Shaar HaYichud The Gate of Unity Chapter 20

Shaar HaYichud

The Gate of Unity


The Holy Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch

Translated and Annotated by Shimon Markel

Edited by Rabbi A. Markel

Copyright © 2004

Chapter Twenty



והנה קודם שיבואר ענין פרטי הע''ס דאצי' יש להקדים ענין נקודה ספירה פרצוף כו'

Now, before the details of the ten sefirot of [the world of] Atzilut can be explained, we must preface [by explaining] the matter of Nekudah-Point, Sefirah-Emanation, and Partzuf-Stature.[1]

דהיות ידוע ההפרש שבין בחי' התהו לבחי' התיקון בכלל, די''ס דתהו הן בבחי' נקודות לבד, שהן בבחי' הכתרים

As is known, the general difference between the aspect of Tohu (Chaos) and the aspect of Tikkun (Rectification) is that the ten sefirot of Tohu (Chaos) are only in an aspect of “points”, which are the aspects of the Ketarim[2] (Desires).[3] 

ובעולם התיקון הוא בבחי' התחלקות כל ספירה לי', ע''כ ממילא נעשה בחי' התיקון

[In contrast,] in the world of Tikkun-Rectification, the [sefirot] come in an aspect of division in which each sefirah [is divided] into ten, and therefore, the aspect of “Rectification” automatically comes about.[4]  

שהוא בחי' ההתכללות ע''י שם מ''ה כו'

This is the inter-inclusion [of the sefirot] by means of the name of 45 (Ma”H ­– מ"ה).[5]

וביאור הדברים ידוע שבחי' הנקודות הוא בחי' העצמיות טרם שמתפשט, כנקודה שהיא בלתי מתפשטת כו'

Now, the explanation of these matters is known, that the aspect of Nekudot-Points is the aspect of an essence before it spreads forth. This is similar to a point, which does not spread forth. 

כמו אור מדת החסד, הנה בחי' עצמיות דמדת החסד הוא בחי' הכתר שלו

An example [of this] is the light of the quality of Chessed-Kindness.  The aspect of the essential quality of kindness is the aspect of its Keter (Desire).[6] 

ואמנם אין הכונה על בחי' העצמיות דמדת החסד כמו שהוא נטוע ומושרש בעצם הנפש שנק' יחידה כנ''ל, שהוא בחי' היולי לגמרי (כנ''ל באות יו''ד וי''א)

However, what is meant here is not the aspect of the essential quality of Chessed-Kindness as it is embedded and rooted within the essence of the soul, which is called the Yechidah (Singular), as mentioned previously, since [the way it exists embedded in the essence of the soul] is [still] totally in an aspect of a Heyulie, (as mentioned previously in chapters 10 and 11). 

אלא הכונה הוא על בחי' גלוי הרצון לדבר חסד פרטי מן העלם חסד העצמיות ההיולי

Rather, what is meant here is in regard to the aspect of the revelation of the desire for a particular [act of] kindness, [as it becomes revealed] from its concealment in the essential Heyulie of kindness. 

שגם זה הרצון הוא בלתי התפשטות עדיין

[Now], even this [revealed] desire has not yet spread forth [from its essential state].

רק כמו שהוא בלא טעם כלל לרצון זה, למה רוצה בגלוי לחסד זה כו'

Rather, it [exists] as it is, beyond[7] reason whatsoever for this desire, [such as the reason for] why he desires to reveal kindness etc. 

ומכ''ש שאין בו בחי' התחלקות אופנים שונים

Certainly, [as of yet], there are no divisions into the various different ways [that this kindness may be expressed].

או גם אם שכלו מטה כלפי חסד דוקא, אין בו התחלקות אופנים שונים

Even if his intellect leans specifically to Chessed-kindness, [nonetheless] it is not divided into different ways [of how the kindness will come out]. 

אעפ''י ששכל הנוטה בעצם לחסד ולזכות, הוא בחי' חכמה שבחסד העצמי, אבל גם הוא רק בבחי' נקודה

[This is because] although the [aspect] of intellect which leans essentially towards kindness and merit is the aspect of the Chochmah (Insight) of the essential Chessed (Kindness), nonetheless, it too, is only in an aspect of a Nekudah-Point.[8] 

וכן נצח שבחסד זה הוא בא בבחי' נקודה

Likewise, [the aspect of] the Netzach (Conquest) of this Chessed (Kindness) [also] comes in the way of a Nekudah-Point.[9]

ונמצא דגם שבחי' החסד העצמי הבא בגלוי כלול מי', רצון ושכל ומדות, אבל אין בהם התחלקות ניכרת 

We [therefore] find that though the aspect of the essential kindness which comes into revelation, includes ten [sefirot within it, i.e.] desire, intellect and emotions, nonetheless, there are no recognizable divisions within them. 

אלא כולן בבחי' נקודה א', והוא בחי' העקודים, שעקודים היו בכלי א' כו' 

Rather, they are all [included] in an aspect of a single point. This is the aspect of Akudim-Bound[10], wherein [the sefirot] were all bound up in a single vessel.

ולזה בחי' ע''ס דתהו הן בלתי מתיחדין ומתכללין זע''ז

It is because of this that the aspect of the ten sefirot of Tohu-Chaos cannot unite or become inter-included with one another. 

אלא הן זת''ז כמ''ש וימלוך וימת כו'

Rather, they are [disjointed points,] one beneath the other, as stated, “He reigned and he died etc”.[11]

כמו רצון העצמי שבא בגלוי חסד

An example of this is an essential desire for kindness which comes into revelation. 

הגם שכלול בו שכל כו', לא יתחבר עם רצון עצמי היפוכו הבא בבחי' הדין

Although it includes intellect etc, nonetheless, it cannot join with an essential desire which is its opposite, [such as an essential desire] that comes in an aspect of judgment. 

גם שהוא כלול משכל הנוטה בעצם כלפי דין כו'

[This is the case] even though it too includes intellect, [albeit, one] which essentially leans towards judgment. 

כי אין להם כלי שיוכלו להתכלל בו ב' הפכים כאלה

This is because they do not have a vessel within which two [essential] opposites, such as these, can become inter-included.

וכמו שנראה בחוש מי ששכלו מטה כלפי חסד בעצם, לא יוכל לסבול בשום אופן למנגדו, שהוא מי ששכלו מטה כלפי דין בעצם

We can tangibly observe that a person whose intellect essentially leans towards kindness cannot, in any way, tolerate his opponent, who is a person whose intellect essentially leans towards judgment.

(כמחלוקת ב''ש וב''ה וכה''ג, דגם שמנגדו יקשה עליו ולא יוכל למצוא טעם ישתוק, אבל לא יוכל להודות ולחזור בו, להתכלל בדעה שמנגדו כלל כו') 

(This is analogous to the debates between the academies of Shammai and Hillel, and the like.[12] Even if his opponent poses difficult questions [on his views], which he is unable to logically answer, he will remain silent, but he will [find it] impossible to acknowledge [the correctness of his opponent’s opinion]. [Neither will he be able] to retract [his opinion] and align himself with the opposite view, whatsoever.[13])

אבל בחי' התיקון היינו כאשר המדה בא מבחי' נקודה שלה להתפשטות חוץ מן העצמיות רצון ושכל שבה

However, the aspect of Tikkun-Rectification is when a quality comes to spread forth from its [essential] point (Nekudah), outside of its essential desire and intellect. 

דהיינו כמו מדת החסד כאשר יולד הרצון ושכל להטות כלפי חסד לזולתו מצד שעשה לו טובה  

In other words, this is like when the attribute of Chessed-Kindness gives rise to a desire and intellect to have a kind disposition toward his fellowman, [specifically] because he did him a favor. 

ולא מצד בחי' עצם הטוב הבא בגלוי בהכרח מטבע הטוב שבעצמיות נפשו

[This is to say that] it is not because his [own] essential goodness and kindness becomes revealed, as a necessary consequence of the natural goodness in the essence of his soul. 

אדרבה יוכל להיות אכזרי בטבע, ולמי שחננו והצילו ממות וכה''ג ירצא להטיב, ויטה שכלו עליו תמיד לחסד וזכות כו' וכה''ג 

On the contrary, he may be cruel by nature.  However, he will desire to do [acts of] goodness to someone who was gracious to him and who saved him from death, or the like.  [Moreover,] his intellectual disposition towards him will always lean towards [thoughts of] kindness and merit, and the like. 

שזה נק' חסד וטוב המורכב, ולא חסד פשוט ועצמי שמצד הטבע כלל

This is called composite kindness and goodness.  It is not at all the simple essential kindness which stems from his [essential] nature. 

וכה''ג יובן בהיפוכו, במה''ד המורכב, להטות רצונו ושכלו כלפי חוב לשונאו שעשה לו רעה הרבה, גם שבעצם טבעו הוא איש חסדן ורחמן כו'

The same [principle] is true of the opposite [quality], which is the composite quality of judgment. Towards his enemy, who has done him much harm, his desire and intellect will lean towards [judging him as being] guilty, even though he [himself] may be a kind and merciful person in his essential nature.

ועד''ז יובן שיוכל להיות במורכב כמה מיני אופנים שונים מאד, לפי אופן דבר שמורכב בו המדות

Accordingly, it is understood that there are many different ways in which the composition [of one’s desires] are formed, according to the composition of his emotions towards [any given] thing. 

כמו אהבה ושנאה התלויים בדבר כנ''ל

This is like love or hate which are dependent upon something, as mentioned above. 

הרי יוכל למצוא דבר שמצדו א' יאהבנו ויהיה רצונו ושכלו הכל לטוב וחסד, ומצדו הב' באותו הדבר עצמו, ישנאנו ויטה רצונו ושכלו לרע ועונש

It is therefore possible to find something that, from one angle, he loves, and his desire and intellect are entirely for goodness and kindness [towards that thing], while from another angle of the very same thing itself, he hates it.  [This is to say that] his desire and intellect is turned towards harming and punishing [the very same thing]. 

עד שיוכל להיות בחי' ממוצע כלול מחו''ג יחד

[Because of this,] it is possible for there to be an intermediary [composite] aspect, which includes Chessed-Kindness and Gevurah-Judgment together as one.

כמ''ש באשר משפטו שם כו' על שאול שהמית את הגבעונים ועל שלא נספד כהלכה, דבר והיפוכו כא'

This is in accordance with the statement[14], “[In the same matter] where His judgment is, [there He enumerates good deeds]”, in regard King Saul who killed the Gibeonites.  [Simultaneously, King David was reprimanded] for not properly eulogizing [King Saul].  [This is an example of] two opposites at once.[15] 

וכן כשנשא שלמה בת פרעה, ע''ז אמר כי על אפי כו'

Similarly, regarding King Solomon’s marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh it states[16], “My anger has been aroused etc”. 

ושה''ש נאמר על שמחת בנין בהמ''ק וכמ''ש ביום שמחת לבו כו'

However, Song of Songs was said in reference to [G-d’s] joy over the building of the Holy Temple, as stated, [17] “On the day of the joy of His heart”. 

שמחה וחרון אף, דבר והיפוכו כא'

[This is an example of] joy and anger, one thing and its opposite, as one.[18] 

וכן כי יצר לב האדם רע וכו'

Similarly, [regarding the flood] it states[19], “[I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake;] for the impulse of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” 

ומתחלה אמר וירא ה' כי רבה רעת האדם כו' וינחם כו'

However, previously it was stated[20], “And G-d saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, [and that all the impulse of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.] And G-d repented [for having made man on earth] etc.”[21] 

כמ''ש במ''א שזהו מבחי' המדות דתיקון שהם בבחי' מורכבים

As is explained elsewhere, all of this comes about from the aspect of the qualities of Tikkun-Rectification, which are composite aspects. 

דהיינו בהתפשטות דבר שלא מצד העצמיות לבד

In other words, they spread forth [outside of their essence] and do not result from the essential [nature] alone.[22]

ע''כ יוכל להיות התכללות דבר והיפוכו כו'

Therefore, it is possible for there to be an inter-inclusion of one thing with its opposite.

והיינו בחי' נקודה דתהו, דגם כשנעשה בהתחלקות לי', אין זה רק ספירה 

In contrast, [regarding] the Nekudah-Point of Tohu-Chaos; even when it is made into a division of ten [sefirot], [nonetheless] it is only [in the aspect of] a Sefirah-Emanation.[23] 

ולא פרצוף אדם, שהוא בחי' ההתכללות מכל ההפכים כו'

[However,] it is not a Partzuf Adam-Stature of Man, wherein there is the aspect of the inter-inclusion of all opposites.[24]

אלא בבחי' התיקון דוקא, שכל נקודה בא בהתפשטות חוץ מעצמיותה, שאז מתכללים ע''י ריבוי הכלים מכלים שונים, שמורכבים בהם כו' וד''ל

Rather, it is specifically in the aspect of Tikkun-Rectification, in which each point spreads forth, out of its essence, that they can become inter-included through the abundance of many different vessels, within which they are composed.[25]  This will suffice for those of understanding.

וזמ''ש בס''י טרף אש ומים ובללן זב''ז

This, then, is [the meaning of] the statement in Sefer Yetzirah, “He took fire and water and mixed them one with the other”. 

דהיינו בחי' המורכב דאש ומים דוקא ולא בעצם מהותן כו' וכמ''ש במ''א באריכות:

In other words, [this is] the aspect of the composition of fire and water [together], specifically not [as they are] in their essential state,[26] as explained elsewhere at length.                                       


                                                    End of Chapter Twenty

[1] In Kabbalistic texts these three aspects are often referred to as Akoodim, Nekoodim and Beroodim, as will be explained shortly.
[2] Ketarim is plural for Keter – Crown, which is the aspect of pleasure and desire.
[3] That is to say, the aspect of Tohu – Chaos is the revelation of the essential desire, as it is in essence.  As will be explained, since they are absolutes, one essential desire cannot compromise and coexist with its opposite.
[4] This is because each particular sefirah contains something of its opposite within it and therefore strikes a sympathetic chord with it.  For example Chessed – Kindness contains ten sefirot, including Gevurah-Might, and can therefore be joined with it etc.
[5] As previously explained, the name of Ma”H (45) represents the aspect of sublimation to G-dliness, as in the verse, “V’Nachnu Mah – And what are we”.  As mentioned previously, the “inner” name of 45 (Ma”H) is the aspect of the Essence of the Infinite Light-Atzmoot Ohr Ein Sof as it is revealed in the Kav -Line.  It  is through the sublimation of the qualities of Tikkun to G-d that they do not oppose and negate each other.  This is because, in their true essential source, in the Essence of G-d, they are not in conflict and are actually, literally as one (as explained in chapters 10 and 11).  This is also, as explained elsewhere, the reason why the angels of kindness (the camp of Michael) and the angels of judgment (the camp of Gavriel) do not clash and destroy each other.  It is solely because of their sublimation to their common and essential source in G-d.
[6] The desire for kindness is the essential light and motivation of all that follows after it.
[7] The text reads “without reason”. Nonetheless, it is without reason because at this point it is “beyond” reason.
[8] This is to say that although the desire possesses ten sefirot, they are all completely bound up with the desire, and are “enslaved” and controlled by it.  Therefore, the intellect of the desire is not really a rational objective intellect, but is, rather, driven to support and facilitate the desire.  The same holds true of all the other qualities and faculties of Tohu – Chaos.  They are all bound up with the desire and enslaved by it.
[9] The same holds true of all the particular sefirot of the essential desires of Tohu - Chaos.  They are all bound up with the desire and are completely enslaved to it.
[10] The two levels of the world of Tohu, plus the level of the world of Tikkun correspond to the three worlds of Akudim, Nekudim and Brudim. These terms, which mean “bound”, “speckled” and “splotched”, have their source in the Torah account of how Lavan (Leah and Rachel’s father) tried to swindle Yaakov out of the wages due him for tending Lavan’s flock. After working without pay for fourteen years in return for marrying his daughters, Lavan agreed that Yaakov would receive his payment with those goats that were born with “bands” around their ankles (Akudim), small speckles (Nekudim) or large splotches (Brudim).  These Torah terms hint at the three above mentioned levels of Nekudah, Sefirah and Partzuf.  The term Akudim (bands) represents the level of Nekudah, in which the sefirot are all “bound” up in a single vessel and are thus indistinguishable from each other. They are all expressed in the essential desire, such as the essential desire for kindness, for example, similar to a band which is circular, representing that it is bound up within itself. The small speckles (Nekudim) represent the level of sefirah, in which the particular divisions of each sefirah are recognizable, but nonetheless, remain disjointed and do not interconnect to work in conjunction as a unified system. The large splotches (Brudim) represent the level of Partzuf, in which the sefirot are recognizable as distinct qualities, but nonetheless, unite and connect to work in conjunction as a unified system. This is comparable to the merging of many specks into one large splotch.
[11] This verse refers to the eight Kings of Edom, who were the descendants of Esav, the brother of Yaakov.  Esav and Yaakov represent the two worlds of Tohu – Chaos, and Tikkun – Rectification.  In Kabbalah, these eight Kings are referred to as the “Kings of Tohu”.  Because these are the “Kings of Tohu”, the one must die before the other can reign.  This is because the essential points of the world of Tohu are incompatible with each other, and cannot coexist. For example, in Tohu the essential desire for kindness, though it is composed of intellect and emotions, cannot join with the essential desire for sternness. This is so even though sternness too, is composed of intellect and emotions. The reason for this is because the intellect and emotions of the desire to be kind are absolute kindness and exist solely to justify the kindness, whereas the intellect and emotions of the desire to be stern are absolutely stern and exist solely to justify the sternness. Because they are absolute opposites, they are incompatible with each other and cannot coexist simultaneously. The one must be destroyed before the other can be revealed.  This brings about chaos, and is called “The death of the kings of Tohu”.  The breakdown of the sefirot of Tohu is referred to as the “Shevirat HaKelim – The Shattering of the Vessels”, and will be discussed later in the book.
[12] Now, it must be pointed out that the example of the disputes between the academies of Shammai and Hillel is not a true example of the breakdown in Tohu – Chaos. This is because although their views essentially differed from each other, even in regard to the practical application of certain commandments, nonetheless, when it came to the actual fulfillment of the commandments, they followed the view of the majority, as Jewish Law (Halacha) prescribes. However, this is not the case in regard to the “Kings of Tohu”, in which there is no possibility of compromise and cooperation. The one essential desire must “die” before the other one can “reign”.
[13] This shows that the intellect is not a true intellect but is completely bound up with the point of the essential desire.
[14] See Tractate Yevamot 78b, Rashi there.  Also see Tzefanya 2:3.
[15] In other words, both judgment and kindness were shown toward a single individual, King Saul.
[16] Jeremiah 32:31, also see Tractate Nidda 70b.
[17] See Zohar, Terumah 143a.
[18] The verse regarding G-d’s anger actually states, “My anger and my fury has been aroused from the day that they built it etc.”  The Talmudic Sages stated that this refers to King Solomon’s marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh. However, it was King Solomon who built the Temple, and about that G-d was joyous.  These are two opposites towards a single individual.
[19] Genesis 8:21
[20] Genesis 6:5,6
[21] In other words, G-d desired to destroy the earth and brought about the flood because “man is evil” etc.  However it was for this very same reason that G-d said he will never again destroy the earth, because “man is evil” etc.  Here, we see two opposite results from the very same matter.
[22]  Because of this the qualities of Tikkun are objective and rational, as opposed to the qualities of Tohu, which are subjective and irrational.
[23] See footnote 8.  The difference between the Nekudah and Sefirah can be understood in the following manner. Because the Nekudah (Point) is an essential, undiluted desire, it becomes completely irrational, often bringing about the opposite of the desired effect. As a result, each desire must be completely eradicated before it can be replaced by a different one. An example of this principle is the case of a very narrow minded person who is incapable of compromise. When such a person is kind, his kindness knows no restraint. He will be indiscriminately kind to everyone and he will be excessive in this kindness. Eventually, though, his kindness will, of necessity, break down because he will find himself being severely taken advantage of, and will become completely drained, both monetarily and emotionally. Such a person might then swing to the opposite extreme, becoming overly suspicious of others, excessively callous of their needs and extremely unkind. This approach too, will eventually break down, when people begin disliking and avoiding him because of his mean spirit.  The above principle applies when the desire comes in the form of an essential point, in which the intellect and emotions are “slaves” that are “driven” to fulfill it in an absolute manner in which there are no compromises. This may be compared to the uncompromising fanaticism of a Moslem fundamentalist terrorist who is hell bent on pushing his agenda no matter what the outcome.  This level of Tohu is called Nekudah (Point).  Besides the Nekudah (Point) there is another level in Tohu, called Sefirah.  This is when the point divides into ten recognizable traits. Because of this, there is the appearance of rational behavior.  It appears to be an objective, reasonable intellect which is open to compromise.  In truth, however, here too the intellect, emotions and actions exist merely to facilitate the desire that drives them.  An example of this is a Christian missionary.  He talks and acts as if he is an objective, reasonable person, but in reality he is neither reasonable nor objective.  In reality he is completely bent on converting you to his religion and his speech and actions are there merely to facilitate this.  This is why he knocked on your door in the first place.  Though it appears that a reasonable conversation is taking place, if he is refuted in debate, he will automatically revert back to the essential point of the irrational desire in which there is no compromise and no recognizable intellect at all, such as saying, “It is true because I know it in my heart”, etc.  In summary, Tohu is when the light (revelation) of the desire is too strong for the vessels and overpowers them, so that they can no longer be objective but rather become completely unrestrained and driven by the desire.
[24] Tikkun (rectification) is also called by the term Partzuf, which means “face” or “personality”.  This is because in Tikkun there are recognizable divisions of the sefirot into ten, each of which is divided into subsequent divisions of ten etc.  The concept of a partzuf is the inclusion of all opposites, like a human being, who has many facets to his personality, all of which join to make him who and what he is. Besides this, his physical body too is made up of many parts with different and even opposite natures and functions, and yet, not only do they not contradict each other, but they work in conjunction as a unified system. Each organ performs the function it is suited for while allowing the others to perform their function. Furthermore, in order to perform properly, every organ depends on the others for its health and vitality, for example, if a person has nagging foot pains, this will affect his brain and he will have difficulty concentrating on his studies. This mutual coexistence and symbiosis is not possible in Tohu, where the sefirot exist as pure essences and are therefore incompatible with their counterparts.  It is specifically in tikkun that mutual coexistence and symbiosis can exist, since in tikkun each point comes about as an extension outside of its essence. It is specifically then that they can be included one with the other through the many various types of vessels for expression, of which they are composed etc.  The vessel integrates something of each sefirah (as will be explained later). This being the case, they all find expression in it.
[25] See previous footnote.  This will be understood more clearly later in the book, with a thorough explanation of the inter-inclusion of the vessels.
[26] As they exist essentially, it is impossible for these two opposites to coexist.  However, the physical water which we have in our world is a composite which possesses something of the element of fire within it.  Likewise, physical fire possesses something of the element of water within it.  In truth, it would be impossible for a physical world to exist, altogether, from the essential desires of Tohu – Chaos.  (This is as explained by the Ari’zal and the Alter Rebbe that the statement that “G-d created worlds and destroyed them” refers not to the physical world, which is a composite world, the source of which is Tikkun-Rectification, but rather, it refers to the worlds of Tohu – Chaos, in which one sefirah cannot coexist with the other and therefore each sefirah must “die” before the next one can “reign”, as previously explained.)  Rather, our physical world is a composite world, in which all the sefirot are interrelated and interdependent and, therefore, one sefirah and its opposite can join.