More on Words

Rebbe Nachman agrees with RSZ’s idea but adds a certain tantalizing element to it (see Likutei Moharan 1:64-3-4). He cites the verse, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made” (Psalms 33:6) as a proof of this phenomenon (which Ramchal himself cited in Petach 18), and he likens speech there to Chochma (both literally as wisdom and as the Sephira by that name as we’ll see) since it’s also written, “How great are Your works, O Lord! You have made them all with Chochma” (Psalms 104:24).

But he points out that there’s a stage higher yet than Chochma, which is silence, as when God counseled Moses to be silent rather than delve into the wisdom of His governance of the world (see Menachot 29). That’s to say that sometimes it’s better to not question or speak, but rather to acquiesce to higher, even more arcane, unintelligible Divine wisdom.

He thus asserts that while the letters do play a pivotal role in creation, they are certainly not primary: the Sephirot, which are epitomized by Keter which is utterly unfathomable, are.

But notice, also, this point by R’ Chaim of Volozhin (see Nephesh HaChaim 3:10). Also agreeing with RSZ’s assertion, he nonetheless adds (without offering a specific source) that the Zohar equates God’s speech with His very Self. Then he adds this element to the mix: “It’s written about the World to Come that ‘the glory of the Lord will be revealed (then), and all flesh together will see that the mouth of the Lord spoke’ (Isaiah 40:5). That’s to say that our understandings will be so purified then that we’ll merit to physically catch sight of God’s words as they appear throughout the world”.

Not only that, he adds, but we’ll actually “catch sight” of God’s presence itself then, when the verse “your Teacher will no longer be concealed from you, for your eyes will see your Teacher” (Isaiah 30:20) will come true, given that we’ll see God’s words all over. This last point fits very nicely of course into Ramchal’s whole theme of the ultimate revelation of God’s Yichud [1].


[1] See Ramchal’s reference to God’s words playing a role in creation in Da’at Tevunot 158, and also see Ramban’s comments to Genesis 1:4 and 2:17.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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