“It is advantageous when the First Priest possesses dignity and experience. However, both these qualities come with maturity.” (“Let There Be Light”, “Leviticus,” “Emor”)
As a result of multiple levels one goes through on one’s own, one acquires a tremendous experience of spiritual ascents. This experience defines one’s maturity.
“Practically, the Upper Judgment chooses the First Priest regardless of his age under the condition that he possesses all pertinent, required qualities. Particularly, if the son of the First Priest is capable of taking his father’s place, he would be the first choice among other Cohens notwithstanding his young age.”
A “son” stands for the step that immediately precedes the upper level and is the closest to it. This explains why it is superior to all other steps. The upper level is obligated to be a “lifelong Cohen” (i.e. possess a Cohens’ qualities); however, the preference is given to the subsequent, lower step, even though it is not too bright because it constantly stays in the shadow of its upper level.
For example, Rabash was always in his father Baal HaSulam’s “shadow.” Nevertheless, he turned out to be the most worthy among his father’s students. The lower step’s benefits show up gradually; it is impossible to say where they originate from and why. Connection among these qualities is not obvious. Nonetheless, in spirituality, there exists a very rigid liaison between the steps. There, Rabash is not considered to be Baal HaSulam’s son but his disciple.
Comment: Hassidim usually conveyed the leadership from fathers to children.
Answer: Those who were unaware of how to transfer spiritual leadership were sure that they should act in accordance with the Torah: If you are a son of a great man, it means that you have inherited something from your father because he “contributed” his semen to you. However, the notion of “semen” implies the Upper Light, not physiological genes.
As soon as Hassidism began interpreting the Torah literally, it ceased to exist. For some time, Hassidism was based on Kabbalah; later, it transformed into the phenomenon that we observe today—a variation of a national movement.
Overall, Hassidism is a friendly, mild tendency that still has a multitude of external pro-Kabbalistic shades. Even though its traditions, customs, and laws are still based on Kabbalistic principles, the most important part, the work in the heart, is lost.
The founder of Hassidism, Baal Shem Tov, properly transferred this spiritual teaching to his great followers: Dov Ber of Mezeritch and other spiritual leaders. They were great Kabbalists, saints who attained the level of complete bestowal.
In a hundred years, everything started to rapidly change. As a rule, Kabbalists were poor. The rich that surrounded them disparaged them: “Go back to your sheds and read The Zohar, in the meantime, we will build a gorgeous building and everybody will come to us.”
The rich preferred different leaders who were much closer to them mentally and who blessed and respected them. The “golden period” that started with ARI gradually declined and came to an end.
Nevertheless, the followers of Baal Shem Tov instigated an enormous correction processes. Contemporary Kabbalah is based on their work.
From KabTV’s “Secrets of the Eternal Book” 5/14/14