A POEM FOR THE SEFIROT AS A WHEEL OF LIGHT
Medieval Jewish poesis plays off the image of ten sefirot (emanations) as the resonance of Ein-Sof (the limitless) into the world of our possible perception. Unified within God goes one telling or identical with him, they appear to the human mind as differentiated stages, mapped in a sacred language game by words descriptive of their source.
In the present instance the "wheel of light" is not a fixed or static image (from which the "limitless" could as well be excluded) but an image in motion & tied finally to the mystery of creation as worked through by the 16th-century kabbalist & poet Isaac Luria. Here the limitless that fills all space contracts itself to leave a point or vacuum behind in which the universe originates. The act of withdrawal is called tsimtsum ("contraction") & the point is called tehiru, the primordial space. A ray of light moving across this circular space fills it with the ten sefirot, which surround it like a wheel of light. Only a residue of Ein-Sof stays within it like little drops of oil.
Image, translation, and commentary from Jerome Rothenberg, Exiled in the Word (a.k.a. A Big Jewish Book.)