And this is also the meaning of “He encompasses all worlds.”

וְזֶהוּ גַּם כֵּן עִנְיַן "סוֹבֵב כָּל עָלְמִין",

This does not mean to say (heaven forfend) that G-d is not found within the worlds but merely encompasses them. Rather:

This means, by way of analogy: When a person reflects upon an intellectual subject in his mind or upon a physical object in his thoughts,

פֵּירוּשׁ, דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּשֶׁאָדָם מִתְבּוֹנֵן בְּאֵיזֶה דְּבַר חָכְמָה בְּשִׂכְלוֹ אוֹ דָּבָר גַּשְׁמִי בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ,

then his intellect and thought encompass that subject, whose image is formed in his thought or in his mind, inasmuch as they are found within his thought and mind,

אֲזַי, שִׂכְלוֹ וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ מַקִּיפִים עַל הַדָּבָר הַהוּא הַמְצוּיָּר בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ אוֹ בְּשִׂכְלוֹ,

but they—his intellect and thought—do not encompass that subject in actual fact.

אַךְ אֵין מַקִּיפִים עַל הַדָּבָר הַהוּא מַמָּשׁ – בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ;

They merely encompass his image of the subject, not the actual subject. When one envisions a table, the actual, physical table is of course not found within the brain; it is merely its image that is encompassed there.

The Holy One, blessed be He, however, of Whom it is written, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts…,”25

אֲבָל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא דִּכְתִיב בֵּיהּ "כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם וְגוֹ'",

His thought and knowledge of all created beings actually encompass each and every creature,

מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וִידִיעָתוֹ שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ כָּל הַנִּבְרָאִים, מַקֶּפֶת כָּל נִבְרָא וְנִבְרָא בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ,

for [G-d’s knowledge] is verily its life-force and that which brings it into existence out of nothingness, in actual reality.

שֶׁהֲרֵי, הִיא הִיא חַיּוּתוֹ וְהִתְהַוּוּתוֹ מֵאַיִן לְיֵשׁ בְּפוֹעַל מַמָּשׁ.

G-d’s thought, unlike man’s, thus encompasses the actual subject of His thought—in this case, all created beings. It brings about their creation and continued existence, even though it does not descend to their level and become internalized within them but remains in an exalted state.

And “He fills all worlds” is the life-force that becomes enclothed i.e., is internalized within the essence of the created being.

וּ"מְמַלֵּא כָּל עָלְמִין" – הִיא בְּחִינַת הַחַיּוּת הַמִּתְלַבֶּשֶׁת תּוֹךְ עֶצֶם הַנִּבְרָא,

It is powerfully contracted within it according to the intrinsic nature of the created being which is finite and limited in quantity and quality, [“quality”] meaning its significance and importance.

שֶׁהִיא מְצוּמְצֶמֶת בְּתוֹכוֹ בְּצִמְצוּם רַב, כְּפִי עֵרֶךְ מַהוּת הַנִּבְרָא, שֶׁהוּא בַּעַל גְּבוּל וְתַכְלִית בְּכַמּוּתוֹ וְאֵיכוּתוֹ, דְּהַיְינוּ – מַעֲלָתוֹ וַחֲשִׁיבוּתוֹ.

Since the life-force must vest itself within the finite created being and unite with it utterly, it must necessarily be contracted and limited according to the intrinsically finite nature of the created being.

An example is the sun, whose body is finite and limited quantitatively, being approximately one hundred and sixty seven times the size of the globe of the earth,26

כְּגוֹן הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, שֶׁגּוּפוֹ יֵשׁ לוֹ גְּבוּל וְתַכְלִית בְּכַמּוּתוֹ, שֶׁהוּא כְּמוֹ קס"ז פְּעָמִים כְּגוֹדֶל כַּדּוּר הָאָרֶץ,

and whose quality and significance, namely, its light, is also limited as to the extent that it can emit light,

וְאֵיכוּתוֹ וּמַעֲלָתוֹ, הוּא אוֹרוֹ, גַּם כֵּן יֵשׁ לוֹ גְּבוּל עַד כַּמָּה יוּכַל לְהָאִיר,

for it cannot illuminate indefinitely since it is a created being and hence inherently limited. Thus, although the light of the sun illuminates at a prodigious distance, that distance is not without limit.

כִּי לֹא יָאִיר לְבִלְתִּי תַכְלִית, מֵאַחַר שֶׁהוּא נִבְרָא,

Likewise, all created beings are finite and limited, for “from the earth to heaven is a journey of five hundred years…, and so, too, from one heaven to another is a distance of five hundred years.”27

וְכֵן כָּל הַנִּבְרָאִים הֵם בַּעֲלֵי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית, כִּי מֵהָאָרֶץ לָרָקִיעַ מַהֲלַךְ תּ"ק שָׁנָה כוּ'.

Hence, since created beings are finite and limited, the life-force which is invested in them is greatly and powerfully contracted,

וְאִם כֵּן, הַחַיּוּת הַמְלוּבֶּשֶׁת בָּהֶם, הִיא בִּבְחִינַת צִמְצוּם רַב וְעָצוּם,

for it must first undergo numerous and powerful contractions until created beings, by nature finite and limited, may be brought into existence from its power and light.

כִּי צְרִיכָה תְּחִלָּה לְהִתְצַמְצֵם צִמְצוּמִים רַבִּים וַעֲצוּמִים, עַד שֶׁיִּתְהַוֶּה מִכֹּחָהּ וְאוֹרָהּ עֶצֶם הַנִּבְרָאִים כְּמוֹת שֶׁהֵם, בַּעֲלֵי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

Only after this process of self-limitation will the limitless life-force be able to invest itself within finite created beings and become united with them, as will soon be explained.