Vol 29.04 - Va'etchanan 1 Spanish French Audio Video
|Hebrew Text: Chumash Shaar Hayichud Vehaemuna Chap1|
(5746) (Deut. 4:39): "And you shall know this day ... that the L-rd He is G-d etc" - The innovation of each one of the three terms in the verse:
1) In heaven above
2) Upon the earth below
3) There is none else (even in the depths of the Earth) (Devarim Rabbah 2:28)
and the lesson in Avodat HaAdam
In the Torah portion of Vaes’chanan, Moshe tells the nation:1 “Know today, and implant within your heart, that G‑d is L-rd in the heavens above and the earth below; there is nothing else.” Our Sages comment:2 “ ‘There is nothing else,’ in the entire universe.”
The verse implies that there is an order of progression in understanding Divine unity: It is easiest for man to comprehend G‑d’s unity as it relates to the “heavens above.” Later on, a person comes to understand that this unity applies to the “earth below” as well. Ultimately, he will come to the realization that G‑d’s unity extends to the “entire universe.”
What would lead a person to think that — G‑d forbid — His unity extends only to the heavens, for which reason the verse must specify that it also extends to the earth, and even to the entire universe?
The Alter Rebbe explains3 that since creation came from absolute nothingness, yesh me’ayin , the Divine creative power must be constantly vested within it in order for created beings to continue existing. Would this creative power withdraw for even an instant, creation would revert to its original state of absolute nothingness.
In this context, the Alter Rebbe quotes the Baal Shem Tov4 on the verse, “Forever, O L-rd, does Your word stand in the heavens,”5 that the Divine Utterance, “Let there be a firmament”6 is constantly vested within the heavens so as to enliven them.
The Alter Rebbe continues that this, of course, also applies to the physical world, and even unto those things that are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Utterances with which G‑d created the world.
The novel implication of the Baal Shem Tov’s commentary lies7 not only in the fact that the continued existence of all creation is forever dependent on G‑d’s creative power, but that this creative power is vested within the created entities themselves.
Logic would suggest that this vestment can only apply to heavenly creatures who, as spiritual and celestial beings, are an appropriate vessel for this Divine life-force. This, one may reason, is not the case with corporeal beings, who are not suitable vessels for G‑dliness. We could thus be led to think that while they too must constantly rely on the creative life-force, it is not vested within them.
The verse therefore informs us that this Divine unity applies also to the “earth below” — those beings mentioned in the Ten Utterances. It is equally true regarding even the lowest forms of life — “the entire universe” — including beings who are so lowly that they are not even named in the Ten Utterances.
This progression — heaven, earth, universe — also exists with regard to man’s spiritual service.
In order to ensure proper divine service, a person must prepare himself during his sleep the night before, for at that time the soul ascends and receives spiritual nourishment.8 Upon awakening, the person thus begins his new day empowered with heavenly vitality.
Through prayer, the Jew then sees to it that his reinvigorated soul is felt within his body, his earthly being. For the Jew’s body, because of its role in the performance of Torah and mitzvos, is likened to the loftier kinds of physicality delineated in the Ten Utterances.
Finally, there is the third level of man’s service, that of imbuing the “entire universe” with spirituality, including even those lowly things not mentioned in the Ten Utterances. This reveals that G‑d’s unity is identical in the heavens, the earth, and the universe as a whole — “there is nothing else.”
1. In this week’s Parsha, there are two verses whose subject concern faith and the knowledge that "the L-rd is G-d" (Hashem hu haElokim):
The simple difference between the two verses is:
The first verse "You have been shown, in order to know” speaks about, like its simple meaning, the knowledge that was shown to the Yidden at Matan Torah. At that time, G-d revealed Himself to the Yidden "and they saw that He is One" (יחידי). And since the Yidden then saw the true Oneness of G-d (אמיתת יחודו) - the way it is from G-d's perspective, which for Him there is no division between Heaven and Earth. Therefore, there is no reason to specify in that knowledge - "heaven above, and upon the earth below".
However, the verse, "And you shall know etc. and consider it" is a command to a person that he must endeavor to understand and know (and bring down “into your heart") that the "L-rd He is G-d". There is a knowledge and recognition in the Oneness of G- d which comes from man's (intellectual) striving - and from the perspective of man's understanding there is a difference between Heaven and Earth - in a way that every particular: "heaven above, and upon the earth below" is a separate knowledge.
This is as it states in Midrash on the verse, "And you shall know":
"Yitro placed his all into idol worship as it says: "And now I know that G-d is greater than all the G-ds (which implies that they are great but that He is greater than them - c.f. Matanot Kehunah),
Naaman (A prominent Aramite general stricken with leprosy) admitted part of this, as it states: "Now I know that there is no other G-d in the earth except among Yisroel (Thus, he testified on the earth but not on the heavens - c.f. Matanot Kehunah).
Rachav placed G-d in the heavens and Earth as is says "For G-d your L-rd is G-d in the heavens and above and the Earth below
(not just in the Earth but also in the heavens, "Where your eyes do not see". Nevertheless "She omitted the depths of the world")
Moshe placed G-d even in the depths of the world as it sates: "For G-d is the L-rd in the heavens and above and the Earth below there is none else” - What does "none else" mean - even in the depths of the world.
This means that the knowledge that "the L-rd He is G-d" - which comes through man's efforts and understanding - is split into three categories:
2. One must, however, have an explanation:
Since the Torah of Truth states these three particulars in the Mitzvah of knowing (G-d) etc., it is understood that the different abovementioned categories are not (only) to avert a mistake due to man's (intellectual) deficiencies. Rather this shows, that in the aspect of “the L-rd He is G-d" there are differences between Heaven, Earth and the depths of the world.
When one is focused on the "And you shall know" (which means a contemplation and knowledge according to true understanding) there is a different innovation in each of the three understandings.
One must understand:
Where is there a place in logic to say that "the L-rd He is G-d" is, G-d forbid, only in the "Heavens above", and moreover, that because of this one must have an explicit statement, "and on the Earth below", and even a third innovation - "there is none other (אין עוד), even in the depths of the world"?
We seemingly could have answered according to the known explanation (on the verse that "G-d is elevated above all the nations of the world etc.”)
- that the reason that the “nations” maintain that, "G-d deserted the world" is because they believe that this depicts the greatness of G-d. For they believe that it is degradation for G-d to deal with created beings below in this world –
Therefore, G-d delegated the conduct and rulership over the earthly hosts into the hands of the stars and astrological forces. To contradict this, the verse must state: "And you shall know etc. that the L-rd He is G-d etc. and upon the earth below; there is none else”. Namely, that G-d is also the Ruler of the Earth.
However, the Alter Rebbe says that the verse, "And you shall know . . that the L-rd He is G-d . . and upon the earth below" comes to negate
(not the aforementioned fallacy, that "G-d deserted the world", but)
the fallacy that "G-d resides in the waters below the Earth". (אלקיס נשרה במים מתחת לארץ)
(In other words, a G-d that
1) is found
2) “in the waters below the Earth – literally in water)
(One could say that the necessity of this is:
The command "And you shall know etc." comes in conjunction to "You have been shown etc." (which was said regarding) Matan Torah.
The verse "You have been shown, in order to know that the L-rd He is G-d" precludes the contradictory things (דברים הפכיים) that the Torah warns about (previously in the verse):
"Lest you become corrupt . . and make for yourselves . . the likeness of any fish that is in the waters, beneath the earth and lest etc." –
It is therefore understood that when the Torah follows with, "And you shall know etc. that the L-rd is G-d etc. and upon the earth below" - it is to negate the very same concept - that there is no god (אלקה) in the "waters, beneath the earth").
3. This aforementioned question is asked by the Alter Rebbe:
"And would you ever think that there is a G-d that resides in the waters below the Earth so much that we need to avert it by 'considering it in your heart'"?
And he explains that the command "And you shall know etc. that the L-rd He is G-d" means to say that
(not that there is another god, G-d forbid, but rather)
that there is no other entity besides G-d because "everything is utterly nullified before Him".
For since beings were created
(not from existing matter (יש מיש) but)
in a manner of creation out of nothingness (ex nihilo - יש מאין), therefore created beings need to continually rely on the power of the Creator to keep them in existence. And if the power of the Creator would be removed from the created being for even a moment, G-d forbid, the being would (automatically) resort to "nothingness (ayin) and actual void, just as it was before the six days of creation”.
Therefore it is also understood why the verse states separately, "and upon the earth below" to emphasize that "even the physical Earth that appears to be an absolute entity to all who see it" is actual nothingness and void compared to G-d”.
However, we seemingly require an additional explanation in this.
While it is indeed true that since the aspect of "and upon the earth below; there is none else"
(that even “the physical Earth that appears to be an absolute entity . . is actual nothingness and void)
contradicts perception and therefore requires a special warning that "you consider it in your heart" namely that the concept should permeate the person’s heart -
Nevertheless, the verse starts with the words: "And you shall know" from which it is understood, that (even) this rational understanding relating to, "upon the earth below" must have a separate warning.
It is not understood:
The rational explanation of the aspect of "there is none else"
(that there is no other entity except for G-d because "everything is utterly nullified before Him) -
compels the same aspect (of “there is no other”) with regard to all created beings equally, without distinction, at all, as to whether it is the hosts of the heavens or the hosts of the Earth. For every being which is created ex nihilo (yesh m'ayin) "requires the power of the activating force of the Creator in the thing created to constantly give it life and existence”. (koach hapoel b'nifal)" –
Therefore, how can one differentiate from the perspective of
"And you shall know (rational understanding that) . . there is none else" –
between “heaven above” and "Earth below"?
4. Another proof that the difference between "heaven above" and "Earth below" is not just to avert a mistake from a created person
(which stems from that which he sees “the physical Earth” as a "real entity")
but that the difference has a place in rationale ("And you shall know") is:
On this subject, namely that created beings must constantly rely on the power of the Creator to uphold their existence, the Alter Rebbe cites the explanation of the Baal Shem Tov on the verse:
"Forever, G-d, Your words stand in the Heavens” (L'Olam Hashem devarcha nitzav baShomayim)
"Your words that You said: ‘Let there be a firmament between the waters etc’. that those words and letters are which stand and endure in the world in the midst of the heavenly firmament . . to give them life".
And he continues that this is not just regarding the "Heavens" but "also in all the creation in all the worlds, the supernal and lower, and even to this physical land and level of actual inanimate-Mineral.
In other words, that their entire existence is constantly dependent upon the
“the letters of speech from the Ten Utterances which give life and existence to inanimate matter, enabling it to come into being out of the naught and nothingness”.
(Moreover (he continues) - that even these creations that are not enumerated in the “Ten Utterances in the Torah” receive their vitality in effluence (בהמשכה פון) from the Ten Sayings
(which are drawn down to them via “descending” (Hishtalshelut) from one level to the next, where he brings many examples of this).
This is (indicated by) "the name by which it is called in the Holy Tongue”. The name is a "receptacle to the vitality which is concentrated in the letters of this name that was drawn down from the Ten Sayings of the Torah”)
From that which the verse specifically states, "Forever, G-d, Your words stand in the heavens", singling out "heavens" from all the other creations -
(and - since the verse does not mention, at all, the intellect and feelings of a person)
It is understood that the difference between heaven and Earth is not just from man’s perspective, but rather that even truthfully,
(in the manner of how "Your words" are found in them)
there is a difference between heaven and all the other creations
(which is why the verse specifically mentions "Heaven").
From this difference, there is an innovation in (the aspect of "the L-rd is G-d etc.”)
"upon the earth below" versus "heaven above".
5. One could say the explanation is:
The innovation of the Baal Shem Tov is not just in the general aspect, namely that the existence of all creation is dependent upon the power of the Creator who constantly creates, enlivens and sustains them. Rather it is also in the particular aspects of this, that
"Your words that You said: ‘Let there be a firmament between the waters etc.’ that those words and letters constantly stand and endure in the world in the midst of the heavenly firmament and are enclothed in all the firmaments etc."
(Similarly, the same applies to all creation, that in each one there is an "enclothing (התלבשות) of the spoken letters of the Ten Sayings"
In other words:
This aspect is not that the being must (initially) rely (also for its existence) on the power of the Creator, but then afterwards is separated from the Power that created it and brought it into existence.
(like the light of the Sun (אור השמש) which appears and is dependent on the luminary of the Sun itself (מאור השמש) - And the proof is: As soon as there is a barrier between the light and the Sun, the light is nullified. Yet nevertheless the light is a separate entity from the body of the Sun)
Rather, the power of the Creator constantly affects (טוט זיך אן) the being itself.
(This specifically allows one to understand, truthfully and completely that “there is none other”. There is no other entity besides G-dliness. For since the Word of G-d is enclothed in the being itself (in the essence (place -"ort") of the being), it follows that the being is never separated from the "Word of G-d". So much so, that the vitality (and soul) of every particular being is the "Word of G-d" which is enclothed in it. Consequently, it is understood that “Every creation and entity is truthfully regarded as actual nothingness and void (ayin v'efes mamosh)").
One could say that this is also the reason why every creation must have a specific Word of G-d (as the Alter Rebbe expounds that "even the actual inanimate (domaim) . . has . . a nefesh and spiritual vitality")
For in order to facilitate an enclothing of the power of the Creator in the particular being, the G-dly power must lower itself, as it were, from its level and contract itself according to the specific creation, in each individual creation, accordingly (בכל נברא ונברא לפרטיו).
If the G-dly power would remain at its level (a power without limitation - כח בלתי בעל גבול), it would then be (incomparably) above enclothing itself in the being.
(Although from the perspective of G-d's Omnipotence, His unlimited power would be able to enclothe itself into a limited being. Nevertheless G-d desired that the creations have an understanding and comprehension (however much is possible - according to the limitations that He imposed upon them) in the order and manner of Creation.
Therefore, He created the beings, not in a way that is completely and incomparably beyond (לגמרי באין ערור) the created being
(due to His Omnipotence - (Kol YaChol - כל יכול),
but specifically with an order and procedure (well-known as: “Seder Hishtalshelut”).
G-d contracts his effluence and vitality until it is comparable (- to descend by enclothing into the) the created being.
6. According to this, one can explain the innovation in which the aspect of "the L-rd He is G-d" is divided into three separate concepts:
Since the aspect of "None else" is connected to G-d's Power is enclothed in the created being - there could be a place to differentiate (and say that):
When do we say (that the Word of G-d is enclothed in beings) - this is in the Heavenly hosts, which are loftier beings and therefore are able to be a receptacle for G-dly power and vitality.
However, “on the Earth below" - in Earthly and physical beings, which are not a receptacle to G-dliness, one could think that G-d’s Word is not manifest within them in a manner of enclothement.
(They must constantly rely on the power of the Creator to sustain their existence, but the actual G-dly Power (Koach Hapoel) is not in a manner that it is enclothed within them).
(After this one comes to a greater innovation. That even the creations that are not mentioned in the "Ten Sayings of the Torah" - namely certain relatively insignificant creations that cannot receive their vitality from the Ten Sayings of the Torah, themselves (בעצמם), but rather the vitality must descend from level to level "until it is possible to contract and enclothe and to create from it a particular creation" - that even there - "the L-rd He is G-d etc.")
7. Every (aforementioned) aspect is also found in the Avodah of each and every person (for man is a "microcosm" which reflects the aspects that occur in the "larger world" (macrocosm)):
The purpose of every aspect of Avodat Hashem is - that it should come into “Maaseh b'Poel” (actual deed — practical accomplishment). Deed is paramount (Maaseh hu Ha'Ikar).
One must however know, that in order to achieve (dergreichen) in the world ("Earth") – in order to infuse (דורכדרינגען) physical aspects with G-dliness and holiness - one must go through a progressive diminishment - a "Seder Hishtalshelus".
In general, this contains three steps - the three divisions that are in the verse, "And you shall know "
(in conjunction to the three divisions that the Alter Rebbe states:
In order to ensure that the daily Avodah of a Yid is proper, there must be preparation for this:
Sleeping (as a part of serving G-d) at night. For then the soul ascends Above (in Heaven) and draws life"
And one could say that is also why - immediately when one awakens from sleep, one begins the order of the day with saying "Modeh Ani Lefanecha etc" (I offer thanks before You . . for You have mercifully restored my soul within me). A thank before You (G-d) who returned the soul with "refreshed" (אפגעפרישטע) powers from its source in "Heaven".
Afterwards the Avodah of Yidden begins with effecting that one's soul spread into his body. (which is accomplished with the Avodah of Prayer etc.) - The soul should be felt (אנהערן) in the physicality (גשמיות — גוף) ("Earthiness") of the person.
In in this itself, there are two levels:
(similar to those particular creations that are not mentioned in (the Ten Sayings of) Torah) -
That through the proper preparation of one's Avodah "in heaven above, and upon the earth below" one has the power to draw down G-dliness also into one's permissible aspects.
So much so, that it is in a manner that, for him, the physicality of the world has completely no regard (ניט תופס מקום), it is a non-entity (אוים מציאות) - One reveals (even) "in the depths of the world" how there is, "none else besides G-d" (אין עוד).
m'Sichas Second Day of Shavuot (5745)
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