The Virtue of Struggle

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10 Responses

  1. Baruch Horowitz says:

    In the letter mentioned, Rav Hutner gives as an example the Chafetz Chaim
    (from a JO article):

    “Everyone is awed at the purity of speech of the Chofetz Chaim, z.t.l., considering it a miraculous phenomenon. But who knows of the battles, struggles and obstacles, the slumps and regressions that the Chofetz Chaim encountered in his war with the yetzer horo (evil inclination)?”

  2. AlanLaz says:

    “The easiest thing to do when one has succumbed to temptation is to rationalize that the behavior is actually not illicit or immoral. In one magical moment the guilt, shame, and struggle all disappear. It is only when one clings – stubbornly and with great inner strength – to the truth as it was previously understood that there is any need for struggle.”

    Classic cognitive dissonance.

  3. Toby Katz says:

    Haggard’s confession and apology cannot undo the fact that he acted in a manner totally inconsistent with what he was publicly preaching, and he would have continued sinning and would never have repented if he hadn’t been outed by his paramour.

  4. joel rich says:

    Is that the famous it takes 7 falls to make a tzaddik letter?
    Joel Rich

  5. Fern R says:

    Toby–but how do those two facts lessen Haggard’s mea culpa or the fact that he was in fact struggling? Maybe G-d used Haggard’s paramour to help Haggard stop? Maybe G-d, in His infinite wisdom, knew that Haggard would only be able to win this particular struggle if he was forced to admit his shortcomings in public and feel the embarassment associated therein? I don’t think anyone is arguing that Haggard’s confession and apology can undo the hurt he has caused his family and followers. Rather, I think was Dovid Gottlieb is saying is that there is something for all of us to learn from Haggard’s situation, and that even though Haggard is far from perfect, that there are still aspects of his behavior that can be admired.

  6. AlanLaz says:

    “Truly righteous people, we presume, aren’t tempted by vices – certainly not by sins of the flesh.”

    The Torah begins the story of Avraham trying to find Yitzchak a son by telling us that he was rich, and he made Eliezer take a shvua. Sforno asks: who cares if Avraham is rich; and why would he make his prized Talmid take a shvua…did he not trust him? Answers the Sforno that it had to say that he was rich in order to tell us that which he made Eliezer take a shvua for; specifically, Avraham was worried that there would be people that would ONLY be concerned with his son’s family wealth and would bribe Eliezer to take their daughter for Yitzchak. Ayyy, you ask – how could Eliezer, one of only 7 people to go straight to Gan Eden, have accepted a bribe? The obvious, but equally important lesson, as you speak to in this piece: he was human. It doesn’t matter how frum or rabbinic one is, we’re all suceptible to taivos.

  7. Naftali says:

    Wow! If only we can learn to be as generous to our fellow Jews and to liberals of all religions and political stripe. It seems that Orthodox Jewry’s infatuation and identification with Evangelical Christianity is deeper than I imagined. I wish R. Haggard the best, as I do for all men and women, and I hope that he is on his way to recovery now that has been forced to face himself. However, Rabbi Gottlieb’s paean to R. Haggard doesn’t do justice to the chronology of the episode. R. Haggard initially denied the charges against him, and made the confessions that Rabbi Gottlieb finds so admirable only after he was fired from his position by the elders of his congregation, i.e, when he was left with no choice but to go down with “dignity.”

    R. Haggard was outspoken and harsh in his criticism of homosexuality. He did not address moral failure in others with the same charity that Rabbi Gottlieb does. R. Haggard was fighting his own demons. As one of his congregants explained to the NY Times: ”He struggled with the same issues he preached about,” Rabbi Gottlieb says something similar when he writes that “…struggle and truth are companions, not strangers; and certainly not enemies.” One wonders, then, whether the Hareida community’s blunt, uncompromising and often violent campaign against the gay parade in Jerusalem also carried that same hidden dimension of personal struggle.

  8. One Christian's perspective says:

    Thank you so much for your gentle and kind words that teach rather than ridicule. It was such a blessing for me to read what you wrote today because this week I have been studying suffering and learned that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character and character produces hope and you have just confirmed that this is a Jewish perspective. (I shouldn’t be surprised. ) Additionally, after a quick search on suffering in the Hebrew Bible, I just saw where (Psalm 132) David speaks of the same things – suffering, perseverance, hope.

    G-dly people will stumble but when truth is revealed, their suffering is not wasted when G-d is glorified. When G-d is glorified, their character has been refined and their hope is in the Lord. Even Isaiah said “woe is me” and look at his life.

  9. L.Oberstein says:

    I am impressed that the male escort outed Rev. Haggard without any attempt to sell his story to a tabloid or to profit in any way. He was sincerely affronted that here was a regular customer of his who also snorted drugs and he saw him on TV as a leading opponent of Gay Marriage. It was the hypocrisy that upset him.

  10. Eric Bauer says:


    If you are interested, Rav Dessler talks about the difference in Eliezers story between what happened and what he told Besuel & Lavan – how it was b/c Eliezer was an interested party in finding a match for Yitzchok (he wanted his daughter to marry Yitzchok). As Rav Dessler says, when he asked “what if she won’t come” and then about bringing Yitzchok out of Israel, he didn’t even realize that he was asking b/c of his own personal interest, rather it was only after the fact did he realize this, and then correctly state the way things really were.

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