Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stop Trying

Last Shabbos the Rebbe, shlit"a, spoke about the importance of our speech and the effect our words can have on the tenacity of our commitments.
Parshas Matos begins with a very clear example of the severity of our speech. A spoken vow is Biblically binding and one must make good on his commitments.
We all know that the world was created with speech. G-d spoke the world into existence with the Ten Utterances (עשרה מאמרים), "Let there be light" etc., and because the very fabric of our universe is made up of Hashem's speech, our words have the ability to build and destroy as well.
The meforshim also make reference to the fact that certain commitments made only in the mind must also be honored. For example, one who decides mentally to give a particular sum of money to tzedakah must follow through with that mitzvah.
When one decides that they want to make a change in their personal avodah and become something, they need to commit to it for real, and committing for real requires one to be mindful of the words they use.
The Rebbe related that during the previous week there was a man who came to discuss an issue he has been struggling with since his youth, and he needed so help to change the pattern that he had become so accustomed to. At the end of the discussion, the man said to the Rebbe, "Okay, I will try."
The Rebbe responded, "You will fail. Not because you don't want to change. You do want to change, but "trying" is used to hide behind when one really doesn't want to commit all he's got."
The Rebbe pointed out that there are two words for trying in Hebrew. One is להשתדל, l'hishtadel, from the well-known word "hishtadlus", which literally means an endeavor or effort, and the other is לנסות, l'nasot, to test out. If we look at these two words from an etymological standpoint, we can see how, in truth, "trying" is anything but that. In Aramaic and in Modern Hebrew, the root שדל (the same root as hishtadlus) means seduction. Trying is seductive; it is very appealing not to commit to doing but merely to "try". The word לנסות has the same root as ניסה, running away or fleeing. Trying is a cop-out, it shows that one giving up before he's even begun.
Now, when a person says that they will try to do something it doesn't mean that they don't want to do it. They probably want to very much, but the words that one uses not only reveal how committed he is to a particular endeavor, they also directly influence his commitment.
Because one keeps saying that he will try or he thinks he is trying, he will convince himself that he is in a progressive process of growth when the truth is that he is living in a total facade and he has never even begun to take his situation seriously. We can talk forever and ever about how much we would like to be different and never actually take the first step. It is because we are so caught up with saying "Yes, we can" instead of "Yes, we will" that we don't ever make a move. Even just thinking such words have an undesirable effect. If we live with a mindset that looks and feels like growth solely because we are always engaged in growth-related speech, "trying" and thinking about changing but don't ever become committed in an intense and deep way, we will remain as we are, where we are and who we are, all the while purporting to ourselves that we are really someone that we are not.

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