Monday, December 7, 2009

G-d helps those that help themselves, and cartoons to laugh by

"G-d helps those who help themselves"

Is this statement heresy? Does it deny the hand of G-d in our successes? I recall a conversation with a self-proclaimed atheist who used the expression very cynically, suggesting that his considerable achievements were entirely his own and that G-d had nothing to do with it.

I beg to differ. To my mind, "G-d helps those who help themselves" is a perfectly religious statement. What it means is absolutely consistent with traditional Jewish thinking. G-d does indeed help us to accomplish things, but He requires us to help ourselves first. If we just sit back and wait for miracles to happen, we may be disappointed.

"G-d will bless you in all that you do," (Deuteronomy 15, 18) makes it very clear. Our blessings come from G-d, but we must do. Of course, we believe in miracles--but we mustn't rely on them. The combination of our own hard work and efforts coupled with G-d's blessing is the ideal road to success.

The classic analogy is the farmer. He can plough and plant, sow and shvitzfrom today until tomorrow but if the rains don't come nothing will grow. Conversely, all the rains in the world will not cause anything to grow if the farmer hasn't planted first. After the farmer has done his work and the rains come from above, there will be a plentiful crop. And it's the same story whether we are farmers or shopkeepers, professionals or artisans, employers or employees.

There are religious ideologies that frown upon medical intervention when someone is ill. They see it as a lack of faith in the great Healer of all Flesh. Tthere is a current  court case going on because a hospital gave a blood transfusion to a child who was critically ill, but it was against the wishes of the parents who objected on the grounds of their religious beliefs. Judaism maintains that while G-d is indeed the Supreme Healer, He chooses to work through the efforts of trustworthy medical practitioners.

G-d intervenes and makes  miracles happen. In other words, He does help us but we must help ourselves first.

It's a little like the fellow who would make a fervent prayer to G-d every week that he win the lottery. After many months and no jackpot in sight, he lost his faith and patience. In anguished disappointment, he vented his frustration with the Almighty. "Oh, G-d! For months I've been praying to you. Why haven't you helped me win the lottery all this time?" Whereupon a heavenly voice was heard saying, "Because you haven't bought a ticket, dummy!"

I wish it were that simple to win lotteries. But the fact is that it is the same in all our endeavors. G-d helps those who help themselves. May we all do our part. Please G-d, He will do His/hers.

Love Yehuda

Enjoy the enclosed funnies--many dealing with food and the holidays