Where in the Torah do we learn that G-d expects us to try to not make excuses or feel so overwhelmed by the details of a task that looks too difficult?
by Lori Steiner
The Torah teaches how much G-d loves us when we try to reach spiritual goals, even if we do not succeed. It is the effort we put in----our motivation and our intention----that Hashem loves and blesses. When we merely say that we want to try, but we find excuses to avoid doing so, that initial intention cannot produce fruit. However, when we demonstrate the authenticity of our desire by actually doing something about it, Hashem is impressed. Why? It is because we are giving credence to our dreams—to our desires and to our objectives. Hishtadlut (effort) is what Hashem wants even if the end result is not a success, even if we fail. The fact that we tried brings pleasure to the Creator.
That is why we must avoid saying, “It’s too late.” When Hashem sees that we are committed to our goal by giving it our all, He will often step in and assist us. There is truth to the expression, “G-d helps those who help themselves.” We must never give up. Hashem blesses our commitment to do what needs to be done. First, we make sure we have worthwhile goals, and then we put our energy into pursuing them.
Where in the Torah do we learn that G-d expects us to try and never make excuses or feel so overwhelmed by the details of a task that looks too difficult? We can extrapolate this lesson from the interchange in the Book of Exodus where Moses was having trouble figuring out how to make the menorah out of a single block of gold. The menorah was to be used for the holy Mishkan, the portable Tabernacle or sanctuary in the desert. G-d showed Moses a diagram to assist him. Moses tried to fashion the menorah according to the blueprint, but he was not successful. It was after Moses tried his best that G-d stepped in and threw the block of gold into the fire. The menorah miraculously emerged from the fire. From this story we can infer that G-d waited for Moses to try first before He assisted him. Even if Moses was not successful, Hashem blessed him for his effort.
Another example in the Torah that demonstrates Hashem’s appreciation for our effort is embedded in the listing of the materials that were needed for the building of the Mishkan. (Parsha Terumah in the Book of Exodus).The materials were listed in descending order according to their worth in a way that is measured differently than just monetary value. The most valuable items were listed first followed by those items considered less valuable. The order was gold, silver, copper, wool, linen, goat hair, animal skins, acacia wood, spices, and onyx stones along with other precious stones. The order does not appear to make a lot of sense since the onyx stones were the most monetarily valuable, so logically they should be at the top of the list, certainly not at the end. The Gemara states that the onyx stones were brought to the leaders of the tribes on clouds along with the manna. Because the stones were given to the Jewish People as a gift and there was no toil involved, no effort, no financial loss or sacrifice of any kind, they were not as precious to Hashem. They were, therefore, placed at the end of the list.
Hashem wants to see our effort---that we sacrifice to accomplish goals that emanate from the soul. The other items on the list, including the goat’s hair and the gold, came from either toil or a financial sacrifice---a willingness of the Jewish People to give, to contribute to something bigger than themselves. Intentions, effort, and purpose are the hallmark of a great person. It’s the internal drive, the motivation, the reason behind what we choose to put our effort into that count. These things are internal. The external expression, the end result, does not matter as much to G-d. If our heart is in the right place, we do the right thing, we try our best to manifest wholesome objectives through effort, then Hashem, Who knows our intentions, our goals, and the hidden reasons we desire certain things, decides if we will be successful.
Whether or not the outcome of our work is what we expect is not as important as the worth of our intentions and how hard we try to do what is right and responsible. If the job seems too big, instead of making excuses for not going forward, we should simply do our part. More people focusing upon high-level goals that benefit mankind and contributing their fair share will compound, bringing more light and more blessings into a world desperately in need of transformation.