Parsha: Eikev (2023)

Hard work and effort is an important value in Judaism. The Talmud puts it very nicely: Rabbi Yitzchak said if a person says to you, “I have worked hard and not found success,” do not believe him.

Similarly, if he says to you: “I have not worked hard, but nevertheless, I have found success,” do not believe him.

If, however, he says to you: “I have worked hard, and I have found success,” believe him.

It is only through our effort and hard work that we can see success and appreciate what we have accomplished.

We value the things that require our effort and toil. Something that comes easily without much effort won’t be part of our proud achievements.

This week’s Parsha presents the second paragraph of the Shema.

Both paragraphs seem identical, but upon closer examination, they exhibit a major difference.
While the first paragraph underlines the unwavering love and connection G-d has towards us, the second paragraph focuses on our own hard work and contribution. This is why the first paragraph does not spell out any reward. While the second paragraph is very clear about the rewards, we receive for our efforts.

The message is clear; hard work will always produce rewarding results.

A wealthy nobleman once found a peasant working with hay in the fields. The nobleman was entertained by watching this peasant work with such grace and diligence. He then gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. “I will give you a gold coin every day if you agree to come with me and do the same technique in my home every day for my entertainment.

The peasant did this for a few days. He did his little show inside the warm home of the wealthy man, albeit this time, it was just for entertainment and did not serve any agricultural purpose whatsoever. By the end of the week, he told his wealthy friend that he was quitting his new job.

“I don’t understand,” puzzled the nobleman. “Why would you rather swing heavy loads outdoors in the winter cold and the summer heat when you can perform an effortless task in the comfort of your home and earn many times your usual wages?”

“But master,” said the man, “I’m not doing anything…”

King Solomon, in his wisdom, said, “A man was born to toil.”

Judaism sees value in the effort itself. We celebrate the hard worker more than the skilled achiever.
This is something to think about when we encounter a challenging situation. You just do your best, and Hashem will do the rest.

Shabbat Shalom