Rabbi Berzansky - Nitzavim
"And you shall choose life..."
Mrs. Newman was excited to bake a cake for her new
neighbors. She exerted much effort in finding the right
recipe, buying all the necessary ingredients, and finally
baking it. However, on her way over to deliver the cake, a cyclist
bumped into her from behind and there went the cake.
It is important to know when it comes to doing mitzvos that
bitachon, relying on Hashem’s aid, plays a very significant role. Al-
though there is no place for bitachon when it comes to choosing to do
a mitzvah or in exerting the effort needed to try to implement our
choice, nonetheless the actual doing of the mitzvah is not up to us,
but to Hashem. He decides if our attempts will be actualized or not,
and for that we need bitachon.
Mrs. Newman not succeeding in actually delivering the cake was
not up to her. For some reason Hashem did not want it to be deliv-
ered. In such an event, her job is to have bitachon in Hashem and
believe that whatever happened was for the best.
Therefore, to say that Mrs. Newman failed would not be true, be-
cause she actually succeeded in doing all the aspects of the mitzvah
that were entirely up to her. She chose to do an act of chessed and
exerted much effort in doing so.
R. Yisroel Salanter summed this up by saying that all we need to do
is try, not produce; the production is in Hashem’s hands.
The truth is that even though her efforts were not actualized, she
will still receive a reward for her choice and efforts invested toward
doing the mitzvah. Perhaps we can view Mrs. Newman’s challenge
in a different light and see yet another aspect of success. If Mrs.
Newman’s children knew what happened and witnessed her positive
reaction, she could have instilled into her children by way of example
the correct Torah outlook toward mitzvos, and that happiness does
not depend on results.
In conclusion, people should not feel down or upset when their
efforts are not actualized, because the actualization is not up to us,
but to Hashem. If you chose and tried to do the right thing, know
that you have succeeded. Don’t let the final product rob you of that