Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot,” Item 128: All that concerns he who does not pain himself with the public, and is not awarded seeing the comfort of the public, for he will not be able to sentence them to a scale of merit and see their consolation. Hence, he will never attain the attribute of righteous.
It’s impossible to advance without empathizing with the sufferings of society because each step has to be perfect. Therefore, there is no choice but to feel the suffering of society. This happens at each stage to achieve a state of the righteous or a full righteous.
In these states there are many levels. The entire vessel is divided into many parts, each of them must reach the level of a righteous and then the degree of a complete righteous. Therefore, people must prepare for this desire, the need for the filling, that is suffering.People aspire to bestowal and unity, but they are unable to reach them and are looking for the ways of attracting the Light that Reforms. We have to sense these desires from the outset.
We have to observe the rule of loving our neighbors not only while we are building the Temple, although it embodies precisely this vessel, a house of sanctity, but also we have to look at the giving of the Torah. The question is: “Are you ready to for it?” It’s not about whether or not you are “able to” do it at this time, but are you “ready to go for it?” If the answer is “yes,” then just do it!
It means that we have to feel the suffering of society because we have to feel the desires of our neighbors as our own. But there is a subtlety as we don’t pick up our neighbors’ desires for food, family, money, power, or knowledge directly. Rather, we should be compassionate and feel others’ pain as our own since it is something that matters to them at their level. But we have to decipher their states from our level and understand that the reason for their affliction is a deficiency of the Light that Reforms, a shortage of the Upper Light’s presence in their desires.
Their desires require correction and therefore they experience multiple problems: diseases, troubles with children and family, and all sorts of troubles. The reason for all these sorrows is a deficiency of the Light in general. At our level, we are able to understand this situation and then transfer their prayers into our plea (MAN). This is what it means to be imbued with the the suffering of the public.
The question arises about how can we penetrate their spiritual desires if they don’t yet aspire to spirituality but only crave material fulfillment? Let’s say I am at the 50th stage, but the general public does not represent my immediate lower Partzuf since it has not yet reached the 49th level. Is it possible that I see their desires in the 49th stage?
The fact is that we see the general public’s desires solely from the level we’re on, as all the stages already exist. All one can do is sense the desires of society that are at one’s same level. This means that one raises society’s desires to one’s own level. That’s why even a complete righteous can be impressed by the suffering of the public in a very material state, even before the preparation period, prior to Lo Lishma. After all, the state already exists in the spiritual world.
From the Preparation for the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/5/14