We humans are capable of many things. Cooking. Painting. Skiing. Skydiving. One capability which we have, and usually save for the very last resort, is the ability to surrender. But surrender is for when all else fails - perhaps for never at all. As Churchill put it, 'we shall never surrender'.

That said, everything which G‑d made, even every character trait, can be used for good. Perhaps surrender too!

Let's have a second look at the word. The word 'surrender' is made up of two French words, 'sur rendre'. 'Rendre' actually means to return, not to give up. Literally translated, surrender means to 'return oneself'. Sometimes the French make a good point!

G‑d loves and treasures every one of us, and created the entire universe in order to be able to form a relationship with each and every individual in his or her own, unique way. While G‑d values our strengths, achievements and all we accomplish, it's our hearts that G‑d truly desires. Our deepest selves - just us.

As such, while material and spiritual accomplishments are certainly important, the greatest thing we can do is simply give G‑d our hearts, our very selves. And the truest way to bring forth our truest selves is... to surrender, to let go. It's the most enjoyable way to live life, too.

This does not mean to surrender in a weak way. On the contrary. This type of surrender is one of strength. It means stopping to try to be someone else and just be us. It comes from being so sure, peaceful and happy with our own selves that we feel comfortable surrendering our egos and defense mechanisms. A person's surrender of all external, shallow definitions of self highlights their truest selves. And G‑d values exactly that - every person, just for who they are. Thus surrender - or 'sur rendre'- simply means 'returning to ourselves' and discovering our inner G‑dly spark, the truest us.

From this new 'French' perspective, which helps us appreciate how special surrendering can be, where does accomplishment and achievement fall in? If G‑d values surrender so much, why did he create us with such a strong drive to achieve, build and accomplish?

Our strengths, accomplishments and achievements make us feel self sufficient, and can make the very thought of surrendering downright terrifying. However, precisely because of this, when we can nonetheless rediscover our inner selves and surrender our strengths for use for a higher purpose - such as selflessly giving to, caring for and loving others - the result is very special.

Our drive to achieve might make it harder for us to surrender - but without it there'd be no strength, just surrender alone. Surrendering because all other options have failed is indeed, like Churchill put it, far from ideal. But when when we build ourselves into strong, independent people, yet still maintain a pure, selfless, humble and real sense of self, we merge humility and strength into one, producing something extraordinary.

Surrender is only one half of the coin, enabling us to discover our inner core. Once discovered, if we allow that humility to guide and infuse our strengths, then the other half of our inner core - real strength - can shine. True strength is infinitely beyond material achievements. It too, like humility, is a state of being. For our inner core is a blend of humility and strength in one.

Thus the human experience, when maximized the way G‑d intended it, is three-fold:

A) We start with our drive to achieve and accomplish. Sheer, raw energy and strength (known in the Kabbalah as זעיר אנפין). 

B) Now that we're strong and independent, we discover the art of surrender and humility (known in the Kabbalah as רדל״א, מלכות). We can realize that our essential selves, our inner G‑dly spark, is far higher than our achievements.

C) We can then use that sense of surrender and humility, the inner sense of self and holiness embedded within us, to inspire, rediscover and redefine our strong, independent selves. This combination enables us to maximize the gift of life to the fullest. We can transform our strengths from being fleeting, temporary and beholden to material pursuits, to permanent, everlasting and meaningful - true strength (known in the Kabbalah as א״ס שברדל״א ,תוקף עצמי).

So surrender? Nah. But 'sur rendre'? Vive la France, it doesn't get better.

Rabbi Avrohom