Baal HaSulam, “Igrot” (Letters), Letter 43: …Our sages have already said, “The fear of your teacher is as the fear of heaven.” This, therefore, will be the measure of exaltedness that such a man obtains by his sanctity, for his exaltedness will by no means exceed the exaltedness of his Rav.
…I have already said and elaborated that the biggest Masach (screen) is in the work in the children of the land of Israel, since the domination of the Canaan Klipa is in this place, and each one is as low as the ground, his friend is even lower than the ground, and many others like him.
…Allegorically, you can say the words of our sages about the verse, “Leave Me and keep My law”—“I wish they would leave me,” mean that they were proud of the exaltedness. And although “He and I cannot dwell in the same place,” still, “Keep My law,” be attached to a genuine righteous with proper faith in the wise. Then there is hope that the righteous will reform you and will sentence them to a scale of merit as is appropriate for the presence of the Creator. What could come out of their humility and lowness so the Creator will not move His abode from them if they have no genuine righteous to guide them in His law and prayer, and lead them to a place of Torah and wisdom?
In this world, we are given the people who can become our friends so that we join them and study together about how to exit ourselves and rise by faith above reason, that is, to appreciate bestowal above reception. We need to connect between ourselves so that we do not just act by common efforts but turn into one force inside which everyone loses his personal image and connects to one whole, to one heart, together with everyone else.
To help us do this, we also are given a teacher in this world. It is very important how a person learns through his attitude to the group and the teacher to build his attitude to the Creator. It is impossible that a person establishes a higher form of the Creator’s greatness than the greatness of the teacher and even of the friends, the group. He needs all this to exit himself, to rise above his egoism.
It requires a lot of work. After all, if a person has been instilled with reverence for a Rav, which is called religious upbringing, then he would not have to work on this. He would have felt that he relates to a great person as to his father, together with many others from his environment. He would have grown in such an environment where everyone talks about that and relates in this way. This is called Hasidism. It is easy for a person to live in these conditions. He is not required to carry out inner work against his egoism: constant scrutiny, critical self-analysis. He relies on the opinion of the environment. Seeing that everyone behaves in the same way, he is inspired by them and advances with this.
So society supports the personal authority of some individuals. Of course, this does not raise him in relation to the Creator, but in this form it is possible to hold on smoothly, without all the ups and downs in life, feeling nice, comfortable, and confident. A person feels that he has someone to rely on; someone takes care of him, prays for him.
However, we come to the stage of human development when the majority of people cease to receive religious education from childhood. On the contrary, they are accustomed to despising others, not recognizing any authority, believing themselves smarter than everyone else, having no respect for anybody. This is called Klipat Canaan with which the forefathers fought when they entered the land of Israel.
It was not easy for those who left Babylon or for those who get out of their Babylon today to bow to the leader, Abraham. This is the degree of teacher that a person must have if he wants to approach the entrance to the spiritual world through the group and studies. This does not apply personally to a teacher or a group because a person sees them with his egoistic eyes and judges them according to his shortcomings.
Of course, everyone appears insignificant to him, one worse than the other. The teacher also seems so-so to him. He thinks that, if he had studied with the forefather Moses or Rabbi Shimon, then he would have advanced better. Similarly, he thinks the friends are weak and do not present anything. He does not believe the sages that every person judges to the extent of his own flaws, and that in reality, the world of Infinity in all its perfection, is before him. He himself lowers this divine perfection to his own low level and thus sees the world as despicable.
We need to realize that we will not get permission to enter the spiritual world until we begin to appreciate the friend, group, and teacher as highly as we imagine the Creator. As it is written, “Israel, the Torah, and the Creator are one.” With this condition, we rise from below to above, raising a human to the level of the Creator. The same condition acts in the opposite direction, from top down, that is, the same level, the same reverence, the same greatness we need to bring downward from the world of Infinity, the Creator, and extend it the group, teacher, and every friend. Otherwise, we will not succeed.
We need to thank the upper management that it has organized such a reality for us where we surely can see how far we are from the Creator according to our attitude to the teacher, friend, and group.
From the Preparation for the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/16/13