Lesson 1: The Ten as a Spiritual Vessel
1. Rabbi Yochanan said, it is written, “I will be sanctified among Israel.” Everything concerning Kedusha (sanctity) cannot be in less than Ten.
—Talmud Bavli, Masechet Megilah, Page 23/2
2. Rabbi Chalafta Ben Dosa says, Ten sitting and engaging in the Torah, Shechinah dwells among them , as it is written (Psalm 82), “The Creator stands in the congregation of the mighty.”
—Mishna, Masechet Avot, Chapter 3, Verse 6
3. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was expounding on the secrets of Torah, with the friends listening to his voice and uniting with him, and being in this connection, each replying with his portion.
—Ramchal, “Mighty in Heaven,” 24
4. They were sitting in half a circle, affectionately and with love, as one bundle, like the Sanhedrin, not suspecting each other, since they could see one another and hear one another discussing with each other, resulting in proper instruction.
—Rashi Commentary on the Talmud Bavli, Masechet Cholin
5. Israel will not be redeemed out by sorrow, nor by bondage, nor out of their wonderings or madness and not by pressures or lack of food but by Ten people sitting together, each one reading and sharing with their friend, thus their voices will be heard, as it is written (Obadiah chapter 1), “Upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance and there shall be holiness.”
—Tana Dovi Eliyahu Zota, Chapter 14
6. 105) It is written, how loved are Israel before the Creator, that wherever they are, the Creator is with them, because He has not removed His love from them, as it is written, “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them,” since the Shechina comes to the synagogue early.
106) Happy is the man who is among the first Ten in the synagogue, because by them is the congregation completed, which it is not less than ten. They are the ones who are sanctified by the Shechina first. But there must be ten in the synagogue at the same time, and not come bit by bit, so that the completion of the organs is not detained, for all ten are as organs of a single body in which Divinity dwells.
—Zohar Laam, Nasso, 105-106
7. When several friends gather together, each one has but a small amount of this power, that is better to come out of self love, but they do not have enough power and importance of bestowal, to become independent and without outside help. Thus all these individuals annul themselves one to another. At least in theory, together they will have the strength to Love of the Creator, yet they are unable to carry it out. However, by each one joining the society and annulling oneself to the society, they create one body. If, let’s say, this body is made up of ten people, this body has ten times the strength of a single person.
This is on the condition that when they come together, each one will think that he is now joining for the purpose of annulling his self love, namely that he should not think about how to fulfill his own will but rather, one should think as much as possible about the love of the friend. Only this way one is able to receive the will and the need that is necessary to attain the new attribute, called the will to bestow. Thus, from the love of friends one is able to get to the love of the Creator, namely that his desire is to bestow contentment to the Creator. It follows that this is the only way by which one can gain the understanding that the matter of bestowal is so very important and necessary, and that he was able to attain it only through the love of friends.
—Writings of Rabash, Vol 1, “Concerning the Love of Friends”
8. The main purpose for the assembly is for all to be united as one, and that all their requests will be directed towards one goal – to reveal the Creator, “In each Ten dwells the Shechina.” And certainly, when there are more than ten there surely is a greater revelation of the Shechina (Divinity), and each and every one joins himself to his friend… and annul to him and his friend to him, until all are the annulled. Hence, when this is the assembly’s intention, then naturally… the Creator draws himself closer to them… and the good Chasadim (mercies) are revealed and drawn to the assembly of Israel.
—Rabbi Klonimus Kalman Halevi Epstein, Maor VaShemesh, Parashat Vayechi
9. Wisdom and insight into how to serve the Creator comes through the unification between us in the love of friends.. to be connected one with the other in love and in a single heart, to serve the Creator and lend a shoulder… meaning, that we must unite one with the other, and be locked into each other’s heart, and become “one bundle,” to serve the Creator with a whole heart.
—Maor VaShemesh (Light and Sun), “The Secrets of Rosh Hashanah”
10. The most important aspect of love and unity is found in the will, that each one should be content with his friend, so that there will be no variance between their desire, but that they would be incorporated into one desire, and through this they are able to be included in the upper will, which is the purpose of unity.
—Likutei Halachot (Collection of Laws), “Law of Arvut,” 3:30