There’s No Substitute for Work

How often have we gotten hyped up about making changes in our lives, only to end up with nothing? Can we empower ourselves to return to Hashem? Yes – with emuna in ourselves and in our prayers to Hashem!

5 min

Rabbi Shalom Arush

Posted on 24.01.23

Action! 

For a long time Dvir had been feeling that he was not getting anywhere. He was working hard to earn a living but was far from being financially comfortable. 

He felt stuck in an unending vicious cycle, chasing his own tail. Month after month he was working to make a living and barely getting through the month. Debts were piling up. The family was growing, and with that the expenses. There didn’t seem to be any hope of a salary raise in the near future. 

He understood that he had to do something with himself. 

He considered starting a business, but remembered his friends whose businesses had failed one after the other. He remembered his mother, who always told him when he was young that he should be a salaried worker in a solid place, and not engage in dangerous adventures. He remembered his wife, who would criticize him whenever he wanted to initiate anything – and nearly dropped the idea completely.  

Through Divine Providence, he met a close friend from the past and they chatted. Dvir discovered that his friend was now a business coach, and he voiced his hesitations regarding setting up a business. 

The friend, who was a good friend, offered to help Dvir pro bono. “I’ll coach you,” he said. “I’ll prepare you for the business world, teaching you how to handle the business correctly and how to build a workplan. But the main thing I’ll teach you is to believe in yourself: to stick to your goals, and not desert your desires and aspirations in spite of the difficulties on the way. 

“That is the main key for success in any realm of life, and especially in business…” 

For many long months, the two friends met regularly until Dvir felt he had undergone an essential change and was ready to start. The coaching period ended, and Dvir broke off contact with his coach.  

About two months later, the coach decided to check on Dvir, and see how his business was working out.  

Much to his surprise, Dvir told him that he has not yet started his business. Using the opportunity, he thanked his good friend for all the support, and told him once again how much the coaching had changed him internally. 

But the disappointed coach answered him: “My dear Dvir, I coached you so that you would set up a business, but you didn’t do the main thing. What is the goal of this empowerment if it didn’t give you enough inner strength to set up the business you so much wanted to set up?  

“If you don’t do your part, take the step and start moving forward, the months of coaching are worthless…” 

The Purpose of Empowerment – Action 

There is nothing more empowering than emuna – faith in Hashem and that Hashem loves you. Have faith in yourself that you are good and you want good, that Hashem wants to help you and give you and grant you and bestow upon you endlessly.

This faith trains you to get up and go and do your work energetically and positively without weakening and without being put off by the difficulties and the barriers one encounters, and the failings on the way. 

But if a person busies himself with empowerment and doesn’t get up and do something real with it, he is like that person who goes to a business coach and acquires emotional strength and practical tools – but doesn’t establish any business.  

And like Dvir, who didn’t set up the business and therefore all the deep coaching that he went through will not improve his cash flow and his success in life, and he will return to precisely the same problems and frustrations – so too, he who empowers himself spiritually more and more but doesn’t know how to go on to the right actions, the empowerment will probably give him a good feeling in the short term, but in the long term he will see no improvement and in the end the spiritual strength will get lost as well. 

The empowerment we learned says that Hashem loves you always, in any situation, unconditionally, and things will be only good for you, and even better. Upon that we built the next level, that tells you to believe in yourself that you are good, that you want good, that Hashem wants to help you in any case, and it doesn’t matter what you have done; to believe in your own desires and intentions and to stop beating yourself. 

But after all that, and from it, one has to get out and work. There is no substitute for work.  

The work is to open your mouth and ask for things from Hashem. The entire goal of the empowerment is to send you to Hashem without any confusion or fear, believing that you are turning to a loving Father who wishes to help you; to do so out of correct teshuva and correct wishes and without beating yourself up because of your past; believing in yourself that you just want to be good.  

All this, so that you will be able to talk to Hashem and ask him for anything spiritual or material.  

If you have faults – beseech Hashem repeatedly, until He will help you correct them; if you have desires that tempt you, addictions that rule your life – beseech Hashem repeatedly that He should give you the strength to rule them rather than otherwise; if you have physical and spiritual diseases – beseech Hashem repeatedly that He heal you and save you from them.  

We see, then, that the full emuna is that a person prays at length and repeatedly, with the certain knowledge that Hashem loves him and wants to give to him and shower good on him, and out of complete faith in himself that he is good and that he wants to be good and that Hashem sees the good in him.  

Open a Prayer Business  

Prayer is a rule in creation: All good and real abundance comes down into this world only thanks to prayer, and if one prays at length, the prayer does not go unanswered.  

The biggest yetzer hara (evil inclination) is that which comes to weaken your prayers, and any self-empowerment we do is with the intention that we will thus return to Hashem, in other words, return to praying.  

Because the complete emuna (faith) is to know that emuna is tefilla (prayer). What is Hashem? What is it to believe in Hashem? Hashem is prayer. You pray – so you have a connection with Hashem, you live with Hashem. You don’t pray – you are living without Hashem, without emuna.  

Moshe Rabbeinu performs miracles and gives back to the people their faith in Hashem and in themselves – but the salvation comes only from the prayers and cries of Bnei Yisrael. “Bnei Yisrael groaned because of the work and they cried out. Their outcry because of the work went up to Hashem. G-d heard their moaning, and G-d remembered His covenant with Avraham, with Yitzchak and with Yaakov. G-d saw Bnei Yisrael and G-d knew.”  

That was the first geulah (Redemption) and it is the example and symbol for all the general and private salvations. Any salvation you need, any geulah – depends upon prayer. Strengthen yourself endlessly so as to bring back the power of tefilla, which is the power of emuna and geulah, but don’t forget that all this empowerment is only so that you will finally open your prayer business and really begin to move ahead in life.  

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