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).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Enlisting Hashem

Okay. So, we are deep into Elul. It can be overwhelming -- life-altering changes and stuff. Just trying to decide what particularly we want to change is challenging enough. Then we need to worry about making a plan, carrying it out, sticking to it when we are spent, picking ourselves up when we fall, and on and on. We are all surely familiar with that unwelcome voice inside our heads that won't stop telling us, "You can't".

Inevitably, there are times when we feel like we have done all we can. We have put in what we feel is our best and still nothing seems to give. Whether it is in matters material or spiritual, we tend to lose our motivation when the going gets tough. We fight on a little, but ultimately, if we have nothing forcing us to continue, we eventually throw in the towel. This is particularly true and especially portentous during Elul and the High Holidays when we are trying so much to focus inward and to come up with a viable plan of action for teshuvah and self-improvement. There are two likely junctures at which one is compelled to give up. Assuming a person has been successfully introspective and has had the requisite insight into where they are holding, then they can go on to formulate their goals and charter a course for getting there. At some point along the voyage of self-improvement, when the winds blow too hard and the waves roll too high, the individual finds his mission to be too challenging and he will want to give it up. But that is all assuming he had the clarity of mind to know which direction to steer the ship. Many people find it difficult enough just to sit down and contemplate what particular avodah or teshuvah they need to do, where and with what to begin.

The Rebbe, shlit"a, often uses the following parable:

A father needs a boulder moved from one side of his yard to the other, and he assigns his young son to the chore. His father said so the son obeys. He goes outside and begins pushing at this boulder. Now, this is no small rock; it is about the size of the boy himself, and after about five minutes, the boy comes back in the house and says to his father, "I can't do it; it is too big for me."

The father replies, "No, son. You can do it. You're just not trying hard enough."

So the son gathers his strength and goes at it again.

A few more minutes go by and the father comes out on the back porch to supervise the activity.

"I can't do it!"

"You aren't doing everything you can. You're not trying hard enough."

The boy tries again and again but to no avail. Finally, fed up, he storms past his father back into the house, crying, "I'm trying as much as I can!"

The father puts his arm around his crying son, comforting him. "When I said that you weren't doing everything you could it was because asking your father for help is part of what you can do. Of course, I never expected you to move that huge rock all by yourself. But you must remember that bringing your father on board is among the strengths that you possess."

It isn't that we haven't done all we can. We may have tried every angle and method possible and put in one hundred percent. But even if we did, it still isn't enough. Not because Hashem is out to get us by making the avodah too hard, but to the contrary. When Hashem assigned each neshamah its job in this world, He assumed that we would turn to Him and ask for assistance; that was part of the plan. Bringing Hashem on board is a basic, fundamental tool that we have in our arsenal and we must realize that it is the majority of the one hundred percent that we have to give.

Chazal say that a person could never overcome the yetzer hara by himself. Only with Hashem's intervention - which was accounted for when He designed Creation - could a person make real progress in their quest for perfecting themselves.

The pasuk (Vayikra 19:4) says, al tifnu el ha'elilim - do not turn to idols. The connotation of the word "elilim" is a god that is nothing, naught. The Rebbe once said that one should never pay attention to those who tell him that he can't. It doesn't matter what it is. Anyone who tells you that the aspiration or dream that you have, assuming, of course, that it is in line with G-d's Will, is beyond your abilities, is from the false gods. He is a naysayer, and the Torah says "do not heed a naysayer". The yetzer hara is the biggest, baddest naysayer of them all; paying his discouraging and disincentive onslaught any credence is tantamount to worshiping false gods.

Again, Hashem is on OUR side. He awaits to be conscripted into our personal army. Feeling defeated is to deny that reality and is a sure way to get run over when we stumble on the road. During Elul, when we cannot afford to let go of our dreams and goals, let us take the time to contemplate the implications of having Hashem on our team. We just need to bring Him in.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email or RSS.

No comments: