A Special Dose of Chizzuk
The following is a transcribed and edited message by Yissachar Berg that was recently circulated to give some much needed chizzuk, during these difficult and confusing times preceding the revelation of Moshiach.
In this world we are very used to grading everything.
When using a grading system it’s easier to judge whether we are accomplishing or not accomplishing a certain task. When it comes to education, the educational system nowadays is structured based on grades. We grade children based on their knowledge,
understanding, or how well they memorized the material. And we also grade
ourselves with everything that we do we always try to find some kind of grading
When it comes to Limud chol/ nonreligious topics it is very easy to grade.
You have your math exam and it’s very easy to tell if you got the answer right or
you got the answer wrong. It’s easy to grade yourself at work whether you
accomplished a certain task or reached a certain deadline. In the physical world/
the two-dimensional world it’s very easy to chart it out and to have clear grades
based on our accomplishment.
Spiritual World: Effort vs. Knowledge Acquisition, Understanding & Retention
When it comes to spiritual work, however, it’s much more difficult, and it’s also
not meant to be graded in the kind of way that we are used to grading. Also, the
Jewish people have fallen to a level where Jewish schools are using the same
grading system as non-Jewish schools, where they base the greatness of the
students on how well they perform in exams. They are tested on Chumash, Navi,
Gemara, Mishnayos, just as they would be tested on non-Jewish subjects. And
that’s basically how the system judges how “good” a student is.
But that is misleading and wrong because spiritual work; Torah knowledge, is not graded by how much you know and how much you can prove you understand more than others.
It’s graded only on effort.
Hashem wants the heart.
He doesn’t want the mind, He doesn’t want you to prove that you were created smarter than someone else, and you understand the material faster.
That doesn’t mean that you’re any better.
And if you put less effort into it, then you’re actually less than the person putting
in more effort, even if you understand it better than them, because that person
who is working harder to achieve is on a much higher level.
There are many stories about this, of Tzadikim who spoke this way. There’s also
a lot of discussion about this especially in Breslev sefarim about how the main
thing is the effort, and even if you didn’t accomplish anything the effort itself is the
accomplishment, and this is the way the world was meant to be.
Struggles & Hard Work
When the first man sinned in the Etz ha’Daas / he ate from the tree of knowledge
of good and evil.
He basically made this mistake of trying to judge everything based on clear definitions of good and evil.
But that’s not the way the world was created. The world was created in order for us to eat from the Etz HaChaim/ the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is the process, the Tree of Life is the struggle, and the Tree of Life is the effort.
LIFE means to have blood flowing through your veins, it means to struggle and to grow; DEATH is the end point lying in the grave, humanities end ‘goal’.
Since man did not heed Hashem’s Voice, he ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and he brought death to the world. Man was born immortal.
It’s a life of struggle and uncertainty rather than a life of clear goals and accomplishments never ends because you never ‘get there’ you’re ‘getting there’ all the time.
Man always wants to reach out to the fruit, to reach out for their accomplishments
for the definition of good and evil. But that’s our mistake; and we keep making
the same mistake again, of eating from the Etz ha’Daas/ The Tree of Knowledge.
Life is not about knowledge of good and evil. It’s about living.
You are living if your heart is beating through you, and you’re struggling. In life you have to exert effort. We always want to have both. We want to have the Tree of Life and have
the Tree of Knowledge, both the effort and the reward.
But if we are always focused on the future reward while exerting effort we are also missing the point.
Again we eat the fruit. Because the effort is itself the reward. Schar Mitzvah
Mitzvah/ the reward of the effort should be the mitzvah itself. This world is a world of effort, a world of struggling. The next world is where you reap the benefit of your effort. Because in next world we go back to we we were in Gan Eden before the sin, where the effort itself is the reward.
Why Do I Sometimes Feel Like I’m Not Connecting?
Why is it that when someone begins serving Hashem; Hashem gives that person
such an awesome feeling and emotion for example when they’re saying Tehillim,
or praying, or doing something holy and then later on the excitement disappears?
Rabbi Nachman talks about this. He says the first time that a person comes close
he is shown a great, awesome, holy light, and then it gets taken away from him.
And the truth is, the purpose of feeling that tremendous light in spiritual avodah is
not because that awesome feeling is the goal.
It’s given to you in order that when it’s taken away you will have the motivation to continue and strive for greater heights.
You received a feeling deep down inside your heart that there’s something real
and there’s something powerful here.
Hashem showed you a burst of light; a burst of inspiration. You see the truth, you see the path, you see what the Tzadik is, and you know that this is the true way. And then Hashem takes it all away from you and says; now I want you to accomplish something more.
Rabbi Nachman teaches that the main benefit from serving Hashem is not when
you feel it and when you see, and when it’s readily apparent.
The beautiful light of Hashem/ the beautiful light of the Torah/ The beautiful light of the Tzadik; it’s only beneficial when it’s hidden. So actually, it comes out from this that when
you’re doing something out of inspiration that’s when you’re actually not accomplishing.
It’s the exact opposite of what you thought at first.
There’s a Plan in the Darkness.
The secret is this:
When it comes to true service of Hashem, something that will actually benefit you, and benefit the world, at the time you are doing it you won’t feel it, but you continue because deep down you know it to be true.
Rabbi Nachman explains that this is why when Moshiach comes there will no
longer be a possibility to do tshuva. No longer will converts be accepted because
the truth will be clear.
The only time that baalei tshuva/ and converts are accepted is when there’s darkness and difficulty; when you don’t feel it. Otherwise if everyone would only do it when they feel it, then everyone is the same, and no better than an animal who follows their animal instincts and what feels good.
If you are following your feelings why should you be any better than
anyone else following their hearts desire?
Sinners also follow after their heart.
So, you were created with a heart that has more sensitivity to good things, and you’re following after your heart as well, but you’re not any better than anyone else.
The real moment, and the only time when we are accomplishing is when we don’t feel it. When it’s dark.
So, Hashem in his Infinite Kindness takes away from us all feelings and inspiration.
Then we can tap into a very, very deep place of emunah, naase v’nishma. Only then are we accomplishing, only then are we living, only the work we do at those moments are eternal.
Therefore, Rabbi Nachman says that we’re given a small taste at the beginning
to feel the light.
It’s not anything similar or nearly close to the True Light that we will see and receive pleasure from in the future. It’s only a tiny, tiny small sample of what its going to be like.
That spark is supposed to encourage us to go in the right direction and to continue doing the work when we don’t feel anything. The main work and only work is actually when you don’t feel anything.
Now, it also says that if someone is always inspired in their spiritual work then it’s probably coming from the other side. It’s very possible that a person is performing spiritual work and is given strength from the other side.
Why is that?
The sitra achra wants people to serve Hashem for personal, ulterior motives, not for the sake of Hashem.
They would love for people to become Talmidei Chachamim in order to bolster themselves, their ego, and their honor. So they make it easy for them.
The Rav, Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlita, would always speak in his yeshiva that everyone has to learn at least 8 hours of Gemara everyday, no different than any other Yeshiva. He would say, ‘Breslov is not meant to replace anything, just to add to what already exists. And just like every yeshiva focuses on minimum of 8 hours a day of Gemara learning,
also we have to do that. And then we can add to that and do 8 hours of dancing, of hisbodidut, and 8 hours of Tehillim/ kivrei tzaddikim, whatever it is.
But the basis needs to remain the same as every other yeshiva!’
And the Rav would talk about this all the time in very strong ways.
One time, one of the exceptional students and a huge oved Hashem, sought advice from the Rav, asking if the main focus is Gemara like perhaps other yeshivot, then why don’t I go learn in another Yeshiva where their Kol Torah is so powerful, and it looks like they are learning without any obstacles?
Here, everything is a struggle.
He told the Rav that it didn’t seem like they have all the obstacles like we have when we sit
I feel such a struggle, my heart is drained, I can barely get a word out, barely understand anything. Maybe I should just join another yeshiva and then I’ll be able to fulfill all the things the Rav is emphasizing, what the Rav wants us to fulfill to learn Gemara all day and night…
The Rav answered:
If you see a place where they are learning Torah day and night without any obstacles, the reason is because it’s all going to the sitra achra. It’s all going to the other side.
Why are they learning?
Because they want to boast that they’re better than the others, to become a bigger Talmid Chocham, to write sefarim, to become well known, or maybe they want to get a good shidduch, or maybe so that their children should get a good shidduch, or they should get a good job as a Rabbi.
They have all these other reasons they’re doing it, but it’s for themselves.
They aren’t doing it for Hashem.
Therefore, the sitra achra is actually standing right by them and encouraging them,
and that’s why it’s so easy for them.
You, on the other hand are doing it for Hashem.
So when you sit down, every word is much more powerful than thousands and thousands of years of people doing it for other reasons. And that’s why it’s so difficult for you because it’s so important and because it’s so powerful.
That’s why you don’t feel anything.
We need to take this message to heart.
Many of us in our own avodas Hashem struggle with this all the time. People say that sometimes saying Tehillim and davening would feel like being mamash right next to the Kotel, like Hashem is holding them, every word would be so deep and holy, and purifying.
They would feel so connected during Shimona Esray and be able to say it for an hour straight with complete dveikus/ holy intent. All the mitzvos, all the Torah would be so
meaningful to them and make them feel so connected.
These feelings of connection are so high and amazing, and that’s what brings
people to search for a true path, and that’s actually what brings many to the
Tzadik at first. Many people don’t find connections like this anywhere else, with
avodas halev/ of the heart.
But each time, as soon as a person gets to where they wanted to go and wanted
to take it a step further, it is all taken away.
All of the sudden they are struggling to daven, they can’t learn, and can’t feel anything.
They begin to doubt if they are on the right path at all. This is all very confusing and frustrating, not to feel anything anymore. It doesn’t make sense, it is hard to understand, and this is also very heartbreaking.
That all of a sudden everything collapsed.
Especially when someone has started a new path, a new level, and connecting closer to the
truth. Everyone knows what is says in Likutei Moharan that yerida tachlet ha’aliyah; that when someone enters into avodas Hashem and whenever someone starts new beginnings, each time he has to fall before getting up.
When you’re going up to a new level you have to first go down.
Every ascent needs to be preceded by a decent because Chazal teach, the bigger a person the bigger the yetzer hora.
In other places Rabbi Nachman speaks about it even more powerfully and says that when you come to the Tzadik, when you start following the advice of the Tzadik, you’re not going to feel anything.
That’s actually the biggest struggle.
The biggest struggle is not feeling anything.
Again, along the way a person is given some sparks to keep him going, if he’s feeling like he’s on the verge of giving up, and feels like just stopping, he needs some gas. So Hashem gives you a little bit of gas to go on a bit more, until again the process continues.
But the main accomplishment is when you’re not feeling it, when ever step, every word is a struggle.
Many people share their feelings about their difficulties, especially not being able to have kavana.
It’s so common for people to say “you have no idea how difficult it is to say Tikkun HaKlali, and Perakim Nevarchim”.
That is because we’re in a war and each word is destroying hundreds of spiritual enemies. The more powerful, the more difficult; the more difficult, the more powerful.
The more difficult it is the more it shows how much it’s needed right now.
Logically it shouldn’t be so difficult to say a few chapters of Psalms. This unexplainable difficulty and heaviness should prove to us just how powerful it is.
If you want to grade how important your prayers/ avodah are, is exactly the opposite of what people usually think.
Once you know you are on the right path and following the Torah, it’s not about how much you feel, or how easy it is for you. Rather, if it’s more difficult for you then it’s most
probably something that’s more needed and this is why it’s more of a struggle.
How does a person know what their Tikkun/ mission is in this world?
What your real struggle is that’s what your tikkun is.
Rabbi Nachman says every time I come to sit down to give a drasha I’m not able
to get one word out. There’s such darkness, and such difficulty, that I can’t even
get out one word.
People are mistaken in thinking that Tzadikim are always on ahigh, always flying, always connected to Hashem, and that everything is always flowing.
Tzadikim have the greatest struggle, much more than anyone else.
Your feeling of emptiness, feeling of being drained and not able to get out one
word- the Tzadikim also felt this way, and the higher the level of the Tzadik the
more the struggle.
They feel the same; they feel like the whole world is on their shoulders. They feel like a million knives are cutting their flesh. Every word that they get out is torture, and you can see this in the Ravs face sometimes during davening, the Tzadikim are always fighting a war, with exceptional, powerful koach.
It says, Ain Hatorah mitkayemet elah b’mi shemeimit atzmo aleha.
The Torah is not sustained in a person unless they are working and struggling beyond
belief over it. They feel like they’re getting tortured and they can’t get a word out.
The more a person comes closer to the true avodah the more difficult it will be. That actually shows that you’re on the right path and that actually shows that you’re on a higher level.
And it should encourage you to continue because maybe in the past your 7 Tikkun HaKlali and Perakim Nevarim made you feel connected, and now you’re felling less and less connected, and you want to give up.
That’s because we have a false idea of how to grade our accomplishments.
But really it’s the opposite.
The more drained you feel, the more you’re actually accomplishing.
You’re actually fulfilling and winning this war, because really it’s illogical. Think about it.
Why should it be so difficult? How many words do we say throughout a day? We can talk to our friends for hours on end without any difficulty.
All of a sudden, we’re talking to Hashem and we can’t get one word out? It’s illogical.
And that itself should prove to us everything that we’ve been saying.
Since it’s illogical that it’s so difficult just to say a few words, to speak out some
words for an hour or an hour and a half, when throughout the day we’re constantly speaking without any problem– it doesn’t make any sense why it should be so difficult.
People who have Tehillim groups with all their friends, it’s not so difficult and can even be enjoyable.
So, since it’s so illogical that it should be so difficult that should prove to us how powerful it really is.
With the true measurement of how to determine spiritual accomplishment, which is by lefum tza’ara agra/ the more difficult the more rewarding. In our minds we think the
The Rav always says that Likutei Halachos; usually teaches the opposite of what
people naturally think.
For example; people always think that the way to judge accomplishment is by how much you feel it. But the real measurement is the opposite. The more difficult it is, the more struggle it is, then the more you’re accomplishing.
Someone reading this might say, “Okay, I’m just going to choose difficult things to do and then I’ll be accomplishing more…”
If you’re following the etzos of the Tzadik and it’s difficult, then it’s showing how great it is. But if you’re following your own personal etzos/ your own ideas then you might do stuff in your life that’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s good.
If it’s good it will be difficult, but difficulty on its own doesn’t mean it’s good.
If you’re not looking for truth nothing will help you. All this advice is only for someone looking for truth.
Rabbi Nachman says the same exact action that you choose to do on your own will be very easy for you and you will feel tremendous accomplishments, encouragement, and connections.
But as soon as I tell you to do it that thing will be covered in tremendous difficulty, and many obstacles will stand in your way.
Rebbe Nachman actually said this about the Tikkun HaKlali.
The fact that I told you to do it just makes it almost impossible for you to do it, because as soon as the etza comes out of the mouth of a Tzadik that etza is the seed, it’s creating the world anew.
The etza of the Tzadik is a new creation, it’s bringing the geula to the world and something that is so powerful, certainly all the klipas and the sitra achra are trying to stop you from doing it.
And that’s why you feel darkness.
But we should no longer try to judge our accomplishments based on our feelings.
We are nothing.
Like one of the Breslev mashpiim of the previous generations used to say,your mouth has to be like a grind mill, constantly grinding, moving. Doesn’t matter you feel or you don’t feel.
That’s all just bilbulim trying to confuse you.
Just grind the words out whether you feel it or you don’t.
Every once in a while you may feel something incredible; Hashem will give you a burst of inspiration and of clear truth and that’s amazing and it’s a good thing, it’s not a bad thing. It will give you encouragement to go on for however long you can last with that last little bit of gas.
Then it will be taken away again.
It’s beautiful to feel, it’s a very good thing to feel. But we can’t base our avodah on how we’re feeling. We don’t know the real koach of Torah.
If you are in a low place, that’s exactly why you should not give up, because it’s only in order to bring you up to higher places.