והנה, פרטיות הצמצומים איך ומה, אין כאן מקום ביאורם

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.

אך דרך כלל הן הם בחינת הסתר והעלם המשכת האור והחיות

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

שלא יאיר ויומשך לתחתונים בבחינת גילוי, להתלבש ולהשפיע בהן ולהחיותם להיות יש מאין

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

כי אם מעט מזעיר אור וחיות, בכדי שיהיו בבחינת גבול ותכלית

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

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.

שהיא הארה מועטת מאד, וממש כלא חשיבי לגבי בחינת הארה בלי גבול ותכלית, ואין ביניהם ערך ויחס כלל

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 reference or relationship between them,

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

כנודע פירוש מלת ערך במספרים, שאחד במספר יש לו ערך לגבי מספר אלף אלפים, שהוא חלק אחד מני אלף אלפים

as the term “reference” is understood in number values, where the number one has a relevancy to the number one million, for it is a one-millionth part of it;

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.

אבל לגבי דבר שהוא בבחינת בלי גבול ומספר כלל, אין כנגדו שום ערך במספרים

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

שאפילו אלף אלפי אלפים ורבוא רבבות אינן אפילו כערך מספר אחד לגבי אלף אלפי אלפים ורבוא רבבות

for a billion and a trillion1 when compared to infinity do not even attain the relevancy of the value of one in comparison with a billion or a trillion,

אלא כלא ממש חשיבי

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 a trillion has no relevance at all when compared to the realm of the infinite, but is veritably accounted as nothing.

וככה ממש היא בחינת ההארה מועטת זו, המתלבשת בעולמות עליונים ותחתונים, להשפיע בהם להחיותם

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,

לגבי אור הגנוז ונעלם, שהוא בבחינת אין סוף

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

ואינו מתלבש ומשפיע בעולמות בבחינת גילוי להחיותם, אלא מקיף עליהם מלמעלה, ונקרא סובב כל עלמין

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”).

Unlike the light that pervades all worlds (memale 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.

ואין הפירוש סובב ומקיף מלמעלה בבחינת מקום, חס ושלום, כי לא שייך כלל בחינת מקום ברוחניות

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,

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

אלא רצונו לומר: סובב ומקיף מלמעלה לענין בחינת גילוי השפעה

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

כי ההשפעה שהיא בבחינת גילוי בעולמות נקראת בשם הלבשה, שמתלבשת בעולמות, כי הם מלבישים ומשיגים ההשפעה שמקבלים

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,

מה שאין כן ההשפעה שאינה בבחינת גילוי אלא בהסתר והעלם, ואין העולמות משיגים אותה, אינה נקראת מתלבשת, אלא מקפת וסובבת

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].

הלכך, מאחר שהעולמות הם בבחינת גבול ותכלית, נמצא שאין השפעת אור אין סוף מתלבשת ומתגלה בהם בבחינת גילוי, רק מעט מזער הארה מועטת מצומצמת מאד מאד

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

והיא רק כדי להחיותם בבחינת גבול ותכלית

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

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.

אבל עיקר האור בלי צמצום כל כך נקרא מקיף וסובב, מאחר שאין השפעתו מתגלית בתוכם, מאחר שהם בבחינת גבול ותכלית

But the principal light that is without contraction to such an extent is called makkif (“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.