“With ten, the Divine Presence arrives even before the entire group of ten [has gathered]; with three, It doesn’t arrive until they have all sat down (in judgment/ to study).” What is the explanation for such a distinction? Ten are totally prepared for the Diving Presence, to such an extent that there is no difference between ten, one hundred or one thousand. Therefore, the Divine Presence takes the initiative and arrives, for their King is before them, and He takes the lead.
Normally, one needs to be a recipient (“mekabel,” implying preparing oneself to receive something from another) in order to merit a connection with the Divine Presence, since the Divine Presence resides in the upper, transcendent world, and man is in the lower, physical world. (Man’s physical, egocentric dimension presents a barrier to his ability to be a “mekabel” of any kind. Man’s desire for a sense of independence, leading to the modern mantra of “No one is going to tell me what to do” is a result of the sense of insecurity man feels in his material dimension. The barrier to being a “mekabel” is a source of the difficulty one has in developing a deep relationship with any person, and it is an even greater barrier in man’s quest for a relationship with the Creator.) “The Divine Presence never went below ten tefachim” is taught in Sukkah (5a), because the number ten is related to the upper, transcendent world, while less than ten is part of the lower, physical world. It is in the physical world that we can speak of the need for man to be a proper recipient of the greatness of Divine Presence. But the number ten is uniquely associated with the level of sanctity, such that this number is connected with the transcendent, elevated world. At that level, no additional preparation is necessary to be a recipient of the Divine Presence (By joining with others in a group of ten, forgoing egocentric independence to unite with others, man is able to attain the level of reaching a place where the Divine presence exists, above the natural barriers presented by the materialistic world.). It is for this reason that we find the Divine Presence taking the lead, as it is written “… Their king will pass before them, with G-d at their head” (Micha 2:13).
But when there are [only] three together, man is considered to be a recipient of the Divine Presence, since the (smaller) group has not reached the level of transcendence. As recipients, the three must arrive first, in preparation to receive the Divine Presence which can then join them. Therefore, with three, we are taught “until they have all sat down.”
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