Concerning the Importance of Society
It is known that since man is always among people who have no connection to the work on the path of truth, but to the contrary, always resist those who walk on the path of truth, and since people’s thoughts mingle, the views of those who oppose the path of truth permeate those with some desire to walk on the path of truth.
Hence, there is no other counsel but to establish a separate society for themselves, to be their framework, meaning a separate community that does not mingle with other people whose views differ from that society. And they should constantly evoke in themselves the issue of the purpose of society, so they will not follow the majority, because following the majority is our nature.
If the society isolates itself from the rest of the people, if they have no connection with other people in regard to spiritual matters, and their contact with them is only on corporeal matters, they do not mingle with their views, since they have no connection in matters of religion.
But when a person is among religious people, and begins to converse and argue with them, he immediately mingles with their views. Their views penetrate his mind below the threshold of his consciousness to such an extent that he will not be able to discern that these are not his own views, but what he received from the people he connected with.
Therefore, in matters of work on the path of truth, one should isolate oneself from other people. This is because the path of truth requires constant strengthening, since it is against the view of the world. The view of the world is knowing and receiving, whereas the view of Torah is faith and bestowal. If one strays from that, he immediately forgets all the work of the path of truth and falls into a world of self-love. Only from a society in the form of "They helped every man his friend" does each person in the society receives the strength to fight against the view of the world.
Also, we find the following in the words of The Zohar (Pinechas, p 31, Item 91, and in the Sulam): "When a person dwells in a city inhabited by evil people, and he cannot keep the Mitzvot of the Torah, and does not succeed in the Torah, he relocates and uproots himself from there and plants himself in a place inhabited by good people, with Torah and with Mitzvot. This is because the Torah is called ‘Tree,’ as it is written, ‘She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her.’ And man is a tree, as it is written, ‘for is the tree of the field man.’ And the Mitzvot in the Torah are likened unto fruits. And what does it say? ‘Only the trees of which thou knows that they are not trees for food, them thou may destroy and cut down,’ destroy from this world and cut down from the next world."
For this reason, he must uproot himself from the place where there are wicked, for he will not be able to succeed there in Torah and Mitzvot, and plant himself elsewhere, among righteous, and he will succeed in Torah and Mitzvot.
And man, whom The Zohar likens unto the tree of the field, like the tree of the field suffers from bad neighbors. In other words, we must always cut down the bad weeds around us that affect us, and we must also keep away from bad environments, from people who do not favor the path of truth. We need a careful watch so as to not be drawn to follow them.
This is called "isolation," when one has thoughts of the "single authority," called "bestowal," and not "public authority," which is self-love. This is called "two authorities"—the Creator’s authority and one’s own authority.
Now we can understand what our sages said (Sanhedrin, p 38), "Rav Yehuda said, ‘Rav said, ‘Adam ha Rishon was heretic,’ as it is written, ‘And the Lord God called unto the man, and said unto him: ‘Where art thou?’’ Where has thine heart gone?’"
In Rashi’s interpretation, "heretic" refers to a tendency for idol worshiping. And in the commentary, Etz Yosef (Joseph’s Tree), it is written, "When it writes, ‘Where, where has thine heart gone?’ it is heresy, as it is written, ‘that ye go not about after your own heart,’ this is heresy, when his heart leans towards the other side."
But all this is very perplexing: How can it be said that Adam ha Rishon was inclined to idolatry? Or according to the Etz Yosef commentary, that he was in the form of "that ye go not about after your own heart," is it heresy? According to what we learn about the work of God, that it is solely about the aim to bestow, if a person works in order to receive, this work is foreign to us, for we need to work only to bestow, and he took everything in order to receive.
This is the meaning of what he said, that he failed in "go not about after your own heart." In other words, he could not take the eating from the Tree of Knowledge in order to bestow, but received the eating from the Tree of Knowledge in order to receive. This is called "heart," meaning the heart wishes only to receive for self-gratification. And this was the sin of the Tree of Knowledge.
To understand this matter, see the introduction to the book Panim Masbirot. And from this we can understand the benefits of the society—it can introduce a different atmosphere—working only in order to bestow.