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9 Shvat 5778 - January 25, 2018 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Stories from the Workplace: Limits of Hishtadlus

By The Rabbinical Committee to Fortify the Das

In the beis din of HaRav Nissim Karelitz, once a Jew rushed in, panting, with an urgent question:

"The municipality owes me a payment for various reasons, but getting it is dependent upon my bringing a certification from a recognized kindergarten where my son is registered.

"I do have a son registered in an official kindergarten which, for some reason, is not actually recognized by the city. I checked out what the criteria are and found that there is no logical or legitimate reason therefore, only arbitrary thick-headedness. My question is: since the payment is really due to me and they refuse to give it me for no good reason, am I permitted to bring them a certification from a different kindergarten which they officially recognize even though my son attends another kindergarten?"

"No!" declared the Gavad.

"Why?" he wanted to know.

"It is not part of your hishtadlus obligation to provide a false certification."

The man was surprised at the viewpoint of this response which put an entirely new light upon the issue.

It was not a mere question of forbidden or permissible.

Here was an issue of honest emunah: Do I truly believe that my sustenance is ordained on Rosh Hashonoh until the coming Rosh Hashonoh, and that my duty to make an effort is just sort a fine imposed on me? As I come to fight for my so-called rights, I must ask myself if such an act is an expression of a genuine endeavor included in my basic duty of hishtadlus? Can my yearly sustenance possibly be contingent upon my performing a dubious act?


There are limits!

We learn this from the response received by a Jew in a session of the beis din. Not everything can fall under the category of legitimate hishtadlus. We must ask ourselves if what we consider hishtadlus is what Heaven really requires from us in acting in a given situation - and if we do not do so, we are not fulfilling our hishtadlus requirement.

Conduct which is not altogether ethical or even unfit, acts which are contrary to our conscience and principles must be shunned, even if that is the requirement of our work place, surely such acts cannot be considered as falling within the realm of hishtadlus obligation.

The whole problem is that many other things are not included in peoples' red lines, and if so, it is our duty to mutually strengthen ourselves and reinforce this message. The red lines of work places also include many offshoots belonging to Torah and mitzvos, and not only personal explicit prohibitions.


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