Chapter 3: Corrections Through the Ages
The Evolution of the Correction Method
In the previous chapter, we said that desires grow from still, to vegetative, to animate, to speaking. We said that this progression occurs both externally, in the overall nature, and internally, within us. We also said that only at the speaking level within us do we have free choice, but that to make choices that are beneficial to us, we must first learn how Nature operates at its root.
Finally, we said that Israel represents the desire to know the root, the Creator, the Maker of all there is, and that Abraham was the first to discover this root. He tried to teach his contemporaries, and today we Jews, the offspring of that desire, must carry on with Abraham’s vocation and complete his assignment.
What Abraham discovered was that the only problem with his countryfolk was their growing egos. They were growing too self-centered to maintain a sustainable society. They used to be of “One language and of one speech,” but due to their growing egos they became alienated and uncommunicative. They grew so indifferent to one another, so uncaring and preoccupied with self-extolling that, as mentioned in the previous chapter, “If a person fell and died [while building the tower of Babel] they would not mind him. But if a brick fell they would sit and cry and say, ‘When will another come up in its stead.’”[i]
Worse yet, Abraham discovered that the growing ego was not about to stop growing. It was an inherent trait in human nature, a distinct characteristic of the speaking level that the ego should constantly grow because it is fueled by envy of others. In his “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot uMasbirot (Shining and Welcoming Face),” Baal HaSulam writes, “The Creator instilled three inclinations in the masses [people], called ‘envy,’ ‘lust,’ and ‘honor.’ Due to them, the masses develop degree by degree to educe a face of a whole man.”[ii] In other words, envy is not evil in and of itself, and yet it has to be dealt with, corrected, and aimed in a constructive direction.
[i] Pirkey de Rabbi Eliezer [Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer], Chapter 24
[ii] Rav Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Book, Panim Meirot uMasbirot [Shining and Welcoming Face]” (Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009), 134.