Yom Kippur Is Over: Now What?
Let's admit the truth. Some of the resolutions we made are closer to wishes than plans…
The Baal Shem tov told a parable of a Torah Scholar and an ignoramus who both passed away.
They were both neighbors. The Lamdan would wake up early every morning, and hurry to Shul, where he would sit until about Chatzos calmly studying and praying. His simpleton neighbor would arise at the same early hour for work, only arriving at Shul for a hurried Shachris, the same time his neighbor was leaving.
The learner, satisfied and pleased with his achievements; his fellow man sighing in pain at the life circumstances compelling him to pray in such a poor fashion, and full of yearning for the day he could pray in peace.
Nothing changed until they died. Both had sins and merits. But when these were measured up, the learner was harmed by his pride and the simpleton benefited by his sighs.
There is a similar story told of the Chazon Ish of blessed memory.
An Avreich came to him complaining of his frustrating routine. Every morning he wakes up with hopes and plans to study diligently, to make progress, to not interrupt his studies, to fill his daily quota in Tanach, Mishna, Gemara and more, and not waste time. As the day goes by, his determination is weakened, and by day's end he cries bitterly at his lack of success in achieving his goal. "What will be the end?" he asked. "What can the rabbi advise me?"
The Chazon Ish answered:
Continue hoping and planning. Continue failing to implement your plans. And continue getting upset…
As the Chasam Sofer said: We don't achieve; we act. Sometimes we are not held culpable, due to extenuating circumstances, or "Oness". But there is no "Oness" for failing to purely desire. To wish and want is always within our power, and the results are up to Hashem.
Let us not cease our good intentions, our apparently useless efforts. As Chazal say: If one prays and isn't answered, he should pray once more. Hakadosh Baruch Hu is all-capable. Perhaps he will yet have pity on us. And even if not, at least we won't fall from the level we're on, at least we will do what we can do.
May it be G-d's will we succeed!
With Heaven's help, Yehuda Segal