We are, boruch Hashem, living in a generation in which many us are seeking to grow in inyanei ruchiniyas in any and every way possible. Unfortunately, while our good intentions jump start the process they are not wired to climb the steps necessary to effect the improvement that we are so sincerely seeking.
For as we pointed out in EmunahSpeak: A Real Deal Teshuva (2), in the context of Teshuva, If you build a roof in Elul in lieu of a foundation, instead of growth you’ll end up with a levitation act which will predictably succumb to the laws of spiritual gravity.
And so it goes for the gamut of the efforts that we collectively make. We may be driving in the right direction but we’re locked in low gear when we should be in overdrive.
After every Siyum HaShas literally thousands of Jews, who heretofore never pushed themselves to make a daily commitment to learn gemara, start learning Daf Yomi with the new cycle beginning with Mesechta Brochos. A high percentage of these newbies will be gone before the end of the mesechta, and of those who are still answering present at the roll call, many of them won’t make it past the first twenty pages of Mesechta Shabbos.
Or a person will learn Sefer Chofetz Chaim and see the emes (truth) that drips from every word but it remains raw unprocessed lifeless information devoid of any pulse. The same goes for tefillah, working on a middah such as anger, and anything else that might serve to elevate our avodas Hashem.
So why do our sincere intentions/efforts have no staying power and what exactly is preventing us from advancing in all aspects of our avodah?
Comes the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh to tell us that the issue is one of ratzon (will) or more specifically the lack thereof.
What happens in all of the above cited cases? A person will try to follow through for a short time with what he has learned about tefillah, shmiras haloshon etc. but at the end of the day it’s a losing proposition. In lieu of actually accomplishing something he will drey up every conceivable excuse known to man to explain why the much sought after growth ended up stunted.
But Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh doesn't dabble in excuses. It gives it to us straight:
THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT HE STARTED WORKING ON AN AREA BEFORE HE REALLY WANTED IT. And when one doesn’t consider something to be a vital action it becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain on a consistent basis. It becomes, in essence, a chore.
This is the insurmountable roadblock that bars any attempt on our part to get closer to Hashem.
We learn the Daf, attempt to daven with kavanah, and try to control anger and a plethora of base desires, not to mention our tongues, all because we think we should.
But many of us are not holding there yet.
When we think we MUST, as if our life depended on it, as opposed to should, then we will succeed in anything we put our hand to and not before.
And as we said in EmunahSpeak: A Burning Need, who doesn’t want that there should be achdus amongst Yidden? But how many feel the need for it? How many of us are driven by such a burning need for achdus that we are willing step out of our comfort zone to make it happen? And how many of us are so tortured by this need that we would be willing to compromise on anything that didn’t contravene Halacha?
And so it goes for almost any situation. Most of us want to learn. How many need to? Do you want to help others or do you need to help others? Would you like (want) to connect Hashem or do you need to connect to Hashem?
If you go through life merely wanting to do (with nothing more than a passive ratzon), nothing will ever get done. But if, with a soul on fire, you take that journey needing to do (because you understand that your spiritual life depends on it), nothing will ever get in your way.