The majority of a person’s falls in his Divine service are because he sees that he has been aroused to serve Hashem a number of times and yet he fell each time. In truth, the exact opposite is true, for do we not know that even one who sinned his entire life and was never aroused to repentance, if he repents in the end he is forgiven, as our sages of blessed memory taught. How much more so if one was been aroused many times but fell away again each time, there is certainly hope for him and it is certainly easier for him to truly return to Hashem, for “there is no good will that is lost”. (Likutei Halachos, Shabbos 7, section 7)
The Power of Perseverance
It is well known that when one seeks to build a house it is necessary to enter into a long process that requires much patience. Much effort together with many tests and plans are required, before the building even begins as well as during the process itself. Sometimes a wall must be demolished and moved somewhere else and support beams may need to be rearranged, until eventually one merits to see the house in its completion. One who desires to build a home prepares himself for the fact that it might take some time. So it is with learning to play an instrument or studying a trade; one must be prepared for much time to be ‘wasted’ because of unexpected obstacles and mistakes before one can reap the fruits of his labor.
However, for some reason, when it comes to the service of Hashem it is ever so difficult to convince a person that in this area too, things take time and one must prepare himself with much patience; that one will most likely have to spend time building a wall that will later have to be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere – perhaps even a few walls…
People do not want to accept this truth and it is therefore difficult to enter into the service of Hashem, for “The majority of a person’s falls in his Divine service are because he sees that he has been aroused to serve Hashem a number of times and yet he fell each time”. One doesn’t understand that this is the way things are built, that one requires perseverance and a strong desire to begin again and again until one sees some success.
The Many beginnings of Teshuva
It is here that Reb Nosson reveals to us the great magnitude of our mistake, how the evil inclination deceives a person into weakening his resolve because he hasn’t succeeded in constructing a building in one shot. This is so ironic in light of the fact that we all know that even if a person only repents at the end of life he is forgiven. How is it then that one becomes so discouraged when he has not yet succeeded in accomplishing a certain aspect of holiness, for if one single of teshuva can help a person at the end of his life, how much more so can many of teshuvas come to one’s aid. Such a person will certainly receive heavenly assistance and every teshuva helps and gives strength to the next teshuva. It is only that the evil inclination deceives a person and makes it seem as if he cannot succeed. One fails to understand that this is the building process and that he is certainly better off than one who remains ‘fallen’ his entire life and only repents at the very end.
The evil inclination knows that it is regarding this point that he must deceive us, for this is his greatest fear, that one make a new beginning. ‘Many beginnings’ are the main way of weakening the strength of the evil inclination and this is why he focuses so greatly on this point.
This is why we must strengthen ourselves exceedingly in this aspect Divine service – making many new beginnings of ‘repentance’ and starting over many times. The truth is that every repentance completely atones for the past. Even if one falls again, he should not be discouraged, but rather begin again to repent, for he is in the midst of construction and every new beginning brings him closer to finishing the job.