Celebrating 60 Years of Tenacity
How do you maintain spiritual focus in a material world
teeming with every imaginable distraction?
Is there a way to perpetuate a moment of inspiration,
not allowing it to dissipate under the weight of our burdens?
How do we keep our values aligned when we have bills to
pay, promises to keep, a workload that never seems to go
How can your soul’s voice be heard amidst the surrounding
din and congestion?
What should we do when doubts creep in, when uncertainty
and other debilitating forces weaken our resolve?
How do we overcome adversary and all those detractors who
cynically dismiss our noble and virtuous efforts?
Why do some people seem to have the strength and courage
to prevail over challenges, and others do not? Where does
their certainty and power come from? And can we all access
The answer to these and many other similar questions is
given to us in – what may seem to some, a surprising
place – a Chassidic discourse, studied by many people
during this time of year.
Sixty years ago this week (the 10th day of the
Hebrew month of Shevat 1950) my mentor’s mentor (Rebbe’s
Rebbe) ascended on high. His name: Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak
Schneerson, the sixth Chabad Rebbe. The last discourse he
published in his lifetime was issued for study that very
day. The Chassidic discourse, titled Basi L’Gani,
Come to my Garden (a verse in Song of Songs), consists of
When Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak’s son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem
Mendel Schneerson, assumed leadership of the movement, he
began his first discourse with the same verse, and elucidated
on the original discourse. Every year hence, on this day,
Yud Shevat, the Rebbe would focus, in consecutive order,
on another one of the twenty chapters of the discourse,
in 1952 – chapter two, 1953 – chapter three, concluding
with chapter twenty in 1970. Then he began the order again.
Based on this cycle, this year, 2010 (5770), corresponds
to the 20th and final chapter of Basi L’Gani.
What is the theme of chapter twenty? Unwavering spiritual
fortitude, determination and commitment in face of the challenges
that we face living in self-indulgent material universe.
Esoteric in tone, this chapter, when deciphered, is as
practical and relevant as any message you will ever hear.
Briefly, the chapter discusses the harsh challenges our
pure and innocent souls face in a selfish and corrupt world.
The soul, he explains, originates in a very pristine and
sublime state – seamlessly bound to its Divine source.
In that state no duality exists; the soul’s identity
and agenda is one with the Divine plan. But then this pure
soul descends into the physical body and material plane,
which is dominated by different and conflicting self-interests.
Your integrated soul is an alien in this fragmented world,
creating radical dissonance. Yet, this drastic descent is
precisely the purpose of all existence: So that the soul
can repair the schism and overcome – and refine –
the temptations and seductions of the physical body and
the material universe.
This process demands enormous effort and exertion. The
soul must fight a grueling battle to conquer the relentless
pull of materialism.
Just as we become spiritually inspired, the “animal
soul” unleashes its fury, assaulting our psyches and
unsettling us with every type of distraction; at times,
overwhelming us with baseless doubts and fears.
The only way to triumph in this battle is to muster the
deepest resources of the soul – the enormous, unwavering
power of Netzach – which emerges only in the face
of adversary. Rooted in the core of the soul (beyond all
other revealed faculties), Netzach (literally “victory”)
is sheer determination – total and absolute commitment to
forge ahead despite any challenge, unknown and doubt.
The energy of Netzach comes from a deep-rooted belief
in who you are and what you need to accomplish; embracing
what you believe in and not allowing anything to stop you
from getting it.
We access this power precisely when we are under attack.
When we fight to live virtuous lives in a corrupt world,
when we stand up firmly for justice and morality, when we
combat selfishness, our own or others, our conviction evokes
the deepest Divine, spiritual resources. As demonstrated
with the example of an actual war: When a leader is threatened
and goes to battle, the drive to win causes him to unlock
his most precious treasures and resources, ones that have
never before been seen, anything to help him prevail. The
challenges of life, thus, become catalysts that ignite our
deepest strengths. The greater the adversary, the more powerful
are the forces of certainty we awaken and the more determined
we are to succeed.
Complacency is the root of weak resolve. By contrast, when
we feel that our spiritual identity is threatened and we
fear betraying our own highest aspirations, this danger
stimulates new energies and will power, which draws out
the unshakeable core of the soul rooted in the unshakeable
Essence of the Divine.
There is no greater gift than the gift of determination:
The absolute certainty that you are precious and indispensable;
that you are on a mission championing a cause; that the
place and time in which you find yourself is exactly where
you belong; and that you have the power to make your unique
mark on the universe.
So the secret to access inner strength and resolve is by
looking at our own doubts and procrastination as an “enemy.”
Define the enemy and then gather all your inner strengths
to go into battle. Allow your enemy to empower you. When
the challenge seems particularly formidable, act counterintuitively:
Instead of retreating, obstinately commit, with suprarational
tenacity, to fulfill your mission to refine your corner
of the world.
When you make that netzach commitment, your inner
soul, fed by the indomitable Divine, will carry you.