Tanya Chapter 48: Contemplating the creation and its Soveiv and Mimalei Divine lights

Chapter 48: Contemplating the creation and its Soveiv and Mimalei Divine lights


14th Iyar/11th Iyar

  1. Contemplating G-d’s light is infinite:
  • When an intellectual individual contemplates the greatness of the infinite G-d, [he will come to the realization] that His Divine light and vitality, in truth has no end or limit at all.
  • The infinite light of G-d shines forth from His simple will [without any cause or limitation] and is united with Him, with His essence and being in an absolute unity.

  1. What if the world were to be created from G-d’s infinite light?
  • Now, if the worlds would have descended and derived from this infinite light, without contractions, and would simply follow a gradual descent from level to level in a way of cause and effect [i.e. Ila Vealul], then this physical world not have been created at all in its present form of limitations and confinements.
  • No physical limitations of space: For example, it would not contain a limited distance of 500 years from the earth to the firmament, and from one firmament to the higher firmament. Likewise, each firmament would not contain the limited space worth of five hundred years.
  • Even the spiritual worlds are limited: Furthermore, even the upper spiritual worlds are limited [and would not have bene created in their present form were the creation to derive from Hashem’s infinite light.]

  1. Souls and angels are also limited:
  • World to come, and Gan Eden: Even the world to come, and the higher Eden where the souls of Tzaddikim rest, are all limited and finite.
  • Souls-Limited comprehension: Likewise, all the souls, and it goes without saying the angels, are limited and finite as they have a limitation to their level of comprehension in the infinite light of G-d that shines to them and is invested within their Chabad, intellectual capabilities.
  • Limited enjoyment: Thereby, souls and angels contain limitations to the enjoyment which they receive from the ray of the Shechina and the pleasure they get from the light of G-d. They are unable to receive an infinite level of enjoyment and pleasure, lest they become nullified from their existence and return to their root and source.


15th Iyar/12th Iyar

  1. The contractions that allow a limited creation to take place:
  • The purpose of the contractions: Now is not the time to discuss the details of the contractions done to create a limited world and being, such as what are the contraction and how they take place. However, in general, the concept of contractions is that it causes the Divine light to become concealed so that it does not become drawn down to the creations in its full glory and create them ex nehilo from that level. Rather, the contractions allow only a small glimmer of the light to shine forth into the creations so that when they are created, they have limitations and boundaries.
  • A mere glimmer enters creation: Now, this small glimmer is so minute that it is like nothing in comparison to the infinite light that it was contracted from, and there is no ratio at all between them. It is unlike the ratio of even 1:100000, as the 1 contains some part of the 100,000. However, regarding a number that is infinite, even 100,000 has no part within the infinite number, and is considered like naught. The same applies regarding the contracted Divine light that enters into the creations to create them, that it is considered like naught in comparison to the infinite light that it was contracted from.

13th Iyar

  1. The infinite light encompasses the creations:
  • The infinite light of Hashem is not invested in the worlds in a revealed fashion to enliven them, but rather encompasses them from above, and is called Soveiv Kol Almin.

  1. The concept of Soveiv:
  • Not literal: This concept of encompassing light is not to be taken literally Heaven forbid, that the light contains limitations of space and is only found around the physical creations and not inside them, as there is no concept of space regarding spiritual matters.
  • Not comprehensible: Rather, its intent is that it does not shine within the creation and cannot be comprehended by it, as every light that reveals itself to the world is referred to as an investment, as the light invests itself within the worlds in a way that the creation is able to comprehend it. However, an encompassing light does not invest itself within the creations in a way that they can comprehend it, as it comes in a form of concealment.


A parable:

There are a number of examples in which an item can physically be inside another item but is not internalized by it. Take computer programs, for example: A program which is not compatible with one’s operating system will physically be stored within the memory of one’s computer just like any other program, but the computer will have no access to it, and it is thus as if it is not there. Another example:  One who swallows a coin, the coin is physically in the body but will not become digested and distributed to one’s cells to make any difference to them. Similarly, G-d’s encompassing light is found within everything and does not surround them only from outside their physical body. Nonetheless, the creations have no access to this light, to internalize it and digest it, for it to make any changes within them. Thus, although this light is infinite, it does not contradict the finitude of the creations as they have no access to receive from it into their finite self.


  1. The two lights found in creation-Soveiv and Mimalei:
  • Based on the above it is understood that since the worlds contain limitations, it is a sign that the infinite light does not invest itself within the world in a revealed fashion, and only a small contracted glimmer enters into it for the sake of giving it life. The light in its uncontracted state remains in an encompassing manner within the creations, and they are thus unable to comprehend it.

16th Iyar/14th Iyar

  1. A practical application in our world of the above two modes of Divine light:
  • A parable for the above [two modes of G-dliness, Soveiv and Mimalei] can be found in this world.
  • The limited light within creation: Although this world is filled with G-d’s glory, which is G-d’s infinite light, as the verse states “Do I not fill the heavens and earth, Says G-d”. Nevertheless, this level of infinite G-dliness does not invest itself inside the world in a conscious and revealed manner, and rather only a minute and minuscule ray of Divine vitality enters into the world, and thus create [very limited and outwardly lifeless creations such as] inanimate and vegetation [which show no sign of life, or a very minimal sign of life].
  • The infinite light within creation: As with the infinite light that is there, it remains inside the creations on an encompassing level which triggers no effect or interaction with the creation itself. This is accomplished through the infinite light not allowing any more than a mere glimmer to become revealed and conscious to the creation, while the remaining light retains a concealed and hidden state.
  • Now, every Divine light which remains in a concealed state is called “Makif” or encompassing from above, as the concealed worlds are higher than the revealed worlds.


  1. A second parable-Thinking of a rock:
  • This matter can be even further understood through the following parable.
  • Imagination has no effect: A person imagines within his mind some image he saw or is currently seeing. Although the entire body of the image, in all its dimensions, is being entirely projected and viewed in his mind due to having seen it, or due to currently seeing it, nevertheless, the object is merely encompassed by his mind [and not actually penetrated by it, and hence he has no actual effect on the object he is imagining in his mind].

15th Iyar

  • G-d’s imagination effects creation: Now, in this parable the person does not actually encompass the physical object as it is merely in his imagination, however, Hashem of whom His thoughts are unlike ours, when He thinks and knows all the creations in His mind, He encompasses the creations from head to toe, and inside out, in actuality [and nonetheless, it does not internally effect the object, just like in the parable, as it is found in an encompassing state].

17th Iyar

  1. The G-dly knowledge which surrounds earth:
  • Planet Earth is surrounded by God’s knowledge: A parable of the above concept that Hashem’s knowledge encompasses the creations but does not internally affect it can be seen from the earth. Planet earth is encompassed by G-d’s knowledge and this knowledge actually reaches everywhere throughout the earth, and to everything that is in it to every last detail.
  • God’s knowledge enlivens the Earth: This knowledge serves as the vitality of the entire earth and is responsible for its creation ex nihilo.
  • The contractions of The godly light permit for a limited world to be created: Now, if not for the fact that this infinite light was contracted, the world would never have been created as it appears now with all its limitations and boundaries, containing creations that have very minute spiritual life such as the inanimate and vegetation. The many intense contractions which contracted the light and vitality which became invested into the world allowed a limited and finite creation to take place as we know of it today, which incorporates even the inanimate and vegetative properties. [Thus, while the knowledge of G-d of the world contains an infinite revelation and is in truth responsible for its general creation ex-nihilo, it remains in an encompassing way and thus does not contradict the worlds finite status which is caused by a small contracted revelation that has become internalized within the world. Accordingly, the encompassing light is responsible for the creation of matter while the internal light is responsible for its form and detailed limitations.]


16th Iyar

  1. Hashem and His wisdom are united and infinite:
  • God’s knowledge causes an infinite revelation which needs contraction: Above we stated that Hashem’s knowledge brings an infinite revelation which if not for the contractions, would cause an infinite world.
  • God’s knowledge is united with his essence: The reason for this is as follows: Hashem’s knowledge is united with His essence. He is the knowledge, the knower and the known. Through Him knowing Himself so to say, He knows all the creations. It is not through an external source as is the case with humans, as everything is found from Him. This matter cannot be properly comprehended by the human mind. *Gloss: This was the Rambam’s perspective and was agreed to by the Kablists in the level that G-d contracts and invests Himself in the world of Atzilus. [Although above Atzilus Hashem is infinite and beyond and definition at all, even knowledge, in the world of Atzilus He is united with His knowledge, His Chochmah. Now, in this world, through Him knowing Himself He knows all of creation, as everything was created from His knowledge. It is unlike human knowledge which is derived from external sources outside of him. For example, for one to discover a certain breaking news event he needs to rely on journalists and media outlets. However, Hashem, who creates everything from His knowledge automatically knows everything that occurs with them. The novelty here is that Hashem and His knowledge are one and the same, and His knowledge is not an external tool that He uses to know. Accordingly, when Hashem knows something, it is not just His knowledge that surrounds the item, but He Himself.]


  1. The infinite knowledge is in an encompassing form:
  • The knowledge of G-d which is united with Him and contains an infinite power of revelation of G-dliness is not considered to be invested within the earth, which is limited and finite, but rather encompassing it. This is despite the fact that His knowledge [and infinite light that it carries] is actually found everywhere in the world in actuality and is responsible for the general creation of the world’s matter ex-nihilo.

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