Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi The Alter Rebbe Parshat Ki-Teze 5565-1805 (1) first version
Indented text by the translator
The Big Picture
An allegory clarifies this concept. When a person wants something, the object of his desire initially arises in his thought. He doesn’t contemplate its sundry details, but envisions the object in its totality. The image isn’t subdivided. A single thought grasps the object; a solitary “glance” encapsulates it, start to finish, as a single unit.
That is why only one thought is involved; numerous considerations are unnecessary. This thought is called a general cognizance. Yet virtually every one of the object’s elements is incorporated in that thought. Nothing is excluded, not even the most miniscule detail.
The person then contemplates each particular facet. Every component—from start to finish—can be reviewed individually. These considerations and cognitions, however, aren’t new; they were inter-included within the generalized thought. It’s just that these details were all included within the comprehensive thought, and now each one emerges as a specialized, distinct bit of knowledge; each detail is given its own thought.
At first, that is, inside the comprehensive thought, there wasn’t knowledge about each and every detail. Rather, all of the details were known together in that single thought; one detail wasn’t conceived before the next. And no specific idea was recognized independently. Yet, doesn’t the Talmud teach us, “There is nothing that a detail possesses which isn’t contained within its generalization?” The answer is that each detail emerges from its former concealed state within the generality, as was explained earlier about the concept of time.
We can now apply this allegory. When the Absolute Essence of the Infinite Light desired to create the system of worlds—Emanation, Creation, Formation, and Action—they arose in His pure and simple Will. The future worlds ascended in God’s Will as an initial, generalized thought—called the antecedent thought of Primordial Man.
God’s specific Will to create the system of worlds is also called His thought. (This is a higher kind of thought than what we call Understanding.) For here His Will and thought are united as one entity: a revelation about what God wants. This is the initial revelation after the great withdrawal, called Primordial Man. This specific post-withdrawal “creation Will” emerges from God’s general pre-withdrawal Will, of which, Kabbalah reveals to us, “He and His Will are one.”