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IUBIREA DE PRIETENI
3.01 Baal HaSulam,
Baal HaSulam, Letter No. 11
I will also ask that you make great efforts in love of friends, to devise tactics that can increase the love among the friends and revoke the lust for bodily matters from among you, as this is what casts hate, and between those who give contentment to their Maker there shall be no hatred. Rather, there are great compassion and love between them.
3.02 Baal HaSulam,
Letter No. 49
I order you to begin to love one another as yourselves with all your might, to ache with your friends’ pains, and rejoice in your friends’ joys as much as possible. I hope that you will keep these words of mine and execute this matter to the fullest.
3.03 Baal HaSulam,
Letter No. 47
I have established for you conducts by which you can still hang on and not turn back.
And the single most special one among them is the Dvekut of friends. I sincerely promise that this love is able. And I shall remind you of every good thing that you need. And if you nonetheless braced yourselves in that, you would certainly go from strength to strength on the rungs of holiness.
3.04 Baal HaSulam,
Letter No. 47
Let me remind you the validity of love of friends in spite of everything at this time, for it is upon this that our right to exist depends, and upon this our near-to-come success is measured.
Hence, turn away from all the imaginary engagements and set your hearts on thinking thoughts and devising proper tactics to truly connect your hearts as one, so the words “Love your friend as yourself” will literally come true in you, for a verse does not reach beyond the literal, and you will be cleaned by the thought of love that will cover all crimes. Test me in that, and begin to truly connect in love, and then you will see, “the palate will taste”.
3.05 Baal HaSulam,
Letter No. 13
Indeed, I feel all of you together, that today has been replaced for you with tomorrow, and instead of “now,” you say “later.” There is no cure for this but to exert to understand that mistake and dis- tortion—that one who is saved by the Creator is saved only if he needs salvation today. One who can wait for tomorrow will obtain his salvation after his years, God forbid.
This happened to you due to negligence in my request to exert in love of friends, as I have explained to you in every possible way that this cure is enough to recompense for all your faults.
3.06 Baal HaSulam,
“A Speech for the Completion of The Zohar”
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.
3.07 Baal HaSulam,
Letter No. 2
I shall advise you to evoke within you fear of the coolness of the love between us. Although the intellect denies such a depiction, think for yourself—if there is a tactic by which to increase love and one does not increase it, that, too, is considered a flaw. It is like a person who gives a great gift to his friend. The love that appears in his heart during the act is not like the love that remains in the heart after the fact. Rather, it gradually wanes each day until the blessing of the love can be entirely forgotten. Thus, the receiver of the gift must find a tactic every day to make it new in his eyes each day. This is all our work—to display love between us, each and every day, just as upon receiving, meaning to increase and multiply the intellect with many additions to the core, until the additional blessings of now will be touching our senses like the essential gift at first. This requires great tactics, set up for the time of need.
3.08 Baal HaSulam,
“The Arvut [Mutual Guarantee],” Item 17
This is to speak of the Arvut [mutual guarantee], when all of Israel became responsible for one another. Because the Torah was not given to them before each and every one from Israel was asked if he agreed to take upon himself the Mitzva [commandment] of loving others in the full measure expressed in the words “Love your friend as yourself,” as explained in the article “Matan Torah,” Items 2 and 3, examine it thoroughly there. This means that each and every one in Israel would take upon himself to care and work for each member of the nation, to satisfy all their needs, no less than the measure imprinted in him to care for his own needs.
Once the whole nation unanimously agreed and said, “We will do and we will hear,” each member of Israel became responsible that no member of the nation will lack anything. Only then did they become worthy of receiving the Torah, and not before.
With this collective responsibility, each member of the nation was liberated from worrying about the needs of his own body and could observe the Mitzva, “Love your friend as yourself” in the fullest measure and give all that he had to any needy person since he no longer cared for the existence of his own body, as he knew for certain that he was surrounded by six hundred thousand loyal lovers standing ready to provide for him.
3.09 Baal HaSulam,
“The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose”
When one comes to love others, he is in direct Dvekut, which is equivalence of form with the Maker, and along with it man passes from his narrow world, filled with pain and impediments, to an eternal and broad world of bestowal upon the Creator and upon people.
3.10 Baal HaSulam,
“Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 19
Bear in mind that the Mitzvot between man and man come before the Mitzvot between man and the Creator since bestowing upon one’s friend brings one to bestow upon the Creator.
3.11 Baal HaSulam,
“Matan Torah [The Giving of the Torah],” Item 15
Our sages said, “The Torah and Mitzvot were given only so as to cleanse Israel,” which is the cleans- ing of the body until one acquires a second nature defined as “love for others,” meaning the one Mitzva: “Love your friend as yourself,” which is the final aim of the Torah.
3.12 Baal HaSulam,
“The Arvut [Mutual Guarantee],” Item 22
The impression he gets when engaging in Mitzvot between man and man, since one is obliged to perform all the Mitzvot Lishma [for Her sake], without any hope for self-love, meaning that no light or hope returns to him through his trouble in the form of reward or honor, etc. Here, at this exalted point, the love of the Creator and the love of his friend unite and actually become one.
3.13 Baal HaSulam,
“Matan Torah [The Giving of the Torah],” Item 15
If six hundred thousand men abandon their work for the satisfaction of their own needs and worry about nothing but standing guard so their friends will not lack a thing, and moreover, they will engage in this with great love, with their very heart and soul, in the full meaning of the Mitzva [commandment], “Love your friend as yourself,” it is then beyond doubt that no one in the nation will need to worry about his own well-being.
Because of this, one becomes completely free of securing his own survival and can easily observe the Mitzva, “Love your friend as yourself.” After all, why would he worry about his own survival when six hundred thousand loyal lovers stand by, ready with great care to make sure he lacks nothing of his needs?
Therefore, once all the members of the nation agreed, they were immediately given the Torah, for now they were capable of observing it.
3.14 Baal HaSulam,
“The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose”
The crass, undeveloped person does not recognize egoism as bad at all. Therefore, he uses it openly, without any shame or restraint, stealing and murdering in broad daylight wherever he can. The somewhat more developed sense some measure of their egoism as bad and are at least ashamed to use it in public, stealing and killing openly. But in secret, they still commit their crimes, but are careful that no one will see them.
The even more developed sense egoism as so loathsome that they cannot tolerate it in them and reject it completely, as much as they detect of it, until they cannot, and do not want to enjoy the labor of others. Then begin to emerge in them sparks of love of others, called “altruism,” which is the general attribute of goodness.
But that, too, evolves gradually. First develops love and desire to bestow upon one’s family and kin, as in the verse, “Do not ignore your own flesh.” When one develops further, one’s attribute of bestowal expands to all the people around him, being one’s townspeople or one’s nation. And so one adds until he finally develops love for the whole of humanity.
3.15 Baal HaSulam,
“The Writings of the Last Generation”
The religious form of all the nations should first obligate its members to bestowal upon each other to the extent that (the life of one’s friend will come before one’s own life), as in “Love your friend as yourself.” One will not take pleasure in society more than a straggling friend. This will be the collec- tive religion of all the nations that will come within the framework of communism. However, besides this, each nation may follow its own religion and tradition, and one must not interfere in the other.
3.16 Baal HaSulam,
“Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 19
When all human beings agree to abolish and eradicate their will to receive for themselves and have no other desire but to bestow upon their friends, all worries and jeopardy in the world would cease to exist. We would all be assured of a whole and wholesome life, since each of us would have a whole world caring for us, ready to satisfy our needs.
Yet, while each of us has only a desire to receive for oneself, this is the source of all the worries, suffering, wars, and slaughter we cannot escape. They weaken our bodies with all sorts of sores and maladies.
3.17 Baal HaSulam,
There is no other cure for humanity but to assume the commandment of Providence to bestow upon others in order to bring contentment to the Creator in the measure of the two verses.
The first is “love your friend as yourself,” which is the attribute of the work itself. This means that the measure of work to bestow upon others for the happiness of society should be no less than the measure imprinted in man to care for his own needs. Moreover, he should put his fellow person’s needs before his own.
The other verse is, “And you will love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” This is the goal that must be before everyone’s eyes when laboring for one’s friend’s needs. This means that he labors and toils only to be liked by the Creator, as He said, “and they do His will.”
“And if you wish to listen, you will feed on the fruit of the land,” for poverty and torment and exploitation will be no more in the land, and the happiness of each and every one will rise ever higher, beyond measure.
3.18 Baal HaSulam,
“The Love of God and the Love of Man”
When one completes one’s work in love of others and bestowal upon others through the final point, one also completes one’s love for the Creator and bestowal upon the Creator. And there is no differ- ence between the two, for anything that is outside one’s body, meaning outside one’s self-interest, is judged equally—either to bestow upon one’s friend or to bestow contentment upon one’s Maker. This is what Hillel HaNasi assumed, that “Love your friend as yourself” is the ultimate goal in the practice, as it is the clearest nature and form to man.
We should not be mistaken about actions, since they are set before his eyes. He knows that if he puts the needs of his friend before his own needs, then he is in the quality of bestowal. For this reason, he does not define the goal as “And you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,” for indeed they are one and the same, since he should also love his friend with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, as this is the meaning of the words “as yourself.” He certainly loves himself with all his heart and soul and might, and with the Creator, he may deceive oneself, but with his friend it is always spread out before his eyes.
3.19 Baal HaSulam,
Letter No. 13
You should know that there are many sparks of holiness in each one in the group. When you assem- ble all the sparks of holiness to one place, as brothers, with love and friendship, you will certainly have a very high level of holiness for a while, from the light of life.
3.20 Baal HaSulam,
The Torah and the Mitzvot were given only to purify Israel, to develop in us the sense of recogni- tion of evil imprinted in us at birth, which is generally defined as our self-love, and to come to the pure good defined as “love of others,” which is the one and only passage to the love of the Creator.
3.21 RABASH, Article No. 8 (1985),
“Make for Yourself a Rav and Buy Yourself a Friend – 2”
Those people agreed to unite into a single group that engages in love of friends is that each of them feels that they have one desire that can unite all their views, so as to receive the strength of love of others. There is a famous maxim by our sages, “As their faces differ, their views differ.” Thus, those who agreed among them to unite into a group understood that there isn’t such a great distance between them in the sense that they recognize 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.
Article No. 3 (1984), “Love of Friends – 1”
“And a certain man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field. And the man asked him, saying, ‘What are you seeking?’ And he said, ‘I seek my brothers. Tell me, I pray you, where they are feeding the flock?’” (Genesis, 37).
A man “wandering in the field” refers to a place from which the crop of the field to sustain the world should spring. And the works of the field are plowing, sowing, and reaping. It is said about that: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy,” and this is called “a field which the Lord has blessed.”
Baal HaTurim explained that a person wandering in the field refers to one who strays from the path of reason, who does not know the real way, which leads to the place he should reach, as in “an ass wandering in the field.” And he comes to a state where he thinks that he will never achieve the goal he should achieve.
“And the man asked him, saying, ‘What are you seeking?’” meaning, “How can I help you?” “And he said: ‘I seek my brethren.’” By being together with my brothers, that is, by being in a group where there is love of friends, I will be able to mount the trail that leads to the house of God.
This trail is called “a path of bestowal,” and this way is against our nature. To be able to achieve it, there is no other way but love of friends, by which everyone can help his friend.
“And the man said: ‘They are departed hence.’” And RASHI interpreted that they had departed themselves from the brotherhood, meaning they do not want to bond with you. This, in the end, caused Israel’s exile in Egypt. And to be redeemed from Egypt, we must take it upon ourselves to enter a group that wants to be in love of friends, and by that we will be rewarded with exodus from Egypt and the reception of the Torah.
Article No. 2 (1984), “Concerning Love of Friends”
We must remember that the society was established on the basis of love of others, so each member would receive from the group the love of others and hatred of himself. And seeing that his friend is straining to annul his self and to love others would cause everyone to be integrated in their friends’ intentions.
Thus, if the society is made of ten members, for example, each will have ten forces practicing self-annulment, hatred of self, and love of others.
Article No. 2, (1984), “Concerning Love of Friends”
One must disclose the love in his heart towards the friends, since by revealing it he evokes his friends’ hearts toward the friends so they, too, would feel that each of them is practicing love of friends. The benefit from that 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 each other’s.
It turns out that where a person has one measure of strength to practice love of friends, if the group consists of ten members, then he is integrated with ten forces of the need, who understand that it is necessary to engage in love of friends.
3.25 RABASH, Article No. 30 (1988),
“What to Look for in the Assembly of Friends”
When a group of people gathers and wishes to work together on love of friends, they must all help one another as much as they can. And there are many discernments about that, since not everyone is the same, meaning that what one needs, the other does not. However, there is one thing in which all are equal: Each and every one of the friends needs high spirits. That is, when the friends are not in a good mood, they are not all the same in their needs. Rather, each has his own reason for being unhappy. Therefore, each one must contemplate how he can bring about a good mood to the other.
Article No. 1 (1984), “Purpose of Society – 1”
When a person performs one of the Mitzvot [commandments] of the Creator, one should aim that this Mitzva will bring him pure thoughts that he will bestow upon the Creator by keeping God’s Mitzvot. It is as our sages said, “Rabbi Hanania Ben Akashia says, ‘The Creator wanted to cleanse Israel; hence, He gave them plentiful Torah and Mitzvot.’”
And this is why we gather here—to establish a society where each of us follows the spirit of bestow- ing upon the Creator. And to achieve bestowal upon the Creator, we must begin with bestowal upon man, which is called “love of others.”
And love of others can only be through revoking of one’s self. Thus, on the one hand, each per- son should feel lowly, and on the other hand, be proud that the Creator has given us the chance to be in a society where each of us has but a single goal: for The Shechina [Divinity] to be among us.
Article No. 2 (1984), “Concerning Love of Friends”
If each of them does not show the society that he is practicing love of friends, then one lacks the force of the group.
This is so because it is very hard to judge one’s friend favorably. Each one thinks that he is righteous and that only he engages in love of friends. In that state, one has very little strength to practice love of others.
Article No. 13 (1984), “Sometimes Spirituality Is Called “a Soul”
We must always awaken what the heart forgets, what is needed for the correction of the heart—Love of friends—whose purpose is to achieve love of others.
This is not a pleasant thing for the heart, which is called “self-love.” Hence, when there is a gathering of friends, we must remember to bring up the question, meaning everyone should ask himself how much we have advanced in love of others, and how much we have done to promote us in that matter.
Article No. 30 (1988), “What to Look for in the Assembly of Friends”
The matter of the assembly of friends. When they gather, what should they discuss? First, the goal must be clear to everyone—this gathering must yield the result of love of friends, that each of the friends will be awakened to love the other, which is called “love of others.” However, this is only a result. To beget this lovely offspring, actions must be taken to produce the love.
Letter No. 5
You should do more in love of friends. It is impossible to achieve lasting love, unless through Dvekut [adhesion], meaning that the two of you will unite in a tight bond. This can be only if you try to “undress” the clothing in which the inner soul is placed. This clothing is called “self-love,” for only this clothing separates two points. But if we walk on the straight path, the two points—which are dis- cerned as two lines that refute one another—become a middle line that contains both lines together. And when you feel that you are at war, each of you will know and feel that he needs the help of his friend, and without him, his own strength will wane, as well. Then, when you understand that you must save your life, each of you will forget he has a body he must preserve, and you will both be tied by the thought of how to defeat the enemy.
Article No. 13 (1985), “Mighty Rock of My Salvation”
A person has a desire within him, which comes from himself. In other words, even when he is alone and there are no people around him to affect him, or from whom to absorb some desire, he receives an awakening and craves to be a servant of the Creator. But his own desire is certainly not big enough for him not to need to enhance it so he can work with it to obtain the spiritual goal. Therefore, there is a way—just like in corporeality—to enhance that desire through people on the outside who will compel him to follow their views and their spirit.
This is done by bonding with people whom he sees that also have a need for spirituality. And the desire that those people on the outside have begets a desire in him, and thus he receives a great desire for spirituality. In other words, in addition to the desire that he has from within, he receives a desire for spirituality that they beget in him, and then he acquires a great desire with which he can reach the goal.
Hence, the issue of love of friends is where each person in the group, besides having a desire of his own, acquires desire from the friends. This is a great asset that can be obtained only through love of friends. However, one should take great care not to be among friends who have no desire to examine themselves, the basis of their work—whether it is to bestow or to receive—and to see if they are doing things in order to reach the path of truth, which is the way of nothing but bestowal.
Only in such a group is it possible to instill the friends with a desire to bestow, meaning that each will absorb a lack from the friends, which he himself lacks the power to bestow, and wherever he walks, he is eagerly searching for a place where perhaps someone will be able to give him the power to bestow.
Hence, when he comes into a group where everyone is thirsty for the power to bestow, everyone receives this strength from everyone else. This is considered receiving strength from the outside in addition to the small power that he has within him.
Letter No. 40
There is a prayer for it—that the Creator will help him by making him feel the love of his friend and make his friend close to his heart.
Article No. 7 (1984), “According to What Is Explained Concerning ‘Love Your Friend as Yourself’”
The advice for one to be able to increase his strength in the rule, “Love your friend,” is by love of friends. If everyone is nullified before his friend and mingles with him, they become one mass where all the little parts that want the love of others unite in a collective force that consists of many parts. And when one has great strength, he can execute the love of others.
And then he can achieve the love of God. But the condition is that each will annul before the other.
Letter No. 24
You must awaken the heart of the friends until the flame rises by itself, as our sages said about it, “When you mount the candles.” By that, you will be rewarded with awakening the love of the Creator upon us.
Article No. 13 (1986) “Come Unto Pharaoh 2”
We should know that we were given love of friends to learn how to avoid blemishing the King’s honor. In other words, if he has no other desire except to give contentment to the King, he will certainly blemish the King’s honor, which is called “Passing on Kedusha [holiness/sanctity] to the external ones.” For this reason, we mustn’t underestimate the importance of the work in love of friends, for by that he will learn how to exit self-love and enter the path of love of others. And when he completes the work of love of friends, he will be able to be rewarded with love of the Creator.
Letter No. 40
It is about time that we started moving forward toward our sacred goal like mighty strong men. It is known that the paved road that leads to the goal is love of friends, by which one shifts to love of the Creator. And in the matter of love, it is through “Buy yourself a friend.” In other words, through actions, one buys one’s friend’s heart. And even if he sees that his friend’s heart is like a stone, it is no excuse. If he feels that he is suitable for being his friend in the work, then he must buy him through deeds.
Each gift (and a gift is determined as such when he knows that his friend will enjoy it, whether in words, in thought, or in action. However, each gift must be out in the open, so that his friend will know about it, and with thoughts, one does not know that his friend was thinking of him. Hence, words are required, too, meaning he should tell him that he is thinking of him and cares about him. And that, too, should be about what his friend loves, meaning what his friend likes. One who doesn’t like sweets, but pickles, cannot treat his friend to pickles, but specifically to sweets, since this is what his friend likes. And from that, we should understand that something could be unimportant to one, but more important than anything to another.) that he gives to his friend is like a bullet that makes a hollow in the stone. And although the first bullet only scratches the stone, when the second bullet hits the same place, it already makes a notch, and the third one makes a hole.
And through the bullets that he shoots repeatedly, the hole becomes a hollow in his friend’s heart of stone, where all the presents gather. And each gift becomes a spark of love until all the sparks of love accumulate in the hollow of the stony heart and become a flame.
The difference between a spark and a flame is that where there is love, there is open disclosure, meaning a disclosure to all the peoples that the fire of love is burning in him. And the fire of love burns all the transgressions one meets along the way.
3.37 RABASH, Article No. 1 (1985),
“Make for Yourself a Rav and Buy Yourself a Friend – 1”
It is said, “Make for yourself a rav and buy yourself a friend”; both have to exist. In other words, each should regard the other as a friend, and then there is room for buying. This means that each must pay with concessions to the other, like a father concedes his rest, works for his son, spends money for his son, and all is because of the love.
However, there it is natural love. The Creator gave natural love for raising children so there would be persistence to the world. If, for instance, the father would raise the children because it is a Mitzva [commandment], his children would have food, clothing, and other things that are necessary for children to the extent that a person is committed to keep all the Mitzvot [plural of Mitzva]. At times he would keep the Mitzvot, and at times he would only do the very minimum, and his children could starve to death.
This is why the Creator gave parents natural love for their children, so there would be persistence to the world. This is not so with love of friends. Here everyone must make great efforts by himself to create the love of friends in his heart.
It is the same with “And buy yourself a friend.” Once he understands, at least intellectually, that he needs help and he cannot do the holy work, to the extent that he understands it in his mind, he begins to buy, to make concessions for his friend’s sake.
This is so because he understands that the work is primarily in bestowing upon the Creator. However, it is against his nature because man is born with a desire to receive only for his own benefit. Hence, we were given the cure by which to go from self-love to love of others, and by that he can arrive at the love of the Creator.
Article No. 19 (1984), “You Stand Today, All of You”
“You stand today, all of you …your heads, your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel.” It begins with the plural form, “You” [plural form in Hebrew], and ends in singular form, “Every man of Israel.” The author of the book, Light and Sun, explains that by using plural form and singular form, it points to the matter of love of friends. Although among you are “heads, tribes,” etc., still no one sees greater merit in himself than in any man of Israel. Instead, everyone is equal in that no one complains about the other. For this reason, from above, too, they are treated accordingly, and this is why great abundance is imparted below.
Article No. 7 (1984), According to What Is Explained Concerning ‘Love Your Friend as Yourself’”
The meaning of “righteous”? It is those who want to keep the rule, “Love your friend as yourself.” Their sole intention is to exit self-love and assume a different nature of love of others.
Article No. 17, Part 1 (1984), “Concerning the Importance of Friends”
If one has love of friends, the rule in love is that you want to see the friends’ merits and not their faults. Hence, if one sees some fault in one’s friend, it is not a sign that his friend is at fault, but that the seer is at fault, meaning that because his love of friends is flawed, he sees faults in his friend.
Therefore, now he should not see to his friend’s correction. Rather, he himself needs correction. It follows from the above-said that he should not see to the correction of his friend’s faults, which he sees in his friend, but he himself needs to correct the flaw he has created in the love of friends. And when he corrects himself, he will see only his friend’s merits and not his faults.
Article No. 9 (1984), “One Should Always Sell the Beams of His House”
Each of them had a spark of love of others, but the spark could not ignite the light of love to shine in each, so they agreed that by uniting, the sparks would become a big flame.
Letter No. 40
Through the wearing out of the hearts, even of the strongest ones, each will bring out warmth from the walls of his heart, and the warmth will ignite the sparks of love until a clothing of love will form. Then, both of them will be covered under one blanket, meaning a single love will surround and envelop the two of them, as it is known that Dvekut [adhesion] unites two into one.
And when one begins to feel the love of his friend, joy and pleasure immediately begin to awaken in him, for the rule is that a novelty entertains. His friend’s love for him is a new thing for him because he always knew that he was the only one who cared for his own well-being. But the minute he discovers that his friend cares for him, it evokes within him immeasurable joy, and he can no longer care for himself, since man can toil only where he feels pleasure. And since he is beginning to feel pleasure in caring for his friend, he naturally cannot think of himself.
Article No. 162, “Love of Others”
I look at one tiny dot, called “love of others,” and I think about it: What can I do in order to benefit people? As I look at the general public, I see the suffering of individuals, illnesses and pains, and the suffering of individuals inflicted by the collective, meaning wars among nations. And besides prayer, there is nothing to give.
Article No. 273, “The Mightiest of the Mighty”
Who is the mightiest of the mighty? He who makes his foe his friend” (Avot de Rabbi Natan, Chapter 23).
In ethics, we should interpret that “mighty” is “one who conquers his inclination” (Avot, Chapter 4). That is, he works with the good inclination and subdues the evil inclination.
The mightiest of the mighty is one who works also with the evil inclination, as our sages said, “With all your heart—with both your inclinations” (Berachot 54), where the evil inclination, too, serves the Creator. It follows that he makes his foe, the evil inclination, his friend. And since the evil inclination is also serving the Creator, it follows that here he has more work, for which he is called “the mightiest of the mighty.”
Letter No. 8
Once I have acquired this above-mentioned clothing, sparks of love promptly begin to shine within me. The heart begins to long to unite with my friends, and it seems to me that my eyes see my friends, my ears hear their voices, my mouth speaks to them, the hands embrace, the feet dance in a circle, in love and joy together with them, and I transcend my corporeal boundaries. I forget the vast distance between my friends and me, and the outstretched land for many miles will not stand between us.
It is as though my friends are standing right within my heart and see all that is happening there, and I become ashamed of my petty acts against my friends. Then, I simply exit the corporeal vessels and it seems to me that there is no reality in the world except my friends and I. After that, even the “I” is cancelled and is immersed, mingled in my friends, until I stand and declare that there is no reality in the world—only the friends.
Article No. 21 (1986), “Concerning Above Reason”
The only thing that can help a person emerge from self-love and be rewarded with the love of the Creator is the love of friends.
Article No. 13 (1986), “Come unto Pharaoh – 2”
We were given the Mitzva [commandment/good deed] of “love thy friend as thyself,” and Rabbi Akiva said, “This is the great rule of the Torah” (Beresheet Rabba, Parasha 24). In other words, by working in love of friends, a person accustoms himself to exit self-love and achieve love of others.
Assorted Notes, Article No. 759, “Man as a Whole”
One must know that love is bought by actions. By giving his friends gifts, each gift that he gives to his friend is like an arrow and a bullet that makes a hole in his friend’s heart. Although his friend’s heart is like a stone, still, each bullet makes a hole. And from many holes, a hollow is created, and the love of the giver of the gifts enters in this place.
The warmth of the love draws to him his friend’s sparks of love, and then the two loves weave into a garment of love that covers both of them. This means that one love surrounds and envelops them, and then they two become one person because the clothing that covers them is a single garment.
Assorted Notes, Article No. 759, “Man as a Whole”
After one receives the garment of love from another, he enjoys only the love of the other and forgets about self-love. At that time, each of them begins to receive pleasure only from caring for his friend, and they cannot worry about themselves because one can labor only where he can receive pleasure.
Since he is enjoying love of others and receives pleasure specifically from that, he will take no pleasure in caring for himself.
Letter No. 34
It is said in Rosh Hashanah prayer [Hebrew New Year’s Eve service], “And they shall all become one society.” In that state, it will be easier “To do Your will wholeheartedly.”
This is so because while there is not just one society, it is difficult to work wholeheartedly. Instead, part of the heart remains for its own benefit and not for the benefit of the Creator. It is said about it in Midrash Tanhuma, “‘You stand today,’ as the day at times shines and at times darkens, so it is with you. When it is dark for you, the light of the world will shine for you, as it is said, ‘And the Lord shall be unto you an everlasting light.’ When? When you are all one society, as it is written, ‘Alive every one of you this day.’
Usually, if someone takes a pile of branches, can he break them all at once? But if taken one at a time, even a baby can break them. Similarly, you find that Israel will not be redeemed until they are all one society, as it is said, ‘In those days and at that time, says the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the sons of Judah together.’ Thus, when they are united, they receive the face of Divinity.”
Article No. 17 (1984), “Concerning the Importance of Friends”
How can one consider one’s friend greater than himself when he can see that his own merits are greater than his friend’s, that he is more talented and has better natural qualities? There are two ways to understand this:
- He is going with faith above reason: once he has chosen him as a friend, he appreciates him above reason.
- This is more natural—within reason. If he has decided to accept the other as a friend, and works on himself to love him, then it is natural with love to see only good things. And even though there are bad things in one’s friend, he cannot see them, as it is written, “love covers all transgressions.”
3.52 Zohar for All, Aharei Mot [After the Death],
“Behold, How Good and How Pleasant,” Items 65-66
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to also sit together.” These are the friends as they sit together, and are not separated from each other. At first, they seem like people at war, wishing to kill one another. Then they return to being in brotherly love.
The Creator says about them, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to also sit together” The word, “also,” comes to include the Shechina with them. Moreover, the Creator listens to their words and He has contentment and delights with them, as it is written, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remem- brance was written before Him.”
And you, the friends who are here, as you were in fondness and love before, henceforth you will also not part until the Creator rejoices with you and summons peace upon you. And by your merit there will be peace in the world, as it is written, “For the sake of my brothers and my friends let me say, ‘Let peace be in you.’”
3.53 Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Halevi Epstein,
Maor VaShemesh, Devarim
It is known that the most important is the true connection among the friends. This causes all the salvations and the sweetening of the judgments. When you gather together in love, brotherhood, and friendship. By this, all the judgments are removed and sweetened with mercy, and through the connection, complete mercy and revealed kindness are revealed in the world.
The Torah came and included made a rule in which everything is included: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” as yourself, without any difference; as yourself, without any divisions, without ploys or machination, truly as yourself.
3.55 Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Halevi Epstein,
The advice and counsel for serving the Creator and the correct path of repentance is to unite our hearts in love of friends and look at the advantage of the other in serving the Creator and in knowing his Creator, and not to see his flaw. Repentance is mainly in uniting with each and every one in love and in one heart, to serve the Creator shoulder to shoulder. By this, the world of repentance and the world of mercy and the world of good will awaken. This is an intimation, as was said, “And all are reviewed in one review.” This means that we should adhere and connect to one another and close into one another in the heart of each one. This is implied in the word “one,” to become one bundle to serve the Creator wholeheartedly.
3.56 Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk,
Pri Haaretz, Item 30
By and large, the thing that leads to preserving and guarding from Him, to be saved from all the incidents of cessation of adhesion between him and his Maker, is connection, love, and true peace in adhesion of friends. Indeed, were it not for this, he would be in concealment of the face, may the Creator will save him from this. One should always accustom oneself to install love of friends in one’s heart to the bottom of one’s heart, and to persist with this until his soul is adhered and they adhere to one another. When they are all as one man, the One Creator will dwell within them and will impart upon them salvations and comforts aplenty, and they will ascend in the soaring of body and soul.
3.57 Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Halevi Epstein,
Maor VaShemesh, “Intimations of Song of Songs”
The heart and root of the work of the Creator is love of friends. Through it, one can come to the true work of the Creator. When one sees that his friends aspire and yearn to serve the Creator in Torah and prayer, it will excite his heart to connect with them, and all his friends’ actions will seem to him as greater than his own actions.
3.58 Rav Chaim Vital,
Shaar HaGilgulim, Introduction, 38
My teacher cautioned me and all the friends who were with him in that society to take upon ourselves the commandment to-do of “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and to aim to love each one from Israel as his own soul, for by this his prayer would rise comprising all of Israel and will be able to ascend and make a correction above. Especially, our love of friends, each and every one of us should include himself as though he is an organ of those friends. My teacher sternly cautioned me about this matter.
3.59 Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Halevi Epstein,
It is appropriate and correct to hold tight to love of friends and draw them closer to the path of the Creator for by this one can extend illumination for many days, by bringing them closer to the work of the Creator.
3.60 Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Halevi Epstein,
It is a great tenet, from among the tenets and the roots of the work, and an opening to repentance, to unite as one and connect in love of friends, to look at one’s friend—his virtues and his serving of the Creator, and not to look at his blemishes. By this, he yearns and longs to resemble him in the good deeds, and he will return to the Creator with all his heart.
3.61 Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Halevi Epstein,
You will find the tenet and the wedge on which everything depends, and the content of the paths of correct repentance, through love of friends and adhesion of friends, and drawing near to the righteous of the generation. By this he will come to complete surrender since he will see the work of his friends, the great burning in their hearts, and excitement to serve the Creator, and by this he will learn to do as they do. He will recognize his blemishes and will repent in complete repentance.
3.62 Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Halevi Epstein,
The main rule by which to truly come to the path of the Creator is through adhesion with friends. By gathering together, as each one annuls before his friend when he sees his friend’s merit in Torah, Mitzvot [commandments], and good deeds, he becomes lowly in his own eyes, and his friend is greater than him, and he loves each and every one, and wishes and yearns to truly permeate each and every one out of joy and love. This is done by adhesion of friends.
3.63 Jerusalem Talmud,
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is a great rule in the Torah.
Mishneh Torah, Shoftim, “Rules of Grieving,” Chapter 14
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the things you want others to do for you, do them to your brothers … This is the law that Abraham Our Father established and the way of mercy in which he behaved, giving food and drinks to passersby and accompanying them.
3.65 Rabbi Nachman of Breslov,
Likutey Halachot [Assorted Rules]
“Love your friend as yourself” is the great rule of the Torah, to include in unity and peace. The vitality, sustenance, and correction of the whole of creation is mainly by people of differing views becoming included together in love, unity, and peace.
The Book of Commandment
The commandment we have been commanded, to love one another as we love ourselves, and for my compassion and love for my brothers with faith to be as my love and compassion for myself, with one’s wealth and body and all that he has or desires, and all that I want for myself, I will likewise want for him, and all that I do not want for myself or for my friends, I will likewise not want for him, as was said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
3.67 Rav Chaim Vital,
Shaarey Kedusha, Part 2, Gate 4
Our sages said (Yoma 9b), “In the Second Temple, there were righteous and great sages, and it was ruined only because of unfounded hatred, and the end has been prolonged and concealed only because of unfounded hatred. Moreover, all other transgressions, he commits them only at that time, but unfounded hatred is always in the heart, and at every single moment he transgresses in ‘Do not hate’ and the cancelling of the commandment to-do of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Moreover, it was said about this commandment that it is a great rule in the Torah, that all of it depends on it, and that Moses was rewarded with all his merits only because he loved Israel and sympathized with their afflictions.
3.68 Raaiah Kook,
“Israel’s Destiny and Nationality”
We are obliged to have the measure of great and wondrous love for one another.
3.69 Raaiah Kook,
If I had arms around the world, dear brothers, I would embrace you with love.
3.70 Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Halevi Epstein,
It is written in the Midrash (about Amalek), “Which Karcha [encountered] you along the way,” from the word Kerirut [coolness], meaning he put out their fire of love and chilled it. At first, they were in warmth and excited about loving one another, but Amalek brought them into coolness and chilled their love from loving one another. How did he cool them? Through arrogance and pride, for Amalek has the Gematria of Ram [high], meaning arrogance, haughtiness, and pride.
The main thing that brings one to love another is by each one being lowly and despicable in his own eyes, always finding faults in everything he does, and seeing the righteousness and actions of one’s friend as very great in his eyes. By this he comes to love his friend and be in unity with him. Conversely, if he is great in his own eyes and feels proud, he naturally sees his friend’s faults and by this comes to hate him, since his friend is very lowly in his eyes. And Amalek chilled Israel from the warmth and excitement to love one another that they had before to love one another.
3.71 Rabbi Israel Meir HaCohen,
HaChafetz Chaim, Zachor LeMiriam, 11
When is the Creator fond of creation? When Israel are united together and there is no envy, hatred, or competition among them whatsoever, when each one thinks only of his friend’s benefit. At that time, the Creator is happy with His creation, and it was said about this, “The Lord will delight in His deeds.” By intimation, we can thereby explain the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” That is, if you love your neighbor as yourself, I the Lord will be within you, and I will love you both.
3.72 Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk,
Pri HaAretz [Fruit of the Land], Letter No. 30
The thing that leads to keeping from ignorance and cessation of Dvekut [adhesion] is the connection and love, and true peace in Dvekut among friends.
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