Determination: Do what you have determined to do. And do it energetically.
The previous midah dealt with doing what has to be done, this is different. This midah is more about actualizing your decisions by following through. How many times have I been staring in the pantry trying to decide what to eat? Plenty. It’s not a life altering decision, yet it feels like it at the time. Making up my mind shouldn’t be so taxing. The most concrete example that comes to mind right now is blogging. Those who commented on the last midah seemed to agree that alacrity is not so easy to come by, yet if you blog then you had to start sometime, didn’t you? I’m not an expert in the cognative aspects of how we make decisions, but I know for myself what I can get out of Rav Yisrael’s teachings.
It really isn’t so difficult for me to make up my mind. I know very well what I should be doing most of the time. I also have a pretty clear idea about where I fall short in my Avodas Hashem. It’s not a big deal for me to accept that I should be learning more, or having more kavana (concentration) during davening, for example. It’s the “do what you have determined to do” part that I get stuck on. One of the reasons I started this Midos exercise was because I was long overdue for a Cheshbon HaNefesh. I’m not as proactive as I should be, but by putting this on the web and giving myself a time-line to finsh all 13 Midos, I feel that it’s an active start.
Doing something “energetically” really means making it happen. To take an idea, a decision, and bring it into this world is a powerful thing. Mostly I use this power to decide what to wear in the morning, or which book to read my kids, but decision making is a true manifestation of our bechirah chofshis (free will). If I want to become close to my creator by emulation, this a great way to do it. To put my kochos (strength) into my decisions is probably more what Rav Yisrael was thinking about, IMHO (wow, I sound like Steve Brizel). The truth is that it’s late and I should go to bed. I have a problem with this also.
“I never thought about whether I could do something, but only about whether I had to do it. And if something must be done, then Hashem will give the means of doing it.” – Rav Yosef Yozel Hurwitz, the Alter of Novorodock (student of Rav Yisrael Salanter)