Seeing Ourselves as Lower than Others

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Seeing Ourselves as Lower than Others

Michael Berg
November 4, 2020

When Abraham went up to the mountain, it was only him and Isaac. But it says that when he came down for the three day travel, he took others with him, who are called ne’arav, the young men. Why?

Abraham, on the one hand, had achieved the highest level of detachment from ego. He accomplished one of the greatest spiritual feats of humanity, but not only did his ego not grow from that experience, it actually became diminished. What we are learning from this is that only if a person views himself as being worse or lower than others - even if it’s not true, even if the person is really of a higher spiritual realm - can the Light of the Creator flow from him to others.

If a person views himself as being higher than somebody else, in any capacity, then the Light of the Creator cannot flow through that person to another person; only when a person views himself as being lower than somebody else can the Light of the Creator flow through him to others. Abraham’s ego, even though we know objectively the whole process of the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac, was one of the most powerful spiritual actions he received, did not become even one inch more elevated from it. He actually viewed himself as being less; his ego became diminished through the Akedah. Which is an amazing thing, and it’s, as the Chozeh (or Seer) of Lublin says, one of the signs that an action we have done is connected to the Light of the Creator. If we do an action and feel our ego has grown from it, then that action did not reveal Light, whereas if we do an action and our ego becomes diminished from it, then it has revealed Light.

After the Akedah, not only did Abraham not view himself as being higher than others because of his great accomplishment, he actually viewed himself as being even lower than before. When a person does a spiritual action that does not elevate his ego, but rather diminishes it, then, first, it’s an indication that the action revealed Light, and second, the person becomes a greater conduit for the Light of the Creator to flow through him to others. And therefore, it says the word ne’arav after the Akedah, which is literally translated as the “young men,” but also represents somebody who is completely detached from the spiritual work and from the Light of the Creator.

So, what does it mean when it says Abraham came to those people? It means that after the Akedah, Abraham came to the understanding, to the level of consciousness, that he is as low as the lowest. Because when Abraham came back to the people, he didn’t view himself as being elevated from them. Rather, he saw himself as being lower than them, and he was therefore able to awaken a great holiness, a great Light, within them, and he elevated. That is why it then says they went together to Be’er Sheva; because Be’er Sheva, as the Zohar explains, represents the Supernal World of Malchut, the supernal spiritual realm. Therefore, because Abraham viewed himself as being as low as them, as being as detached from the Light of the Creator as they were, he was able to elevate them to the level of what’s called Be’er Sheva, or the realm of the spiritual Malchut.

We learn from this two very important things. First, we are talking about Abraham, after he did one of the greatest spiritual acts of history. And one of the most important signs that he revealed great Light was the fact that when he was done, he did not view himself as being any better than anybody else. As a matter of fact, his ego became even more diminished, and he saw himself as being even lower than before, which is something that I think for most of us is incomprehensible. When any one of us does a small action of sharing, a small action of spiritual work, somehow our ego grows a little bit. But it’s actually an indication that action did not really reveal Light. Because if you are truly doing an action that reveals Light, you finish that action and your ego becomes more diminished, and you see yourself as being lower than others.

And the second great secret is that the only way you can help somebody is if you don’t see yourself as higher than they are. The Light of the Creator cannot flow through you to them, and you cannot elevate somebody else, if you view yourself as being higher than they are. How do you do it? It doesn’t mean that you lie. If somebody is a thief and you are not a thief it doesn’t mean that you think that you are a thief. But what you need to do is realize how much you lack; you say, “Yeah, he’s lacking, but I’m also greatly lacking.” It’s not about lying to yourself and saying I’m a thief like he’s a thief, or whatever that person is. It is about knowing that in regard to the spiritual work you need to be doing, to the elevation of the soul that you need to be achieving, you are greatly lacking. And, as such, you cannot see yourself as any higher than anybody else.

Only when we view others as not being lower than we are, or when we see ourselves as being even slightly lower than they are or at least on the same level, can the Light of the Creator flow through us, and can we elevate them. Yes, you can share, you can teach, but as long as where you are coming from is a place of elevation, a place of being above, then the Light of the Creator can’t flow through you to others. And therefore, what we learn from Abraham is a beautiful understanding. Abraham comes back ne’arav, he comes back after the great accomplishment of the Akedah, and sees himself amongst the low people, amongst those who are disconnected from the Light of the Creator. And because of that consciousness, they go with him. It says they went together to Be’er Sheva; meaning, Abraham is able to elevate them to the realm that is called Be’er Sheva, the realm of the Shechinah, or the Spiritual Realm.

If Abraham would have come back with all the great Light of the Akedah and seen himself as being above them, then all of the teachings and all of the time he spent with them would not have been able to elevate them. Only when a person sees himself as either on the same level or lower level than others, because of all the great lack that he has in his spiritual work and connection, can the Light of the Creator flow through him and elevate others.

What’s amazing is that it took almost no time for Abraham to elevate those who were around him who were so low, because he saw himself as low. It’s a beautiful understanding, but it’s also a necessary one. You will never be able to assist another person as long as you see yourself as above them. And you could spend years teaching and helping, but it can’t be lasting, it can’t be real. If you are able to see yourself as lower, and help from that place, then you, like Abraham who went back to those who were disconnected and saw himself as one of them, will be able to elevate others in an instant.

It’s an important understanding: if any spiritual action we do makes us feel better than somebody else after it’s done, then it didn’t reveal Light. An action that revealed Light and that connected us to the Creator, by its nature, will make us feel lower afterwards. That’s number one. And number two. If you want to assist others, if you want to help others, there’s only one way: by being and feeling lower than they are, by seeing yourself and your lack. If you see yourself above another person, no matter how much you want to help, no matter how much you want to share, you won’t be able to share or help. But if you see yourself as lower, then in an instant, the Light of the Creator can flow through you and you can elevate them to Be’er Sheva, to the realm of the spiritual world, to the Shechinah.