Baal HaSulam, Shamati, #168, “The Customs of Israel”: The customs of Israel are so important, that it is safe to say that they give more spirituality to a person than the Mitzvot themselves. This is so although breaking a custom does not yield punishment, and breaking a judgment does yield punishment. Still, concerning the benefit, meaning producing fear of heaven, the customs yield more spirituality, since the great ones who established the customs arranged it so that spirituality would shine through them.
There is a great problem as for the corporeal actions that are aimed at love and connection; actions which Rabash describes in his articles about the society. We mustn’t think lightly of them and thus we perform everything relatively.
A “custom” is a condition, a law, which I can’t perform on the spiritual level at the moment and so I keep it only in corporeality. I bring the friends contentment and try to fulfill the desires of the friends, to connect them, and to connect to them in order to bring them contentment. I constantly fulfill different actions that belong to the commandment of “Love thy friend,” to connection and to mutual guarantee. Indeed, neither I nor the friends have reached a spiritual fulfillment yet; it isn’t the fulfillment of the “commandments” yet, not the drawing of the Light that Reforms that connects, that awakens, and fills us. In the meantime we are on the level of preparation and all our actions are on the level of “customs.”
So we study, work in the group, carry out the advice of the Kabbalists, and it doesn’t matter whether we understand them or not. They attached special help from Above to their advice—the Light that Reforms. So, even though our intention is egoistic (Lo Lishma – Not for Her Name) from Lo Lishma we arrive at the altruistic intention of Lishma (For Her Name).
Everything that helps you reach correction in the meantime is used with the intention of in order to receive, which means with egoistic intentions, is called a “custom.” You operate in order to connect and even if you don’t want to connect, even if you are looking for self-benefit, the Light comes and brings you a different intention, which you couldn’t even have asked for. You didn’t even think about it, but it happens—you suddenly begin to appreciate the attributes of bestowal and love.
In order to do that, we need group work: to annul yourself, to raise the friends in your eyes, to spur them and yourself. Yes, you want to gain something by these actions, after all, you benefit by such actions since this is the only way to draw the Light.
It’s a simple law: The Light comes only to the desire that is similar to it in its properties. True, you haven’t reached an equivalence of form yet, but you have the corporeal body and this is what it was created for, so that with it you will support the friends and tell them how much you love them and how important the Creator is, and give them examples of bestowal and of self-annulment. With the help of our bodies we connect to one another. Although all our actions in the group are in order to receive, they are the type of actions Kabbalists have prepared especially in order to attain true connection.
My intentions are the opposite, malicious, I intend to use the upper world and the Creator for my own benefit, but the actions I perform are right and thanks to them, thanks to the mechanism Kabbalists have created, I can correct myself. Otherwise, how could I exit the shattering? Here the “customs” are necessary, the right action that lead to the right intentions.
Kabbalists have performed special corrections in order to insert the Light that Reforms into the customs after the “shattering.” The Light can’t pour into the “vessels” that are below, beyond the “shattering line,” within the desire to receive. Still it’s possible to raise the vessels that are beginning to wake up. Thus we begin to work.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/16/12, Customs of Rosh Hashanah