Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunahh Chapter 8, Class 1

Tanya/Shaar Hayichud V’haEmunah, Chapter 8, Class 1

Creation effected absolutely no change in the Creator, neither in His Unity nor in His knowledge. This we learn from the verse, “I, Havayah, have not changed,” as the Alter Rebbe explained in the preceding chapter. Though one might assume that by bringing created beings into existence G‑d’s knowledge was supplemented — in that only after their creation did he become aware of them, so to speak — this in fact is not so, for G‑d’s knowledge is wholly one with G‑d Himself.

G‑d’s knowledge is thus entirely unlike man’s. Acquired knowledge constitutes an addition to a mortal soul, which is a compound, not a simple and perfect unity. G‑d’s Unity, by contrast, is perfect, without any superaddition. Accordingly, His unique manner of knowledge is such that by knowing Himself He knows all of creation, which derives from Him.

This knowledge of self existed before G‑d brought created beings into existence. By knowing them, therefore, nothing at all was added to His previous knowledge. And such a manner of knowledge, concluded the Alter Rebbe, is beyond the comprehension of man.

In the chapter before us, the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain that Maimonides‘ statement that “He is the Knowledge” applies not only to G‑d’s knowledge, but also to all His other attributes and Names, including His Chochmah and will. They are all completely united with G‑d Himself.

והנה מה שכתב הרמב״ם ז״ל, שהקב״ה, מהותו ועצמותו ודעתו, הכל אחד ממש, אחדות פשוטה ולא מורכבת כלל

Now, what Maimonides (of blessed memory) has said1 — that the Holy One, blessed be He, His Essence and Being, and His knowledge are completely one, a perfect unity and not a composite at all, —

כן הענין ממש בכל מדותיו של הקב״ה, ובכל שמותיו הקדושים, והכנויים שכינו לו הנביאים וחז״ל, כגון: חנון ורחום וחסיד וכיוצא בהן

this applies equally to all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and to all His holy Names, and the designations which the Prophets and Sages, of blessed memory have ascribed to Him, such as Gracious, Merciful, Beneficent, and the like.

וכן מה שנקרא חכם, דכתיב: וגם הוא חכם וגו׳

This is also true with respect to His being called Wise, as it is written,2 “And He is also wise,…”;

וכן רצונו: כי רוצה ה׳ את יראיו, וחפץ חסד הוא, ורוצה בתשובתם של רשעים ואינו חפץ במיתתם וברשעתם, וטהור עינים מראות ברע

and likewise with respect to His will, [as it is written,3] “G‑d desires those who fear Him,” and4 “He wishes to do kindness,” and5 “He desires the repentance of the wicked and does not desire their death and wickedness,” — thus we have verses indicating both what He finds desirable and undesirable; [so, too,6] “Your eyes are too pure to behold evil” — yet another thing that He does not desire.

From the above verses, then, we see that emotions, wisdom and will are all ascribed to G‑d. Nevertheless:

אין רצונו וחכמתו ומדת חסדו ורחמנותו ושאר מדותיו מוסיפים בו ריבוי והרכבה חס ושלום במהותו ועצמותו

His will and His wisdom and His attribute of kindness and His mercy and His other attributes do not add plurality and composition (G‑d forbid) to His Essence and Being,

אלא עצמותו ומהותו ורצונו וחכמתו ובינתו ודעתו, ומדת חסדו וגבורתו ורחמנותו ותפארתו הכלולה מחסדו וגבורתו

but His Being and Essence and His will and wisdom and understanding and knowledge, and His attribute of kindness and His might and mercy and beauty, [the last of] which is composed of His kindness and might,

וכן שאר מדותיו הקדושות, הכל אחדות פשוטה ממש, שהיא היא עצמותו ומהותו

and likewise His other holy attributes, — all the above, comprising his Being and Essence, and his will, and the Sefirot of ChaBaD and the middot, constitute an absolutely perfect unity, which is His very Being and Essence.





1.  Yad HaChazakah, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah, 2:10.

2.  Yeshayahu 31:2.

3.  Tehillim 147:11.

4.  Michah 7:18.

5.  Cf. Yechezkel 18:23; Liturgy, Neilah.

6.  Chavakuk 1:13.

Comments are closed.