The trace functions as the source of the finite “place” of all of existent phenomena, given that it allows them what they need to experience physical existence, which infinitude, i.e., God’s own presence alone cannot (Petach 26). That’s to say that the environment we need to exist — with time, space, physicality, quantity, quality, as well as more physical phenomena like sunlight, oxygen and the like — could not exist in the stark presence of God’s own being, before which everything is undone. There needed to be a more mortal- and even angel-and-the-like friendly environment. The trace is what provided for that; for while the Tzimtzum allowed for the concealment of God’s overarching and unbearable presence, there needed to be another environment in its place. And the trace allowed for just that.
As Ramchal goes on to say, it’s the “trace” itself which everything that was to exist in the world has its roots in it. He then underscores the fact that the trace isn’t an independent agent but rather one of God’s tools (like the Sephirot), and that He governs (i.e., controls) it the way a soul governs a body, with all the implications involved in that (Petach 27).
An obvious question at this point is, what role do the Sephirot play in the trace? Simply put, each Sephira is a part of the trace (Petach 29).
(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.
You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).