17 Shvat 5782 / Wednesday, January 19, 2022 | Torah Reading: Va'era
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Dr. Emuna: God, Give Me Strength    

Dr. Emuna: God, Give Me Strength

Recognize that you do have a choice: You can choose to pray for help, instead of give in. You can choose to strengthen your emuna, instead of give up.


I hear it all the time in various forms, both from others and thoughts in my own head: “I just can’t handle it anymore;” “I don’t have the energy;” “I can’t keep going;” “I can’t do it.”


We all know these thoughts. These negative thoughts are like poison to the body, our emotions, and our lives. They come from the Yetzer Hara, the Evil Inclination. Rabbi Arush teaches that good, positive thoughts come from the Good Inclination, and bad, negative thoughts come from the Evil Inclination.


The Evil Inclination uses these thoughts to weaken you, primarily by weakening your resolve. Rabbi Arush teaches in his book A New Light  that everything goes according to a person’s desire. For instance, the great tzaddikim (righteous people) want so much to learn Torah, that even if they continuously fall asleep with the book open, right away they open the book again: “I want to learn Torah! I don’t want to fall asleep!” In this way, not only do they learn much more than they would otherwise, but they get incredible Divine assistance to learn much more even in a short time, because they want it that badly.


Let’s paint this theoretical picture in more detail. This tzaddik generally sleeps very little (Rabbi Arush’s teachings and prayers about sleep can be found in Chapter 9 of A New Light but are beyond the scope of this article – for the purposes of our story, we are going to assume he is very tired). Whenever he went to bed, he still wakes up to pray at halachic midnight (which is not 12AM, and changes depending on the location and the season). He then remains awake and learns until it is time to pray the morning prayers. Let’s say he just starting learning, and he could easily rest for some time before he needs to pray at sunrise. Don’t think that he doesn’t have these same thoughts! “Oh, you’re tired, maybe rest a little bit? What’s going to be with the rest of your day if you’re tired like this? You’ll pray better if you sleep a little more!” As he gets more and more tired, the Evil Inclination sends him the knockout punch: “I just don’t have strength to keep learning any more...”


We can bring it closer to home. You know you should go take a brisk 15-minute walk for your health or hit the gym on your lunch break. “Oh, but I am so tired...” your body tells you. Maybe your work or your kids are driving you crazy and you just want to lose it completely: “I cannot take this one more second!”


The key is to recognize that these are thoughts coming from the Evil Inclination. More importantly, they are only thoughts! They do not necessarily reflect reality, or what could happen if you strengthen your resolve and your emuna, and keep going.


They are there to try to weaken your desire to do whatever good, healthy, holy thing you want to do right now. Have you ever noticed that you don’t ever say to yourself: “I don’t have the energy right now to eat that cookie...”? No, the body says, “I don’t have the energy to make a healthy omelet, let’s eat the cookies instead...”


You generally don’t think to yourself: “I can’t take one more minute of this nice dinner with my spouse!” That’s because in that moment, you aren’t being tested. But when the spouse or the kids or the co-worker are acting up and driving you crazy, now you are being tested. Now is when that negative thought comes into your head, to make you think that you are too weak and give up.


Now that you know that this is just a thought and not necessarily reality, change the thought. Don’t give in to the weakness; pray for the strength. As Rebbetzin Leah Cook of Tiveria says: “Don’t say ‘I don’t have the strength;’ say ‘Hashem, give me the strength!’” In Hebrew, “lo ‘ein li koach,’ elah ‘Hashem, tein li koach!”)


Recognize that you do have a choice: You can choose to pray for help, instead of give in. You can choose to strengthen your emuna, instead of give up. The key is to strengthen your resolve: I want this! I want to stay calm; I want to keep going; I want to not get angry; I want to keep learning; whatever!


Know that Hashem wants to help you in these moments! You need only to express your desire in the form of prayer from the heart. The words of the prayer build the vessels you need so that Hashem can pour the blessings, and the strength, into them.


You will be amazed at what happens next. While I can’t promise that the kids will suddenly calm down and act like angels, or that you will suddenly spring to life with renewed energy, you will see that Hashem helps you. You will see that you will manage and it will generally turn out much better than what you were afraid of.


Hashem created the world such that we can’t manage on our own, and this is even more true in our rat-race generation. The truth of this world is that you really don’t have the ability to do it. Your mind is correct in saying “I don’t have the ability; I don’t have the strength.” But Hashem can do everything, and Hashem has all the strength. He created us with our lackings not so that we should give up, but in order that we should come closer to Him! That we should ask Him for help and make Him a partner in our lives. To come to Him and say, “God, it’s true that I don’t have the strength. Please God – You give me the strength!”



Rachel Avrahami grew up in Los Angeles, CA, USA in a far off valley where she was one of only a handful of Jews in a public high school of thousands. She found Hashem in the urban jungle of university. Rachel was privileged to read one of the first copies of The Garden of Emuna in English, and the rest, as they say, is history. She made Aliyah and immediately began working at Breslev Israel. 

Rachel is now the Editor of Breslev Israel's English website. She welcomes questions and comments to her email: rachel.avrahami@breslev.co.il.




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