Judaism teaches us that G-D rewards us for REALLY trying….not for results.
While all good people try really hard to repair and improve the world, through acts of kindness and good deeds, we’re all on the same journey, struggling to survive as best we can.
As long as we recognize our limitations and don’t try to get into areas that are over our heads, or don’t try to think we know more than we do, or don’t try to be more than we are, it seems that we’re on the right path.
To that end, we each need to know when to recognize and admit that we’re not qualified for a job, or if we find ourselves in over our heads, we should be willing to recognize that (hopefully before, but at the very least soon after, we’ve made our first mess on the job) that the job is harder than we thought (too much for our level of experience or our circ) and, if we’re determined to continue trying, then to ask for help. And,finally if the assistance doesn’t help, we need to know when to quit, without blaming the work or the person who asked you to do the job, or the helper.
When I was a brand new lawyer, I debated for days to ask for help on a case that was way over my experience level. I felt frightened for the client and for my license, but it was hard to admit (and this is UNFORTUNATELY not taught in law school) that I needed to seek help. After all, I had gone to law school and passed the Bar. I should be able to figure this out. Blah. Blah. Blah.
With profuse apologies for my helplessness, I called on a well seasoned lawyer. He made me feel so amazing when he said,”You’ve done the right thing. I only worry about my colleagues -no matter how long they’ve been in practice- who don’t ask for help when they’re stuck!”. He became one of my amazing legal mentors, we won the case, and I learned the most amazing lesson of all, about asking for help and about helping others.
I’m not G-D…..only my dog thinks I am. And the neighbor’s cat thinks he is….But, seriously (which is hard for me to be for long…do I need help with that? Believe me, I’m working on it),….and, since I’m not G-D I have a dilemma….
Picture a home repairman who applies for the job and says, “I’m not really a good repairman but I try really hard!”.Should I hire him?
If the repairman tells me that he knows what he’s doing, I hire him, he arrives at my house (with the utmost confidence and good intentions, as if he is a great painter) and then does a terrible job, but says to me, “I’m so sorry about the mess, but I really tried hard”. Should I pay him, anyway?
In the first case, no of course I wouldn’t hire him. In the second case, I wouldn’t want to pay him either (but I will, not because I think I’m G-D -again, I’ll leave that to my dog- but because I’m a suckerette -the female version of a sucker- for “I’m sorry” looks).
Of course if I were G-D I would hire him in either case. In the first case, because he was honest and, just in case he was better than he thought, I would then let him keep trying “really hard”, reward him for that and be glad about it. In the second scenario, although he worked to no avail, as long as he did his best, he would also get rewarded.
All of which is to show us mortals how hard it is to be G-D. And, how hard it is to understand that, by just trying to help G-D, while we’re in this world, to either help the first repairman find a different kind of job, or to help the repairman who is botching the job, or to do the job ourselves, we have an enormous amount of work cut out for us, to do the right thing for every job.
But how does the concept of free will fit into this dilemma? Siri just typed fee will and she would be partially right in that repairman example. But for when she’s wrong, check out my “Oy Vey” blog.
Re free will…..The Orthodox say that everything is for the good. Maybe that’s one of the possible reasons G-D gave us free will (I’m having enough trouble thinking of how this possible reason works, so I’ll leave the other possible reasons to others to tease out)…..
As for my teasing this out….
You can give a child more and more responsibilities as he grows into adulthood, if you keep in mind that: depending upon the child’s age and experience level, you’ll want to be there to catch the child if he/she falls and that to not allow the child to feel as if he has free will is akin to breaking his spirit…breaking his will, if you will.
Along that line of thinking (free will, not word play, which is my avocation), I’m going to theorize that G-D gives us free will to let us understand what it feels like to be in charge and to understand how hard it is to be in charge.
And from that thought, comes this one: ultimately the game is fixed and it is only put into motion, by G-D for us -as his children- to finally understand that (especially for those who are arrogant) only G-D is really in charge, per the old Yiddish proverb, “Man plans and G-D laughs”.
Some would ask, “Then, why plan?” My thought is that it’s good exercise to enable us to remember two things (if you can think of more, please let me know): one, if we believe that we’re made in the image of G-D, we want to remember to laugh at ourselves, as we plan and/or if those plans go awry and two, never to forget that life is the only game with G-D in charge of the board and the players.
Besides….if we don’t plan, G-D will let our houses deteriorate.