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As Divided for a Leap Year
Tanya for 23 Sivan
Now, from the foregoing exposition one will be able to understand the verse,  "I, Havayah, have not changed."
[Not only has there been no change in G-d's conduct, or even His will, with regard to rewarding the righteous and so on, but this verse means explicitly that there is no change, heaven forfend, in G-d: there exists nothing that can alter Him.
The only consideration that might possibly cause one to wonder about there being a change in G-d's unity is His bringing created beings into existence. Before their creation nothing whatever existed other than Him. After their creation, however, one might erroneously conclude that there now exists something in addition to Him - the various worlds and their denizens. And were this to be so, this would constitute a change in G-d's absolute unity, heaven forbid. The verse therefore anticipates this by saying, "I, Havayah, have not changed."]
There is no change [in Him] at all; just as He was alone before the creation of the world, so is He alone after it was created.
[Superficially this is difficult to understand. How can we possibly say that G-d is alone after the world was created, when there now exists an additional entity - the world?
However, according to the explanation given here regarding Divine Unity, this matter is clearly understood. Since the world is truly nullified in its entirety in relation to Him and is wholly united with Him, G-d is thus just as truly alone after the world was created as He was alone prior to its creation].
Accordingly it is written,  "You were [the same] before the world was created; You are [the same after the world was created."
It would have been simpler to state, "You are the same before and after the world was created." The text, however, chose to be more explicit in order to stress that the "You" that existed before the world's creation remains exactly the same "You" after its creation], without any change in His Being, nor even in His knowledge. 
[One might have supposed that with the creation of the world G-d's knowledge underwent a change,  inasmuch as He could not have possibly known the world beforehand; once the world was created, G-d would thus know something that previously He did not. The Alter Rebbe therefore tells us that G-d's knowledge has not changed at all].
For by knowing Himself, He knows all created things, since all derive from Him and are nullified in relation to Him.
[Creation thus added nothing to G-d's knowledge. This knowledge of self existed before creation, and it is with this prior knowledge that He knows of all of creation].
As Maimonides, of blessed memory, stated,  that He is the Knower, He is the Known, and He is Knowledge itself: all are one.
[This is radically different from mortal knowledge, which comprises three distinct elements:
In the Divine realm, however, these three elements are all one: all are G-d. (See ch. 2 of Part I for further elaboration of this theme].
- the person's soul - the knower;
- the subject that is known; and
- the power of knowledge - the faculty of Daat, which enables the knower to know the known.
This - [Maimonides goes on to say] - is beyond the capacity of the mouth to express, beyond the capacity of the ear to hear, and beyond the capacity of the heart [or mind] of man to apprehend clearly.
For the Holy One, blessed be He, His Essence and Being, and His Knowledge - are all absolutely one, from every side and angle, and in every form of unity.
His Knowledge is not superadded to His Essence and Being as it is in a mortal soul, whose knowledge is added to its essence and is compounded with it.
For when a man studies a subject and knows it, his rational soul was already within him before he studied and knew it, and afterwards, this knowledge was added to his soul.
[Man's knowledge is thus a supplement to his intrinsic being; through it he becomes aware of something he did not know before].
And so, day after day,  "Days speak, [i.e., instruct a person], and a multitude of years teach wisdom."
This is not a simple [i.e., perfect] unity, but a composite.
[The Alter Rebbe means the following:
Although man's knowledge, too, is united with him (lit., "with his soul"), for it is the person himself who knows, nevertheless this is not a perfect unity, for "simple" implies that any alternative would be inconceivable. Since a man's knowledge is acquired, not having been part of his essential being, its acquisition yields an imperfect and composite form of unity, a unity comprised of two separate entities that have coalesced].
The Holy One, blessed be He, however, is a perfect unity, without any composition or element of plurality at all, [inasmuch as it is impossible to speak of any aspect of Him as not having existed previously].
Hence, [since His unity is perfect and uncompounded, one cannot say that His Knowledge is something apart from Him, for that would imply, heaven forbid, a composite - that his knowledge is superadded to His Essence, effecting a change within Him.
One must conclude that His Essence and Being and Knowledge are all absolutely one, without any composition.
Therefore, just as it is impossible for any creature in the world to comprehend the Essence of the Creator and His Being, so it is impossible to comprehend the essence of His knowledge, [which is One with G-d Himself.
Inasmuch as faith transcends intellect, it is able to apprehend truths that lie beyond the province of mortal intellect].
[It is possible] only to believe, with a faith that transcends intellect and comprehension, that the Holy One, blessed be He, is One and Unique. He and His knowledge are all absolutely one, and knowing Himself, He perceives and knows all the higher and lower beings, [i.e., the beings in the higher and lower worlds], including even a small worm in the sea  and a minute mosquito that may be found in the center of the earth;  there is nothing concealed from Him.
This knowledge does not add multiplicity and composition to Him at all, since it is merely a knowledge of Himself; and His Being and His knowledge are all one. 
[Thus, by knowing Himself, He knows all created beings that derive their existence from Him and that are utterly nullified to Him and unified with Him].
Inasmuch as this [form of knowledge] is very difficult to envisage, the Prophet [Isaiah] therefore said,  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
For man sees and knows everything with a knowledge that is external to himself, [and hence something is added to him by his knowledge], whereas the Holy One, blessed be He, [knows all] by knowing Himself.
These are the [paraphrased] words [of Maimonides].
 (See Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah. The Sages of the Kabbalah have agreed with him, as is explained in Pardes of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, of blessed memory.)
[There are a number of Torah sages who sharply disagree with Maimonides' view.
They claim that no descriptive term may be applied to G-d - not even that of knowledge, and not even of a form of knowledge so rarefied that it is completely beyond the realm of human experience.
To say that G-d is the "Knower" and the "Knowledge" and so on, so the argument runs, is to give Infinite G-d a description which would serve to limit Him.
According to the Kabbalah, however, Maimonides is indeed correct.
However (as stated in the Alter Rebbe's Note in Part I, ch. 2, and later on in his Note in ch. 9), this is only after the Ein Sof-light has undergone numerous tzimtzumim, until it is able to garb itself in the vessels of the Sefirot of Chochmah, Binah and Daat of the World of Atzilut.
At that stage, in Atzilut, we can truly say that G-d is the "Knower" and "Known," etc., inasmuch as the attributes of Atzilut are completely united with the Ein Sof-light. 
- (Back to text) Malachi 3:6.
- (Back to text) Liturgy, Morning Prayer; Yalkut, Parshat Va-etchanan, Remez 835.
- (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "Knowledge being merely a descriptive term, just as (though keeping in mind a thousand and more distinctions) man's knowledge is far inferior to the essence of his soul - with regard to its simplicity (pshitut), being (atzmut), and so forth."
- (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "Inasmuch as [knowledge] is only one of His descriptive terms, which surely does not cause a change in His Essence."
- (Back to text) Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 2:10, et passim; Moreh Nevuchim I, chapter 68.
- (Back to text) Iyov 32:7.
- (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "[`The smallest of all creatures'- Rashi on Chullin 40a] of the sea [according to the text of the Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, Section 4]."
- (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "The most insignificant of all creatures; see Rambam, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 2:9; see also Bereishit Rabbah, begining of chapter 8."
- (Back to text) The following paraphrases a note of the Rebbe Shlita.
It would seem that the complete subject under discussion has now been concluded. Since it is not within the province of Tanya to expound Scriptural verses, why does the Alter Rebbe now proceed, "The Prophet [Isaiah] therefore said ....," and so on?
One cannot compare this passage with chapter 2, where the verses cited contribute to the explanation of the matter at hand, namely, the limits of man's comprehension. Here, however, since these verses appear to add nothing, why does the Alter Rebbe quote and explain them?
A solution: By doing so, the Alter Rebbe answers a question which seems to contradict all that has been stated earlier. For the Alter Rebbe had written earlier that a perception of Maimonides' concept that "He is the Knowledge .....," is the "lower-level Unity" which is applicable to every man (as opposed to the "higher-level Unity" which can be achieved only by select individuals who have attained a singularly exalted spiritual state).
However, Maimonides' concluding words on this subject in this very text seem to indicate otherwise, namely, "This is beyond the capacity ..... of the heart of man to apprehend clearly": no man, even the most spiritual, is able to comprehend this matter.
This question becomes even more acute in the light of that which Maimonides writes in Hilchot Teshuvah, end of chapter 5: "This is what the prophet states, `My thoughts are not your thoughts'..."; i.e., this statement is even made by the Prophets. This seems to contradict the Alter Rebbe's earlier statement that "lower-level Unity" may be achieved by all.
For this reason the Alter Rebbe says: "The prophet [Isaiah] therefore says...," since this matter is indeed difficult to envisage intellectually. Nevertheless, this manner of spiritual service is indeed within the reach of all, even of those who are only at the level of "lower-level Unity."
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 55:9.
- (Back to text) Iyov 11:17.
- (Back to text) Ibid. 10:4.
- (Back to text) Parentheses are in the original text.
- (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "All this is explained at length - the opinion of Maimonides, those who disagree with him, and the Alter Rebbe's explanation of this matter - in Sefer HaMitzvot [i.e., Derech Mitzvotecha] of the Tzemach Tzedek, Mitzvat Haamanat Elokut."
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