Fixing Your Fire - 007 Anger | Obstinacy
Anger Stemming From Wind-of-Water-of-Fire: Obstinacy Caused By Anger
We continue here, with the help of Hashem, to explain the element of fire and its resulting trait, anger. Here we will explain the kind of anger that stems from wind-of-water-of-fire.
Anger stemming from wind-of-water-of-fire is when a person becomes ‘dragged’ after anger, where he has a specific agenda of staying in the anger.
Here is the basic idea of how it works. The element of fire in the soul causes a person to have “explosions”, similar to the nature of fire, which sparks and jumps from its place. When fire in the soul ‘explodes’ outward, this is the source of anger. If a person has such an angry explosion because he has become ‘dragged’ into these kinds of explosions, this stems from the ‘water’ aspect of fire.
The nature of water is that when it meets up with anything, it sweeps it away with it, dragging it in any of the four directions. The current in the water will cause it to flow in a certain direction and prevent it from flowing in an opposite direction, but in essence, water can carry anything into any direction. The ‘wind’ aspect of water is that when a person is being ‘dragged’ into something, he can be led in a particular direction. The person is being dragged (water) and led in a certain direction (wind) with the anger (fire); hence, anger in this scenario stems from wind-of-water-of-fire.
This is a nature of the soul, and just as everything else, it can be used for either good or evil. First we explain how it is used for evil: when a person is ‘dragged’ by his anger into a certain situation and he continues to remain firmly in his anger, and even if you argue with him and you try to show him that he he’s not seeing the situation objectively enough, he still doesn’t give in, and he refuses to step down from his anger.
Examples of Evil Stubbornness Caused By Anger
Here is a simple example of this kind of anger. Sometimes a person goes to the bank and he requests something from the person behind the desk, and his request is refused, and he is frustrated at this, so he might go to speak to the manager or someone else there and ask him for an explanation of why his request is being refused. Most people would calm down in this kind of situation, as long as the reason for the refusal of his request is explained to him with a pleasant smile and in a gentle, courteous manner. But another kind of person will not relent, even after it is explained to him gently why his request cannot be fulfilled. He is more concerned about being justified, and to him, the main thing is that justice be served (at least according to what he thinks it is), and he feels that another is obligated to carry out what he feels is correct - so he stubbornly remains in his position.
There are many other examples of this nature to remain stubborn when one is angered. We can see many times that there are people who, when they are going through an issue and they are angered by something, they will stubbornly refuse to hear any other option to solve a problem, even if listening to another’s advice would make his life easier. When he is angry, he remains stubbornly in his position, refusing to step down and hear an alternative, and you can’t reason with him.
Analyzing Evil Stubbornness
This kind of stubbornness in a person is actually the very same root that fuels anger, and it can also result in actual anger. This is because anger is all about feeling opposed. When one feels opposed, that is the root of anger; the feeling of anger which he subsequently experiences is the result from this, but the root of the anger is the very fact that one feels opposed by something.
Why does a person remain stubborn and insist on having his way, even if letting go of this would make his life easier? Sometimes he is motivated by a pursuit to feel more honored; sometimes it is because he feels that he must “do what is right”; or other motivations. Whatever his personal reason is, he continues to remain stubbornly in having his way, and he will oppose anything that threatens the way he feels; and sometimes he will use anger as a way to fight back the opposition that is threatening him.
This is the evil use of wind-of-water-of-fire, and it is clear that it is a negative trait, to anyone who thinks sensibly. Even if a person insists that he is “right” when he remains stubbornly in his anger, he is being immature. If he would have a more mature perspective, he would be able to let go, and realize that things don’t always have to be his way, even when he feels that he is right and the other is wrong.
The Solution To Stubbornness – Seeing How It’s Not Worth The Fight
Thus, the concern of always being in the “right” is an evil manifestation of stubbornness. The more sensible a person is, the more he understands that we cannot always influence others to always agree with us, because it is nearly impossible for a person to truly utilize the potential of his soul. The sensible thing to realize is that we often have no choice except to move on and let go.
In addition to this, the more internal that a person becomes, the more he realizes how these situations of anger cause him to lose his inner calmness, as we spoke about in the previous chapter. When we cannot let go of situations that oppose us, where we insist that we are right and that others are wrong, we use up a lot of energy. It steals so much energy from our soul when we remain in the anger of these frustrating situations. When we are involved with arguments with others, it is draining.
So even if you know you are absolutely right, it is much more worth it to give in to the other person, so that you won’t drain yourself in the process of arguing your position. This is almost always what needs to be done: one needs to find a way to appease others, even when he is right, and to choose the calmest route possible.
Dealing With It vs. Procrastinating
So far, we have briefly addressed what we need to about the evil use of wind-of-water-of-anger. Now we will speak about the positive use of wind-of-water-of-anger, which is a broad matter.
Many times, a person faces situations in life that are very frustrating and difficult; like when we have setbacks that are particularly difficult to deal with. Not only do we experience frustration with other people that we need to deal with, but there are daily aspects of life which can be frustrating to us in general. There is a certain amount of energy that each person has, which allows him to deal with the situation fully, as much as his physical, mental, and emotional energies allow him to. But beyond a certain point, a person does not have the energy to cope, and at that point it gets really challenging, and it feels frustrating and difficult.
At that point, where a person has reached the end of his energies, he has two possible options he will employ. Either he continues to deal with the situation, remaining firmly in place and being prepared to go through difficulty (which is wind-of-water-of-fire), or, he will run away from the situation, so that he doesn’t have to deal with it – he employs the trait of laziness.
The attitude of laziness in a person says, “Why should I bother with this situation? Why go through the pain of dealing with this? Instead I will run away from it, and be in a different situation than this, which will be much easier for me to deal with.”
In contrast to the stubborn person who refuses to budge from his situation, a lazy person’s attitude is to deliberately run away from the situation, so that he is not in the “situation” and so that he doesn’t have to “deal” with it. When a person is overcome by laziness, he might come up with 500 very intelligent excuses of why he should not have to deal with the situation, further justifying and rationalizing his laziness.
Wind-of-water-of-fire, the root of the nature to be stubborn, is the opposite of laziness. It tells a person that he should face the situation head-on and to persevere.
So we have two opposite powers in the soul which are used to deal with situations: stubbornness (where we deal with the situation), or laziness (where we don’t deal with the situation). Laziness tells us to run away, whereas our wind-of-water-of-fire in the soul enables us to say to ourselves, “Deal with it, and keep going at it until you succeed.”
“Man Is Born To Toil” – Awareness That Life Contains Challenges
We must know that life consists of many challenges, where we will feel opposed. Hashem created male and female not just as man and woman, but as opposite forces within Creation, which means that we are constantly going through opposition during the time that we live on this world. There is nothing in Creation which is not opposed by something else; and there are no exceptions to this rule. Within this creation, everything must be opposed by something else, and that is way Hashem designed the world.
Therefore, in any situation we enter, there will be always some challenge. It doesn’t make a difference whether you are entering first grade, high school, Beis Midrash, Kolel, getting married, finding a job or position – in anything you enter, there will be some point where you are challenged. Sometimes the challenge is small and sometimes the challenges are bigger, but you must know that there will always be something to deal with, in any situation that you happen to be in.
When one is well-aware of this fact of life, he fully realizes the verse, “Man was born to toil.” There is hard work to do in everything we are involved with, because “man was born to toil” – and to be more specific, it is because there is always a challenge in anything that we do. The avodah of a person to “toil” is essentially to get past whatever challenges him, and to continue to the next step.
If one chooses to work hard on this world – and I emphasize that this is a choice that one makes, through his own power of free will – he will find that he has the power to face any situation and deal with it, instead of running away from it. He will not look for ways of how to run away and avoid the situation. He will first think of how he can deal with it, instead of immediately thinking of how he can run away from it.
But if one is not ready to work hard on this world, he will naturally seek the lazy route away from the situation. As long as a person has not yet come to a decision that he will be prepared to work hard on this world at anything, he will naturally seek the lazy route, whenever he faces something challenging. This attitude of laziness will then continue to fester and it will cause him to perform less and less.
He might rationalize his lazy attitude by saying that he can’t deal with this particular situation, but he will work hard in a different situation. Sometimes he may be correct, but in most cases, he will remain lazy, and he won’t work harder in a different situation he is placed in. As long as one is running away from challenges and he feels like he cannot deal with anything that is hard to deal with, his laziness will only continue to get worse.
When he sits down to learn a sugyaof Gemara, and he sees that he must exert his mind on a certain point, he will come up with all kinds of rationalizations of why he doesn’t need to do the hard work of thinking about it. He might think, “The Rishonim probably ask this question”, and if he sees that the Rishonim don’t ask the question, he will look through the Acharonim, and if he looks through the Acharonim and he doesn’t find the answer, he will conclude that it’s a mistaken question to begin with, instead of exerting his mind to try to answer the question that he has. He keeps pushing off any exertion in his learning that he may have to do, thinking that perhaps it will be answered by the time he’s finished learning the sugya….
Sometimes he is indeed correct in his assumption, and he is not always being lazy. But when a person gets used to this kind of thinking where he pushes off the exertion for later, he slowly develops a lazy attitude, where he teaches himself to run away from anything that is difficult to deal with.
Earlier, we addressed the problem of too much stubbornness, which is the opposite of laziness. That is also a problematic approach to dealing with difficulty, as we explained about before. But most people do not have the problem of being too stubborn when they face difficult situations. With most people, the problem is usually a pull towards laziness. So there are two opposite approaches to deal with frustrating situations (stubbornness and laziness), both of which are detrimental approaches.
The Solution: Knowing What You’re Getting Yourself Into
The ideal way to go about difficult situations is to first use your mind to analyze the situation and see if you can handle it or not. Ask yourself if it’s within your natural capabilities to deal with the situation you are facing, or not. This does not mean that you need to make this reflection with everything that you encounter. Make this reflection only when you encounter something that feels challenging to you.
To illustrate the idea we are saying, when Moshe Rabbeinu struck the Egyptian who was fighting, he feared the consequences of what might happen to him, so he ran away to Midyan. Why didn’t he just stay where he was and deal with his situation? Why didn’t he just believe in “Ain Od Milvado” as the Nefesh HaChaim says, that no harm can come to a person if he believes that there is nothing besides for Hashem? This is certainly a good question we can wonder about, and it involves a lengthy discussion about the power of emunah, which we won’t get into here. It is difficult to know how to go about the avodah of having emunah. But there is a point we can take out from this which applies to our current discussion: Moshe Rabbeinu recognized in himself at that point that he could not deal with the situation, and so he had no choice but to run away from it.
There are always two ways to deal with a difficult situation: Either to face it head-on, or to run away from it. Each person needs to know what his current level is when it comes to this: is he capable of dealing with the difficult situation, or would he rather run away?
As we explained, the natural recourse of a person to take when he is faced with difficulty, is to seek how to get out of it and run away from it. But if one has gotten used to the idea that life is about working hard (“man is born to toil”), he is able to acquire a different reaction to his difficult situations, which becomes his new natural way of thinking. If one has reached this, he has a deep avodah in anything he encounters, to analyze if he has the energy or not to handle the situation.
This is a brief description of the concept we are trying to convey here, but it is a very deep and all-encompassing – and it requires a lot of hard inner work for one to know. Why?
Knowing Your Natural Limitations and Capabilities
If one is not familiar with recognizing the abilities in his soul, he is unaware of his personal limitations of what he can do. He might think that he is aware of what he can do, after momentarily thinking about it, but this is a mere superficial awareness of his limitations. He doesn’t really know what he can do and what he can’t do.
Here is a simple example. If a person is approached by someone where he is asked if he can set aside 500 shekel a month for tzedakah, and he is trying to put away money for his children’s weddings, does he think he can do it? If a person is aware of his limitations, he sees a bigger picture in front of him, he is aware of the expenses he has and if there’s more money coming in or going. He can make somewhat of an assessment, before he quickly commits himself to something that he cannot do.
Others aren’t aware of their financial limitations and they quickly commit themselves to donating, thinking that they can really do it: “What’s 500 shekel? Surely I’ll be able to do it.” Or, a person doesn’t think at all if he can give 500 shekel a month or not. Either he gives generously, where he is quick to give the 500 shekel (without thinking of how this will affect him financially), or he lives frugally, so he won’t even consider giving the 500 shekel.
If we find this problem even when it comes to worldly matters, where people are not clearly aware of their limitations and means, surely this problem exists when it comes to knowing one’s spiritual limitations and capabilities. It is far more complicating to know one’s soul abilities - unlike the bank account, where you can determine the exact amount of money in your account.
Thus when people are faced with a situation where they will have to use mental and emotional energy, in most cases, they will not be clear about what their limitations and capabilities are. So either a person will try to persevere through the difficult situation (when he is not really able to handle it), or a person will run away from it (when in fact he might have been able to handle it very well).
If someone is not sure about what to do, he goes to ask a Rav. Now if the Rav has Ruach HaKodesh, then he knows for sure what to do. A Rav can only have Ruach HaKodesh if he believes that all help can come from Hashem and that only Hashem can help guide others to see the truth. If that is the case, this is wonderful. But if the Rav does not have Ruach HaKodesh, and he asks the Rav if he should face a certain situation or run away from it, what indeed should he do? He must know his personal capabilities at this moment in his life; what he can really handle and what he cannot.
When two people come to a Rav with the same question, they might each receive different answers, because each of them has different capabilities and limitations. One might person might be told “Yes” from the Rav and the other person might be told “No.” In order for one to enter any situation, he needs to have the mental and emotional capabilities to deal with it, or else he is not prepared to enter it.
So first one must know that every situation of life contains challenges. Only after one is well aware of this can he then wonder if he may enter certain situations or not. He might be able to, and he might not be able to. He should consider the various factors he will be involving himself with. This will entail two parts. One part of it is to wonder how he will be able to do it, and another part of it is to know if one has the strength to deal with this or not.
Taking On Too Much
Many times people enter into certain situations and they never considered all the many factors that it would involve. This is commonly the case when people take upon themselves various projects or undertakings. For example, if a person agrees to become gabbai in a shul, is he aware of some of the factors that it will entail, before deciding?
If he is asked about what it means to be gabbai and he thinks that it will only involve making announcements in shul on Shabbos and putting up signs in shul during the week, he will be in for a surprise. He will slowly see that it involves much more than that; there are more factors involved. Then Yomim Noraim will hit him and then he’ll become hit with worrying about the funds of the shul. He might be forced to collect money from different places in order to upkeep the funds. Then he’ll have to approach people in the shul for money that they should pay up their dues, and of course there are some people who are not paying at all, and he will have to deal with complaints and fights of people in the shul, and he is the one who must sit through all of it. He never would have dreamed of all that he would have to go through when becoming gabbai and he just thought it would be simple.
So if one is about to enter into a certain situation which will require him to use his strengths, he should try to think of what factors it will entail, and then wonder if he has the capabilities or not to handle it.
Thinking Into The Factors Involved
In addition to making this reflection, one should wonder what factors the situation will entail. The more superficial a person is, the less he thinks into things and he is unaware of the factors involved in something.
For example, if we ask a person before he is married if he knows what it will entail to raise children, what would he answer? He might say that he will need enough money to pay for their clothing expenses, some government support, a Kolel paycheck to help him out, and that this is enough. But the deeper and more internal a person has become, he is more aware of what life is about, the more he thinks into things, wondering what a situation will entail, what the factors will be.
The truth is that there is no person who will know what it will entail to raise children. It is impossible for one to know. But in the little knowledge that a person does have about raising children, he can try thinking more into the details. If he is aware that he will need to buy clothing for them, he can ask himself, “What else do children need…?”
He might realize that children have emotional needs too. Is it so simple to even provide children with their most basic emotional needs? And after that, to raise them to live a life of Torah, to do mitzvos, to be prepared to serve Hashem, and to help them reach the purpose of life, to become close to Hashem? It’s a tremendous responsibility upon a parent to raise children. True, the Sages teach that “the work is not upon you to complete”, but at the same time, “you are not exempt from it.” One should be aware that there will be a responsibility upon him to raise his children, which will not be so simple.
If we ask a person if he is ready to have 10 children, one kind of person will say, “Yes, absolutely, with simcha (joy)!”, whereas another person will say that he will not be able to handle it. The second kind of person has all kinds of motivations of why he doesn’t want to have that much children; but even the first kind of person is not always the type to be aware of what it will entail, nor is he always on the level of having so much simcha to accept situations of life. Many times he is simply unaware of what raising 10 children will entail, so he says that he will happily raise 10 children. (It can indeed be a simcha for him, but only if he has thought beforehand of what the factors that it will entail and even so he accepts it.)
A superficial attitude towards life is when one doesn’t think into the factors that are entailed in any given situation. If one is prepared to get involved in situations that he has no idea of what they will entail, he might find later that he cannot deal with life as he thought he would be able to.
The deeper and more truthful way of living life is, that before you get involved in situations [which are known to be challenging], first think into what it will entail, and don’t rely on a superficial view towards it. Then you need to see if you can handle it, and if you see that you can, you also need to pray to Hashem for assistance.
We are not talking about situations that Hashem has placed a person into against his own will, before he can decide to enter it. In those situations, a person has no choice but to deal with it as best as he can. Here we are discussing before one is about to enter into certain situations which will challenge him. In order to know how to deal with challenging situations, one must first think of what he is about to enter; what it will entail.
Entering An Undertaking – Two Requirements Needed
In order to deal with any situation that challenges us, one needs a little bit of wisdom about life, along with an ability to feel somewhat humbled.
If a person is missing any of these two factors, and he enters into challenging situations anyway, he will become involved with situations that he really doesn’t belong in, and he will have no idea what he is facing. Then after some time he will end up harming other people from it.
Examples of Taking On Too Much Without Thinking It Through
As an example, there are people who want to do chessed, so they take all kinds of undertakings on themselves in order to help others, but their undertakings involve others whom they enlisted with, and they had good intentions, but in the end, their chessed project may not work out, because they eventually realize that their resources are limited and they don’t have the energy for it that they would have. In the end, nobody gains anything from it – not themselves, and not the people they wanted to help and not the people who were involved.
Here is another example. Sometimes people open a money-lending gemach for the community, and they do not realize what they are getting themselves into. They convince people to lend money to it and there are co-signers involved, and they do not know what this will entail. In every gemach, how much of the money is returned to them by the end of the month? How much of it goes missing? How many times are there cases where people have to go to Beis Din in order to collect back the money? How much is a person willing to fight with people who are not willing to pay back the money, or those who simply don’t have the money to pay back the loans?
How many times do people help bnei Torah invest their money and the plans don’t work out, and they lose a lot of money from it? I’m not even talking about cases where people are clearly swindling others of their money. Even when people are well meaning and they want to help people, if they are not clear about what they are getting themselves into, people will end up suffering losses due to their ignorance.
There are many more examples we can give, where people enter into an endeavor before thinking it through enough, and here we have just given some of the more common examples. Usually there are good intentions involved in these situations. If people don’t know what they be dealing with before they get involved in something, the results can be disastrous.
If someone wants to open a yeshiva for young children, does he know what he is getting himself into? Does he know what it means to be a principal of a yeshiva, for young children? Whether it will be 200 children, 400 children, 1000 children? Does he know what being a principal of a school will entail? Does he know what it means to find good Rebbeim\teachers for the school? It is a lot more complicated to run a school than the way it appears to observers.
We have brought these examples to bring out the intensity of the issue we are discussing. Our point here is that most people are not aware of what they are getting themselves into, when they become involved with any undertaking. Only after getting involved with it do they begin to learn about what they have become involved in, by trying to get through each challenge that comes their way, even being thankful to Hashem for every “wave” that comes over them. But they do not have a plan of how they will deal with the challenges they will encounter in the undertaking.
Many times we see this problem in teenagers when they are in yeshiva, and often it is still a problem in adults: when they want to be bnei aliyah – those who have very high spiritual ambitions and they wish to achieve high levels. Most people do not succeed when they aim very high, as one of the Sages said, “I have seen b’nei aliyah (those who ascend), but they are few.” There are many reasons why people don’t succeed in their ambitions, but one of the reasons for it is due to the point we are explaining here: when one is not making proper use of wind-of-water-of-fire.
What it will all boil down to is: if one can handle what he is entering or not. Most teenagers who want to achieve very high are prepared to take the plunge, but they don’t realize what it will entail and if they can handle certain parts or not. In fact, it is not most aspiring teenagers in yeshiva, but all. The reason for this is simple: a teenager does not think about what life entails, of what Torah and serving Hashem will require of him. The truth is that even a mature adult doesn’t understand, but at least he knows that he doesn’t understand, because he has matured in his daas (thinking abilities) to understand this; whereas a teenager will think he understands what he is entering, even though he doesn’t.
This problem is also found with most people who take upon themselves various resolutions of Rosh HaShanah. These resolutions usually don’t last for long, due to the reason here we have explained: because people don’t stop to think of what they are getting themselves into. In fact, they would rather not understand what they are getting into, because they would rather believe that they can handle what they take upon themselves. But even if a person doesn’t fool himself like that, he is still usually not aware of what he will be getting into when he takes upon himself a resolution.
We can give more examples of this idea. It is an all-encompassing concept which includes all areas of life, both the physical and spiritual sides to life. The common denominator between all these situations is that the person is unaware of what he will have to deal with, before he enters these situations. And if he is not aware of what he will have to deal with, how he will he deal with the difficulties when they come?
We have said that one needs to think things through before he involves himself in any undertaking, but the truth is that there is no way to be sure about anything. We are never able to plan out anything exactly as it will happen. Even the simple, daily aspects of our life cannot be planned out. We may think about what we will do today, while Hashem has other plans for us.
In spite of this, we still need to plan out things as much as we can and determine if we are up to doing certain things or not. One needs to know what his abilities allow him to do and what his limitations are, and one needs to see what energies are required of him in a situation.
One cannot know how to do this perfectly, because we do not have an exact knowledge about what our personal soul is capable of. We also do not know exactly what we will encounter in anything we become involved with. But the difference between one who thinks about it and one who doesn’t bother thinking about it, is a huge difference. It is a transformation from living a superficial kind of life to a more internal kind of life.
So before one is about to enter an undertaking, he should first think about what it will entail, and if he has the energies to handle it or not – and he should also ask people who have gone through the experience of that which he wishes to enter. “There is no wise person as one who has experience.” He should try to speak to 2 or 3 people whom he identifies as being close to truth, and discuss with them what the factors are in the undertaking.
After he has done that, he should still know that the human intellect cannot foresee everything that will happen in any given situation. Our intellect does not have the power to know everything. Yet that doesn’t exempt us from trying to use our intellect and to know what we are getting into, as much as we are able to know. And we also need to pray to Hashem for help in order to succeed. Then, we can go ahead with our decision.
Of course, we cannot do this in every aspect of our life. We cannot spend so much mental energy and prayer on every last aspect that comes our way, because this is impossible. But if you are about to enter something that feels challenging to you and you are not sure if you should enter it, in these situations, that is where you should think about it before you go into it, in the way we have explained.
Uncovering Greater Strength In Yourself
When a person takes this path, he will find that it is more natural for him to deal with difficulty. He will then see that he has a greater ability to work through challenges. What first seemed to him as a daunting challenge will now seem to him as something that he can handle. He will see that he really does have the strength in his soul to deal with certain situations that he originally though he would never be able to handle it.
In the beginning of one’s life, he will think that he has certain soul abilities, and not more than that. Some people have more self-awareness and some have less; but either way, a person will think he has certain abilities and limitations. When a person goes through life, though, his capabilities change. There are two reasons for this.
One reason is because a person actually has more inner strength in his soul than he thinks he does. He is just not consciously aware of those hidden strengths. Those hidden strengths are slowly brought to the fore as one exerts himself in life.
For example, when a person is in his first years of marriage and he has just had his first baby, and he can’t sleep at night, he might wonder how it’s possible that others who have many more babies than him are able to come on time to Kolel and have full strength, when he is struggling to stay awake. As the years go on, he learns more about life, and he learns that it is indeed possible. He may see others who fall apart, but he also sees others who are able to handle it fine.
Slowly he begins to realize that it is possible to be kept awake all night by the baby and raise a family, and also be able to learn good the next day in Kolel. What appeared to him first as impossible, is now possible. (Instead of waking up to only crying at midnight, he can now thank Hashem at midnight for it as well!)
In addition, one who truly exerts himself in spiritual growth merits to have the inner light of the neshamah (Divine soul) opened to him, where he receives entirely new capabilities. This is generally referred to as “siyata d’shmaya” (heavenly assistance), but to give a more precise definition, it is when Hashem’s light within the neshamah has begun to affect even the physical body.
(In particular, it affects the “Ruach”, which is contained in the [spiritual] heart, and it is not merely an expansion of the natural abilities of the nefesh habehaimis (the animalistic layer of the soul). It is Hashem’s light being shined upon the neshamah, whereupon the light of the neshamah can then penetrate to the physical body, allowing a person to receive new strength to deal with difficulty.)
That will increase a person’s ability to deal with challenges. There is also another ability in the soul which one will need in order to balance out his exertion: the power of menuchah (serenity) in the soul (also called the “Shabbos” in the soul). Here we have explained the power of exertion in the soul (ameilus), the power to face challenges, but one also needs to have some connection to menuchah\serenity in order to be balanced.
In summary, we have explained here that before one enters into an undertaking, he must first realize what he is getting himself into and analyze the factors that will be involved. He should also know what his capabilities and limitations are and then determine if he has the strength to enter the undertaking he’s thinking about. Finally, as we have just mentioned, a person also needs to realize that he contains more inner strength than he thinks he does, because Hashem gives each person a little bit more strength from Above than his normal capabilities.
One must believe that he has more capabilities than he thinks he does. This applies to each individual soul. If one thinks that he does not have any capabilities at all, he has basically buried himself while alive. If he does believe that Hashem gives him more strength than he thinks he has, he will uncover a great wealth of abilities in his soul, and then he will discover that he has even more capabilities than he thought. And through that, he will slowly reach the inner light of Hashem contained in his own neshamah, and his ability to deal with difficulty will become stronger.
The Sages said, “Whoever is greater than his friend, his evil inclination is stronger” – a person has the ability to face that which opposes him. That is the depth of the greatness which the soul is capable of.