by Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern
Second in a series of 3. Read part 1
“Don’t Say You Can’t, Say You Don’t Want!”
Rav Shalom Schwadron once quoted the Alter of Navardok, who said,”I never asked myself if I was able. Rather, I first determined if I should, and if I should, then I’ll be able.”
The following stories illustrate how a person with a strong willpower and determination can overcome even the most difficult obstacles of life: Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel had given an awe-inspiring drasha at a yarchei kallah. Every ounce of his strength was expended as he spoke. Because he was physically challenged, every word he uttered was carefully measured. After Rav Finkel finished, he had to leave immediately to go on a trip to America.
"If I should, then I’ll be able."
Rav Don Segal was the next speaker. He began his speech by exclaiming, “Rabbosai, let me explain to you what you have witnessed today.” He then proceeded to explain himself by relating the following episode:
“The Brisker Rav once called upon the head of the Vaad Hayeshivos, Reb Moshe Dovid Tannenbaum, on Erev Yom Kippur. The Rav was quick to get to the point. He asked Reb Moshe Dovid to use his political influence to procure a deferment from the army for a certain yeshiva student. Since it was Erev Yom Kippur, Reb Moshe Dovid respectfully told the Rav that many of his key contacts wouldn’t be available until after Yom Kippur. However, he reassured the Rav that he was confident that after Yom Kippur he would be successful.
The Rav then tersely replied, ‘Du kenst, obber du vilst nisht’ − You are able (to do it), but you don’t want to!’ Reb Moshe Dovid realized that he had no choice, and by exerting extraordinary efforts, he was able to get the deferment signed before Yom Kippur. His determination had made it happen.”
Rav Segal continued, “Rabbosai, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel has many good excuses why not to give a shiur. Physically, he should be bedridden; however, because of his strong willpower, he is performing superhuman feats every single day!
Willpower is the only power that can combat and overcome the best excuse for a person to discontinue his life’s endeavors.”