Preface to the Sulam Commentary, Item 1: First, we must know the names of the ten Sefirot: KHB, HGT, NHYM. These are acronyms of Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut. These are also the ten coverings of His Light, established so the lower ones can receive His Light.
This is like the light of the sun, which is impossible to look at unless through darkened glass that diminishes its light and make it suitable for the eyes’ ability to see. Similarly, had His Light not been covered by these ten coverings, called “ten Sefirot,” in which each lower one further covers His Light, the lower ones would have been unable to obtain it.
In order for us to exist, the Upper Light had to reduce,to restrict itself, and clothe itself in ten concealments. Due to this, we can feel our existence, be independent, and gradually draw closer to the Creator by assuming His form and adopting His qualities. In other words, we can attain Him gradually, not instantly.
We are separated from the Upper Light by as many as ten degrees. This is precisely how the Light reveals the desire to receive, which can exist opposite to it. Contact between the Light and the desire is possible only through these ten coverings, called Sefirot.
However, one can object that the word “Sefira” doesn’t stem from the word “coverings.” Quite the opposite, it means illumination. A Sefira shines on us if we are in congruence with this Sefira, that is, if we exist in the same conditions and have the same qualities. We ascend the same degrees of the Sefirot that the Light had descended from above-downward so as to be with us, and now we ascend so as to be together with the Light. We meet the Light at a particular degree of this ladder and in accordance with it we count off the Sefirot – the ten garments which the Upper Light uses to conceal itself.
Each new day renews the initial Act of Creation, awakening the ego within us through the ten coverings, and doing so more and more. We must feel ourselves opposite to the Light, for otherwise we will not be creatures.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/16/10, “Preface to the Sulam Commentary”