We left off two weeks ago explaining that by performing our hishtadlus with proper intent, in order not to be considered grossly negligent which can cause a change in the good that was decreed upon us on Rosh Hashanah, we will significantly improve our lot in life.
The proper outlook and intent when fulfilling our obligation of Hishtadlus can be understood with the following parable:
As a well know philanthropist, Mr. Reich always had a long line of petitioners at his door. After hearing all of their requests, Mr. Reich would phone his secretary, Mr. Shamash, relaying the amount of money he deemed appropriate for each petitioner to receive. The petitioners, having been informed of the process, would then approach Mr. Shamash the following day at his office to receive their check.
Upon seeing petitioners exiting Mr. Shamash’s office with checks in their hands, Yaakov, a poor and simple man, got in line as well. He was then informed that only by first meeting with Mr. Reich would it be possible to receive a check from Mr. Shamash. Being a simple man, he thought meeting Mr. Reich was a mere technicality, whereupon Mr. Shamash would really decide how much money he would receive.
This flawed understanding of the process created a very basic difference between the way Yaakov approached Mr. Reich and Mr. Shamash and the way most other petitioners did. Most waited on line for Mr. Reich nervously thinking about what would the best way to present their case be, maybe even breaking a sweat while actually meeting him, knowing that at this point it is being determined how much money they will receive. The following day when they approach Mr. Shamash, they will no longer be especially nervous or worried, knowing that Mr. Reich has already determined how much they will receive and their approaching Mr. Shamash is a mere technicality. Yaakov, lacking an understanding of this process, approached this matter with the opposite feelings.
Hashem alone decides everything that will happen to us based on our Mazel, fulfillment of His Mitzvos, Tefillah and Bitachon. After His decision is made, it can only be improved through additional Tefillah, Bitachon and performance of Mitzvos. However, there is a technical condition, stemming from the sin of Adam HaRishon, which must be fulfilled. This is Hishtadlus. Although its fulfillment can in no way improve upon what Hashem has already determined, not fulfilling this technicality can prevent the actualization of Hashem’s decree. This is simply the process through which Hashem runs His world.
Other parts to this series: Inspiration in Bitachon