Translated from the orginal Hebrew of Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Kletzky shlit”a
Why are there so many difficulties concerning every good thing which I want to accomplish?
This is exactly the goal for which you came into this world, to choose the good. In order that there be freedom of choice, it’s necessary for there also to be a power opposing holiness. On the contrary, each time that a difficulty or obstacle arises in learning, praying, faith or any other Mitzvah, we have to strengthen ourselves exceedingly and tell ourselves, that this is a sign that Hashem does indeed love our Mitzvos very much and He also believes in us – He is therefore sending us this difficulty in order that we have proper free will, and when we do overcome it, we will give Him satisfaction.
An analogy which we can use to understand this concept can be of a soldier, who after performing a heroic act, is recognized by superiors to be a valiant soldier, and he is sent on a even more dangerous mission deep in enemy territory. The soldier becomes angry and says, what do they want from me, I’ve already proven my abilities, why do I deserve such a punishment? His commanders answer him with a warm smile; you don’t understand at all your role in the army. This isn’t a punishment at all, and this isn’t the place to show your heroism. You have to understand that there is a real war going on with enemy forces which need to be annihilated. Therefore, when you first joined the army we started off slowly, and when we saw your successes, we decided to send just you.
Hashem loves us very much, and believes in our abilities, that we are capable. He therefore sends us on battles and missions, sometimes even more difficult ones that the previous ones.
The analogy isn’t precise, because I’m not a successful soldier, and in many cases the evil wins over me.
Indeed the analogy isn’t exact, because in a simple war, we want to see results – conquering enemy territory. It really doesn’t make any difference to the king what the soldiers’ feelings towards him are during the war, and if they really have the king’s honor in mind or not. The main thing is that the soldiers will follow orders, and win the war.
On the other hand, in this holy war, there is an entirely different goal. Hashem wants us to connect with Him with a sincere heart, with longing and desire. The war in Yiddishkeit between good and evil takes place in a different arena – it’s to be found in the heart. Is there a desire and longing for Hashem or some type of spiritual obliteration, coolness and tiredness?
It’s therefore untrue to say that we haven’t been successful at war.
Even if we didn’t actually win and conquer, still, Hashem checks our heart, how much have we tried and exerted ourselves to come close to Him, how many internal battles did we have until we were beaten
The main thing which Hashem wants from us, is that we should awaken within ourselves a want and a desire, and this itself is already called ‘victory’.
If the main thing is the desire, what advice is there to boost the will and the desire?
We’re now going back to the original question which you asked, why does everything in holiness have to come together with so many battles. Here you have another explanation. Hashem meets out tremendous kindness with us by causing obstacles and difficulties before everything. If everything would go easy, we would be performing mitzvos and serving Hashem without awakening any longing for Him. He therefore has to set up barriers which bring about an awakening of holy passion and longing. The distance itself causes longing.
This is a tremendous rule throughout the Rebbe’s teachings: Obstacles are there to stir up the enthusiasm. This isn’t just a saying – this is exactly how it is. Anyone who wants to come close to Hashem must pass through many points of distance and falls in every prayer, every Torah-study, every act of charity or kindness which he wants to do.
On the contrary, the more things get in the way, the more the desire is truly awakened. We see ourselves that when a person is hungry, the more time passes and he doesn’t find what to eat, the feelings of hunger just become stronger. Every moment that passes, all of his mental capabilities concentrate fully and sharpen his understanding that the only thing that should be interesting him now is the quest for food.
It seems to be just the opposite, the more I see that I’m not successful in accomplishing, I become weaker and more dejected. Slowly, I stop wanting and longing for many holy things the same way that I did in the past.
Why when we need food don’t we give up when it doesn’t come easy? In material things it is obvious to us that that is what we need, and we have no way to escape to a place where we won’t have to eat. This isn’t the case by spiritual matters, where we inside we think it’s possible to get by without it.
This is Amalek’s tactic. He knows the secret that the more he’ll disturb us, the more he’ll awaken within us a greater desire. So what does he do? He inserts into our ideology thoughts that maybe in reality there is something else besides Avodas Hashem. In general he shows us, “see how people are succeeding in living without fear of Heaven.” When he’s unsuccessful in convincing us in general, he then tries before each individual Mitzvah, deriding and cooling off the importance of the Mitzvah – what the outcome will be if you don’t stand this trial, and so on.
We therefore have to clearly define our soul’s true position, that even if it’s hard to accomplish everything that we have to, we should still keep in mind the truth, that life is about the light of Torah and serving Hashem.
When this point is clearly in focus, then the more the obstacles become stronger, we will perceive the longing itself becoming stronger.
Therefore, it’s very important to sit every day with Hashem and tell Him everything in your heart. Tell Him all of your inner wants and how much you want to come close to Him, and go into detail as much as possible. This action strengthens and sharpens the heart with the understanding that it’s primary food is spirituality, and there is no substitute. And the more that the heart is reinforced with this aspiration, the more you will be able to see how every obstacle and difficulty in fact only helps to strengthen one’s desire and longing for Hashem.