We begin this week’s Parsha with a command from HaShem to Moshe; “The Children of Israel should bring to You (Moshe) pure olive oil, crushed for illumination.”(Shemos 27:20) The Gemara in Menachos (53b) tells us that Klal Yisrael is compared to the olive, for many times will Klal Yisrael be “crushed” but we must know that it is all for the sake of “illumination”, that all our struggles, as a nation or as ourselves are something that allows us to reach a higher level, a greater level of spiritual illumination. Throughout our personal lives we have faced many challenges and obstacles, and there are times where we feel like it’s all hitting the fan. One day things could be going smooth and then suddenly we face so many obstacles, so many challenges, so many tests and so many falls – what happened, what changed?
It’s not that we are going further from the light of HaShem, it’s that we are getting closer.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov gives a mashol that I’m gonna paraphrase, imagine you’re playing paintball capture the flag. The whole point is obviously to prevent the other team from getting your flag to their base. So, the whole game you’re doing your thing; shoot that kid, shoot the ref – pretend it wasn’t you, but then you see the enemy teams guy running with your flag a few feet from his base – if he makes it – game over. So are you going to shoot two or three paintballs at him or are you going to literally empty all you got in his direction hoping at least a couple hit their mark? Obviously you probably won’t be top marksman here so you empty your whole gun out on the poor kid and hit him like sixty times. This is the same thing that is happening to us when things suddenly get intense. We are the flag carrier, we are running towards the goal, and we’re going to make it big. The Yetzer Horah though, he doesn’t want you to succeed, he doesn’t want you to win, so the moment you are about to make the big score he shoots everything he has at you – things you may have never had to fight with before, but if we continue doing what is right and avoiding what is bad, no matter how great the struggle or how big the roadblock we will overcome it. We have to stay above, the way of chassidus to overcome desires and struggles is not to torment yourself and subdue yourself forcibly pushing away the negative, rather the way of chassidus is to instill confidence and belief in yourself, that you can do what is right because you are better than that. A person may have done everything wrong that he possibly can but even if he has one good merit he is no longer a sinner in the eyes of HaShem, he is a tzaddik, and if that is the case then what place does a Tzaddik have to stand in a place of filth. He is better than that, greater than that, more illuminated than that. Rabbi Abraham Twerskys father, Rav Yaakov Yisrael would always tell him when he did something wrong, “That wasn’t something a boy like you would do”. We must know that HaShem loves us unconditionally through even the good things we do that we feel are insignificant, and he awaits for us to do Teshuvah constantly. Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev once saw a man who was known to be a very “bad Jew” on the street, he ran up to the Jew and said, “You know, I am so jealous of you!” the man was extremely taken aback, “You – Rabbi, jealous of me?!” Rav Levi nodded and said, “Yes, for it is taught that when a person repents his sins get converted into mitzvos, so when you finally repent, you will have so many mitzvos!”, “Just wait a bit and I’ll have a few more sins you can be jealous of”, the man joked with Rav Levi. But, the Holy Rabbis sincere words had an effect and the man soon did Teshuvah.
We must know that, the crushing feeling the obstacles and struggles place on us are what will bring us to a greater place, that an obstacle is not a sign of being distant from where we should be, but a sign of being close, and that if we push just a bit more, through the battle, we will come out on the other side greater than we ever were. May we have the strength to overcome our challenges and to serve G-d with love and happiness, always.