above.

A mighty “contraction” was necessary in order to ensure that the light of G‑dliness manifest in Atzilut should be hidden, and that only a “contracted” form of light should illuminate and create creatures of the World of Beriah, which are on a level of creation ex nihilo.

וכן מבריאה ליצירה

So, too, from Beriah to Yetzirah,

In order for the World of Yetzirah — a World far lower than Beriah — to be created, there again had to be a powerful contraction.

כי אור מעט מזער המתלבש בעולם הבריאה, עדיין הוא בבחינת אין סוף לגבי עולם היצירה

for the minute portion of light (“minute”, that is, in relation to the light found in Atzilut) which clothes itself in the World of Beriah is still in a category of infinity in relation to the World of Yetzirah, so that the light of Beriah had to undergo a powerful “contraction” before it was able to descend into Yetzirah,

ואי אפשר להתלבש בו אלא על ידי צמצום והעלם, וכן מיצירה לעשיה

and it is unable to clothe itself in the latter except through contraction and obscuration. So, too, from Yetzirah to Asiyah.

There, too, the light of the World of Yetzirah had to be considerably limited to enable it to descend into the World of Asiyah.

וכמו שנתבאר במקום אחר ביאור שלשה צמצומים אלו באריכות, לקרב אל שכלינו הדל

(1An elaborate explanation of these three “contractions” is given elsewhere, in order to make them more accessible to our poor intellect.)

ותכלית כל הצמצומים הוא כדי לברוא גוף האדם החומרי, ולאכפייא לסטרא אחרא, ולהיות יתרון האור מן החושך

The purpose of all the “contractions” is the creation of the material human body and the subjugation by man of the sitra achra, to bring about the preeminence of light supplanting darkness — by having light replace darkness, and even more so when the darkness itself is transformed into light, at which time the preeminence of light is felt to an even greater degree. This is accomplished:

בהעלות האדם את נפשו האלקית והחיונית ולבושיהן, וכל כחות הגוף כולן, לה׳ לבדו, כנ״ל באריכות

when a person elevates his divine soul and his vivifying soul (a soul which receives its nourishment from kelipot, but through man’s service in Torah and mitzvot is elevated and incorporated into holiness, thereby elevating the souls) together with their garments of thought, speech and action, and all the powers of the body, to G‑d alone, as has been discussed earlier at length,

כי זה תכלית השתלשלות העולמות

for this is the purpose of the progressive descent of the Worlds.

The ultimate purpose of all the descents from level to level and World to World is this physical world. It is here that a Jew is able, through his divine service, to effect the subjugation of evil and the preeminence of light supplanting darkness.

The Alter Rebbe will go on to say that just as G‑d’s love for the Jews “overcame all obstacles” that (as it were) stood in the way of creating this physical world, contracting His infinite light so that finite beings could be created, so, too, should every Jew respond in kind by overcoming all obstacles that hinder him from serving G‑d. Furthermore, his level of service too should not be finite but infinite.




1. Parentheses are in the original text.

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