אָמַר רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא: אַשְׁרֵיכֶם יִשְׂרָאֵל! לִפְנֵי מִי אַתֶּם מִיטַהֲרִין? מִי מְטַהֵר אֶתְכֶם? אֲבִיכֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם! וְאוֹמֵר:"מִקְוֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל ה'." מַה מִּקְוֶה מְטַהֵר אֶת הַטְּמֵאִים, אַף הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְטַהֵר אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל
Amar Rabbi Akiva: Ashreichem Yisrael! lifnei mee a'tem mee'taharin? Mee mi'taheir es'chem? Avichem She'bashamayim!...Vi'omer: "Mikvei Yisrael Hashem." Ma mikveh mi'taheir es hat'mei'im, af Hakadosh Baruch Hu mi'taheir es Yisrael.
"Rabbi Akiva said: Fortunate are you Yisrael! Before Whom do you cleanse yourself? And who cleanses you? Your Father in Heaven!...And it also says: "The mikveh of Yisrael is Hashem." Just as a mikveh cleanses the contaminated, so does The Holy One Blessed Be He cleanse Yisrael." (Yuma 85b-Mishnah)
[Sorry this is a little late-this is probably the most sung song on Lag Be'Omer]
Many times when you're in Yeshiva, and you are having a hard time accomplishing what you want to accomplish, depression and yi'ush sets in; you just wanna throw in the towel. You're Rabbeim give you chizuk, telling you not to look at what has happened in the past, and don't look at what may happen in the future, you have to look at right now; right now what does Hashem want from you? What can you do to bring yourself closer to Him (obviously i don't mean to be foolish and not plan ahead, rather I mean sometimes one tries to be misgaber (strengthen himself) over something but they think about how, even if right now they will be able to control themselves, in the future, they'll probably fall again, so they think "What's the point?"). You're given a guarantee by your Rebbi that if you keep pushing it, constantly working on yourself in learning and perfecting your midos etc. then there is no way you won't succeed. It's a guarantee! Do what Hashem wants from you and you will be matzliyach(successful); Hashem wouldn't ask of us something we are unable to do! It's that simple! But, even after hearing this, sometimes we just don't see the hatzlacha (success). We think we are really giving it our all and its just not clicking! We start thinking "Maybe this whole Ben-Torah thing isn't for me..." RABOSAI!! How long have we been "giving it our all?!" 1,2, maybe 3 or 4 years?! And when did we start searching for the emes and living a true Torah life? At 18, maybe 20 years old? GUYS!! Rebbi Akiva was 40 years old when he first picked up a sefer! 40!!! And through his hasmada (consistent effort) he became the one that Hashem chose to continue Torah among Klal Yisrael! He was zoche to have a talmid by the name of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who was megaleh (revealed) the deepest ysodos (foundations) of Torah to us with his writing of the Zohar! Chevra!-we have a 20 year head start!!! And we are considering defeat after just a few years?!! And we all know that the older you get, the harder it is to drop the habits and routines you have acquired. And still, Rebbi Akiva did it right and pushed himself, and because of him we still have Torah today! He taught us the greatest lesson we can take as bnei Torah, or as any ben/bas aliyah (someone wanting to grow in their yiddishkeit- i.e. everyone): IT'S NEVER TOO LATE! DON'T GIVE UP!!-Hashem wants to help us grow so badly, but unfortunately we tend to give up right before He was going to give us that big push we've been waiting for to make us soar! "B'derech sh'adam rotzeh lei'leich, kach me'halichin oso" The path that a person wants to take, it is that path that Hashem will help him/her on(for either good or bad). All we have to do is truly want it, and put in the effort; real effort. It's a guarantee...
(Top pic courtesy of CrossPointe Youth)
(Bottom pic courtesy of art.com)