Ch. 21, Class # 2

Beginning of Chapter 21

והנה מדת הקב״ה שלא כמדת בשר ודם

Now1 the nature of the Divine order is not like that of a human being, a creature of flesh and blood. Therefore human terms cannot adequately describe Divine qualites. Thus in our case:

שהאדם כשמדבר דבור, הרי הבל הדבור שבפיו הוא מורגש ונראה דבר בפני עצמו מובדל משרשו, שהן עשר בחינות הנפש עצמה

When a man says something, the breath of the spoken word may be sensed, and is perceived as an independent entity separated from its source, namely, the ten intellectual and emotional faculties of the soul itself.

While still encapsulated in its source, the word is utterly nullified; however, when it is spoken and it leaves its source, it takes on an identity of its own. This is true, however, only with regard to human speech.

אבל הקב״ה אין דבורו מובדל ממנו יתברך חס ושלום, כי אין דבר חוץ ממנו, ולית אתר פנוי מיניה

But the speech of G‑d is not, heaven forbid, separated from His Divine self. For nothing is outside of Him, and2 “no place is devoid of Him” — so that His speech is always contained within him.

ולכן אין דבורו יתברך כדבורנו חס ושלום כמו שאין מחשבתו כמחשבתינו, כדכתיב: כי לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם, וכתיב: כן גבהו דרכי מדרכיכם וגו׳

Therefore, His speech is not like our speech, G‑d forbid (just as, obviously, His thought is not like our thought, as it is written:3 “For My thoughts are not like your thoughts”; and it is also written:4 “So My ways are higher than your ways [and My thoughts higher than your thoughts].” Similarly, G‑d’s speech is different from human speech.

But if Divine speech is indeed never separated from G‑d, how can it be described as “speech” at all? Human speech constitutes communication only because the spoken word becomes separated from the speaker. (Thought, by contrast, because it remains within one’s soul, is hidden from all but the thinker himself.) But since nothing ever becomes separated from G‑d, the term “speech” seemingly provides us with no understanding at all of the nature of Divine communication.

In explanation, the Alter Rebbe states that speech is distinguished by two characteristics: (a) it reveals that which was previously hidden in the speaker’s thoughts; (b) it becomes separated from its source. Only the former characteristic of human speech is analogous to Divine “speech”, which reveals to Creation that which was hitherto hidden within G‑dliness.

In the Alter Rebbe’s words:

ולא נקרא דבורו יתברך בשם דבור רק על דרך משל, כמו שדבור התחתון שבאדם הוא מגלה לשומעים מה שהיה צפון ונעלם במחשבתו

G‑d’s speech is called “speech” only in order to illustrate that quality of revelation which it possesses. For just as man’s speech reveals to his audience what was hidden and concealed in his thoughts,

כך למעלה באין סוף ברוך הוא, יציאת האור והחיות ממנו יתברך מההעלם אל הגילוי, לברוא עולמות ולהחיותם, נקראת בשם דבור

so too the emergence of the light and life-force of the Ein Sof from concealmentbefore creation into revelation through the act of creation, for the purpose of creating and animating the worlds, is called “speech”.

In this case, the audience is the created being, which, from its own perspective at least, is separate from G‑d.

והן הן עשרה מאמרות שבהן נברא העולם

It is these revelations of Divine light and life-force that comprise the5 ten Divine utterances recorded in the Torah, namely,6 “And G‑d said, ‘Let there be light,’ ‘Let the earth sprout forth…,’” and so on, by which the world was created.

וכן שאר כל התורה נביאים וכתובים שהשיגו הנביאים במראה נבואתם

Likewise all the other words of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Holy Writingsare also called “speech”, even though they were not revealed for the purpose of creation, since they too represent the Divine revelation which the Prophets perceived in their prophetic vision.

Hence, when we refer to G‑d’s revelation as His “speech”, the analogy extends only to speech as revelation and communication, but not to speech as something separate from the speaker — an idea which is not applicable to G‑dliness.

והרי דבורו ומחשבתו כביכול מיוחדות עמו בתכלית היחוד, דרך משל כמו דבורו ומחשבתו של אדם בעודן בכח חכמתו ושכלו

Thus, G‑d’s speech and thought are united with Him in absolute union, just like the speech and thought of man before he actually expresses them as speech and thought, rather as they are while still in his faculty of wisdom and intellect,

או בתשוקה וחמדה שבלבו קודם שעלתה מהלב למוח, להרהר בה בבחינת אותיות

or as they exist in a desire or craving that are still in the heart, before they rise from the heart to the brain, there to be meditated upon with the letters of thought.7

שאז היו אותיות המחשבה והדבור הזה, הנמשכות מחמדה ותשוקה זו, בכח בלב

At that point before one speaks or thinks, the letters of his speech and thought, which evolve from the aforementioned longing and desire, were still in a potential state in the heart,

ומיוחדות שם בתכלית היחוד בשרשן, שהן החכמה ושכל שבמוח, וחמדה ותשוקה שבלב

where they were absolutely unified with their source, namely, the wisdom and intellect in the brain, and the longing and desire in the heart.

In the case of a mortal, his thought and speech are completely unified with him before he speaks; at that point the letters which constitute his thought and speech are still telescoped within their source. In the case of the Creator, however, His “thought” and “speech” remain unified with Him even after He “thinks” and “speaks”: they are always within their source — the omnipresent G‑d, as the Alter Rebbe will concludes.

FOOTNOTES
1. Cf. Berachot 40a.
2. Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 57, p. 91b.
3. Yeshayahu 55:8.
4. Ibid. v.9.
5. Avot 5:1.
6. Bereishit 1:3,11.
7. See ch. 20, above.

 

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