Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Ma'seh w/Alter from Novardok & How Responsibility Creates New Abilities
My rebbe taught a huge yesod that regardless of a person's current kochos, abilities, when he must accomplish something, Hashem gives him the kochos to get it done. He told over a ma'aseh about the Alter from Novardok, which was quoted in a sefer by Rav Shmuel Birenbaum, the Mirer Rosh Yeshiva.
During World War I, there was no food or money in Europe and all of the yeshivos were forced to close down. There were no yeshivos learning Torah at that time in Europe. However, the Alter from Novardok made an announcement that spread around Eastern Europe and Lithuania like wildfire. He said that anyone who wanted to learn Torah, should come and he will provide them with food and a place to sleep. Talmidim flocked there and without any known resources to do so, through his leadership, he started 30 yeshivos, which were virtually the only bastions of Torah learning during that war.
Through tremendous sacrifice, he traveled all around raising money to feed all of these people, so he could keep his word. It got to the point that even though he had no money for these travels, since he was an old man, the anti-Semitic gentiles who operated the train, had mercy on him and let him hang onto the bars between the cars of the train, which he did all day and night on the ride between cities.
Someone asked him how he could do it. He answered that the way is that he never ever made a cheshbon, a calculation, "Am I able to do this." Rather, his calculation was "Does this need to be done?" That was all.
Making absolute decisions, and committing one's self to a decision is the way to cause Hashem to imbue you with kochos that you never had up to this point.
Before I started working in a secular job, I had difficulty being on time to a 7 AM minyan. I was never a morning person. I was the type of person who stayed up late and had a very difficult time getting up in the morning. Once I started working outside klei kodesh, I knew that I would not be able to learn at night. After a full day of work, I didn't think I would consistently be able to drag myself out of the house to learn, besides the irregularities in nighttime learning with simchas, meetings, and other things that interrupt the kevius, sacrosanct-ness, of such a seder in learning. So the only other option was getting up to learn before davening, which seemed like an impossibility, given my nature.
However, since it was a choice between essentially not learning virtually at all or finding a way to get up early, I was just started doing it, even without "knowing" that I could do it. I got up for a 5-7 AM seder in gemara. B"H, it is one of the most rewarding things I've done in my life and learning during that time is just magical.
When I started learning the Bilvavi seforim, I really had no good time to learn it with my little chaburah and all other times were taken by other things. I also didn't want to take away time from my seder in gemara b'iyun. So because I felt that there was no other choice (it's either learn at 4:30 AM or don't learn Bilvavi b'kevius at all), I was able to start getting up for that 4:30 seder.
So I can tell you from personal experience, even if you don't have the kochos for something, if you realize that it needs to be done, Hashem will give you the kochos to do it anyway!
May Hashem help all of us to stretch ourselves beyond our current vision of our own capacity to reach new heights!
(Picture Courtesy of AlarmClockDirectory.com)
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