Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunahh Chapter 7, Class 6

Tanya/Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunah, Chapter 7, Class 6

וזהו שאומרים: אתה הוא עד שלא נברא העולם, אתה הוא כו׳

Accordingly it is written,9 “You were [the same] before the world was created; You are [the same after the world was created],”

It would have been simpler to state, “You are the same before and after the world was created.” The text, however, chose to be more explicit in order to stress that the “You” that existed before the world’s creation remains exactly the same “You” after its creation.

בלי שום שינוי בעצמותו, ולא בדעתו

without any change in His Being, nor even in His knowledge,10

One might have supposed that with the creation of the world G‑d’s knowledge underwent a change,11 inasmuch as He could not have possibly known the world beforehand; once the world was created, G‑d would thus know something that previously He did not. The Alter Rebbe therefore tells us that G‑d’s knowledge has not changed at all:

כי בידיעת עצמו, יודע כל הנבראים, שהכל ממנו ובטל במציאות אצלו

for by knowing Himself, He knows all created things, since all derive from Him and are nullified in relation to Him.

Creation thus added nothing to G‑d’s knowledge. This knowledge of self existed before creation, and it is with this prior knowledge that He knows of all of creation.

וכמו שכתב הרמב״ם ז״ל, שהוא היודע והוא הידוע והוא הדיעה עצמה, הכל אחד

As Maimonides, of blessed memory, stated,12 that He is the Knower, He is the Known, and He is Knowledge itself: all are one.

This is radically different from mortal knowledge, which comprises three distinct elements: (a) the person’s soul — the knower; (b) the subject that is known; and (c) the power of knowledge — the faculty of Daat, which enables the knower to know the known. In the Divine realm, however, these three elements are all one: all are G‑d. (See ch. 2 of Part I for further elaboration of this theme.)

ודבר זה אין כח בפה לאמרו, ולא באזן לשמעו, ולא בלב האדם להכירו על בוריו

This — Maimonides goes on to say — is beyond the capacity of the mouth to express, beyond the capacity of the ear to hear, and beyond the capacity of the heart or mind of man to apprehend clearly.

כי הקב״ה, מהותו ועצמותו, ודעתו, הכל אחד ממש מכל צד ופינה, בכל דרך יחוד

For the Holy One, blessed be He, His Essence and Being, and His Knowledge — are all absolutely one, from every side and angle, and in every form of unity.

ואין דעתו דבר נוסף על מהותו ועצמותו כמו שהוא בנפש האדם, שדעתה דבר נוסף על מהותה ומורכב בה

His Knowledge is not superadded to His Essence and Being as it is in a mortal soul, whose knowledge is added to its essence and is compounded with it.

הרי כשהאדם לומד ויודע איזה דבר, כבר היתה בו נפשו המשכלת בטרם שלמד וידע, ואחר שלמד וידע ניתוספה ידיעה זו בנפשו

For when a man studies a subject and knows it, his rational soul was already within him before he studied and knew it, and afterwards, this knowledge was added to his soul.

Man’s knowledge is thus a supplement to his intrinsic being; through it he becomes aware of something he did not know before.

וכן מידי יום ביום: ימים ידברו, ורוב שנים יודיעו חכמה

And so, day after day,13 “Days speak, i.e., instruct a person, and a multitude of years teach wisdom.”

ואין זו אחדות פשוטה, אלא מורכבת

This is not a simple i.e., perfect unity, but a composite.

The Alter Rebbe means the following: Although man’s knowledge, too, is united with him (lit., “with his soul”), for it is the person himself who knows, nevertheless this is not a perfect unity, for “simple” implies that any alternative would be inconceivable. Since a man’s knowledge is acquired, not having been part of his essential being, its acquisition yields an imperfect and composite form of unity, a unity comprised of two separate entities that have coalesced.

אבל הקב״ה הוא אחדות פשוט, בלי שום הרכבה וצד ריבוי כלל

The Holy One, blessed be He, however, is a perfect unity, without any composition or element of plurality at all, inasmuch as it is impossible to speak of any aspect of Him as not having existed previously.

ואם כן

Hence, since His unity is perfect and uncompounded, one cannot say that His Knowledge is something apart from Him, for that would imply, heaven forbid, a composite — that his knowledge is superadded to His Essence, effecting a change within Him. Rather:

על כרחך מהותו ועצמותו ודעתו הכל דבר אחד ממש, בלי שום הרכבה

one must conclude that His Essence and Being and Knowledge are all absolutely one, without any composition.




9. Liturgy, Morning Prayer; Yalkut, Parshat Va-etchanan, Remez 835.

10. Note of the Rebbe: “Knowledge being merely a descriptive term, just as (though keeping in mind a thousand and more distinctions) man’s knowledge is far inferior to the essence of his soul — with regard to its simplicity (פשיטות), being (עצמות), and so forth.”

11. Note of the Rebbe: “Inasmuch as [knowledge] is only one of His descriptive terms, which surely does not cause a change in His Essence.”

12. Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 2:10, et passim; Moreh Nevuchim I, ch. 68.

13. Iyov 32:7.

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