Shlomo Ezagui

Cherish the Struggle

DJ Johnson

The only way to build muscle is first to experience pain and soreness. There is no other way, period. For one to truly grow, it must be from the inside out. Being handed the answers and solutions from the outside without the struggle will never do the job. 

One of Maimonides’s 13 principles of faith states that God administers rewards and punishments. “If you will go in my statutes and guard my commandments […] I will give rain in its proper times, and the earth will offer its produce.” No free lunch with God. If you work, “Your employer is trustworthy to remunerate your efforts.”

God is the essence of good. God, the source of this entire world, is pure kindness. If that is the case, why does all this good and kindness not just naturally flow from God, since that is all He is anyway? Why all the conditions, restraints, and limitations? Why the struggle of life?

Mysticism explains that the principle of hard work and struggle is a critical necessity in Holiness and blessings. In darkness and negativity, energy flow comes with minimal effort. Darkness is a state of existence because there is no light. To create light, to draw light, an effort must be made. But why?

True good is good only when it is appreciated. What good is it if you do not recognize or feel goodness? True good is not superficial and reaches deep inside.

Because God is the essence of good, He wants to give that same kind of good that is not fake and does not want to give a good that its recipients may not value. God wants the good to be felt and appreciated for all its worth. Despite having the appearance of blessings in abundance, what is received by those undeserving who do not appreciate the blessings is often the source of much heartache.

Mysticism describes free (unearned) bread as the “Bread of Shame.”

Real confidence and self-esteem can never come to people who steal and cheat. Feeling that “I” am worth something can only come when the “I” is really worth something. In addition to corruptness and immorality in trying to scam someone, there cannot ever be real inner happiness and/or joy, in possessions or accomplishments that do not belong where they are. The blessings and inner satisfaction of life will be missing.

A person will only truly relish, the fruit of their hard labor. Our sages say, “A person prefers (and enjoys) one measure that is theirs more than nine measures granted for free from others.” The quality, in less, is way more than in the superficial quantity of more.

The ultimate purpose in the obstacles and struggles of life and in serving God is to strengthen and deepen the pleasure and personal satisfaction that comes from overcoming the test. Not only are difficulties what bring the best out of the person, but God’s more profound and higher dimensions are conveyed through the struggle.

Spiritual fulfillment, therefore, requires an internal struggle and a struggle with our environment. Difficulties create the yearning and desire for respite. When finally reached, the sweetness and pleasantness are more profound.

Once, Rabbi Shneur Zalman wanted to gift his grandchild with the wisdom of the Torah. The grandchild, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, refused the gift, thinking it is better when attained through hard work. Later in life, he was sorry for refusing the gift because he realized that as much as he would have been granted through the gift, since God’s wisdom is infinite, there would still be so much more available to earn through hard work and toil.

Cherish the struggle because it will bring you to the deepest and best things God has to offer.

Chapter 230

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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