By Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag
It is known that the desired purpose of the work in Torah and Mitzvot is to cleave unto the Creator, as it is written, "and to cleave unto Him." We should understand what Devukut (adhesion) with the Creator means. After all, the thought has no perception of Him whatsoever. Indeed, our sages have discussed this question before me, asking about the verse, "and to cleave unto Him": "How can one cleave unto Him? After all, He is consuming fire."
It is one of the Mitzvot to cleave to the Creator as it is written in Devarim 10:20. It is one of the 248 Positive Mitzvot. It is necessary to achieve this level of consciousness in order to reach the higher level of "Love Your Neighbor As Yourself". The question being asked is an excellent question since many people use the language of Torah and rarely define it assuming that these definitions have been absorbed through the many lifetimes of Talmud Study. Kabbalah teaches us to define all terms. In the above paragraph we have two terms to define. "cleave" and "devukut".And they replied, "Cleave unto His qualities: as He is merciful, you are merciful; as he is compassionate, you are compassionate." This is perplexing; how did our sages drift from the literal text? After all, it is explicitly written, "and to cleave unto Him." Had the meaning been to cleave unto His qualities it would have to write, "cleave unto His ways." So why does it say, "and to cleave unto Him"?
The thing is that in corporeality, which takes up space, we understand Devukut as proximity of place, and we understand separation as remoteness of place. However, in spirituality, which does not occupy any space, Devukut and separation do not mean proximity or remoteness of place. This is because they do not occupy any space at all. Rather, we understand Devukut 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. And if the disparity of form is great, we say that they are very far from one another. And 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.
And 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 separated as the East from the West.
And 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 Devukut between them depends on the measure of equivalence of form between them.
All of the above paragraphs are explaining spiritual devukut since physical devukut is easy to relate to. Physical devukut is just physical space or closeness and distance. Spiritual devukut takes a lot of thought to contemplate especially when one includes the complexity of human emotion - capacity - strength of emotion - depths of feeling and many other attributes.
Now we understand how right our sages were when they interpreted the verse, "and to cleave unto Him," as adhesion with His qualities—as He is merciful, you are merciful; as He is compassionate, 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 Devukut 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 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 Creator," that is, Devukut with the Creator. Do not do anything that does not promote this goal of Devukut. 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 Deukut.
Please remember that this level of consciousness known as Devukut has many levels also. An example is Devukut where one shares physical items and another is Devukut where one shares his mind level telepathy with another.
And 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 are 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 to not 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 Name), 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 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.
This raises the question why are we taught to do the Mitzvot Lo Lishmo and we will eventually be caused to do them Lishma? Let us see if the answer is revealed below.
But what are the virtues of one who has been rewarded with Devukut 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 with an allegory. The body with its organs are one. The whole of the body exchanges thoughts and sensations regarding each of its organs. For example, if the whole body thinks that a specific organ should serve it and please it, this organ will immediately know that thought and provide the contemplated pleasure. Also, if an organ thinks and feels that the place it is in is narrow, the rest of the body will immediately know that thought and sensation and move it to a comfortable place.
However, should an organ be cut off from the body, they will become two separate entities; the rest of the body will no longer know the needs of the separated organ, and the organ will not know the thoughts of the body, to benefit it and serve 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 my "Introduction to the Book of Zohar," Item 9, that the soul is an illumination that extends from His Essence. 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 form of the will to receive separated that illumination from His Essence and turned it into a separate part from Him.
Take a moment to contemplate the above paragraph. Even if you read Item 9 as specified above did you truly understand its impact? The important concept is that the desire to receive is clothing for the true human essence - the essence of the Creator which is to share. Does this help explain why the transformation of the desire to receive for oneself alone to the desire to receive in order to share causes a connection to return to the Creator? i suggest you contemplate this truth.
It follows that each soul was included in His Essence prior to its creation. But with creation, meaning along with the will 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, the 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 and needs. It is even more so after the soul is dressed in a body of this world: all the connections it had had prior to the separation from His Essence have stopped, and they are like two separate entities.
Now we can easily understand the merit of one who has been rewarded with cleaving unto Him once more. It means that he has been 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 Essence, and turned it into a will to bestow. And all of one’s actions are only to bestow and benefit others, as he has equalized his form with the Maker. It follows that one is just like the organ that was once cut off from the body and has been reunited with 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.
chanoch adds: If you did the recommended contemplation above: Did you contemplate that you would be connected to the thoughts of the Creator?
This is what Rabbi Meir said: "All who study Torah Lishma are granted many things. The secrets of Torah are revealed before them, and they become like an ever-flowing spring." As we have said, through engagement in Torah Lishma, meaning by aiming to bring contentment to one’s Maker through one’s engagement in the Torah, and not at all for one’s own benefit, one is guaranteed to cleave to the Creator. This means that one will achieve equivalence of form, and all one’s actions will be to benefit others and not oneself at all. This is just like the Creator, whose every action is only to bestow and to benefit others.
By that, one returns to Devukut with the Creator, as was the soul prior to its creation. Hence, one is granted many things, and is rewarded with the secrets and flavors of the Torah, and becomes like an ever-flowing spring. This is so because of the removing of the partitions that parted one from the Creator, so he has become one with Him again, as before one was created.
chanoch adds: One returns home while still living on earth. This is Heaven on Earth.
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 catches the rope in its near part, his friend can save him and pull him out of the river.
The Torah is like that, too. 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 that 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, it is still accepted by the Creator, as it is written, "One must always engage in Torah and Mitzvot Lo Lishma (not for Her Name), since from Lo Lishma he will come to Lishma."
chanoch adds: Here is the answer to the question asked above by chanoch.
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 cleave unto 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 granted 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, Chaya, Yechida, and each is made 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." And the reason the degrees of attaining Him are called "worlds" is that there are two meanings to the name Olam (World):
1. All those who enter that world have the same sensation; what one sees, hears, and feels, all who are in that world see, hear, and feel, too.
2. All those who are in that "hidden" world cannot know or attain anything in another world. And also, these two degrees are in attainment:
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. And he has common attainment with them as though they are in the same world.
All who come to that degree will not be able to know or to 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."
chanoch adds: This is the cause of the need to appreciate the diversity. Since someone who is different from you is on a different level of degree or world. Yet this difference should not separate you to hatred but recognize the essence of the person is also your essence. that of the spark of the Creator.
Hence, those with attainment can compose books and put their attainments to writing in intimations and allegories. They will be understood by all who have been rewarded with the degrees that the books describe, and they will 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, as 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:
Only in the generation of the Messiah is it possible to attain all 125 degrees, and in no other generation.
chanoch adds: Once this level of attainment is reached is it still necessary to perform the Mitzvot?
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; a thousand enter the room, and one comes out to teach," meaning to Dvekut and attainment. It is as they said, "for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord." "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying: ‘Know the Lord’; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto 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 impact in the world, since the secrets of the Torah in it occupy the level of all 125 degrees.
Hence, 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 students 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.
And 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.
And 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. And 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, but the clarifications are based on a straightforward analysis, which any intermediate student 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 upon which it was said, "for the earth shall 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 a thing yet, 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.
chanoch adds: How does this apply to the "Gift of the Torah" - Shavuot.
Accordingly, the saying that this generation has already come to the verse, "for the earth shall 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, and study, and exert in the desired amount, the time of reception will arrive, and the verse, "for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord," will come true in us.
chanoch adds: And let us all say AMEN
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 shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord," only at the End of Days, during the time of redemption.
Therefore, 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.
What does Rabbi Ashlag mean that the Land of Israel has not been received into the authority of the Children of Israel? There is no Sanhedrin and no Torah authority over the people who live in the land. Or does he mean that the level of consciousness called Land of Israel has not been attained by a sufficient number of Talmidim Chachamim - Wise Students of Torah.
Thus, He has given but we have not received. After all, we have no economic independence, and there is no political independence without economic independence. Moreover, there is no redemption of the body without redemption of the soul. And as long as the majority of the people are captive in the foreign cultures of the nations and are incapable of Israel’s religion and culture, the bodies, too, will be captive under the alien forces. In this respect, the land is still in the hands of foreigners.
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 be rid of this redemption and return to the Diaspora whence 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 yet received it. 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 God in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma. At that time, the Temple will be built and we will receive the land into our own authority. And then we will experience and feel the joy of redemption.
But as long as we have not come to that, 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 God. 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 shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord." "And they shall teach no more… for they shall 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 God, 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 cleave unto Him, which they said means ‘cleave unto His qualities’"? This is true for two reasons:
Spiritual Devukut is not in proximity of place, but in equivalence of form. Since the soul was separated from His Essence only because of the will to receive, which the Creator had imprinted in it, once He had separated the will to receive from it, it naturally returned to the previous Devukut with His Essence.
1) However, all this is in theory. In fact, they have not answered anything with the explanation of cleaving unto His qualities, which means to separate the will to receive, imprinted in the nature of Creation, and arriving at the will to bestow—the opposite of its nature.
And what we explained, that one who is drowning in the river should firmly grip the rope, and before one engages in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma in a way that he will not turn back 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 oneself, as a machine cannot work without fuel. And if there is no self-gratification, but only contentment to one’s Maker, one will have no fuel with which to work.
The answer is that anyone who sufficiently attains His greatness, the bestowal that one bestows upon Him is inverted into reception, as it is written in Masechet Kidushin (p. 7): with an important person, when the woman gives him money it is considered reception for her, and she is sanctified.as man.
This comes from the Talmud in Kiddushim. The Sages say that rather than the man giving a ring worth 200 Zus to purchase his betrothed from her father, the women gives the Talmud Chacham the 200 Zus. This has many meanings which will be hinted to below.
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, one will not regard giving contentment to the Creator as reception enough for one to give one’s heart and soul to the Creator.
Hence, each time one truly aims only to bring contentment to one’s Maker and not to oneself, one will immediately lose the strength to work, as he will be like a machine without fuel, since one cannot move any organ 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, one will not be able to do so without drawing some reception of pleasure for oneself.
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 beginning and without 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 one as such, one 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, whom the environment respects 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.
And while one sees how one’s environment slights His work and does not properly appreciate His greatness, one cannot overcome the environment. Thus, one cannot obtain His greatness, and slights during one’s work, as do they.
And since one does not have the basis for obtaining His greatness, he will obviously not be able to work to bestow contentment upon his Maker and not for himself. This is so because one would have no motivation to exert, and "if you did not labor and found, do not believe." And one’s only choice is to either work for oneself or to not work at all, since for him, bestowing contentment upon one’s Maker will not be 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:
The extent of the appreciation of the environment.
The size of the environment. Thus, "In the multitude of people is the king’s glory."
And because of the great difficulty in the matter, our sages advised us: "Make for yourself a rav  and buy for yourself a friend." This means that one should choose for oneself an important and renowned person to be one’s rav, from whom one will be able to come to engaging in Torah and Mitzvot in order to bring contentment to one’s Maker. This is so because there are two facilitations to one’s rav:
1. Since he is an important person, the student can bestow contentment upon him, based on the sublimity of one’s rav, since bestowal becomes as reception for him. This is a natural fuel, so one can always increase one’s acts of bestowal. And once a person grows accustomed to engage in bestowal upon the rav, one can transfer it to engaging in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma towards the Creator, too, since habit becomes a second nature.
2. Equivalence of form with the Creator does not help if it is not forever, that is, "until He who knows all mysteries will testify that he will not turn back to folly." This is not so with equivalence of form with one’s 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.
chanoch adds: This is what happens to the souls of the Tzadik that reincarnates into a fish that comes to the Table on Shabbat.
Thus, every time one equalizes one’s form with one’s rav, he is adhered to him for a time. Thus, one obtains the thoughts and knowledge of the rav, according to one’s measure of Devukut, as we have explained in the allegory of 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 one’s very heart and soul, which is the remedy that yields eternal Devukut with the Creator.
Now you can understand what our sages said (Berachot 7): "Serving in the Torah is greater than studying it, as it is said, ‘Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.’ It did not say studied, 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 one’s rav with one’s body and soul in order to bring contentment to one’s rav bring one to Dvekut with one’s rav, that is, to equivalence of form. Thus, one receives the thoughts and knowledge of the rav by way of "mouth-to-mouth," which is Devukut of spirit with spirit. By that, one is rewarded with obtaining His greatness sufficiently to turn bestowal into reception, to become sufficient fuel for devotion, until one is rewarded with Devukut with the Creator.
When one receives with the consciousness of sharing Nachat with the Creator one is creating a circuit of energy and similarity of form. This is most easiest to learn from serving a Rav since when one provides a service to the Rav one is giving pleasure to the Rav. This process is considered giving nachat to the Creator since the Rav is always doing all his actions to give nachat to the Creator.
This is not so concerning studying Torah with one’s rav, as this must be for one’s own benefit, and does not yield Devukut. It is considered "from mouth to ear." Thus, serving brings the student the rav’s thoughts, and the study—only the rav’s words. Also, the merit of serving is greater than the merit of the study as the importance of the rav’s thoughts over the rav’s words, and as the importance of "mouth-to-mouth" over "from mouth to ear."
The Rav's thoughts is the Kavenah when he does his actions. When serving the Rav one is able to ask the Rav what are his thoughts and Kavenah. In this way the knowledge is brought on a lower level. Eventually this connection leads to the level of telepathy with the Rav. I can personally attest to this process and experience.
However, all this is true if the service is in order to bestow contentment upon Him. Yet, if the service is to benefit oneself, such service cannot bring one to Devukut with one’s rav, and certainly the study with the rav is more important than serving him.
Yet, as we have said about obtaining His greatness, an environment that does not properly appreciate Him weakens the individual and prevents one from obtaining His greatness. And this is certainly true for 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 one’s rav.
Hence, 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 the rav. Through the friends’ discussing the greatness of the rav, each of them receives the sensation of his greatness. Thus, bestowal upon one’s rav will become reception and sufficient motivation to an extent that will bring one to engage in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma.
They said about that, "The Torah is acquired by forty-eight virtues, by serving friends and by meticulousness of sages." This is so because besides serving the rav, one needs the meticulousness with friends, as well, the friends’ influence, so they will affect him the obtainment of his rav’s greatness. 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:
Always listen and assume appreciation of the environment to the extent of their greatness. 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, one can receive the appreciation of the greatness from everyone, since the great cannot receive from a smaller one, and much less be impressed by his words. Rather, only the small is impressed by the appreciation of the great.
And 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 affect him as a sufficiently great environment, since quality is more important than quantity.
As a student of Kabbalah i include each and every person who reads my words on the Yeshshem website as my group of friends as described by Rabbi Ashlag. Who is our Rav? There are many. Ultimately i consider our Rav HaShem.
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