Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunahh Chapter 3, Class 2

Tanya/Shaar Hayichud V’haemunah, Chapter 3, Class 2.

אבל אילו ניתנה רשות לעין לראות ולהשיג את החיות ורוחניות שבכל נברא

If, however, the eye were permitted to see and to comprehend the life-force and spirituality which is in every created thing,

השופע בו ממוצא פי ה׳ ורוח פיו

flowing into it from “that which proceeds from the mouth of G‑d”1 and “His breath,”

לא היה גשמיות הנברא וחומרו וממשו נראה כלל לעינינו

then the physicality, materiality and tangibility of the creature would not be seen by our eyes at all,

כי הוא בטל במציאות ממש לגבי החיות והרוחניות שבו

for it (this physicality, etc.) is completely nullified in relation to the life-force and the spirituality which is within it

מאחר שמבלעדי הרוחניות, היה אין ואפס ממש כמו קודם ששת ימי בראשית ממש

since without the spirituality within it it would be naught and absolute nothingness, exactly as before the Six Days of Creation, at which time the creature was utterly non-existent.

והרוחניות השופע עליו ממוצא פי ה׳ ורוח פיו, הוא לבדו המוציאו תמיד מאפס ואין ליש ומהוה אותו

The spirituality that flows into it from “that which proceeds from the mouth of G‑d” and “His breath,” — that alone continuously brings it forth from naught and nullity into being, and this spirituality gives it existence.

אם כן אפס בלעדו באמת

Hence, there is truly nothing besides Him in any created being, apart from the Divinity — the only true reality — that brings it into existence.

The created being does not constitute a true reality, inasmuch as it is wholly dependent for its existence on the continuous flow of Divine life-force. Indeed, its existence verily consists of that activating force.


The Alter Rebbe proceeds to demonstrate how this is true of creatures that appear to be tangible, by means of an illustration:

והמשל לזה הוא אור השמש המאיר לארץ ולדרים

An illustration of this is the light of the sun which illumines the earth and its inhabitants.

שהוא זיו ואור המתפשט מגוף השמש ונראה לעין כל מאיר על הארץ ובחלל העולם

[This illumination] is the radiance and the light which spreads forth from the body of the sun and is visible to all as it gives light to the earth and the expanse of the universe.

והנה זה פשוט שאור וזיו הזה ישנו גם כן בגוף וחומר כדור השמש עצמו שבשמים

Now, it is obvious that this light and radiance is also present in the very body and matter of the sun-globe itself in the sky,

שאם מתפשט ומאיר למרחוק כל כך, כל שכן שיוכל להאיר במקומו ממש

for if it can spread forth and shine to such a great distance, then certainly it can shed light in its own place.

רק ששם במקומו ממש, נחשב הזיו הזה לאין ואפס ממש

However, there in its own place, this radiance is considered naught and complete nothingness,

כי בטל ממש במציאות לגבי גוף כדור השמש, שהוא מקור האור והזיו הזה

for it is absolutely non-existent in relation to the body of the sun-globe which is the source of this light and radiance,

שהזיו והאור הזה אינו רק הארה מאירה מגוף ועצם כדור השמש

inasmuch as this radiance and light is merely the illumination which shines from the body of the sun-globe itself.

Since the sun’s light is merely an illumination deriving from the sun, it is in a state of complete nothingness while it is found within the sun-globe itself. One cannot say that within the body of the sun there is sunlight; only the sun itself is found there.

רק בחלל העולם, תחת כל השמים ועל הארץ, שאין כאן גוף כדור השמש במציאות

It is only in the space of the universe, under the heavens and on the earth, where the body of the sun-globe is not present, and all that is seen is but an illumination that emanates from it,

נראה כאן האור והזיו הזה ליש ממש לעין כל

that this light and radiance appears to the eye of all beholders to have actual existence.

ונופל עליו כאן שם יש באמת

And here the term “existence” (yesh) can truly be applied to it,

The sun’s light and rays as they appear outside of the sun-globe can truly be said to exist, inasmuch as the sun itself is not found there.

מה שאין כן כשהוא במקורו בגוף השמש, אין נופל עליו שם יש כלל, רק שם אין ואפס

whereas when it is in its source, in the body of the sun, the term “existence” cannot be applied to it at all; it can only be called naught and non-existent.

כי באמת הוא שם לאין ואפס ממש, שאין מאיר שם רק מקורו לבדו, שהוא גוף השמש המאיר, ואפס בלעדו

There it is indeed naught and absolutely non-existent, for there only its source, the luminous body of the sun, gives light, and there is nothing besides it.

To sum up: Although the sun’s rays are surely found within the body of the sun, they cannot be said to “exist” there; they are found there in a manner of “non-existence”, in a state in which their separate identity is utterly nullified. That which can be deemed to exist within the sun-globe can be nothing other than the sun itself.

וכדברים האלה ממש בדמותם כצלמם הם כל הברואים לגבי שפע האלקי מרוח פיו השופע עליהם ומהוה אותם, והוא מקורם

The exact parallel [to this illustration] is the relationship between all created beings and the Divine flow [of the life-force that emanates] from the “breath of His mouth,” which flows upon them and brings them into existence and is their source.

והם עצמם אינם רק כמו אור וזיו מתפשט מן השפע ורוח ה׳ השופע ומתלבש בתוכם, ומוציאם מאין ליש

However, [the created beings] themselves are merely like a diffusing light and effulgence from the flow and spirit of G‑d, which issues forth [from Him] and becomes clothed in them, and brings them from naught into being.

ולכן הם בטלים במציאות לגבי מקורם, כמו אור השמש שבטל במציאות ונחשב לאין ואפס ממש

Hence, their existence is nullified in relation to their source, just as the light of the sun is nullified and is considered naught and utter nothingness,

ואינו נקרא בשם יש כלל כשהוא במקורו, רק תחת השמים שאין שם מקורו

and is not at all referred to as “existing” when it is within its source, viz., the sun; the term “existence” applies to it only beneath the heavens, where its source is not present.

כך כל הברואים אין נופל עליהם שם יש כלל, אלא לעיני בשר שלנו

In the same manner, the term “existence” can be applied to all created things only as they appear to our corporeal eyes,

שאין אנו רואים ומשיגים כלל את המקור, שהוא רוח ה׳ המהוה אותם

for we do not see nor at all comprehend the source, which is the spirit of G‑d that brings them into existence.

ולכן נראה לעינינו גשמיות הנבראים וחומרם וממשם שהם יש גמור

Therefore, since we do not see nor comprehend their source, it appears to our eyes that the physicality, materiality and tangibility of created things actually exist,

כמו שנראה אור השמש יש גמור כשאינו במקורו

just as the light of the sun appears to exist fully when it is not within its source, and is found within the expanse of the universe.

In truth, the Source of all creatures is constantly found within them, our failure to perceive this notwithstanding. Hence, their existence is totally nullified in relation to their source and they cannot be said to truly “exist”.

רק שבזה אין המשל דומה לנמשל לגמרי לכאורה

But in the following respect, the illustration is apparently not completely identical with the object of comparison.

שבמשל אין המקור במציאות כלל בחלל העולם ועל הארץ, שנראה שם אורו ליש גמור

For in the illustration, the source — the sun — is not present at all in the expanse of the universe and upon the earth, where its light is seen as actually existing.

Since the sun itself is not present upon the earth, its rays are able to assume a seeming reality of their own. It is therefore readily understandable why they are perceived as existing independently.

מה שאין כן כל הברואים הם במקורם תמיד

By contrast, all created beings are always within their source, the Divine activating force, which is continuously found within them, constantly creating and animating them ex nihilo,

רק שאין המקור נראה לעיני בשר

and it is only that the source is not visible to our physical eyes.

Since in reality they are indeed within their source at all times, —

ולמה אינם בטלים במציאות למקורם

Why are they not nullified in their source?

Why are creatures not nullified within their source in an obvious and revealed manner, so that there is no mistaking them as independently existing beings?

אך להבין זה צריך להקדים

To understand this, some prefatory remarks are necessary.


The Alter Rebbe will go on to explain that the Divine power of concealment and contraction is responsible for hiding G‑d’s light, so that it will not be perceptible to created beings. This enables creation to be perceived as possessing “existence”, whereas in reality it is totally nullified within its source.




1. Devarim 8:3. 

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