5 Tishrei 5778 / Monday, September 25, 2017 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
 
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This is Rebbe Nachman’s classic teaching about courage in the service of Hashem. Don’t be discouraged ever – determination will take you where you want to go…

 



Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

 
“The Essential Rebbe Nachman”, Part 12
 
When a person makes a start and tries to bring himself closer to God, he usually experiences a feeling of rejection. It is as if forces beyond his control are trying to prevent him from entering God's service. Yet in actual fact this apparent rejection is nothing but a way of bringing him closer. But it takes tremendous determination not to become discouraged when you see that the days and years are passing and in spite of all your efforts to draw closer, you are still far away.
 
You may feel you have not even begun to enter the gates of holiness. You may see yourself as still being coarsely materialistic and feel that your mind is confused. No matter what you try to do to serve God, it seems as if the evil forces will not allow you to succeed. You may start thinking that God is paying no attention whatever, as if He has no interest in your devotions. You keep calling out to Him, pleading with Him to help you. Yet you feel as far away as ever.
 
It takes tremendous determination to overcome all this. The key is to ignore all the discouragement. The truth is that all this apparent rejection has no other purpose than to bring you closer. All the Tzaddikim have had to endure this, as we know from their personal testimony. They too felt that God had no interest in them, because they saw how long they had been searching, putting in hard work and effort, yet they were still far away. If they had not determinedly ignored these feelings, they would have remained where they were in the first place and would never have achieved what they did.
 
My dear friend and brother: the basic rule is to keep firm and be strong. Try with all your strength to be persistent in your devotions. Pay no attention to all these discouraging thoughts. And if you are very far from God and you feel that your every movement must be a blemish in God's eyes, you should know that on the contrary, if someone is all that coarse and materialistic, even the slightest motion he makes to try to detach himself from his physicality and turn towards God is very great and precious. If he moves no more than a hairsbreadth in his efforts to purify himself and come closer, that hairsbreadth makes him run thousands and thousands of miles in the worlds above. (See below, p. 354, “The Sad Tzaddik”, for further explanation.) If you think about this, it will make you very happy. Indeed you should make a great effort always to be happy, because depression can cause tremendous damage. You should know that as soon as a person wants to start serving God, it is a very grave sin for him to be depressed. Depression comes from the Other Side, which God hates.
 
In order to serve God, you must be obstinate. On no account should you give up and abandon the practices you have begun. Don't give up in any way, no matter what happens. Remember this well, because you will be in great need of it when you start serving God. You must be very obstinate indeed, holding yourself strong and firm in your place each time the evil forces try to throw you down. This will happen very often. Your task is to continue as best as you can without allowing yourself to fall completely, God forbid.
 
Inevitably you must encounter all kinds of difficulties and setbacks. You will fall down many times before you can enter the gates of holiness. Even the greatest Tzaddikim have gone through all this. There are cases when a person is already at the gate of holiness, only to slide back because of these difficulties. When a person is close to the gate, the forces of evil try to prevent him from entering. This pushes some people into retreat. That is the way of the Evil One: when he sees a person literally at the gates, he attacks more powerfully than ever. That is why you need to be so strong.
 
If you want to enter God's service, remember all this very well. Strengthen yourself in every possible way and do what you can to continue with your devotions. Eventually, with God's help, you will surely succeed in entering through the gate. God is overflowing with love and very much wants your devotions. Know that every single effort you make is important. All your attempts to detach yourself even slightly from the material world and draw closer to the spiritual are added together. They will all come to your aid when you really need it, when you are under pressure or in trouble, God forbid.
 
And know that in life a person has to pass over a very narrow bridge. The main thing is not to be afraid. (Likutey Moharan II, 48)
 
 
(Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is the director of Azamra. “The Essential Rebbe Nachman” is available for purchase online here)




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