Question: What should we do if a person leaves the group? Should we try to bring him back?
Answer: If a person decided that he no longer wants to come to the group, we must respect his decision since there is no coercion in spirituality. This is first.
Second, even if a person says he doesn’t wish to continue his studies, tomorrow everything may change. So, we should have a flexible approach to this. If the group tried to bring him back several times (usually twice), but he still hasn’t returned, he should be left alone. We are not allowed to approach him any more.
In Gemarah, there is law: If a person is walking in a field and sees that another person’s donkey fell under the pressure of the load, he should help get the donkey back up and place the load on it. If this happens the second time, he should do the same: Get the donkey up and put the luggage onto it. If after the first two times the donkey fell again, the help cannot be offered again because the animal is unable to carry the load.
A donkey (“Hamor” in Hebrew) symbolizes matter (“Homer”) that we are comprised of. And its luggage is the load that this matter is able to hold. And if your friend “fell” after you have tried to bring him back twice, leave him alone. It is his choice!
From the Introductory Lecture in North Tel Aviv 12/19/2010