Most People are Mistaken About Themselves
Most people are mistaken about themselves. They think that their Nefesh, their soul, is not really so special and holy, and therefore it’s too hard for them to be a Tzaddik or a truly good Jew.
Discussing Tzaddikim awakens by many people a desire to do Teshuvah and also come close to Hashem. Every Jew really is always full of thoughts of coming close to Hashem. People really do want to accomplish in Torah, and to perfect their Middos, character traits.
However, afterwards it’s common to hear people saying, “Yes, but how can we compare ourselves to that Tzaddik? Everyone knows that even when he was very young he was already so accomplished. He must have a higher soul than the rest of us; he must be smarter than the average person.” People tend to think that Tzaddikim are born Tzaddikim. But that’s not true.
How does someone become a Tzaddik? The answer is, through hard work, by putting tremendous effort for many years into serving Hashem. They gave it all they got, and didn’t allow anything to knock them down. They put in many, many Tefilos, until they reached the levels which they did.
Every person can be just like them.
Breslover Chassidim know that stories of Tzaddikim are not meant only as biographical anecdotes. We can all emulate their ways. We must all know and believe that the soul of every single Jew is very special, and we can all merit very high and holy spiritual levels, just like the Tzaddikim.
Especially in these times, and the end of the Galus, exile, when the Yetzer Hara is in an all-out battle, and many people have become convinced that they are not cut out to serve Hashem. Everyone has to know that this is all just the Yetzer Hara.
Reb Noson of Breslov once remarked that every Tzaddik only reached whatever level he did based upon how much confidence they had. Rebbe Nachman himself once commented that if he would have had just one person to encourage him in his youth, he would have been able to climb much faster.
The Tzaddikim themselves also had these types of ideas bothering them. When they first started out they were also not sure if they would be able to succeed. But they made sure not to be fooled, and encouraged themselves until they reached wherever they did.
Based on Meshivas Nefesh B10
Written by Ephraim Portnoy
Copyright (R) 2009 The Breslov Research Institute