The Battle of the Generation - Day 43
Our weekly excerpt from the book "The Battle of the Generation
Chapter 20- Our Unique Opportunity
In the Middle Ages, there was a caste system in which there were different levels of importance. For the most part, a person was stuck for life with the status he was born into. A person born of nobility would be important and powerful, but a person unfortunate enough to be born a peasant would be inferior. He would be doomed to toil for life with no hope of becoming significant.
At times, we might feel stuck with a status we cannot change. We might feel incapable of reaching certain spiritual heights that others have reached, or of even matching the success of those around us. This can make us feel stuck, unable to attain the identity we want. It seems unfair to us that others were given more talents and easier circumstances, because we think it makes them more capable of spiritual greatness. This makes us feel trapped at the bottom of the caste system with no way to move up.
However, this perspective is utterly foolish. When it comes to serving Hashem, there is no caste system. Each person has his own opportunity to serve Hashem in his unique situation. We cannot compare people, because we cannot know what someone would do had he been given another’s life-setting and natural temperament. Although people seem to respect outward success, that is not the true measure of greatness. Greatness is accomplishment in the face of great challenge. It is putting in the effort when we are struggling to succeed.
Understanding this causes us to appreciate our incredible opportunity: We can reach the greatest heights by controlling ourselves when challenged with desire. Because it is so difficult to overcome the yetzer hara, defeating him is an incredible achievement! We can escape our current status and achieve high levels of accomplishment! We can accomplish what is truly impressive and reach incredibly lofty levels in the World to Come.
Hashem has tremendous respect for those who struggle and nonetheless continue to try. When we push on even though we don’t see success, Hashem beams with pride (if it could be). He is so excited for us because we are accomplishing acts of greatness, and He will hold us high for all eternity! We must not be fazed even if people don’t properly value these accomplishments, because their perspective is wrong. And anyway, when everyone leaves this world, they will no longer view life the way they do now. They will respect whatever Hashem does and they will realize their perspective was off. They will learn what is truly impressive, and everyone will admire every bit of effort we invested when it was difficult for us.