Ch. 20, Class # 2

Middle of Chapter 20 

ולבאר היטב ענין זה צריך להזכיר תחלה בקצרה ענין ומהות אחדותו של הקב״ה שנקרא יחיד ומיוחד

In order to elucidate this matter clearly, we must first briefly speak of the idea and the essence of the unity of G‑d, Who is called “One and Unique.”

I.e., we must understand the essential meaning of this phrase, which lends itself to various interpretations: that there is only one G‑d, one Creator; that He is one Being, not a compound of various powers; and so on.

וכל מאמינים שהוא לבדו הוא כמו שהיה קודם שנברא העולם ממש

All believe that He is One Alone5 now, after creation, exactly as He was before the world was created, when He was [obviously] alone since nothing else had yet come into being, so too now after creation, nothing exists apart from Him.

וכמו שכתוב: אתה הוא עד שלא נברא העולם, אתה הוא משנברא כו׳

As it is written in the prayer book:6 “You are He Who was before the world was created, and You are He Who is since the world was created.”

If the meaning of this passage were only that G‑d is eternal, without beginning or end, it could have been stated simply: “You were before the world was created…”; why the circumlocution of “You are He Who was before the world was created…”?

פירוש: הוא ממש בלי שום שינוי, כדכתיב: אני ה׳ לא שניתי

This emphasis provided by the repeated phrase, “You are He who.” means: “You are exactlythe same ‘He’ before and after creation, without any change,” as it is written:7 “I, the L‑rd, have not changed” since creation. G‑d is still One alone despite the presence of myriad beings, as the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain.

כי עולם הזה וכן כל העולמות העליונים אינם פועלים שום שינוי באחדותו יתברך בהבראם מאין ליש

For this world, and likewise all the supernal worlds, do not effect any change in His unity by their having been created out of a state of nothingness.

שכמו שהיה הוא לבדו הוא יחיד ומיוחד קודם הבראם, כן הוא לבדו הוא יחיד ומיוחד אחר שבראם, משום דכולא קמיה כלא חשיב וכאין ואפס ממש

Just as G‑d was One alone, single and unique, before they were created, so is He One alone, single and unique, after He created them.

How can it be so? What of all the creatures that exist besides Him?

Yet it is so, because all is as naught beside Him, as if absolutely nonexistent.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to clarify this point. His explanation in brief: All of creation came about through the Word of G‑d. As we see with man, one word has no value whatever next to his power of speech, which has the capacity to allow him to go on speaking endlessly.

It has even less value compared to one’s power of thought, the source of speech; and next to the soul itself, whence derive both thought and speech, one word (or even many words) is certainly a nonentity. How much more so, then, that in comparison with G‑d who is infinite, His Word, which represents His creative and animative powers, is as totally nonexistent.

What follows is a lengthy exposition of this concept, which is carried over into the next chapter.

כי התהוות כל העולמות עליונים ותחתונים מאין ליש, וחיותם וקיומם המקיימם שלא יחזרו להיות אין ואפס כשהיה

For the coming into being of all the upper and lower worlds out of nothingness, and their life and their existence, i.e., that [force] which sustains them so that they do not revert to nothingness and naught, as they were before they were created—

For unlike the product of a human craftsman, which (if left undisturbed) will remain in exactly the same state and shape as it was when it left the hands of the craftsman, the continued existence of creation is dependent on the constant renewal of the creative power. Were this power to cease, all of creation would revert to nothingness. This force, which animates and sustains the existence of all creation —

אינו אלא דבר ה׳ ורוח פיו יתברך המלובש בהם

is nothing other than the Word of G‑d and the8 “breath of His mouth” that is clothed in these worlds.


5. Liturgy of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.
6. Daily morning service.
7. Malachi 3:6.
8. Tehillim 33:6.

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