Will do…writes Rabbi Laibl Wolf

June 21, 2014 by Rabbi Laibl Wolf
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Every book on success-mastery will include a chapter on willpower, even nominating it as as the over-arching secret of success.

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

Determination is lauded by history as the secret ingredient of improbable political and military victories. Victories against overwhelming odds are attributed to strength of conviction and flow of will, overcoming superior arms and weapons. We are currently witnessing the same phenomenon, unfortunately exemplified by the cancerous spread of consuming terrorism and jihadism in various parts of the world

Willpower does more than simply provide motivation. The drive to succeed leverages every part of mind and body and empowers it in a way that breaks through the wall of challenge and seeming impossibility. It explains how a Steve Jobs evolved from home garage to an Apple empire; how Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan or Napoleon conquered the world; how a lowly patents clerk rose to become Albert Einstein; how a fledgling ill-equipped newly-declared State of Israel in 1948 overcame the combined forces of a dozen well-equipped neighboring Arab armies to successfully defend its tiny piece of earth; how a maligned obscure professor in Vienna became Victor Frankl of logotherapy fame.

How are the relatively small bands of Jihadist terrorists overpowering major Middle Eastern nations and even held Russia and USA forces at bay in their respective forays into ‘defending’ Afghanistan? Why are the superpowers so fearful of China or North Korea or a re-armed Japan, or choose to be strange bedfellows with Iran? The west doesn’t fear these nations’ might. They fear their audacity, tenaciousness, and self-belief. They also fear the terrorist movements’ willpower and earnestness to fulfill their dreams of a Caliphate throughout the world.

We in the west are soft. We are so ‘open-minded’ that our brains have fallen out. We throw our hands in the air when we read of yet another schoolyard shooting spree. We wring our hands in despair when statistics reveal that we are losing badly the war against drugs. We shrug our shoulders nonchalantly as we watch families falling apart and single mothers struggling to raise children of absentee fathers. We feel helpless reading yet again about corruption in the highest places. We aid and abet the current epidemic of food corruption, contaminated by infusions of sugar, fats, chemical preservatives, and dyes. We roll our eyes upon hearing of yet another politician being ‘paid off’. We smile ‘knowingly’ when the ‘news desk’ informs us of another romantic imbroglio amongst the ‘stars’.

We don’t possess the strength of will to create a just, moral and ethical society. We melt in the face of our helplessness and we practice hopelessness. Are we witnessing the beginnings of the fall of the ‘Roman Empire’?

The spiritual teachings of Kabbala explain that will (Heb. ratzon) is a pure expression of the soul. Mind (Heb. seichel) is heavily mediated by the brain, and emotion (Heb. middot) by the heart. Words and behaviours are even more distant expressions of the soul, having been processed through more layers of consciousness. Will is more intimate with the soul’s inner drives.

The moral success of these drives depends on a compass-bearing of true north, making corrections for the magnetic pulls of poverty, propaganda, self aggrandizement, illiteracy, power-drunkenness, and exploitation. Terrorism loves these highly conducive conditions to germinate its cancerous growths. When there is no willpower to defend, protect and overcome those who wish to destroy our Judeo-Christian way of life, the movements’ mercurial growth soon becomes a destructive cancer in our midst.

“If you will it, dude, it is no dream” is the famous line from the boisterous Walter Sobchak to the easy-going Jeffrey Lebowski in the well known Cohen Brothers’ arthouse film ‘The Big Lebowski’ . “You gotta push yourself”.

The western world is not pushing itself. A holding action is a recipe for defeat. Only operating from the front foot creates gains. But the prerequisite for this is willpower. Do we have it? Are we spiritually equipped to fight off the strong- willed, highly motivated, boldly driven, terrorist warriors for an international ‘Caliphate’?

Only a strong will, will do.

Rabbi Laibl Wolf is Dean of the Spiritgrow- Josef Kryss Center, Melbourne

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