I have in my possession a remarkable book called The Kuntrus: A Yeshiva Bochur’s Handbook (by Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, Moznaim Publishing Corp., 1999). The book is remarkable not so much for its contents (it’s an advice book for yeshiva high-school students in the black-hat community), but because it provides me with a written corpus of Yeshivish, the Yiddish/Hebrew/English collision that is spoken in some parts of the frum world. You may have seen parodies like the Pledge of Allegiance in Yeshivish, but this is the genuine article:
We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have them. The mussar seforim say that they actually serve a very important purpose. If you didn’t feel low when thing[s] were going shvach, you wouldn’t experience the gevaldiga aliya necessary for true growth. It’s like a roller coaster. Sometimes you have to go downhill in order to speed back up to the top.
First things first. In order to get out of a shvacha tekufa, you have to realize that you are in one.
There are three ways of discovering this. One is by searching your soul to see if you are tzufrieden with yourself. If you don’t feel like you are making steady progress in ruchnious, you probably are in a shvacha tekufa. Meaning, if you feel in your heart that something is not right, it probably isn’t. Torah makes a mensch feel good about himself. (Even if other people tell you that you’re learning geshmak, don’t be fooled. You know yourself and what you are capable of, the best.)
The second way to tell is, even if you are not feeling down at the moment, if you remember yourself shteiging much more in the past, you probably are in a shvacha tekufa. The reason you don’t feel it is that, most likely, you’ve been shvach for a while already and you have grown numb to your matzav.
The third way of knowing, is by going over to someone whom you can trust, someone you can be very open with, and ask him to tell you what he notices about your davening and learning. Tell him not to worry about your feelings, to hit you between the eyes. He’ll probably tell you what you already know, but this confirmation will make it more l’maaseh. Of course you have to be willing to be mekabel.
As I mentioned before, sometimes a yeridah precedes a tremendous aliyah. As it happens, a chochom who understands this can use it as a powerful weapon against the Yetzer Horoh. Feeling low, goofa, can spur on the chizuk that you seek. It will help you be machlit to become even better than you were before the shvacha tekufa began. You can then be mekabel new things to help you shteig. And the bren that you feel when your aliyah begins to take hold, will life you to all-time heights. Soon the Yetzer Horoh will have charotah that he ever started up with you! I think you all know the feeling I’m talking about.
Words that we all can live by….