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.