There is a notable difference between hishtadlut (making a concerted effort) towards spiritual pursuits and material aspirations. Let’s explore this.
In the sefer Chovot Halevavot in the chapter Gate of Trust we are taught that we are instructed to believe in Hashem’s Divine providence in both spiritual and material matters. However there is a profound difference in the amount of effort we are to invest in both areas of life. When aspiring towards material goals there should be a limit on how much time and effort we are to invest in attaining them since the results are entirely in Hashem’s hands and are not dependent on how much we do. Yet, in spiritual pursuits the desire and effort is within man’s free will – it is our choice how much time and effort we wish to invest in climbing the spiritual ladder.
For example, if I wish to purchase a table and chair set I am required to act within the realm of ‘natural law’ which encourages me to look for a good deal and spend my money wisely. However, my heart will ‘lie’ to me and ‘tell’ me that the more I research, the better deal I’ll get. This comes as a result of the admixture of truth and lie that emerged from the sin of Adam Harishon. We are constantly being fed that our efforts do in fact have an impact on the outcome. This can be proven false by answering this simple question: “Does Hashem need our help to bring to fruition His Heavenly decrees? Does He need us to look for a job in order to get us a job?”
We act according to the natural way of the world because this is what we are told to do to mask the miracle of Hashem’s intervention. What is the limit on how much to invest in material pursuits? There are two guidelines:
1) Enough to ‘hide’ the miracle and create the appearance of natural doing
2) In accordance to our emuna. The more emuna, the less effort – the less emuna, the more effort.
Today’s Daily Dose of Emuna is dedicated to the refuah shleimah of Yaakov Yohonatan Levi ben Chaiya. May Hashem shower him with rachamei Shamayim and he merit a complete healing b’riut hanefesh v’b’riut haguf amongst all of Klal Yisrael who are sick and suffering b’karov, b’rachamim, Amen.