Now, as for the intricate details of the “contractions,” how they achieve their effect and what they actually are—this is not the place for their explanation.

וְהִנֵּה, פְּרָטִיּוּת הַצִּמְצוּמִים, אֵיךְ וּמָה – אֵין כָּאן מְקוֹם בֵּיאוּרָם.

But in general, they are something in the nature of an obscuring and concealment of the flow of light and vitality,

אַךְ דֶּרֶךְ כְּלָל, הֵן הֵם בְּחִינַת הֶסְתֵּר וְהֶעְלֵם הַמְשָׁכַת הָאוֹר וְהַחַיּוּת,

so that [the light and vitality] should illumine and reach the lower creatures in a revealed manner, pervading them and acting in them and animating them in such a way that they exist ex nihilo,

שֶׁלֹּא יָאִיר וְיוּמְשַׁךְ לַתַּחְתּוֹנִים בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי, לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ וּלְהַשְׁפִּיעַ בָּהֶן וּלְהַחֲיוֹתָם לִהְיוֹת יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן –

in only an extremely minute measure so that they be in a state of finitude and limitation.

כִּי אִם, מְעַט מִזְּעֵר אוֹר וְחַיּוּת, בִּכְדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ בִּבְחִינַת גְּבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

Were their life-force to be revealed within them, they would be infinite. “Contraction” ensures that the light and vitality which is their life-force remains concealed from them; all that is revealed is but a minute degree of light and vitality.

This light and vitality that is revealed within them after the “contraction” constitutes an infinitesimal illumination and is truly considered as naught when compared with the quality of the limitless and infinite illumination, and there is no proportion or relationship between them,

שֶׁהִיא הֶאָרָה מוּעֶטֶת מְאֹד וּמַמָּשׁ כְּלָא חֲשִׁיבֵי לְגַבֵּי בְּחִינַת הֶאָרָה בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית, וְאֵין בֵּינֵיהֶם עֵרֶךְ וְיַחַס כְּלָל,

I.e., they are not quantitatively different, not even immensely different in quantity, but of a wholly different and incomparable quality.

as the term “proportion” is understood in number values, where the number one stands in a certain ratio to the number one million, for it is a one-millionth part of it,

כַּנּוֹדָע פֵּירוּשׁ מִלַּת ‘עֵרֶךְ' בְּמִסְפָּרִים, שֶׁאֶחָד בְּמִסְפָּר, יֵשׁ לוֹ עֵרֶךְ לְגַבֵּי מִסְפָּר אֶלֶף אֲלָפִים, שֶׁהוּא חֵלֶק אֶחָד מִנִּי אֶלֶף אֲלָפִים,

The sum of one million is merely the sum of one million ones; subtract but one, and the million ceases to exist—a clear demonstration of the relation that subsists between one and a million.

but as regards a thing which transcends finitude and numeration, there is no number—however great—that can be relative to it,

אֲבָל לְגַבֵּי דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת בְּלִי גְבוּל וּמִסְפָּר כְּלָל – אֵין כְּנֶגְדּוֹ שׁוּם עֵרֶךְ בְּמִסְפָּרִים,

for a billion and a trillion2 when compared to infinity do not even attain the relevancy of the value of one in comparison with a billion or a trillion,

שֶׁאֲפִילוּ אֶלֶף אַלְפֵי אֲלָפִים וְרִיבּוֹא רְבָבוֹת, אֵינָן אֲפִילוּ כְּעֵרֶךְ מִסְפָּר אֶחָד לְגַבֵּי אֶלֶף אַלְפֵי אֲלָפִים וְרִבּוֹא רְבָבוֹת,

for the sum of one retains some degree of relevance even when compared to a trillion—it is, in fact, one trillionth of it—while even a sum as large as a trillion has no relevance at all when compared to the realm of the infinite but is veritably accounted as nothing.

אֶלָּא כְּלָא מַמָּשׁ חֲשִׁיבֵי.

So, indeed, is the utterly insignificant quality of this minute illumination—after the “contraction”—which clothes itself in the higher and lower worlds in order to provide them with sustenance and life,

וְכָכָה מַמָּשׁ הִיא בְּחִינַת הַהֶאָרָה מוּעֶטֶת זוֹ, הַמִּתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בְּעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים וְתַחְתּוֹנִים לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ בָּהֶם לְהַחֲיוֹתָם,

when compared with the quality of the hidden and concealed light that is of an infinite order,

לְגַבֵּי עֵרֶךְ אוֹר הַגָּנוּז וְנֶעְלָם, שֶׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת "אֵין־סוֹף",

and does not clothe itself or exercise its influence in the worlds in a revealed manner, providing them with life, but encompasses them from above—i.e., it exerts its influence while remaining on its own level—and is called sovev kol almin (lit., “encompassing all worlds”).

וְאֵינוֹ מִתְלַבֵּשׁ וּמַשְׁפִּיעַ בָּעוֹלָמוֹת בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי לְהַחֲיוֹתָם, אֶלָּא מַקִּיף עֲלֵיהֶם מִלְמַעְלָה, וְנִקְרָא – "סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין".

Unlike the light that pervades all worlds (memalei kol almin), which permeates and vests itself within them (just as the soul vests itself in the body), the encompassing light remains aloof from the worlds.

The meaning of this is not that it encircles and encompasses from above spatially, G-d forbid, for in spiritual matters, the category of space is in no way applicable,

וְאֵין הַפֵּירוּשׁ סוֹבֵב וּמַקִּיף מִלְמַעְלָה בִּבְחִינַת מָקוֹם חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, כִּי לֹא שַׁיָּיךְ כְּלָל בְּחִינַת מָקוֹם בְּרוּחָנִיּוּת.

Physical objects are spatial; they may be said to be found in one place or the other. Spirituality, however, is nonspatial; the terms “encompassing” and “encircling” are never to be understood in their literal, physical sense,

but the meaning is that it “encircles and encompasses from above” insofar as the revelation of this influence is concerned,

אֶלָּא רוֹצֶה לוֹמַר, סוֹבֵב וּמַקִּיף מִלְמַעְלָה לְעִנְיַן בְּחִינַת גִּילּוּי הַשְׁפָּעָה,

for influence, which is in the category of “revelation” in the worlds, is referred to as “investiture,” being “clothed” within the worlds, for the influence that they receive is clothed and comprehended by them, i.e., they are able to comprehend and internalize it,

כִּי הַהַשְׁפָּעָה שֶׁהוּא בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי בָּעוֹלָמוֹת – נִקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם "הַלְבָּשָׁה", שֶׁמִּתְלַבֶּשֶׁת בָּעוֹלָמוֹת, כִּי הֵם מַלְבִּישִׁים וּמַשִּׂיגִים הַהַשְׁפָּעָה שֶׁמְּקַבְּלִים,

whereas the influence which does not come within the category of “revelation” but remains obscured and concealed and is not apprehended by the worlds is not described as being “invested” in them but as “encircling and encompassing” [them].

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן הַהַשְׁפָּעָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי אֶלָּא בְּהֶסְתֵּר וְהֶעְלֵם, וְאֵין הָעוֹלָמוֹת מַשִּׂיגִים אוֹתָהּ – אֵינָהּ נִקְרֵאת "מִתְלַבֶּשֶׁת" אֶלָּא מַקֶּפֶת וְסוֹבֶבֶת.

Therefore, since the worlds belong in the order of the finite and limited,

הִלְכָּךְ, מֵאַחַר שֶׁהָעוֹלָמוֹת הֵם בִּבְחִינַת גְּבוּל וְתַכְלִית –

it follows that only an extremely minute and contracted reflection of the flow of the [infinite] light of the blessed Ein Sof clothes and manifests itself in them in a revealed form,

נִמְצָא שֶׁאֵין הַשְׁפָּעַת אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף מִתְלַבֵּשׁ וּמִתְגַּלָּה בָּהֶם בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי, רַק מְעַט מִזְּעֵר, הֶאָרָה מוּעֶטֶת מְצוּמְצֶמֶת מְאֹד מְאֹד,

and this only to animate them in a finite and revealed state.

וְהִיא רַק כְּדֵי לְהַחֲיוֹתָם בִּבְחִינַת גְּבוּל וְתַכְלִית.

In order for creation to come about, there must necessarily be at least some glimmer of G-dly illumination, albeit in an extremely limited form, for this enables creation to be finite and bounded.

But the principal light that is without contraction to such an extent is called makif (“encircler”) and sovev (“encompasser”) since its influence is not revealed within [the worlds] inasmuch as they belong in the order of the finite and the limited.

אֲבָל עִיקַּר הָאוֹר בְּלִי צִמְצוּם כָּל כָּךְ נִקְרָא "מַקִּיף" וְ"סוֹבֵב", מֵאַחַר שֶׁאֵין הַשְׁפָּעָתוֹ מִתְגַּלֵּית בְּתוֹכָם, מֵאַחַר שֶׁהֵם בִּבְחִינַת גְּבוּל וְתַכְלִית.