By way of illustration, the Alter Rebbe will now draw an analogy from the physical earth, which is composed of the inanimate and vegetable worlds. These two categories are the least significant of the four categories—man, animal, the vegetative, and the inanimate—and the divine life-force found within them is contracted to a greater degree than the life-force found within animal and man. Nevertheless, Scripture attests that the whole world is full of G-d’s glory, because it encompasses these two categories and does not pervade them.

To illustrate this point, consider this material world. Even though “The whole world is full of His glory,”

וְהַמָּשָׁל בָּזֶה, הִנֵּה הָאָרֶץ הַלֵּזוּ הַגַּשְׁמִיּוּת, אַף שֶׁ"מְּלֹא כָל הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ",

namely, not only with a minute glimmer of G-dliness but with the [infinite] light of the blessed Ein Sof, as it is written, “‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the L-rd,”3

וְהַיְינוּ אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "הֲלֹא אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲנִי מָלֵא, נְאֻם ה'".

nevertheless, only very limited vitality, of no more than the category of what is revealed in the inanimate and vegetable worlds, is clothed within [this world] in the form of “revealed” influence,

אַף־עַל־פִּי־כֵן, אֵין מִתְלַבֵּשׁ בְּתוֹכָהּ בִּבְחִינַת גִּילּוּי הַהַשְׁפָּעָה, רַק חַיּוּת מְעַט מִזְּעֵר, בְּחִינוֹת דּוֹמֵם וְצוֹמֵחַ לְבַד.

while all the light of the blessed Ein Sof which fills the world itself in a concealed manner is described as “encompassing” it, even though it actually pervades it,

וְכָל אוֹר־אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא נִקְרָא סוֹבֵב עָלֶיהָ, אַף שֶׁהוּא בְּתוֹכָהּ מַמָּשׁ.

since its influence is no more revealed in it than it is revealed within the inanimate and vegetable worlds but affects it in a hidden and concealed manner,

מֵאַחַר שֶׁאֵין הַשְׁפָּעָתוֹ מִתְגַּלֵּית בָּהּ יוֹתֵר, רַק מַשְׁפִּיעַ בָּהּ בִּבְחִינַת הֶסְתֵּר וְהֶעְלֵם,

and any influence of a concealed nature is referred to as “encircling from above,”

וְכָל הַשְׁפָּעָה שֶׁבִּבְחִינַת הֶסְתֵּר, נִקְרָא מַקִּיף מִלְמַעְלָה,

for alma d’itkasya, the “hidden world,” is on a higher plane than alma d’itgalya, the “revealed world.”

כִּי, "עָלְמָא דְאִתְכַּסְיָא" הוּא לְמַעְלָה בְּמַדְרֵגָה מֵ"עָלְמָא דְאִתְגַּלְיָא".

G-dliness drawn down in a concealed manner (“from the hidden world”) is on a higher plane than that which is drawn down in a revealed manner (“from the revealed world”). Emanating as it does from a higher level, this mode of divine influence is said to be “encircling from above.”

Let us make this more intelligible by means of an example.

וּלְקָרֵב אֶל הַשֵּׂכֶל יוֹתֵר, הוּא בְּדֶרֶךְ מָשָׁל:

A further example is needed in order to clarify this paradox—how G-dliness simultaneously pervades the world and yet remains aloof from it, encircling and encompassing it (as it were) from above and not being revealed within it.

When a person forms an image in his mind of something that he has seen or sees,

כְּמוֹ הָאָדָם שֶׁמְּצַיֵּיר בְּדַעְתּוֹ אֵיזֶה דָבָר שֶׁרָאָה אוֹ שֶׁרוֹאֶה,

even though the entire body and essence of that thing, both its exterior and interior and its very core, are completely mirrored in his mind and thought, for he has seen it or is seeing it in its entirety,

הִנֵּה אַף שֶׁכָּל גּוּף עֶצֶם הַדָּבָר הַהוּא וְגַבּוֹ וְתוֹכוֹ וְתוֹךְ תּוֹכוֹ, כּוּלּוֹ מְצוּיָּיר בְּדַעְתּוֹ וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁרָאָהוּ כוּלּוֹ אוֹ שֶׁרוֹאֵהוּ,

this is expressed by saying that his mind encompasses that object completely, and, just as in the mind’s frame of reference, so, too, regarding the perspective of the visualized object,

הִנֵּה נִקְרֵאת דַּעְתּוֹ מַקֶּפֶת הַדָּבָר הַהוּא כּוּלּוֹ.

and that thing is enveloped by his mind and thought.

וְהַדָּבָר הַהוּא מוּקָּף בְּדַעְתּוֹ וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ,

But it is not encompassed in actual fact, only in the imagination of the man’s thought and mind.

רַק, שֶׁאֵינוֹ מוּקָּף בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ – רַק בְּדִמְיוֹן מַחֲשֶׁבֶת הָאָדָם וְדַעְתּוֹ.

Since man’s thought is limited, he cannot actually encompass the object itself; he only encompasses its image as it exists within his mind.