Rabash, Social Writings, Shlavey HaSulam (Steps of the Ladder), Article “Concerning the Importance of Friends”: Each student must feel that he is the smallest among all the friends, and then he will be able to receive the appreciation of the greatness from everyone. This is so because the greater one cannot receive from the smaller one, much less be impressed by his words. Only the lower one is impressed by what the greater one has appreciation for.
It is said about it: “I learned a lot from my teachers, more from the friends, and more than that from my students.” How can one learn from his students?
If I lower myself and raise them in my eyes instead, then through them I am able to receive. After all, in our souls, we all reside within a unified system. This is why Rabbi Hanina Ben Dosa (1st century BCE), a great Kabbalist, said that he was learning the most from his students because he had an opportunity to nullify and lower himself before them.
So do we in our integral, big group where we must especially value those who are working really hard on self-renouncement, despite the fact that it is doesn’t look so on the outside. This labor is the most difficult since it is directed precisely against the ego. But the more I lower myself, the more I receive. Even in the egoistic sense it’s worthwhile.
In the outside world, we are witnessing the same: By getting hold of ourselves, we can hear the others and learn something. And the other way around: By being arrogant, we learn nothing from no one. If I place myself above the others and despise them, I remain empty.
So, renouncement of self is beneficial even from the egoistic point of view; it is a condition on which I can bond with the group. But while in the egoistic society I lower my head in order to receive from the others as much as possible, in our group, I lower myself before the friends in order to receive from them spiritual influence, awareness of the greatness of the goal and the Creator, the force that will help me rise above egoism. Herein lies the difference: On the outside, I act the same but with an opposite goal in mind.
Each student must extol each friend’s merit as though he were the greatest in the generation. Then the environment will affect him.
I can receive only from a higher degree. Hence, not only do I need to lower myself, but also exalt the environment, the group, and the friends in my eyes.
From Lesson 5, WE! Convention 4/2/2011