In discussing the six constant mitzvot, Jewish Pathways mentions that:

"To achieve results, [one must] invest effort. But the materials, circumstances, and ultimate result are all provided by God."

"[...] How much of an effort should we make versus relying on God to make it happen? The precise amount of effort is a sliding scale, varying according to each individual’s level of trust in God." (source)

I was recently told the same thing by a local Rav in Manhattan. Upon what source is this statement founded?

  • I see many people with "a lot" of emunah and don't put in any effort and are still quite poor. What does this mean? – Yehoshua Jun 18 '13 at 19:27
  • Are you asking what the original question means or how to interpret what you described (i.e. physically poor people who purportedly have much emunah)? – Lee Jun 18 '13 at 19:33
  • How can "achiev[ing] results" in fulfilling the six constant mitzvos depend on trust in God, which is, more or less, one of those mitzvos? – msh210 Jun 19 '13 at 2:43
  • @msh210 I believe the answer to your question is in the quotation itself. The quotation claims that there exist "[levels] of trust in God". Perhaps, then, the mitzvah asks for a certain minimal level while admitting that higher levels exist. – Lee Jun 19 '13 at 13:37

Rabbenu Bahhya writes in Hovot HaLevavot (Sha'ar HaBitahhon, Chapter 4) that hishtadlut is indeed necessary.

You can see this also by the Jews in the desert. They had to do hishtadlut (efforts) every day to get their manna in varying degrees, but they knew all along that the amount they would get was preordained.

Sha'ar HaBitahhon does not say, however, that the amount of hishtadlut depends on one's level of trust. He writes in Chapter 3 that the system of work is necessary in order to provide opportunities for testing a man in his free will, but if a person passes the tests consistently on all fronts, the hishtadlut he will need to do will diminish until he will not need to any:

"If a man strengthens himself in the service of G-d, resolves to fear Him, trusts in Him for his religious and secular matters, steers away from reprehensible things (such as anger or arrogance - Pas Lechem), strives for the good midot (character traits), does not rebel in prosperity nor turn towards leisure, is not enticed by the evil inclination, nor seduced by the witchery of this world - the burden of exerting himself in the means to a livelihood will be removed from him, since the two reasons mentioned above no longer apply to him, namely, to test him on his choice and to protect him from rebelling during prosperity. His livelihood will come to him without strain or toil, according to his needs, as written "G-d will not bring hunger to the righteous" (Mishlei 10:3)."

Perhaps you can resolve the two by saying that if a person is on a sufficiently high level of trust, it will be easy for him to fulfill the above, since as the Shaar Bitachon says "trust in God is more necessary than all other things for one who serves G-d"

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As typically occurs when learning, I "happened" to encounter Rav Eliyahu Dessler's viewpoint on the matter yesterday while reading Strive for Truth with a chavruta. Rav Dessler says there (pp. 53-54, emphasis my own):

[...] Every human being has free choice in whatever situation he may be. His free choice extends to the one point at which the forces of truth and falsehood are balanced in his mind. It is here that free will comes into play. Areas above this point, and those below it, lie outside the range of his free will at that particular time. "Areas above the free-will point" mean questions of right and wrong which the person's moral sense cannot yet grasp. "Areas below the free-will point" mean questions about matters which are already part of his established moral behavior-pattern, so that he would normally be relatively immune to temptation on these points. For example, it is above our free-will point at this moment to fast and plead with Hashem to forgive us for the minutes we have spent without learning Torah (as the Gaon of Vilna did before his death). On the other hand the Yetzer HaRa is not likely to tempt us, in normal circumstances, to light a cigarette on Shabbat; this is below our behira-point.

But the situation is never static. [...] Our free-will point [can] rise. Things will come within our moral range which had previously been outside it. And vice versa: our behira-point can fall, and then matters can come within the range of temptation which previously held no attraction for us at all.

Parents cannot affect the actual behira of their children. The act of free is something which every human being must do by and for himself. But parents and educators can decide at what level the children's behira shall begin to operate. They can establish the starting-point of person's behira, though only the person himself can decide where it will end.

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