“A person’s strength lies in his heart. Somebody with a strong heart is not afraid of anyone or anything. He is capable of accomplishing powerful and awesome things, and winning difficult battles. This is all through his strength and courage, by which he fearlessly runs into heavy battles. The same pertains with regard to serving Hashem. This is a concept which we must understand very well.” Meshivas Nefesh par. 24, based on Likutei Moharan 249
The Battle Itself Strengthens the Heart
A very important idea is revealed in this lecture. The most important factor with which to be successful in battles doesn’t lie in physical strength, but rather in boldness of heart. The most important thing in serving Hashem is that a person should have the strength of heart and a holy courage with which to be victorious in battle against the yetzer, to stand up to the material desires pulling at his heart, and to involve himself in Torah and Avodah.
With this in mind, we can understand why even after studying and hearing the ways of Hischazkus and Hisorerus, spiritual encouragement and inspiration, people remain unable to uplift and encourage themselves. This is an issue which troubles many people in the beginning of their path to find encouragement, and this paragraph supplies the answer: the main encouragement and strength lies in the heart. All the ways of Hischazkus come into realization only when a person strengthens his own heart to be brave and strong in order to listen and be inspired.
But how does a person embolden his heart, and fill himself with battle spirit? The answer is found in light of the Chazal which the Rebbe mentions in the aforementioned lesson in Likutei Moharan. “Who is strong? One who conquers his will.” This means that strength of heart is found by someone who has succeeded in conquering his desire, which in turn gives him the morale and the strength to continue further.
We can thus understand that even when someone hasn’t yet merited waging a successful and winning battle, by starting to fight no matter what, he can still start being a victor from this moment on. Just being involved in the battle and being prepared to fight, in itself renews a person’s strength and gives him the bravery to go on fighting. It becomes a vicious cycle – The victory at war comes about through his bravery, which in itself comes about through being prepared to enter into battle.
It is therefore crucial to strengthen the heart. Because, through giving up the battle, and not being strong in trying to vanquish his yetzer, a person’s morale and his desire to move forward is weakened. A weakness and emotional pain then creeps into his heart, since it is not fighting, that causes the heart to be weakened.
Then, not only is he not winning, but he is also losing all his energy and willpower, until his morale becomes weaker and weaker until he starts feeling that he doesn’t even have the strength to fight. It seems to him that he doesn’t have the ability to start moving even the smallest obstacles. With time, he begins to forget that there’s even a war and that he has something to conquer. Even when he is inspired by a spark of will to fight, he immediately reminds himself that he doesn’t have the strength to do anything. It therefore becomes vital, to find a solution to build up the heart with a new spirit.
The story is told of R’ Yudel, who asked the Rebbe how does one obtain a heart? The Rebbe answered him, “You tell me, by which Tzaddik have you been able to obtain enthusiasm? The main thing is to recite the words of prayer, with your mouth. Keep reciting and the feeling will come by itself.”
The main thing is to start actually fighting no matter what, without hesitation. This fills the heart with a battle spirit. Thus, he will be able to truly enter into battle. The most important thing is strength of heart, and a valiant boldness, with the conviction that he surely has the ability to be victorious.
The Main Strength of Heart we Receive from Tzaddikim
We must know that even someone whose heart is totally weak, to the degree that he can’t do anything because of his lack of courage, can also receive from the Tzaddikim a new and joyous heart. A new spirit can blow within him that he should be able to be victorious and actually achieve what Hashem wants from him.
Although the most important thing is to actually fight the battles in order to strengthen morale, how does one get the strength to start? For this we need to become close to Tzaddikim and to study their teachings, which fill the heart with such potent encouragement with which to see the abilities that every Jew has to win every war, through his extraordinary soul, and how he has already merited grabbing so many good points, and has already been victorious in so many battles.
The more a person gets involved in studying Hischazkus, the more he fortifies his heart not to be weak and cowardly, but to be brave hearted, strong and mighty in his service of Hashem. And so, he will be able to uplift himself and strengthen himself to stand and fight no matter what.
The main thing is to push away any thoughts of lack of strength and ability, to just think how he is certainly capable, and to keep on trying – to not look back on the lack of success, and keep on doing whatever you can. Recite prayers and beg Hashem to come close to Him, even if you don’t feel anything. Try overcoming your trials even without any feeling. From this you will have the strength to be a fitting warrior, brave and valiant in the service of Hashem, with nothing capable of holding you back.
We must remember this in every detail, every day, every prayer, and every trial. We must request from Hashem that we be properly inspired from these words, because everything is dependent upon understanding the importance of strengthening the heart with morale to keep on fighting. All heroes and all truly successful people achieved what they did without any physical strength at all. Their entire strength was in their heart.