Sefer Meshivas Nefesh (Restoring the Soul) – The Explanation of Siman #1

“מי שרוצה לזכות לתשובה צריך להיות בקי ברצוא ובקי בשוב” (ע”פ המבואר בלקו”מ סי ו’).
“One who wishes to merit repentance needs to be an expert in ‘running’ and an expert in ‘returning’.” (This is based on that which is explained in Likutei Mohoran, Part 1 Siman 6.)
Let us understand how the foundation of all the ways of Hischazkus and encouragement stands upon that which is explained in this Torah, the basic concept of the necessity to seek out the Honor of G-d, etc.
There are many who wonder at the whole subject of Hischazkus: “What benefit do I have in the knowledge that G-d loves me and takes pride in me, considering that I just had a really hard day, a day of wasted time, in which I didn’t complete my allotted study schedule; or in a worse situation a day when I stumbled and fell spiritually, etc. And more generally, for how long will I have to be connected to these ‘encouragement-seekers’? Why can’t I be like those successful people for whom everything seems to go smoothly?”
The truth is that there is no answer to this question. For when honor is the focal point of a person’s life, he constantly seeks only success and accomplishments. In such a state he will be unable to comprehend the meaning of Hischazkus. It will never be feasible for him to get out from his depression and lowness of spirit. Once a person has engraved a specific form of Avodas Hashem (serving G-d) in his mind and decided that only this method is good and proper, he will never be able to be satisfied with his lot. He will never agree to the way in which G-d guides his life. And even if he were to achieve his goal, he would remain there forever and not yearn for more.
When a person harkens to the words of our holy Rebbe who reveals that man’s main work is to decrease his personal honor, a totally different picture forms before his eyes. For now he understands that his whole objective has to be to elevate and enhance the Honor of Heaven. This is also the whole intent of performing the Torah and the Mitzvos – to merit to bring pleasure and satisfaction, so to speak, to the King of Kings; sometimes via Torah and Prayer, other times through standing up to a test of life, or in any other matter that comes his way. In every situation he comports himself in a fashion that increases the Honor of Heaven, since in truth the world was created only for this purpose, as it states: ‘ולכבודי בראתיו יצרתיו אף עשיתיו’. – “…For My Honor I created it, formed it, even made it.”
Based on this premise, the Rebbe says: “One who wishes to return to G-d must gird his loins and strengthen himself in the ways of G-d constantly, whether he is ascending or whether he is falling.” (Meshivas Nefesh, #1) The initial step is to want to return to the Honor of G-d. When he really desires to return to G-d then he should constantly seek how to honor G-d more and more in his own situation. Therefore, at a time of spiritual ascent, he must not rest on his laurels and be satisfied with his accomplishments to date. Rather he should be an “expert in running”, since his whole will is only to honor G-d as much as possible and not only to reach a specific objective.
On the other hand at a time of trial and tribulation, even if he falls from serving Hashem and even if he descends to the lowest ebb, G-d forbid, he should never give up on himself. But rather he should search for and seek out how to attach himself to G-d in his current place, being an “expert in returning”, and strengthen himself in any way he can. Although he has fallen and become distanced from his original level, nevertheless he has been entrusted with a great mission in life to give honor to G-d who is present even then with him, together with him and right next to him, in order to receive pleasure from his self-encouragement and uprightness.
This then is the foundation of repentance and the source of strength to be able to stand up to everything that one has to endure – to gird one’s loins and to accept upon oneself right from the start that one will relentlessly seek out His Honor, both in spiritual ascent and descent.
A person should never say, “How will I ever be able to serve G-d?” or, “How can I possibly attain some level of divine service?” When life seems to be chaotic and disorganized for an extended period of time and people constantly degrade and disgrace him, greatly breaking his spirit, he needs to understand that perforce he must endure many impediments and thereby transmute the apparent chaos into order. He has to accept all of this degradation and humiliation with loving acceptance, to transform it all to silence and stillness, and let go of his own personal honor completely. Only in this way can he properly leave behind any other thought so that the G-dly Honor will rest upon him. He arrives at the deep understanding that his own honor is simply not attainable; he thus only desires the Honor of G-d and this is constantly to be found before him, in every single good movement and positive change.
When the foundation is correct – that one strives only for the Honor of G-d – then it is always possible to be properly strengthened, fortified and encouraged.

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