Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunahh Chapter 1, Class 2

Tanya/Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunah, Chapter 1, Class 2


וזה שאמר האריז״ל, שגם בדומם ממש כמו אבנים ועפר ומים יש בחינת נפש וחיות רוחנית

This thought was expressed by the AriZal,8 when he said that even within that which appears to be utterly inanimate matter, such as stones or earth or water, there is a soul and spiritual life-force.

דהיינו: בחינת התלבשות אותיות הדבור מעשרה מאמרות המחיות ומהוות את הדומם

That is, i.e, although they evince no demonstrable form of animation, [within them] are nevertheless enclothed the letters of speech from the Ten Utterances which give life and existence to inanimate matter,

להיות יש מאין ואפס שלפני ששת ימי בראשית

enabling it to come into being out of the naught and nothingness that preceded the Six Days of Creation.

The Ten Utterances usher inanimate matter into a state of existence, in contrast to its former state of non-being, prior to the Six Days of Creation. Thus, the letters of the Ten Utterances which cause inanimate matter to be created are its soul and life-force.

ואף שלא הוזכר שם אבן בעשרה מאמרות שבתורה

Now, although the name אבן (“stone”) is not mentioned in the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah, — how, then, can we say that letters of the Ten Utterances are enclothed within a stone?

אף על פי כן נמשך חיות לאבן על ידי צירופים וחילופי אותיות

nevertheless, life-force flows to the stone from the Ten Utterances by means of combinations and substitutions of their letters,

whereby an alef, for example, may take the place of a hei, since both letters are articulated by the same organ of speech, and so on,

המתגלגלות ברל״א שערים פנים ואחור, כמו שכתוב בספר יצירה

which are transposed in the “two hundred and thirty-one gates,” either in direct or reverse order,9 as is explained in Sefer Yetzirah,10

עד שמשתלשל מעשרה מאמרות ונמשך מהן צירוף שם אבן

so that ultimately the combination of letters [that forms] the name אבן descends from the Ten Utterances, and is derived from them,

והוא חיותו של האבן

and this combination of letters is the life-force of the stone.

וכן בכל הנבראים שבעולם

And so it is with all created things in the world.

The Holy Tongue, the Hebrew of the Torah, was the language used in creation. Thus, all created things are directly affected by their Hebrew names, as well as by the component letters of their names. In this, the Holy Tongue is unlike other, arbitrary languages, the meaning of whose words is the result of mere concensus.

השמות שנקראים בהם בלשון הקודש הן הן אותיות הדבור המשתלשלות ממדרגה למדרגה מעשרה מאמרות שבתורה

The names [of all creatures] in the Holy Tongue are the very letters of speech which descend, degree by degree, from the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah,

על ידי חילופים ותמורות האותיות ברל״א שערים, עד שמגיעות ומתלבשות באותו נברא להחיותו

by means of substitutions and transpositions of letters through the “two hundred and thirty-one gates,” until they reach a particular created thing and become invested in it, thereby giving it life.

לפי שאין פרטי הנבראים יכולים לקבל חיותן מעשרה מאמרות עצמן שבתורה

This descent is necessary because individual creatures, unlike the more pervasive beings such as the heavens, earth, sun and moon, cannot receive their life-force directly from the actual Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah,

שהחיות הנמשך מהן עצמן גדול מאד מבחינת הנבראים פרטיים

for the life-force issuing directly from them is far greater than the capacity of the individual creatures; i.e., it is far too intense to serve as their life-force.

ואין כח בהם לקבל החיות אלא על ידי שיורד החיות ומשתלשל ממדרגה למדרגה פחותה ממנה, על ידי חילופים ותמורות האותיות

They can receive the life-force only when it descends and is progressively diminished, degree by degree, by means of substitutions and transpositions of the letters,

וגימטריאות, שהן חשבון האותיות

and by means of gematriot, their numerical values,

The life-force may be so muted that it reaches a created being not even through a transposition of letters, but merely through their numerical equivalent.

עד שיוכל להתצמצם ולהתלבש ולהתהוות ממנו נברא פרטי

until [the life-force] can be condensed and enclothed, and a particular creature can be brought forth from it.

וזה שמו אשר יקראו לו בלשון הקדש, הוא כלי לחיות המצומצם באותיות שם זה

And the name by which [the creature] is called in the Holy Tongue is a vessel for the life-force condensed into the letters of that name

שנשתלשל מעשרה מאמרות שבתורה, שיש בהם כח וחיות לברוא יש מאין ולהחיותו לעולם

which has descended from the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah, that have the power and vitality to create a being ex nihilo and give it life forever.

דאורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד

Why does it have the power to do so? — For11 “the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one.” Just as G‑d has the ability to create ex nihilo, so too do the Ten Utterances of the Torah.


8. Note of the Rebbe: “See also Etz Chayim, Portal 50 (ch. 2, 10).”

9. Note of the Rebbe: “Enumerated in detail in Sefer HaPardes, Shaar HaTziruf, ch. 5.”

The twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet in two-lettered combinations yield a total of 462 combinations. Of these, half are the exact reverse of the other half, e.g.,alef-bet, bet-alef. Hence, there are 231 two-lettered combinations in direct order and the same number in reverse order.

10.  Ch. 2:4-5.

11.  Cf. Zohar I, 24a; II, 60a.

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