Lesson No. 3: Society as the Means for Actualizing the Spiritual Ladder
1. The whole man means that one has reached the degree of “The Torah, Israel and the Creator are one.” For this reason, attaining the face of Shechina is certainly very important since the goal is to reach this degree.
However, in order to attain the face of Shechina there first must be a preparation so that one will be ready for it … and only as one works toward the love of others is one able to reach adhesion with the creator.
—Writings of Rabash, Vol 1, “What is the Advantage of Work over Reward”
2. Even if we see that there are two parts to the Torah: The first – Mitzvot between man and God, and the second – Mitzvot between man and man, they are both one and the same thing… Thus, when one completes one’s work in love and bestowal for one’s fellow person and comes to the highest point, one also completes one’s love and bestowal for the Creator.
In that state there is no difference between the two, for anything that is outside one’s body, meaning one’s self-interest is judged equally – either to bestow upon one’s friend or bestow contentment upon one’s Maker.
This is what Hillel Hanasi assumed, that “Love thy friend as thyself” is the ultimate goal in the practice. That is because it is the clearest form to mankind. We should not be mistaken with deeds, for they are set before one’s eyes. We know that if we precede the needs of our own, it is bestowal.
For that reason Hillel does not define the goal as “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might,” because they are indeed one and the same thing. It is so because one should also love one’s friend with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, because that is the meaning of the words “as thyself.”
After all, one certainly loves oneself with all one’s heart and soul and might, but with regard to the Creator, one may deceive oneself; and with one’s friend it is always spread out before his eyes.
—Writings of Baal Hasulam, “The Love for the Creator and the Love for the Created Beings”
3. Love is something that is given to the heart, and the heart disagrees with it by nature. What then can one do to make love of others touch the heart?
This is why we were given the 612 Mitzvot. They have the power to induce a sensation in the heart. However, since it is against nature, that sensation is too small to have the ability to keep love of friends de facto, even though he has a need for it…
The advice for one to be able to increase his strength in the rule, “You shall love your neighbor,” is love of friends. If everyone is nullified before his friend and mingles with him, they become one mass where all of the little parts that want the love of others unite in a collective force that consists of many parts, and when he has great strength, he can execute the love of others.
Then he can achieve the love of God, but the condition is that each will annul before the other. However, when he is separated from his friend, he cannot receive the share he should receive from his friend. Thus, everyone should say that he is nothing as compared to his friend.
—Writings of Rabash, “According to What Is Explained About Love Thy Friend as Thyself”
4. Those who have agreed among them to unite into a group understood that there isn’t such a great distance between them in the sense that they understand the necessity to work in love of others. Therefore, each of them will be able to make concessions in favor of the others, and they can unite around that.
—Shlavey HaSulam,” Make for Yourself a Rav and Buy Yourself a Friend – 2″
5. The love of friends that is built on the basis of love of others through which they can achieve the love of the Creator is the opposite of what normally is considered love of friends. In other words, love of others does not mean that the friends will love me. Rather, it is I who must love the friends…
Since one wishes to achieve Dvekut [Adhesion] with the Creator, called “equivalence of form,” meaning to not think of his own benefit… One must revoke his own worth, and the whole of the life that he wishes to live will be only with the consideration of his ability to work for the benefit of others, beginning with love of others, between man and man, through the love of the Creator.
Thus, moreover, here is a place where he can say that anything that he does is without any self-interest since, by reason, the friends are the ones who should love him, but he overcomes his reason, goes above reason, and says, “It is not worth living for myself.”
Although one is not always at a degree where he is able to say so, this is nonetheless the purpose of the work. Thus, he already has something to reply to the body.
—Writings of Rabash, Vol 1, “What to Look For in the Assembly of Friends”
6. There is a special power in the adhesion of friends. Since views and thoughts pass from one to the other through the adhesion between them, each is mingled with the power of the other, and through that, each person in the group has the power of the entire group. For this reason, although each person is an individual, he contains the power of the entire group.
—Shlavey HaSulam, “The Need for the Love of Friends”
7. To be integrated in one another, each person should annul himself before the others. This is done by each seeing the friends’ merits and not their faults. However, one who thinks that he is a little higher than the friends can no longer unite with them.
—Shlavey HaSulam, “Purpose of Society – 2”
8. Each student must extol the virtues of each friend and cherish him as though he were the greatest in the generation. Then, the environment will affect him as a sufficiently great environment since quality is more important than quantity.
—Writings of Rabash, “What to Look for in the Assembly of Friends”
9. Each student must feel that he is the smallest among all the friends, and then he will be able to receive the appreciation of greatness from everyone. This is so because the greater one cannot receive from the smaller one, much less be impressed by his words. Only the lower one is impressed by the appreciation of the greater one.
—Writings of Rabash, “Concerning the Importance of the Friends”
10. One must disclose the love in his heart toward the friends since, by revealing it, he evokes his friends’ hearts toward the friends so that they, too, would feel that each of them is practicing love of friends. The benefit from this is that, in this manner, one gains strength to practice love of friends more forcefully since every person’s force of love is integrated in that of each other.
—Writings of Rabash, Vol 1,” Concerning the Love of Friends”
11. Do what you can, and the salvation of the Lord is as the blink of an eye. The most important thing before you today is the unity of friends. Exert in that more and more, for it can recompense for all the faults.
—Writings of Baal Hasulam, “Letter No. 10”