Looking for a new job? A special someone? A change of fortune in your life? Did you do your hishtadlut?

Hishtadlut is the Hebrew term for making a personal effort, for doing the legwork. Having faith that “God will provide,” does not mean that one may sit around waiting for God to make things happen. If a person is looking for a new job, it is that person’s responsibility to send out resumes, network with friends and relatives and post about it on LinkedIn. Sitting at a desk, day in and day out just asking God for a better job without actually doing anything does not leave God any openings, short of a miracle, to fulfill that request.

The need for hishtadlut is demonstrated by our forefather Jacob (Genesis 32). When returning home to Canaan from his Uncle Laban’s home, Jacob, married with children and possessing great wealth, prepared to confront his brother Esau, who would have liked nothing better than to see him dead, and was coming to meet him with 400 heavily armed soldiers.

Since God had previously promised him the inheritance of Abraham and Isaac, Jacob could logically have assumed that God would protect him. Jacob, however, prepared his camp for all eventualities because he did not feel that he could depend on his merits alone for Divine protection. He sent a lavish gift to his brother Esau, while, at the same time, he divided his camp in half to guarantee that at least some of his family would survive if things went badly. Over and above these physical preparations, Jacob prayed to God for Divine assistance and protection.

This was Jacob’s hishtadlut! And, obviously, it worked.

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