Baal HaSulam, The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Part 1,“Table of Answers for the Meaning of the Words,” Question 48: Who is “near” (Karov)? The closer one’s Tzura (form) [desires] is to another, the closer they are considered to be.
Distance and closeness are evaluated only according to the equivalence of form, the correspondence of properties. But the correspondence of properties does not mean that I am identical to Him. After all, I cannot change anything within myself. But depending upon how I use my properties, desires, and how similar they become to how the other uses his or hers, we measure our closeness accordingly.
One can be very big, while the other very small. But if the one who is small desires to acquire the same shape as the big one, he is viewed as someone who is close to the latter, who cleaves to him and is situated in his hands or inside of him. All of these are different degrees of connection between spiritual objects (Partzufim).
One can be found inside the other if he completely cancels himself and agrees to allow the upper one to work on him all the time, while the former just needs to find the strength to renounce himself. This state is the most familiar to us and is regarded as “embryo.” It is the stage of initial ascent to higher spiritual degrees.
Once he is born, it might seem that now that he is outside: It’s not such a strong bond, like the one that existed inside. But being on the outside, he supplements the connection that he had inside with his egoism which is now corrected. And so, although he is no longer an embryo but a “small” child (Katan) sitting in the adult’s arms, he cleaves to him evermore. His seeming existence apart from the big one is only the external form. But this difference shows us the corrected ego which can exist even outside of the upper one, and yet remain attached to him.
The third form is when he is no longer in a state of “feeding” (Yenika) in the upper one’s arms, in a small state (Katnut), but transitions into adulthood (Gadlut) and stands next to the adult. And then he already has his own “body” and a world. Between them, there is now a distance which does not bind the two by any “umbilical cord” or feeding.
However, all this separation is only in our eyes, while in a spiritual state this means that he has reached an even greater connection, a new form of adhesion. Even existing totally apart from the upper one, he merges with him completely. After all, even all these desires that seem to exist outside of each other are unable to separate them.
These are the stages we go through: embryo, feeding, and maturity. But it all begins with a total self-renunciation, when one struggles to override all obstacles that separate one from the upper one.
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 7/7/2011, Talmud Eser Sefirot