Weakness is one of our greatest weaknesses.
No, really: no one likes to be weak, or even just be preiceved as weak.
And we all appreciate the value of strength.
Strength is one of the crucial ingredients needed for life. Without it, it’s almost impossible to navigate the world. Whatever we want to achieve, we will face many challenges and obstacles on the way. So we must be strong to stay on course.
Yet, all of us have our weaknesses. Moments of doubts and uncertainty, when we might feel that we are not strong enough.
Is there anything we can do about it? Is there a way for us to attain a higher level of strength?
Earlier today, I was listening to a talk by the Rebbe. The talk, delivered 42 years ago, contained a powerful lesson about strength and a “lifehack” that can help us achieve it.
The Rebbe discussed this week’s Torah portion, in which Moses sent 12 spies to the land of Israel.
Before leaving, he gave them a series of instructions. They were supposed to find some key facts about the country and its inhabitants.
Here are his words:
“You shall see what [kind of] land it is, and the people who inhabit it; are they strong or weak… And what of the cities in which they reside are they in camps or in fortresses?”
And Rashi brings the interepetion of the Midrash:
“He (Moses) gave them a sign. If they live in open cities [it is a sign that] they are strong, since they rely on their might. And if they live in fortified cities [it is a sign that] they are weak”.
As usual, the Rebbe identified a empowering life-lesson in the Parsha.
We can create impenetrable fortresses of strength!
The fortresses of life, the Rebbe explained, are habits.
Think about it: Positive habits are our biggest friends. They keep us doing the right things, even if we are not in the mood; they ensure we remain true to our values, even if our vision is blurred.
And bad habits are our biggest enemies. It is very difficult to escape a bad habit.
The Rebbe pointed out that often a new habit begins inconspicuously. We may be doing something small, but when done repeatedly, it becomes a habit that can have a strong impact on our lives.
Adopting a new, positive habit, can protect us in the moment of weakness.
For example, learning Torah on a daily basis will ensure that even during stressful times, our mind will be occupied with holy words and ideas.
Forming an habit of daily prayer will be a daily reminder to lift our eyes to heaven even when the situation might grab us to look only downward.
And always saying hello to people we encounter in the street, will keep us connected even in moments of isolation.
So let’s find those positive habits (and get rid of the bad ones!) and keep building fortresses that will protect us for years to come.