Note: I refer to bittul to a cause or to G-d. Bittul is a behavior and/or state of being. As such, one can have bittul to any activity one is involved in. That means, that if one is married, for example, one can exercise bittul by deferring to the wants of one’s spouse. That deference can either be an act of self-control or a sincere expression of love, i.e., how “one” the couple has become.
To make something bittul, is to make it insignificant. For example: being mevatel (nullifying) a non-kosher food in 60 times the amount of kosher food causes that the taste of the non-kosher food is now bottel.
Bittul in life and avoda, tends to translated as humility. That is fine since bittul and humility share fundamental points.
There are two categories of bittul:
1. Bittul hayesh (nullification of the self) or “lower” bittul. This kind of bittul is:
a. Self-inflicted, self-control. One still has desires which are outside of the “cause.”
b. Chitzonius’dik (externally motivated), which means it’s subject to change.
c. Commensurate to the limits of the person exercising self-control and thereby limited.
2. Bittul b’metzius (null in essence, or alternatively, his existence is nullified) is the kind of bittul experienced by a tzaddik (a truly righteous person). It is a gift from on High after one first “qualifies” themselves through bittul hayesh.
The difference between the the two types of bittul in terms of behavior is:
1. The person with bittul hayesh still has an ego, an identity, and thereby still has wants outside of the “cause.” This is characterized by the beinoni, the average person who has wants and desires outside of G-d, yet his behavior is perfect (or relatively perfect).
2. The person who is bittul b’metzius, wants only what G-d wants. This is characterized by the tzaddik, who has no urge to do anything unholy.