The Battle of the Generation - Day 26
Our weekly excerpt from the book "The Battle of the Generation"
There is one more lesson to take from this story. At the end of his teshuva, Elazar ben Durdia died. The Maharsha (Chiddushei Agados, s.v. Hachi Ka’amar) explains that Elazar was so entrenched in his lusts that it would have been extremely difficult for him to avoid sin had he remained alive. It was too likely that he would slip back into temptation. For that reason, Hashem had to take him from this world right after he repented.
It would seem that from a spiritual perspective, Elazar ben Durdia had it easy. He died right after repenting and went straight to the World to Come, where he immediately received the greatest pleasure in existence. He did not have to struggle to control himself. We, however, remain alive to face that difficult task. It would be much easier if we were never challenged again, but no doubt we will be — many times. If we don’t want to slip back into the trap of desire, we must work so hard. It seems unfair! We don’t want to give in again and we want to be good, so why must it be so difficult? Why did Elazar have it easy while we have to struggle?
In reality, however, we are way more fortunate than Elazar ben Durdia. We are lucky to face such difficult battles because these challenges are our opportunity to reach greatness! The more difficult the battle, the greater we can become by winning. Unfortunately for Elazar, he no longer had a reasonable chance of winning such battles, and thus Hashem had to take him from this world. Because he repented out of love for Hashem, his portion in the World to Come is amazing. He received reward for each sin he committed because the sins of a person who does teshuva out of love for Hashem are turned into merits (Yoma 86a). Yet, he never had another opportunity to overcome his nature in the battle against desire. We, however, were given this incredible opportunity! We get to face countless battles against the yetzer hara, which means we can perform many acts of greatness, each of immeasurable value.
It is true that it is harder to lose control when there are no challenges. It is much easier to stay perfect when there are no tests. But still it is to our advantage that we are constantly challenged, because it presents us with the greatest opportunity ever: the opportunity to reach incredible heights!
We must never forget that the focus of life is to accomplish, not to stay perfect. This is why Hashem put us in this world — the reason we are not better off dead! Let us take advantage of this opportunity rather than focusing on the impossibility of staying perfect. We have the greatest opportunity there ever was! Let’s not forget that.
Let’s encourage ourselves further by remembering that Hashem had to take Elazar ben Durdia from this world because he probably wouldn’t have been able to control himself had he remained alive. We can deduce from this that since Hashem has kept us alive after we decided to improve, that means we can regain control over ourselves. We can defeat the yetzer hara. It’s not just that Hashem believes in us; He knows for a fact that we can do it. He is helping us, so we can definitely succeed. Let’s never give up, because unimaginable success is within our reach. Let’s go forward with confidence and reach the greatest heights!
Though it might seem difficult, we can attain phenomenal success if we decide to take control. The crowning peak of achievement awaits if we stand up and fight in the battle of the generation.
- If we ever slip up badly, we can use that to spring us forward to reach heights far beyond where we would have reached had we not fallen. We can turn our mistakes into the most productive events in our lives!
- We must decide to take control of our lives, no matter whose fault it is and how many excuses we have. The determination to stand up and fight will give us the strength to defeat the yetzer hara.
- As long as Hashem keeps us alive, that means He is helping us fight our yetzer hara and He knows for a fact that we can defeat him! This is encouraging news for us because it means that we can reach greatness!