Man's Efforts Have An Effect

Akeidat Yitzchak (AY) was a great medieval Torah authority.

In Akeidat Yitzchak no. 26, he provides a fascinating lecture on the various reasons for a person's success.

According to Akeidat Yitzchak (AY), in many cases Man’s efforts do matter.

I. A summary of the Akeidat Yitzchak on 4 different circumstances where a person’s success may or may not be solely controlled by Hashem:

  1. Righteous person + Good Mazal: Little exertion is required for a person to acheive success.
  2. Unrighteous person + Good Mazal: He will not prevail over Hashem's will, despite his best efforts.
  3. A person born with average skills and intelligence, and average Mazal: The Torah is addressing this large group of people - this person must certainly exert himself, his successes or failures are due overwhelmingly to his own efforts or lack of efforts. He is operating under the laws of nature - "One employs every known medication to ward off infection".
  4. A Righteous person with negative Mazal: His efforts plus Hashem's assistance will neutralize the negative Mazal.

II. A Summary of Recent Hareidi Torah Philosophy (referencing the 4 above):

  1. Everyone is assumed to belong to either category 1 or category 2 in the list above.
  2. No. 3 in the AY list above has been completely deleted, so that a person's success is never dependent on his efforts at all.
  3. The effect of "Mazal" has been usually deleted from all 4 of the list above.

Thus in normative Hareidi philosophy,a person must make minimal token efforts but they have no real effect on the results. If a person is failing to achieve results, it is assumed to be a decree from Hashem, it cannot be due to the person's lack of effort.

This deterministic viewpoint I believe has caused severe damage to Hareidi communities.

The fatalistic “religious” viewpoint promotes a very negative effect on society by discouraging and minimizing the value of Man’s efforts.

According to Akeidat Yitzchak, it seems that most people must make an effort, not simply because making an effort may be a mitzvah, but because the effort does have an effect.

Man's Efforts Have An Effect