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Lose battles but win wars

GYE Corp. Sunday, 06 May 2012

Taken from an article by Rabbi Avi Shafran on (Click here for the full article).

Among the collected letters of Rav Yitzchok Hutner, zt"l, is one that was written to a talmid whose own, earlier, letter to the Rosh Yeshiva had apparently evidenced the student's despondence over his personal spiritual failures. The Rosh Yeshiva's response provides nourishing food for thought.

Citing the saying that one can "lose battles but win wars," Rav Hutner explains that what makes life meaningful is not beatific basking in the exclusive company of one's yetzer tov" but rather the dynamic struggle of one's battle with the yetzer hora.

Shlomo Hamelech's maxim that "Seven times does the righteous one fall and get up" (Mishlei, 24:16), continues Rav Hutner, does not mean that "even after falling seven times, the righteous one manages to gets up again." What it really means, he explains, is that it is only and precisely through repeated falls that a person truly achieves righteousness. The struggles – even the failures – are inherent elements of what can, with determination and perseverance, become an ultimate victory.

One of the users on our forum claims that a piece of Chizuk helped him as a Bachur never to give up. This was this very letter from Rav Hutner. Here are his words:

R' Hutner wrote to a talmid that complained to him that the rotten menuval was giving him a hard time. He discusses the pasuk "Sheva yipol tzadik vekum" and he explains that it's the falling (7 times) that makes the person in to a tzadik. It's a very powerful letter, and he ends off saying (based on Chaza"l in Biraishis that "tov meod" refers to the "yetzer harah") and he writes: "Had I received a letter from you saying that everything is great in your avodas hashem I would of said it was a good letter. Now that you wrote me what you did, I say it's a very good letter."

This was a great chizuk to me.