24 Av 5781 / Monday, August 02, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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Likutei Halachot: Don’t Be Hard on Yourself    

Likutei Halachot: Don’t Be Hard on Yourself

A negative spiritual force (klippa) wants you to be hard on yourself, so you’ll adopt all kinds of stringencies; that’s only evil’s ploy to try and rob you of your joy…


Translated by Rabbi Dov Grant

Excerpts from Likutei Halachot, by Rebbe Natan of Breslev
We can't conduct our activities only with tzedakah and chessed chinam/unqualified 'good' [adopting a carefree, lackadaisical attitude] – for then we wouldn't do anything! We would just do whatever we felt like and rely on Hashem's "good nature". This is not the way of the holy Torah.
On the other hand, we can't act only in accord with din and mishpat (strict justice), either. The entire world cannot exist on din alone, as our Rabbis have taught – and as we understand from our own experience. Many people have dropped spiritually, thereby becoming distanced from Hashem, through excess usage of din and mishpat. They become too hard on themselves, telling themselves that they have "no chance" anymore because they are such sinners, having transgressed and messed the world up so much.
The truth is – what difference does it make even if they are right about their self evaluation? They are still obliged to trust in Hashem's unending chassadim/loving kindnesses and mercies! There is always, always, hope – every day, every hour and every single moment of a person's life, never mind what he is, whatever he has done – for "the loving kindnesses of Hashem never exhaust". And so King Solomon wrote: "Do not be overly righteous and do not be overly wicked", which Chazal explain means that "if you are somewhat bad, do not make yourself worse". And even if he has really become a wicked person, G-d forbid, nevertheless he must not go even further in his wickedness. And however much he is able to reduce his wickedness, even a little, will surely be for his eternal good. In addition, through this he will be able to fully return to Hashem, because ein shoom yi'oosh b'olam k'lal – despair does not exist in the world at all! For Hashem's measure of good far outweighs His measure of punishment. If He watches and is observant of every single detail when a person has made a spiritual blemish or transgressed (as it states: "If a person would hide himself away – would I not see him?" and "from his place of rest he watches…he knows all their actions"), how much more is this true in regard to the measure of good: Not even a slight movement of good is lost from the world.
Consequently, it is true that it expresses the klippah (evil) of Yishma'el when a person adopts a laissez-faire attitude, relying only on chessed chinam and totally casting off the yoke of Torah and mitzvos, G-d forbid – because the klippah of Yishma'el issued from Avraham, whose main characteristic was chessed. The opposite is also true. There is an expression of the klippah of Esav when someone is too hard on himself with din and mishpat, adopting laborious chumros/stringencies and hamaros shechoros that overburden him. This corresponds to the klippah of Esav that issued from Yitzchak, whose dominant characteristic was din. This finds expression in Esav's enquiry, asking his father how to tithe straw and salt – excessive chumros. Sometimes excessive chumros are also a big blemish (as explained elsewhere).
Rather, quintessential perfection is found with the perfect blend of mishpat and tzedakah. This corresponds to Ya'acov, as in "mishpat and tzedakah is with Ya'acov". That is why "the bed of Ya'acov was perfect" [no negative progeny issuing from him]. (Hilchos Metanah 5:37-38)  
Esav wanted to know how to take a tithe from straw (ridiculous stringency), yet he’d turn around and murder a man, then take away his wife…
Rabbi Dov Grant has his own website at http://likuteihalachos.blogspot.com. You may contact him at ravdgrant@gmail.com.

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