We learned when the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai, the Israelites were asked if they accepted the precept of “Love They Neighbor as Thy Self”.
Their acceptance meant the Torah was intimately connected to responsibility. With the giving of the Torah, every human being had taken on a responsibility that nothing would be missing from another’s life.
Receiving the Torah meant all their goodness and spirituality was not enough. They needed to be able to take the responsibility of going the extra mile and extend their caring beyond self to others. Without that they couldn’t receive the Torah.
What happened to the “individual” once he committed to take care of every human being? His own needs became secondary. Only by restricting his primary self-interest, could humanity truly tackle “love thy neighbor as thyself” in a pure way.
Just think what that meant! On Mt Sinai there were 600,000 people. So in essence it was saying there are 599,000 agreeing to take care of you in some form. A vision of universal harmony where everyone is taking care of everyone else besides themselves was set in motion.
Rav Ashlag rightly asks us to consider what we see spiritual people doing. Today, what do you see? Are they just studying more Torah? The goal should be that we want to get to that level of caring where we consciously recognize when more study will hurt me, if I am not doing what I can to fulfill my “friends” needs.
The main thing, and the entire reason for the creation of humanity is: Am I living up to the reason the Torah was given to US, and am I caring about others enough.
If not, there is no reason for the Torah. Where and when would be a time of existence that everyone would take care of everyone and everyone could become fulfilled?
Before the Torah was given they were in Egypt. What does it mean that they were in Egypt? They were slaves in Egypt, meaning they were slaves to their own agenda. The Egyptians made sure the Israelites were only connected to direct light. Which means caring about “me” and me alone.
So, if I wake up in the morning and decide I need to grow spiritually, I’m only working on myself if I don’t also see who else I can help. Otherwise I am not doing anything unless I combine my study of the Torah while looking around and seeing where I can give. The Israelites needs were not fulfilled by each other but by the Egyptians, so they couldn’t reach their goal without taking on the responsibility themselves.
When a person is busy even a little bit with worry and pre-occupation with themselves they cannot fulfill the mitzvah of caring about the nation or people. If you care only about yourself two things happen: you’re not caring about another and you are preventing them from caring about you. In our society today everything feeds into a right to be selfish. As the Israelites of today we need to create a group of real people willing to fulfill the call to be loving thy neighbor as thyself.
King Solomon wrote that a lot of water, or many rivers cannot turn off the fire of love. When push comes to shove when there is a storm you need to be strong and not turn off love. For this we need to create a family, a tribe, a community and a nation. We need to create it. We need to manage a group like this, together.
That whole idea, Rabbi Ashlag writes in his book, Gift of the Bible, had to be delayed until the Israelites came out of Egypt, until they were able to be their own nation and not dependent on others. Once they didn’t have to depend on others, then they were their own nation and could depend on each other from choice.
If you practice love thy neighbor as thyself, but in the wrong community where you are taking care of others but no one is taking care of you, you will die too. It’s like being in Egypt. You couldn’t practice love thy neighbor as thyself in Egypt and if you are in the wrong environment, it can be like Egypt for you too.
Wherever there is a group of people who practice love thy neighbor as thyself between themselves, but have excluded you, but nevertheless you keep giving to them, what happens in the end, you will fall apart, they are not really fulfilling the precept of love they neighbor as thyself to everyone.
Without everyone practicing this together it is impossible for this dictum to happen. I can only receive the Torah for the sake of giving pleasure to the Creator. If a few people don’t want to give, it’s a domino effect. That’s why the Sanhedrin explains the concept of caring for each other, using the example of two people sitting in the boat and one is drilling a hole.
The other asks him why are you drilling that hole. The man drilling answers why do you care? And of course we all know the answer! Stupid! It doesn’t matter where you drill the hole, we’re in the SAME BOAT! We’ll both drown.
As we learn from this story because of the people who don’t care about spirituality or caring about each other they make everyone else not do it because of the domino effect. Rav Ashlag calls it a ladder.
What is the purpose of our entire existence? It is to get to “cleaving”. That recognition that the creator and I are one. The Creator is busy with the concept of giving. So how can you receive if the creator is only giving? We make ourselves a receiver so we can give pleasure to the Creator. And the only way we can do that is by practicing with each other that same circuitry.
The Talmud says that it’s enough to have just one Group, just find a Group were sharing exists. How many of us take what we study and share with at least 1 thousand people. The Tikkun of the world depends on it because it’s hard to start with the whole world at once. The end result needs to be the whole world, but we need to start somewhere.
After that “Group” is ultimately formed and we’ve make it. What’s the mission after that? The mission is to become like Abraham Isaac and Jacob, because of them we received the Torah. It is required ultimately for the Israelites to commit to the work to create a group of likeminded people where study of Torah is combined on a daily basis with the mitzvoth of loving thy neighbor as thyself.
Real love needs to be based on the Torah and the mitzvoth. That is the ladder that will take us closer to the Creator. The purpose of studying Torah and mitzvoth is to get us to a place that we are not just getting while we are doing it, but by caring and sharing with other humans we find it is the secret to getting it all.
You cannot change the world or yourself all at once, everything is step by step, but when you have a majority of people who are practicing it, then the scale will be tipped and the whole world will ultimately make it. In the beginning even if we have 10 people who practice it it’s enough, so says the Torah and the Sanhedrin.