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Section: Moadim   Category: Weekly Sefirah Diary
Week 4 Netzach: The Final Battle

One of the elders of Kotzk was on his deathbed. A young Chasid at his bedside asked him, "Tell us Reb Shemaya, in a few moments you will return your pure soul to your creator, does the Yetzer Hara still incite you to sin?" Reb Shmaya turned to the boy and said "Of course he does. Don't you see him standing near me whispering to me, "Say Shema with great Kavana since you will soon die." "What's wrong with that" asked the student a bit perturbed. "Don't you understand" said Reb Shmaya "He wants me to take poisonous thoughts of pride to my grave. He wants me to feel haughty knowing that all of Kotzk will talk about how the great Reb Shmaya died with the word "Echad" on his tongue."

We are all very good people. We do many acts of Chesed. We learn Torah. We control our temper. We watch our tongue. We are considerate to other people. The only question is, are these singular heroic acts or is this really us? Do we drive sick people once a week to the hospital to fulfill our "Chesed quota" and then decline to help our friends, neighbors, and family because we are too busy or it is too difficult. Do we run after every small Chesed opportunity or do we selectively choose the convenient and dramatic ones?

We all know the joke about the smoker who brags that with his incredible discipline and will power he was successfully able to stop smoking over 100 times! On that score we are all tremendous tzaddikim as well. How many times have we stopped talking lashon hara "from now on"? How many times after losing our tempers have we decided that we are finished with our tantrums "forever"? How many times have we undertaken to learn chumash or halacha or daf yomi "every day"? How many times have we resolved to spend at least a few minutes every day with each one of our kids? Probably more than once.

One of the great tzaddikim of a previous generation once confided in someone that he had a bad midda that took him over 40 years to finally rid himself of.  Netzach is about being a warrior and not resting until the enemy is dead. Dovid Hamelech says in Tehilim "Erdof oyvai v'asigeim v'lo ashuv ad kalosom" I will chase my enemy and catch them, I will not return until I have completely annihilated them. Netzach is not about winning small battles and taking a well deserved break to pat yourself on the back. It is about battling day in and day out until the war is really over. A great warrior doesn't need to win every battle to win the war but he needs to fight every battle, and in the end the victory will be his (Netzach).

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