If we would strip away all the properties of man, we would be left with the quintessential self of the person, for one’s arms are not him, his legs are not him and neither is his torso. Neither the outer nor the inner organs are him. Neither is his will and desire nor is his thought him. He is not his understanding nor is he his emotions, nor his actions. Will is an effect, not a cause. There must be an inner identity of the one who is willing in order for will to be. This inner identity is, likewise, the thinker who thinks the thoughts, the feeler who feels the feelings and the actor who acts the acts. For, all these faculties; pleasure, will, insight, analyses, focus of attention, kindness, sternness, mercy etc., are effects rather than causes. When we strip away all these faculties, we find that there is the simple singular quintessential self of the person who is above and beyond the sum total of all his faculties, and that this quintessential self is not made up of any of these qualities.
Let us examine the power of desire. Desire cannot exist on its own. For desire to exist, there must be someone desiring, but a person’s identity cannot be defined as his desire. This is clearly understood, since if he changes his desire, his identity does not change. He remains the same person with a different desire. We, therefore, see that desire is external to his inner self. His inner self might be enclothed in the desire, but the desire is not him.
The same principle may be applied to the power of movement. The quintessential self cannot be identified as movement. Movement is one out of many abilities that the self possesses, such as the power of sight, the power of hearing, the power of smelling, etc. To say that a person is his movements would therefore be erroneous. Furthermore, though he is the one moving, the movement is not him. When he does a kindness, such as giving charity, it is not the movement of his hand that did the kindness. Rather, he himself did the kindness, through the movement of his hand.
From all the above, we may conclude that the self of the person, his identity, is an absolute quintessential singularity which is above the sum total of its parts and is not made up of qualities altogether. Being that this is the case, how is it that these qualities exist within it? If in the soul, all that exists is the singularity of the self, how can distinct qualities exist? Although, on the one hand, as demonstrated above, we cannot say that they exist there, on the other hand, we cannot say that they don’t exist there, because if they don’t, where did they come from? As we mentioned above, these qualities don’t have an existence of their own. There must be a person who desires, thinks and feels etc. Since all these qualities come out of the quintessential self of the person, they must somehow be there, otherwise how could they come about?
For example, if a person does many acts of kindness, we know that he is kind in the essence of his soul. If this was not so, then how did desires to do acts of kindness arise? Where did the kind thoughts come from, and what brought about kind emotions in his heart? Finally, why did he do kind deeds? We see from this, that indeed, the whole chaining down (Seder Hishtalshelut), from the original will of the kindness, to the intellect of the kindness, the feelings of the kindness, and the thought, speech and action of the kindness, originate in the quintessential singularity of the self, and are included and exist there as well.
We now have a contradiction. On the one hand, we stated that the quintessential singularity of the self is an absolute simple essence not made up of parts at all. On the other hand, we stated that in order for all the qualities to exist, they must be there too. In order to understand how they can be there and not be there, all at once, we must first thoroughly comprehend the difference between an ability (heyulie) and a potential (Ko’ach).