An Essential Bond – Hemshech Samech-Vav 8 (1)

Hemshech Samech-Vav

Discourse 8
Vayomer Hashem el Avram 5666


The Holy Rabbi Sholom Dovber of Lubavitch

Translated by Shimon Markel

(An Essential Bond)



The verse states,[1] “And Hashem said to Avraham, ‘Go out from your land… and I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great…'”  Now, is it not known[2] that traveling to a distant place minimizes one’s reputation and name?  What then is the meaning of this verse, which says that through going out from your land I will make your name great?  Rashi comments that this is reason why he was blessed, “I will make your name great,” for there are three things with are minimized by travel[3] and it is for this reason that he was blessed with these three things.  However, from the simple reading of the verse its sounds like the making of his name great is the automatic consquense of his going out of his land, so we must understand how this is so.


Now, regarding the fact that travel minimizes one’s reputation and name, the Matnat Kehunah writes in the name of Rashi,[4] that this is because it is impossible to fulfill the commandments of Hashem, blessed is He, when one is traveling, in the same manner that one could if he is at peace in his home.  It is therefore understood that the magnification of one’s name and reputation comes about through the fulfillment of the commandments.  We must therefore understand the relationship between fulfilling the commandments and the magnification of one’s name and reputation, both in regard to the diminishment of one’s name, as well as the magnification of his name through fulfilling the commandments.


To understand this, we must preface with what was previously discussed;[5] that the matter of “those who fulfill the will of the Omnipresent” refers to the drawing forth of the aspect of the inner Ratzon-desire of the Essence of the Infinite (Ain Sof) and that through this, revelation is drawn forth below.  It was subsequently explained that this drawing forth is accomplished specifically through the actual fulfillment of the physical commandments in a manner of accepting the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom, which is preceded love in a manner of “Bechol Me’odecha – With all your might.”  It was explained that the matter of “Bechol Me’odecha – With all your might” is that it is not according to reason and knowledge, but is rather due to the essence of one’s soul that is drawn to the Essence of the Infinite Light, blessed is He.


Now, the explanation of this matter is as follows.  It states in the Zohar,[6] “There is no thought that can grasp Him whatsoever, but He is grasped in the desire of the heart.”  The statement that there is no thought that can grasp Him whatsoever refers to the aspect of the inner Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof, regarding which being grasped or comprehended is altogether not applicable.  This is because any grasp through the medium of comprehension only relates the aspect of the Infinite Light of the Ain Sof as it relates to worlds.  That is, the matter of comprehension relates only to the radiance of G-dliness as it manifests in the worlds to vitalize them and to the general Infinite Light of the Ain Sof as it relates to worlds.  However, with regard to the aspect of the very Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof, grasp by means of comprehension is not applicable.


As known,[7] that there are two types of comprehension.  There is positive comprehension (Hasagat HaChiyuv), and negative comprehension (Hasagat HaShlilah).  Positive comprehension refers to the actual grasp of the essence of the thing itself, wherein one grasps how and what it is.  Regarding negative comprehension however, the essential thing itself is not graspable and the only manner of grasp is through negation. That is, one negates whatever is graspable, in that it does not apply to that which is ungraspable. Through this he grasps what it is not, in a manner of negation.  Generally speaking, positive comprehension (Hasagat HaChiyuv) applies to the radiance of G-dliness as it manifests within the worlds.  Because it is merely a glimmer that has undergone constriction in order to manifest in the worlds, it is therefore comprehendible and graspable. How and what it is can be known.  For example, this applies to the verse,[8] “Through my flesh I shall behold G-d.”


In contrast, in regard to the Infinite Light of Ain Sof which transcends all manifestation within worlds, any comprehension other than negative comprehension, is inapplicable.  That is, one must exclude whatever he indeed grasps of the radiance of G-dliness from the Infinite Light of Ain Sof, since it is completely beyond worlds. This matter is called “Grasping His inscrutable wondrousness” (Hasagat HaHafla’ah), wherein one grasps how the Infinite Light of Ain Sof is absolutely and astoundingly beyond the worlds.  In other words, through this negation one becomes capable of comprehending the quality and manner of His wondrousness.  That is, by eliminating the radiance that can be grasped from the ungraspable Light of Ain Sof,  he comes to recognize the unfathomable wondrousness of the Light of Ain Sof, so much so that he gains a degree of appreciation of the inscrutability of the Essence, as known and explained elsewhere.[9]


However, both these manners of comprehension only apply to the Infinite Light of Ain Sof that relates to worlds.  However, in regard to the aspect of the Essence of the Infinite Light that altogether does not relate to worlds, even negative comprehension is inapplicable.  This is because even negative comprehension only relates to the Infinite Light of Ain Sof as it relates to worlds, in that it is connected to the radiance that manifests in the worlds. This refers to the aspect of His general light that encompasses all the worlds (Sovev) which is the source for the aspect of His light that permeates all worlds (Memale).  Therefore, here it is applicable to negate those matters in the radiance that he is capable of comprehending. However, regarding the aspect of the Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof that is altogether unrelated to the radiance, negating from it those things that one comprehends in the radiance is not applicable, since there is no comparison whatsoever.


Though certainly those things are indeed negated from the aspect of the Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof, it nonetheless is inapplicable to know the manner of His wondrous inscrutability. For since there is no comparison whatsoever, how is it possible to know or comprehend anything about the astounding wondrousness of the Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof, even in a way of negation.  It therefore follows with certainty that it is impossible for a person to have even the slightest recognition of the Essence of His being.  We therefore find that it is inapplicable for there to be any comprehension whatsoever of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof, even in a way of negative comprehension, which is the loftiest level of comprehension.


Moreover, the aspect of the Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof is not graspable even through the aspect of the “sight” of Chochmah-Insight, since the “sight” of Chochmah-Insight constitutes visualization with the eye of the intellect and through this too one cannot grasp the aspect of the Essence. The proof of is from Moshe, as previously explained (in the discourse entitled “Lulav V’Arava”).  This then, is the meaning of the statement, “No thought can grasp Him whatsoever.”  This is because the aspect of the thought and comprehension of Binah-Understanding at its highest level is the aspect of the negative comprehension mentioned above. Even the aspect of the thought of Chochmah-Insight, which are called “Chashav Ma”H – The Thought of What”[10] and is the aspect of the sight of Chochmah-Insight, cannot grasp the aspect of the Essence etc.  Additionally, not only do the souls below in this world not grasp Him, but He is not grasped in the supernal worlds, even the worlds above the world of Atzilut-Emanation. That is, even the aspect of the supernal Chochmah-Insight of Atzilut-Emanation and above Atzilut-Emanation, cannot grasp the aspect of the Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof.


This is the meaning of “no thought can grasp Him whatsoever”. That is, even the aspect of the primordial thought and insight (Machshava V’Chochmah HaKedooma) does not grasp the aspect of the Essence.  However, He is grasped in the desires of the heart. In other words, this level, which is beyond grasp in thought, is graspable in the desires of the heart.  We must therefore understand. What is the greatness of the desires of the heart (Re’uta D’Leeba) which grasps the aspect of the Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof, blessed is He?


Now, as known, the explanation of the matter is[11] that with regard to the general matter of love there are two levels, the aspects of inner love and external love.  External love is the love which is born of knowledge and comprehension. That is, through the contemplation and grasp of G-dliness a love is born. Within this, there are various types of contemplations, such as the contemplation of the aspect of HaShem’s magnanimity, referring to the aspect of the spreading forth of His goodness within the worlds and how He creates and vitalizes vastly numerous worlds and creatures, as it states,[12] “How manifold are your works, Hashem” and similarly,[13] “How great are Your works Hashem.”  This is because there are innumerable creatures without end or measure at all. Through this the goodness of Hashem becomes apparent and recognized.  This is like the teaching[14] that, “the words[15] ‘Yours, Hashem, is the greatness’, refers to the act of creation.”


Similarly it states,[16] “Great is Hashem and highly to be praised in the city of Elokim.”  Regarding this we learn,[17] “When is He great? When He is in the city of Elokim.”  That is, the greatness of Hashem becomes recognized through the “city of Elokim,” which refers to the world of speech, which brings the worlds into being.  This is similar to the teaching in Midrash Tehilim regarding the verse,[18] “The heavens declare the glory of Hashem.” This is analogous to a very mighty person who entered a country in which his mightiness was not known.  There was one wise man there who said, “From the boulder that he wrestles you may know his strength”, so likewise, ‘The heavens declare the glory of Hashem.'”  Thus, through the contemplation of the spreading forth of His greatness, one’s soul is caused to be aroused towards G-dliness and causes him to be in a state of Ratzo-running.


More specifically, this is when one contemplates how all of this is brought about solely through the speech and “breath of His mouth,”[19] as in the prayer,[20] “Blessed is He who spoke and the world came into being.”  That is, all the worlds were created with a single utterance.[21]  Alternatively, he may contemplate upon the essence of the matter that within each and every thing there is a G-dly force that brings it into being and vitalizes it, for nothing can create itself, nor can it enliven itself,[22] as discussed elsewhere in detail.[23]  The more one delves into this and concentrates upon these matters, the more he will appreciate the G-dly light and vitality.  The automatic result is that he will be aroused to the point that his only will and desire is for G-dliness.  All of this is caused by the contemplation of the ray of G-dliness that manifests within the worlds.


However, when one contemplates into the Infinite Light of Ain Sof that transcends the worlds, to grasp how He is wondrously beyond all worlds, he will understand that the totality of the light and G-dly vitality that manifests in the worlds, even in the highest spiritual worlds, is merely a ray.  In contrast, the Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof is totally astounding and removed from the worlds.  When one comprehends this and appreciates the manner and quality of this wondrousness, he will become aroused with great love (Ahava Rabba) and yearning for the Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof.  This is like the verse,[24] “Whom have I in the heaven but You? And besides You I desire none upon the earth.”  That is, he will not desire any of “revelations”, but his ultimate desire and yearning will be only for the aspect of the Essence of the Infinite Light of Ain Sof.

[1] Genesis 12:1-2

[2] Bereishit Rabba 39:11

[3] Bereishit Rabba 39:11

[4] Matnat Kehuna to Bereishit Rabba 39:11

[5] In the discourse entitled “Bayom HaShmini Atzeret” 5666.

[6] Zohar Vol. 3, p. 289b; Introduction to Tikkunei Zohar 17a.

[7] Moreh HaNevuchim Vol. 1, p. 58; Ikarim Part 2, Ch. 22 and on; Likkutei Torah Pekudai, p. 3d, 6c; Torat Chaim Shemot, Vol. 2, p. 446a and on; 454b and on; Hemshech 5672 Vol. 1, p. 190 and on; Sefer HaMaamarim 5679 p. 582 and on; 5680 p. 204; Sefer HaSichot, Torat Shalom p. 103 and on.

[8] Job 19:26

[9] Likkutei Torah, Pekudei 6c; Sefer HaMaamarim 5670, p. 2, p. 128 and on; Moreh Nevuchim Vol. 1, Ch. 59 and on.

[10] Zohar Vol. 1, p. 24a; Torah Ohr VaYigash p. 43d; Maamarei Admor HaZaken 5565 Vol. 1, p. 148.

[11] Sefer HaMaamarim 5665 p. 204; 5685 p. 291 and on.

[12] Psalms 104:24; Torah Ohr Vaera p. 56b and on; Sefer HaMaamarim 5626 p. 416.

[13] Psalms 92:6

[14] Talmud Bavli, Brachot 58a.

[15] Chronicles I 29:11

[16] Psalms 48:2

[17] Zohar Vol. 2, p. 235a; Vol. 3, p. 5a; Zohar Chadash Tisa 44a; Chukat 51a; Torah Ohr Veara p. 56b; Sefer HaMaamarim 5661 p. 171 and on; 5679 p. 345 and on; 5700 p. 39 and on.

[18] Psalms 19:2

[19] Psalms 33:6

[20] Morning Prayers, Baruch She’amar.

[21] Zohar Vol. 2, p. 20a; p. 276b; Sefer HaMaamarim 5697 p. 217.

[22] Emunot V’De’ot of Rabbi Saadya Gaon, Maamar 1, Ch. 2; Chovot HaLevavot, Shaar 1, Shaar HaYichud, Ch. 5 and Ch. 6.

[23] Sefer HaChakira of the Tzemach Tzedek, p. 7b; 105a; Hemshech 5672 Vol. 2, p. 813.

[24] Psalms 73:25; Likkutei Torah, Tazria 20a and on; Derech Mitzvotecha, p. 138a.

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