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Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah1


Let us understand [at least] in a small measure, the statement in the Zohar2 that Shma Yisrael, . . .3 is Yichudah llaah ("higher level Unity") and Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto Leolam Vaed4 is Yichudah ("lower level Unity").


Chapter 1

"Know this day and take unto your heart at Havaye is Elokim (G-d is the Lord)5 in the heavens above and upon the earth "w; there is no other."6 This requires explanation. For would it occur to you that there is a god dwelling in the waters beneath the earth that it is necessary to negate it so strongly [as to say,] "Take unto your heart?"7

It is written: "Forever, O G-d, Your word stands firm in the heavens."8 The Baal Shem Tov,9 of blessed memory, has explained that "Your word" which you uttered, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters. . .",10 these very words and letters11 stand firmly forever within the firmament of heaven and are ever clothed within all the heavens to give them life, as it is written, "The word or our G-d shall stand firm forever"12 and "His words live and stand firm forever. . . ."13 For if the letters were to depart [even] for an instant, G-d forbid, and return to their source, all the heavens would become naught and absolute nothingness, and it would be as though they had never existed at all, exactly as before the utterance, "Let there be a firmament." And so it is with all created things, in all the upper and lower worlds, and even this physical earth, which is the "Kingdom of the silent" (inanimate).14 If the letters of the Ten Utterances15 by which the earth was created during the Six Days of Creation were to depart from it [but] for an instant, G-d forbid, it would revert to naught and absolute nothingness, exactly as before the Six Days of Creation. This same thought was expressed by the Ari,16 of blessed memory, when he said that even in completely inanimate matter, such as stones or earth or water, there is a soul and spiritual life-force that is, the enclothing of the "Letters of speech"17 of the Ten Utterances which give life and existence to inanimate matter that it might arise out of the naught and nothingness which preceded the Six Days of Creation. Now, although the name even (stone) is not mentioned in the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah, nevertheless, life-force flows to the stone through combinations and substitutions of the letters which are transposed in the "Two hundred and thirty-one gates,"18 either in direct or reverse order, as is explained in the Sefer Yetzirah,19 until the combination of the name even descends20 from the Ten Utterances, and is derived from them, and this is the life-force of the stone. And so it with all created things in the world - their names in the holy tongue are the very "letters of speech" which descend, degree by degree, from the Ten Utterances recorded      in the Torah, by means of substitutions and transpositions of letters through the "two hundred and thirty-one gates," until they reach and become invested in that particular created thing to give it life. [This descent is necessary] because individual creatures are not capable of receiving their life-force directly from :he Ten Utterances of the Torah, for the life-force issuing directly from them is far greater than the capacity of the individual creatures. They can receive the life-force only when it descends and is progressively diminished, degree by degree, by means of substitutions and transpositions of the letters and by Gematriot, their numerical values,21 until the life-force can be condensed and enclothed and there can be brought forth from it a particular creature. And the name by which it is called in the Holy Tongue is a vessel for the life-force22 condensed into the letters of that name which has descended from the Ten Utterances in the Torah, that have power and vitality to create being ex nihilo and give it life forever. For the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one.23

I The Gate to [the Understanding [W'i Unity and the Faith. [2] J The Zohar is the most basic wlistic work consisting of the interpretation of the Penta-\Jt was written by Rabbi Shimon Yochai in the Mishnaic period.

[3] Deut. 6:4. "Hear, O Israel" [4] "Blessed be His Name Whose Glorious Kingdom is for ever and ever.'' [5] The Ineffable Name or the Tetra-grammaton the Name of four letters, Y-H-V-H is pronounced in conversation Hava've. The prescribed

traditional reading in Scripture and Prayer is Ad-nay. Hence, the usual English rendition of Lord. However, the name Hava'ye refers to G-d the Infinite, transcending creation and nature, omnipresent, omnipotent and

Omniscipnt Thprpfnrp it ic hero /mm?-

Chapter 2

From the following [exposition] the answer to the heretics can be deduced and the root of the error of those who deny individual Divine Providence and the signs and miracles recorded in tae Torah is revealed. They err, making a false analogy, in comparing the work of G-d, the Creator of heaven and earth, to the work of man and his schemes. For, when a goldsmith has made a vessel, that vessel is no longer dependent upon the smith, and even when his hands are removed from it and he goes away, the vessel remains in exactly the same image and form as when it left the hands of the smith. In the same way, these fools conceive the creation of heaven and earth. But their eyes are covered [and they fail] to see the great difference between the work of man and his schemes which consists of making one thing out of another which already exists,1 merely changing the form and appearance from an ingot of silver to a vessel-and the  making of heaven and earth which is creatio ex nihilo.

Indeed, this is an even greater miracle than, for example, the splitting of the Red Sea. For then, G-d drove back the sea by a strong east wind all the night and the waters were divided and stood upright as a wall3 If G-d had stopped the wind, the waters would have instantly flowed downward, as is their way and nature, and undoubtedly they would not have stood upright as a wall, even though this nature of water [to flow downward] is also created ex nihilo, for a stone wall stands erect by itself without [the assistance of] the wind, but the nature of water is not so. [Thus, if for the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea the continuous action of G-d was necessary] how much more so is it in the creation of being out of nothing which transcends nature and is far more miraculous than the splitting of the Red Sea, that with the withdrawal of the power of the Creator from the thing created, G-d forbid, it would revert to naught and complete non-existence. Rather, the Activating Force of the Creator must continuously be in the thing created to give it life and existence. [These Forces] are the letters of speech" of the Ten Utterances by which [beings] were created.

And that is the meaning of the verse:                  .4 Read not - give life, but bring into being, i.e., ex nihilo.5 The word       , indicates all the letters from Aleph to Tav,6 and the letter Hai7 the five organs of verbal articulation,8 the sources of the letters.9 Although He has no bodily likeness,10 yet, Scripture itself ascribes to Him [anthropomorphic terms11 such as] "And G-d spoke" or "And G-d said," which denote the revelation of the twenty-two Supernal Letters to the Prophets and the enclothing [of the letters] in their intellect and comprehension in the prophetic vision, as well as in their thought and speech, as it is written, "The spirit of G-d spoke in me, and His word is upon my tongue,"12 as has been explained by the.Ari, of blessed memory, (in the Shaar HaNevuah). Similar to this is the investment of the letters in created things as it is written, "By the word of G-d were the heavens made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host,"13  only [the enclothing of the letters in created beings] is through numerous and powerful descents until [the letters] reach the corporeal [world of] Asiyah;1* whereas, the comprehension of the Prophets is in [the world of] Atzilut15 as it becomes clothed in the world of Beriah.16

*] Each Hebrew letter has its own

numerical value, e.g., x equals 1, 3

 2, and :o forth. Gematria is

5 calculation of the numerical values

"ebrew word.c for example inx

, * 13- Gcm:itten ir/nre^uts even

"PWer descentt the Mishnaic p'the

light and life-force than the combination, substitution etc., of the Divine letters, for here the relationship between the twoi words is only a numerical one. See end of ch. 7, infra. [22] Thus, a name is not merely an arbitrary method of d'stinguisning one person or object

from another, but is actually related to one's soul. This elucidates the statement in the Talmud (Yoma 83b, Tanchuma Bereishit) that Rabbi Meir recognised the character and nature of a person merely by knowing his name. For further explanation see

yin. [3] Ex.     existence ex nihilo. The verse is thus

 VeAtah     interpreted for the phrase "to give life"

 Ťof necessarily imply "to create"

' " Neh. 9:6. [5] /.e.,   /or example, the soul which gives

which in every created     life to and vivifies the body, yet does

 bring it into being. Whereas in Creation the life - force not only vivifies but also creates and must continuously flow into the created being, for without it, it would revert to nothingness. By giving life, He actually creates it ex nihilo. Hence, He constantly renews the existence of the world and all the



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