Meshivas Nefesh #41 – Elucidated
The main thing is emunah, which is an aspect of Shabbos, for as long as one has emunah he will certainly return to Hashem completely. Therefore a person should encourage himself with this itself. The evil inclination and the forces of evil seek to bring about ones downfall through giving him the feeling that he has sinned and done so much damage that he can no longer repent and rectify such terrible sins. Especially since there truly are people who have done tremendous damage, as they themselves know the many great and severe sins they have transgressed over many days and years, G-d forbid.
There are those who began a number of times with teshuva and Divine service but then fell again as they did, each person with his own falls. Through this the Evil inclination implants in them each time the feeling that they are hopeless owing to these great sins. But the truth is that with this itself a person can enliven and encourage himself, for since he still believes that a sin is something terrible through which damage is caused in all the heavenly worlds, this shows that he still has faith. And since one still has faith, there is certainly hope for him, for if one believes that he can cause damage he can certainly rectify too.
For it is well known that the philosophers and apostates do not believe at all that one causes damage in the heavenly worlds though one’s sins. This is what brings them to come up with all sorts of false explanations for the commandments of the Torah. Yet we, the Holy Nation, believe that a sin, G-d forbid, causes tremendous damage in the heavenly words and the evil inclination tries to use this itself to discourage a person, G-d forbid. However, the exact opposite is true, for it is fitting that one encourage himself with the fact that he still has faith.
For the main intention of the Evil Inclination is to discourage a person so greatly, casting him into outright apostasy until he says: “There is no judgment and no judge”, G-d forbid. This is what the sages taught: “Today he (the Evil Inclination) tells a person to do such and such, until he eventually tells him to go and serve idolatry.” As we see in every generation how there are many who come to what they come to, G-d forbid, through their downfalls and the discouragement that the Evil Inclination instills in them.
Therefore a person must be sensible and strengthen himself constantly in any way that he can no matter what happens. One must use the above mentioned knowledge and encourage himself with the very fact that he still believes that tremendous damage is caused by sin. For as long as one has faith there is hope for him and he can certainly rectify everything, for “all your commandments are faith.” The main purpose of the Mitzvos is to come through them to perfect emunah and gain awareness of the Creator of the universe. As long as one still retains a hint of holy emunah there is still hope for him, for there certainly exists guidance and advice that can help even him return to Hashem easily by way of some pleasure that he can give to Hashem from wherever he may be. Through this he will merit to return to Hashem through the power of the true Tzaddikim, to the extent that he can merit to such perfect repentance that, as our sages taught, all his sins will be turned into merits. (Likutey Halachos, Techumin 5, section 35)
In this piece Reb Nosson explains the famous saying of our holy Rebbe: “If you believe that it is possible to cause damage, believe that it is possible to rectify!” These words are not just wise words of encouragement; they contain a deep and most wondrous understanding of the very foundation of Judaism.
When one strives to attain some degree of holiness yet sees how each time he falls and cannot seem to succeed in achieving that which he desires, the natural response to this is deep-felt pain and disappointment. Eventually one begins to get the feeling that he just isn’t cut out for serving Hashem. Some people feel this way completely and others feel this regarding some specific aspect of Divine service like Torah, prayer, sanctity and the like.
Regarding this the Rebbe exclaimed: “If you believe that it is possible to cause damage, believe that it is possible to rectify!” This reveals the awesome power of faith in Hashem. For there are many people in the world who have fallen into atheism and apostasy – they no longer believe in the importance of Mitzvos and what tremendous ramifications they have in Heaven. They thus automatically make light of the commandments. There are also those who have been “cooled off” from Judaism and strive only to emulate the gentiles. They have no understanding of the concept of “Yiddishkeit”, and the ways of the Tzaddikim with their exceeding piety, seems to them to be extraneous and unnecessary. In this way little-by-little, they have lost their understanding of the difference between good and evil.
The Rebbe therefore tells us that as long as one still has faith, meaning that one’s ability to differentiate between good and evil has not been blurred and he still believes that anything that is not done for the glory of Hashem is damaging, he must know with certainty that he can rectify, for he is still innately connected to holiness.
This is the power of the correct appreciation and awareness of emunah. Even if one sees his tremendous distance from holiness and his lack of connection to the service of Hashem, he must nevertheless meticulously guard this awareness of the contrast between good and evil. For as long as one understands that there exists a concept of spiritual destruction, he can certainly rectify everything.