No Substitute for Hard Work

Rashi comments to the words, אם בחוקותי תשמורו, “If you will keep my statutes,” that we must be עמלים בתורה, “Striving for Torah.”

The message here is that we are not supposed to be passive in our observance of Mitzvot. We are to work hard and struggle to do the best that we can. The Book of Job also has an interesting verse with the words, אדם לעמול יולד, “Man was born to struggle.” Life was never meant to be easy, and is filled with many challenges. We are to have the courage to meet these challenges, head on, without looking for short cuts.

This message of working hard and not looking for short cuts, is not only true in terms of how we serve G-d, but it is true in all aspects of life. The short cuts and lack of enthusiasm as to how we go about life will eventually come back to haunt us.
We play many roles in life, and the success of these roles, depends on how hard we work at it, and the love we put into it.

This is certainly true of marriage. From day one, we must be determined and driven to constantly see what can be done to improve the relationship. It cannot run on inertia. The relationship must be nurtured and there must always be good communication between spouses. This only comes about with love and hard work.
The same is true of parenting. Children can tell soon enough, just how devoted their parents are. As parents, we are given the task of instilling values in our children. If we don’t work hard and set the correct example, the results will not be what we hoped for.

This idea continues with the kind of children we are towards our parents. It demands that we respect and honor our parents, and care for them in their old age.
We must be devoted to our siblings and let them know we will always be there for them. And this is certainly true in our professions. We succeed with hard work and dedication and no short cuts.

Rashi, with his short little comment, tells us a great deal. We must take this to heart. As long as there is breath within us, we must struggle to do our best.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at