600,000 Souls
A Handmaid Who Is Heir to Her Mistress
Anyone Who Is Sorry for the Public
A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar
A Word of Truth
Body and Soul
Building the Future Society
Concealment and Disclosure of the Face of the Creator - 1
Concealment and Disclosure of the Face of the Creator - 2
Disclosing a Portion, Covering Two
Exile and Redemption
Four Worlds
From My Flesh I Shall See God
Inheritance of the Land
Man’s Actions and Tactics
Matan Torah [The Giving of the Torah]
Matter and Form in the Wisdom of Kabbalah
Newspaper "The Nation"
Not the Time for the Livestock to Be Gathered
One Commandment
Peace in the World
Remembering
Rewarded - I Will Hasten It; Not Rewarded - in Its Time
Righteous and Wicked
The Acting Mind
The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)
The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose
The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah
The Freedom
The History of the Wisdom of Kabbalah
The Last Generation
The Love of God and the Love of Man
The Meaning of Conception and Birth
The Meaning of His Names
The Meaning of the Chaf in Anochi
The Peace
The Prophecy of Baal HaSulam
The Quality of the Wisdom of the Hidden in General
The Shofar of the Messiah
The Solution
The Teaching of the Kabbalah and Its Essence
The Wisdom of Israel Compared to External Wisdoms
The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Philosophy
This Is for Judah
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You Have Made Me in Behind and Before
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A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar
 

A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar

(Given to celebrate the completion of the publication of the Sulam [ladder] commentary on The Book of Zohar)

It is known that the desired purpose from the work in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] is to adhere to the Creator, as it is written, “and to adhere to Him.” We should understand what Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator means, since the thought has no perception of Him whatsoever.

Indeed, our sages have discussed this question before me, asking about the verse, “and to adhere to Him”: “How can one adhere to Him? After all, He is a consuming fire.” And they replied, “Adhere unto His qualities: As He is merciful, so you are merciful; as he is compassionate, so you are compassionate.”

This is perplexing; how did our sages drift from the literal text? After all, it is explicitly written, “and to adhere to Him.” Had the meaning been to adhere to His qualities, it would have to be written, “adhere to His ways,” so why does it say, “and to adhere to Him”?

The thing is that in corporeality, which takes up space, we understand Dvekut as proximity of place, and we understand separation as remoteness of place. But in spirituality, which does not occupy any space, Dvekut and separation do not mean proximity or remoteness of place, since they do not occupy any space. Rather, we understand Dvekut as equivalence of form between two spirituals, and we understand separation as disparity of form between two spirituals.

As the axe cuts and separates a corporeal object into two, by removing the parts from one another, disparity of form distinguishes the spiritual and divides it in two. If the disparity of form between them is small, we say that they are a little far from one another. If the disparity of form is great, we say that they are very far from one another. If they are of opposite forms, we say that they are as far from each other as two extremes.

For example, when two people hate each other, it is said about them that they are as separated from one another as the east from the west. And if they love each other, it is said about them that they are as attached to one another as a single body.

This does not concern nearness or remoteness of location. Rather, it is about equivalence of form or disparity of form. This is so because when people love each other, it is because there is equivalence of form between them. Because one loves everything that one’s friend loves, and hates all that one’s friend hates, they are attached to one another and love one another.

However, if there is any disparity of form between them, and one loves something even though one’s friend hates that thing, they are hateful of each other and remote from one another to the extent of their disparity of form. And if they are opposite so that everything that one loves, one’s friend hates, it is said about them that they are as remote and as separate as the east from the west.

You find that disparity of form in spirituality acts like the axe that separates in corporeality. Similarly, the measure of remoteness of location and the measure of the separation in them depends on the measure of disparity of form between them. Also, the measure of Dvekut between them depends on the measure of equivalence of form between them.

Now we understand how right our sages were when they interpreted the verse, “and to adhere to Him,” as Dvekut with His qualities—“As He is merciful, so you are merciful; as He is compassionate, so you are compassionate.” They did not deflect the text from the literal meaning. Quite the contrary, they interpreted the text precisely according to its literal meaning, since spiritual Dvekut can only be depicted as equivalence of form. Hence, by equalizing our form with the form of His qualities, we become attached to Him.

This is why they said, “as He is merciful.” In other words, all His actions are to bestow and benefit others, and not at all for His own benefit, since He has no deficiencies that require complementing. And also, He has no one from whom to receive. Similarly, all your actions will be to bestow and to benefit others. Thus, you will equalize your form with the form of the qualities of the Creator, and this is spiritual Dvekut.

There is a discernment of “mind” and a discernment of “heart” in the above-mentioned equivalence of form. The engagement in Torah and Mitzvot in order to bestow contentment upon one’s Maker is equivalence of form in the mind. This is because the Creator does not think of Himself—whether He exists or whether He watches over His creations, and other such doubts. Similarly, one who wishes to achieve equivalence of form must not think of these things, as well, when it is clear to him that the Creator does not think of them, since there is no greater disparity of form than that. Hence, anyone who thinks of such matters is certainly separated from Him and will never achieve equivalence of form.

This is what our sages said, “Let all your actions be for the sake of the Creator,” that is, Dvekut with the Creator. Do not do anything that does not yield this goal of Dvekut. This means that all your actions will be to bestow and to benefit your fellow person. At that time, you will achieve equivalence of form with the Creator—as all His actions are to bestow and to benefit others, so you, all your actions will be only to bestow and to benefit others. This is the complete Dvekut.

We could ask about it, “How can one’s every action be to benefit others? After all, one must work to sustain oneself and one’s family.” The answer is that those deeds that one does out of necessity, to receive one’s bare necessities for sustenance, that necessity is neither praised nor condemned. This is not considered doing something for oneself whatsoever.

Anyone who delves into the heart of things will certainly be surprised at how one can achieve complete equivalence of form, so all one’s actions will be to give to others, while man’s very essence is only to receive for oneself. By nature, we are unable to do even the smallest thing to benefit others. Instead, when we give to others, we are compelled to expect that in the end, we will receive a worthwhile reward. If one as much as doubts the reward, one will refrain from acting. Thus, how can one’s every action be only to bestow upon others and not at all for oneself?

Indeed, I admit that this is a very difficult thing. One cannot change the nature of one’s own creation, which is only to receive for oneself, much less invert one’s nature from one extreme to the other, meaning not to receive anything for oneself, but rather act only to bestow.

Yet, this is why the Creator gave us Torah and Mitzvot, which we were commanded to do only in order to bestow contentment upon the Creator. Had it not been for the engagement in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma [for Her sake], to bring contentment to the Creator with them, and not to benefit ourselves, there would have been no tactic in the world that could help us invert our nature.

Now you can understand the rigorousness of engaging in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma. If one’s intention in the Torah and Mitzvot is not to benefit the Creator, but to benefit oneself, not only will the nature of the will to receive in him not be inverted, but rather, the will to receive in him will be much more than what he was given by the nature of his creation, as I explained in the introduction to the Sulam commentary in the first volume, see there Items 30-31.

But what are the virtues of one who has been rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator? They are not specified anywhere, except in subtle intimations. Yet, to clarify the matters in my essay, I must disclose a little, as much as necessary.

I will explain the matters through an allegory. The body with its organs are one. The whole of the body exchanges thoughts and sensations with each of its organs. For example, if the whole body thinks that a certain organ should serve it and please it, this organ immediately knows that thought and provides the contemplated pleasure. Also, if an organ thinks and feels that the place it is in is narrow, the rest of the body immediately knows that thought and sensation and moves it to a comfortable place.

However, should an organ be cut off from the body, they become two separate entities; the rest of the body no longer knows the needs of the separated organ, and the organ no longer knows the thoughts of the body, to serve it and to benefit it. But if a physician came and reconnected the organ to the body as before, the organ would once again know the thoughts and needs of the rest of the body, and the rest of the body would once again know the needs of the organ.

According to this allegory, we can understand the merit of one who has been rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator. I have already demonstrated (in the “Introduction to the Book of Zohar,” Item 9, and in my commentary on the Idra Zuta) that the soul is an illumination that extends from His self. This illumination has been separated from the Creator by the Creator’s clothing it with a will to receive. This is so because the thought of creation, to do good to His creations, created in each soul a desire to receive pleasure. Thus, this disparity of form of the will to receive separated that illumination from His self and turned it into a separate part from Him. See there in the source, since this is not the place to elaborate on this.

It follows that each soul was included in His self prior to its creation. But with creation, meaning along with the nature of the desire to receive pleasure that has been instilled in it, it acquired disparity of form and was separated from the Creator, whose only wish is to bestow. This is so because, as we have explained above, disparity of form separates in spirituality as the axe does in corporeality.

Thus, now the soul is completely similar to the allegory about the organ that was cut off and separated from body. Even though prior to the separation, they—the organ and the whole body—were one and exchanged thoughts and sensations with one another, after the organ has been cut off from the body they have become two entities. Now one does not know the other’s thoughts or needs. It is even more so after the soul is dressed in a body of this world: All the connections it had prior to the separation from His self have stopped, and they are like two separate entities.

Now we can easily understand the merit of one who has been rewarded with adhering to Him once more, meaning rewarded with equivalence of form with the Creator by inverting the will to receive imprinted in him through the power in Torah and Mitzvot. This was the very thing that separated him from His self. He turned it into a desire to bestow, and all of one’s actions are only to bestow and to benefit others, as he has equalized his form with the Maker. It follows that he is just like the organ that was once cut off from the body and has reconnected to the body: It knows the thoughts of the rest of the body once again, just as it did prior to the separation from the body.

So is the soul: After it has acquired equivalence with Him, it knows His thoughts once more, as it knew prior to the separation from Him due to the will to receive’s disparity of form. Then the verse, “Know the God of your father,” comes true in him, as then he is rewarded with complete knowledge, which is Godly knowledge, and he is rewarded with all the secrets of the Torah, as His thoughts are the secrets of the Torah.

This is the meaning of what Rabbi Meir said: “Anyone who learns Torah Lishma is granted many things. The secrets and flavors of Torah are revealed to him, and he becomes like an ever-flowing spring.” As we have said, through engagement in Torah Lishma, meaning by aiming to bring contentment to his Maker through his engagement in the Torah, and not at all for his own benefit, he is guaranteed to cling to the Creator. This means that he will achieve equivalence of form, and all his actions will be to benefit others and not himself at all, just like the Creator, whose every action is only to bestow and to benefit others.

By this, one returns to Dvekut with the Creator as was the soul prior to its creation. Hence, he is granted many things and is rewarded with the secrets and the flavors of the Torah. Because he has reconnected with the Creator, he knows once more the thoughts of the Creator like the allegory about the organ that has been reattached to the body. The thoughts of the Creator are called “secrets and flavors of the Torah.” Thus, one who learns Torah Lishma is rewarded with the secrets and flavors of Torah being revealed to him, and he becomes like an ever-flowing spring due to the removal of the partitions that separated him from the Creator, so he has become one with Him again, as before one was created.

Indeed, the whole Torah, revealed and concealed, is the thoughts of the Creator, without any difference. Yet, it is like a person drowning in the river, whose friend throws him a rope to save him. If the drowning person catches the rope in its near part, his friend can save him and pull him out of the river.

So is the Torah: Being entirely the thoughts of the Creator, it is like a rope that the Creator throws to people to save them and pull them out of the Klipot [shells]. The end of the rope, which is near to all the people, is the revealed Torah, which requires no intention or thought. Moreover, even when there is a faulty thought in the Mitzvot, the Creator still accepts it, as it is written, “One must always engage in Torah and Mitzvot Lo Lishma [not for Her sake], since from Lo Lishma he will come to Lishma [for Her sake].”

Hence, the Torah and Mitzvot are the end of the rope, and there is not a person in the world who cannot grip it. If one tightly grips it, meaning is rewarded with engaging in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma, to bring contentment to one’s Maker and not to oneself, the Torah and Mitzvot lead one to equivalence of form with the Creator. This is the meaning of “and to adhere to Him.”

At that time, one will be rewarded with attaining all the thoughts of the Creator, called “secrets of the Torah” and “flavors of the Torah,” which are the rest of the rope. However, one is awarded it only after one has achieved complete Dvekut.

The reason we compare the Creator’s thoughts, meaning the secrets of the Torah and the flavors of the Torah, to a rope is that there are many degrees in the equivalence of form with the Creator. Hence, there are many degrees in the rope in attaining the secrets of the Torah. One’s measure of attainment of the secrets of the Torah, of knowing His thoughts, is as the measure of equivalence of form with the Creator.

Overall, there are five degrees: Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Haya, Yechida, each of which consists of all of them. Also, each contains five degrees, and each of those contains at least twenty-five degrees.

They are also called “worlds,” as our sages said, “The Creator is destined to grant each righteous 310 worlds.” The reason why the degrees of attaining Him are called “worlds” is that the name Olam [world] has two meanings:

  1. All those who come into that world have the same sensation, and everything that one sees, hears, and feels, all those who come into that world see, hear, and feel, as well.

  2. All those who come into that “hidden” world cannot know or attain anything in another world.

These two degrees are also found in attainment:

  1. Anyone who has been rewarded with a certain degree knows and attains in it everything that those who came to that degree attained in all the generations that were and that will be. He has common attainment with them as though they are in the same world.

  2. All who come to that degree will not be able to know or attain what exists in another degree. It is like this world: They cannot know anything of what exists in the world of truth. This is why the degrees are called “worlds.”

For this reason, those with attainment can compose books and put their attainments in writing in intimations and allegories. They will be understood by all who have been rewarded with the degrees that the books describe, and they have common attainment with them. But those who have not been rewarded with the full measure of the degree as the authors will not be able to understand their intimations. It is even more so with those who have not been rewarded with any attainment; they will not understand a thing about them since they have no common attainments.

We have already said that the complete Dvekut and complete attainment is divided into 125 degrees overall. Accordingly, prior to the days of the Messiah, it is impossible to be granted all 125 degrees. And there are two differences between the generation of the Messiah and all other generations:

  1. Only in the generation of the Messiah is it possible to attain all 125 degrees, and in no other generation.

  2. Throughout the generations, those who ascended and were rewarded with Dvekut were few, as our sages wrote about the verse, “I have found one person in a thousand, where a thousand enter the room, and one comes out to the light,” meaning to Dvekut and attainment. But in the generation of the Messiah, each and every one can be rewarded with Dvekut and attainment, as it was said, “For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord,” “And they will teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.”

An exception is Rashbi and his generation, the authors of The Zohar, who were granted all 125 degrees in completeness, even though it was prior to the days of the Messiah. It was said about him and his disciples: “A sage is preferable to a prophet.” Hence, we often find in The Zohar that there will be none like the generation of Rashbi until the generation of the Messiah King. This is why his composition made such a great impression in the world, since the secrets of the Torah in it occupy the level of all 125 degrees.

This is why it is said in The Zohar that The Book of Zohar will be revealed only at the End of Days, the days of the Messiah. This is so because we have already said that if the degrees of the examiners are not at the full measure of the degree of the author, they will not understand his intimations since they do not have a common attainment.

Since the degree of the authors of The Zohar is at the full level of the 125 degrees, they cannot be attained prior to the days of the Messiah. It follows that there will be no common attainment with the authors of The Zohar in the generations preceding the days of the Messiah. Hence, The Zohar could not be revealed in the generations before the generation of the Messiah.

This is a clear proof that our generation has come to the days of the Messiah. We can see that all the interpretations of The Book of Zohar before ours did not clarify as much as ten percent of the difficult places in The Zohar. Even in the little they did clarify, their words are almost as abstruse as the words of The Zohar itself.

But in our generation, we have been rewarded with the Sulam [Ladder] commentary, which is a complete interpretation of all the words of The Zohar. Moreover, not only does it not leave an unclear matter in the whole of The Zohar without interpreting it, the clarifications are based on a straightforward analysis, which any intermediate examiner can understand. And since The Zohar appeared in our generation, it is a clear proof that we are already in the days of the Messiah, at the outset of that generation of which it was said, “for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.”

We should know that spiritual matters are not like corporeal matters, where giving and receiving come as one. In spirituality, the time of giving and the time of receiving are separate. This is because first it was given from the Creator to the receiver, and in this giving, He only gives him a chance to receive. However, he has not received anything until he is properly sanctified and purified, and then one is rewarded with receiving it. Thus, it may take a long time between the time of giving and the time of receiving.

Accordingly, saying that this generation has already come to the verse, “for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord,” refers only to the giving. Yet, we have not yet come to a state of reception. When we are purified, sanctified, studied, and exerted in the desired amount, the time of reception will arrive and the verse, “for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord,” will come true in us.

Also, it is known that redemption and the complete attainment are intertwined. The proof is that anyone who is drawn to the secrets of the Torah is also drawn to the land of Israel. This is why we were promised, “for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord,” only at the End of Days, during the time of redemption.

Thus, as we have not yet been rewarded with a time of reception in the complete attainment, but only with a time of giving, by which we have been given a chance to achieve complete attainment, so it is with redemption. We have been rewarded with it only in the form of giving. The fact of the matter is that the Creator delivered our holy land from the foreigners and has given it back to us, yet we have not received the land into our own authority, since the time of reception has not yet come, as we explained concerning the complete attainment.

The proof is that no one is excited about the redemption, as it should have been with redemption after two millennia. Not only are those in the Diaspora not inclined to come to us and delight in the redemption, but a large portion of those that have been redeemed and are already dwelling among us are anxiously waiting to get rid of this redemption and return to the countries from which they came.

Thus, even though the Creator has delivered the land from the hands of the nations and has given it to us, we have not received it and we are not enjoying it. But with this giving, the Creator has given us an opportunity for redemption, to be purified and sanctified and assume the work of the Creator in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma. At that time, the Temple will be built and we will receive the land into our own authority. Then we will experience and feel the joy of redemption.

But as long as we have not come to this, nothing will change. There is no difference between the current manners of the land and the way it was while still under the hands of foreigners, in law, in economy, and in the work of the Creator. Thus, all we have is an opportunity for redemption.

It follows that our generation is the generation of the days of the Messiah. This is why we have been granted the redemption of our holy land from the hands of the foreigners. We have also been rewarded with the revelation of The Book of Zohar, which is the beginning of the realization of the verse, “For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.” “And they will teach no more… for they will all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.”

Yet, with those two, we have only been rewarded with giving from the Creator, but we have not received anything into our own hands. Instead, we have been given a chance to begin with the work of the Creator, to engage in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma. Then we will be granted the great success that is promised to the generation of the Messiah, which all the generations before us did not know. And then we will be rewarded with the time of reception of both the complete attainment and the complete redemption.

Thus, we have thoroughly explained our sages’ reply to the question, “How is it possible to adhere to Him? which they said means ‘adhere to His qualities.’” This is true for two reasons: 1) Spiritual Dvekut is not in proximity of place, but in equivalence of form. 2) Since the soul was separated from His self only because of the will to receive, which the Creator had imprinted in it, once He separated the will to receive from it, it naturally returned to the previous Dvekut with His self.

However, all this is in theory. In fact, they have not answered anything with the explanation of adhering to His qualities, which means to separate the will to receive, imprinted in the nature of creation, and arriving at the desire to bestow—the opposite of its nature.

What we explained, that one who is drowning in the river should grip the rope firmly, and before he engages in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma in a way that he will not return to folly, it is not considered gripping the rope firmly, the question returns: Where will one find motivation to wholeheartedly exert solely to bring contentment to one’s Maker? After all, one cannot make a single movement without any benefit for himself, like a machine cannot work without fuel. If there is no self-benefit, but only contentment to his Maker, he will have no fuel for work.

The answer is that anyone who sufficiently attains His greatness, the bestowal he bestows upon Him is inverted into reception, as it is written in Masechet Kidushin (p 7a): With an important person, when the woman gives him money, it is regarded for her as reception, and she is sanctified.

So it is with the Creator: If one achieves His greatness, there is no greater reception than contentment to one’s Maker. This is sufficient fuel to toil and wholeheartedly exert to bring contentment to Him. But clearly, as long as one has not sufficiently attained His greatness, he will not regard giving contentment to the Creator as reception enough for him to give one’s heart and soul to the Creator.

Therefore, each time he truly aims only to bring contentment to his Maker and not to himself, he will immediately lose the strength to work, as he will be like a machine without fuel, since one cannot move a limb without drawing some benefit to oneself. It is even more so with such great labor as giving one’s heart and soul, as dictated in the Torah. Undoubtedly, he will not be able to do so without drawing some reception of pleasure for himself.

Indeed, obtaining His greatness in a measure that bestowal becomes reception, as mentioned concerning an important person, is not at all difficult. Everyone knows the greatness of the Creator, who created everything and consumes everything, without a beginning and without an end, and whose sublimity is endless.

Yet, the difficulty in that is that the measure of the greatness does not depend on the individual, but on the environment. For example, even if one is filled with virtues but the environment does not appreciate him as such, he will always be low-spirited and will not be able to take pride in his virtues, although he has no doubt that they are true. And conversely, a person with no merit at all, but the environment respects him as though he is virtuous, that person will be filled with pride, since the measure of importance and greatness is given entirely to the environment.

When a person sees that the environment slights His work and does not properly appreciate His greatness, he cannot overcome the environment. Thus, he cannot obtain His greatness, and becomes negligent during his work, like them.

Since he does not have the basis for obtaining His greatness, he will obviously not be able to work in order to bring contentment to his Maker and not to himself, for he will have no motivation to exert, and “if you did not labor and find, do not believe.” The only advice for this is either to work for oneself or not to work at all, since bestowing contentment upon his Maker will not be for him tantamount to reception.

Now you can understand the verse, “In the multitude of people is the king’s glory,” since the measure of the greatness comes from the environment under two conditions:

  1. The extent of the appreciation of the environment.

  2. The size of the environment. Thus, “In the multitude of people is the king’s glory.”

Because of the great difficulty in the matter, our sages advised us: “Make for yourself a rav [teacher/great person] and buy yourself a friend.” This means that one should choose for oneself an important and renowned person to be his rav, and from him he will be able to come to engaging in Torah and Mitzvot in order to bring contentment to his Maker. This is so because there are two extenuations concerning one’s rav:

  1. Since he is an important person, the student can bestow contentment upon him, based on the sublimity of his rav, since bestowal becomes as reception for him. This is a natural fuel, so one can always increase his acts of bestowal. Once a person grows accustomed to engaging in bestowal upon the rav, he can transfer it to engaging in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma toward the Creator, too, since habit becomes a second nature.

  2. Equivalence of form with the Creator does not help if it is not forever, “Until He who knows the mysteries will testify that he will not return to folly.” This is not so with equivalence of form with his rav. Since the rav is in this world, within time, equivalence of form with him helps even if it is only temporary and he later turns sour again.

Thus, every time one equalizes one’s form with one’s rav, he adheres to him for a time. As a result, he obtains the knowledge and thoughts of the rav, according to his measure of Dvekut, as we explained in the allegory about the organ that has been cut off from the body and was reunited with it.

For this reason, the student can use his rav’s attainment of the Creator’s greatness, which inverts bestowal into reception and sufficient fuel to give one’s heart and soul. At that time, the student, too, will be able to engage in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma with his very heart and soul, which is the remedy that yields eternal Dvekut with the Creator.

Now you can understand what our sages said (Berachot 7b): “Serving in the Torah is greater than learning it, as it is said, ‘Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on Elijah’s hands.’ It did not say ‘learned,’ but ‘poured.’” This is perplexing; how can simple acts be greater than studying the wisdom and the knowledge?

But according to the above, we thoroughly understand that serving the rav with one’s body and soul in order to bring contentment to his rav brings him to Dvekut with his rav, meaning to equivalence of form. By this he receives the thoughts and knowledge of the rav by way of “mouth-to-mouth,” which is Dvekut of spirit with spirit. In this way, he is rewarded with obtaining His greatness sufficiently to turn bestowal into reception, to become sufficient fuel for devotion, until he is rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator.

This is not so concerning learning Torah with his rav, as this must be for his own benefit and does not yield Dvekut. It is considered “from mouth to ear.” Thus, serving brings the student the rav’s thoughts, and the learning—only the rav’s words. Thus, the merit of serving is greater than the merit of learning as the importance of the rav’s thoughts compared to the rav’s words, and as the importance of “mouth-to-mouth” compared to “from mouth to ear.”

However, all this is true if the service is in order to bestow contentment upon his rav. Yet, if the service is to benefit himself, such service cannot bring him to Dvekut with his rav, so learning with the rav is certainly more important than serving him.

Yet, as we have said concerning obtaining His greatness, an environment that does not properly appreciate Him weakens the individual and prevents him from obtaining His greatness. This is certainly true concerning one’s rav, as well. An environment that does not properly appreciate the rav prevents the student from being able to properly obtain the greatness of his rav.

For this reason, our sages said, “Make for yourself a rav and buy yourself a friend.” This means that one can make a new environment for oneself. This environment will help him obtain the greatness of his rav through love of friends who appreciate his rav. Through the friends’ discussing the greatness of the rav, each of them receives the sensation of his greatness. Thus, bestowal upon his rav becomes reception and sufficient motivation to an extent that will bring one to engage in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma.

It was said about this, “The Torah is acquired by forty-eight virtues, by serving of sages, and by meticulousness of friends.” This is so because besides serving the rav, one needs the meticulousness of friends, as well, meaning the friends’ influence, so they will influence him so he obtains the greatness of his rav. This is so because obtaining the greatness depends entirely on the environment, and a single person cannot do a thing about it whatsoever.

Yet, there are two conditions to obtaining the greatness:

  1. Always listen and accept the appreciation of the environment to the extent of their greatness.

  2. The environment should be great, as it is written, “In the multitude of people is the king's glory.”

To receive the first condition, each student must feel that he is the smallest among all the friends. In that state, he will be able to receive the appreciation of the greatness from everyone, since the great cannot receive from a smaller one, much less be impressed by his words. Rather, only the small is impressed by the appreciation of the great.

For the second condition, 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 influence him as though it were a great environment, as it should be, since quality is more important than quantity.