One of the laws of working in the group is very peculiar and seemingly extremely egoistic: We must cultivate envy within ourselves. It is said: “Counters envy, increases wisdom.”
I should envy all my friends but with a “good” kind of envy. I wish to see them all as great and to be like them. I am not “green with envy” as I don’t wish for them to lose their advantages. On the contrary, I wish to become their equal.
Such envy is quite positive and necessary. It is worth cultivating it within. Essentially, a similar approach is acceptable to our egoism—just don’t overstep the boundary between the good and the bad envy. How do I know the difference?
If I envy someone negatively, I don’t love that person. And the other way around: When I have a positive envy, I love them. Envying another in a good way helps me to ascend and advance since I perceive his influence correctly.
In Writings of Rabash, Shlavey HaSulam (Steps of the Ladder), article “Concerning Above Reason,” Rabash writes:
"Envy that he feels toward the friends when he sees that they have better qualities than his own. It motivates him to acquire their good qualities, which he doesn’t have and of which he is jealous.
Thus, through the society, he gains new qualities that he adopts by seeing that they are at a higher degree than his, and he is envious of them. This is the reason why now he can be greater than when he didn’t have a society since he acquires new powers through the society."
Looking at the friends, one should try to see the good qualities in them that one is lacking. It is a very good test. Obviously, we don’t look at what is on the outside. One is good at singing, another at cooking, another at programming, but we don’t take such things into account. The key is to see how much heart the friend puts into the goal and environment. He wants to attain spirituality, and that is what I should feel envy for.
If I see it in all of the friends, I advance toward entering the spiritual world. Start testing yourselves: How do you feel about the environment? Do you envy the friends in a positive way? Do you value them? If yes, you are moving forth.
If, however, you haven’t yet lost your despise for them and still think that these are not the friends to unify with, you are quite far from the goal. Everyone denies according to one’s own flaw. Rabash writes about it in another article in Shlavey HaSulam, “Concerning the Importance of the Friends”:
"Hence, if one sees some fault in one’s friend, it is not a sign that his friend is at fault, but that the fault is in him, meaning that because he flawed the love of friends, he sees faults in his friend. It follows from all the above that he should not care for the correction of his friend’s faults which he sees in his friend, but he himself needs to correct the flaw he has created in the love of friends. And when he corrects himself, he will see only his friend’s merits and not his faults."
From Lesson 5, WE! Convention 4/2/2011