Question: Many times someone has seemed to be a great man, but as I got closer to him and got to know him I discovered there was nothing there. When will the disappointments end and when will we really discover greatness?
Answer: Greatness is only discovered in the Creator. We have to work in an opposite manner towards the group, the teacher, and the Creator; we have to build their greatness by ourselves. The closer you get to them, the smaller, humbler and lower they will seem to you. They will not allow you to hold on to them and to appreciate them.
It says, “Wherever you discover His greatness, this is where you discover His modesty.” It is very hard to hold on to a feeling of greatness in spirituality.
Therefore, religions use external attributes in order to raise importance, and every rabbi or priest presents themselves as great and important before the people. This is necessary in order to attract people, since they are impressed by external appearance. In the wisdom of Kabbalah, however, it is the opposite; here everything is determined by the internality. So sometimes the study, the group, the friends, and the teacher present themselves as not being special in any way. Then a person has to overcome the disrespect and try to raise their importance on a more internal level, by himself.
We don’t even act like the great group from Kotzk, who purposefully showed each other lightheadedness and disrespect of spirituality in order to allow for more work.
We have to work on the greatness of the friend, the teacher, and the Creator, although each time we feel that they are smaller. So we have to value these moments dearly, just like during the workshops when we have a chance to be impressed by the mind and feelings of the friends when we don’t even expect it. It is because we are used to humiliating everyone by seeing ourselves as the greatest of all.
The fact that I value myself more than everyone is instinctive. Suddenly I discover that the friends are greater than I, and this shakes me in some sense. First it only shakes me egoistically, but then I begin to value them and to envy them, and then I tie it to the goal and use it in order to advance.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/31/12, “The Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot”