Not 100% succes, but 100% effort

Friday, 5 October, 2018 - 7:56 am


“I’m not asking for 100% success; I’m asking for 100% effort.”

That is a sentence that I have said and continue to say, in myriad variations, to my children before school tests, and it doesn’t matter what subject is involved. If you didn’t make an effort and received a mark of 100, I will join you in your happiness about the high mark, but it will bother me that you didn’t make an effort. If you made an effort and scored 70, I will feel your pain for the low mark, but I will be very proud of you for the effort you invested. When it comes to marks you are perhaps showing your abilities; but when it comes to effort and making an attempt, you are bringing yourself.

Tomorrow we will read in the Torah one of the most fascinating parashasparashat Bereishit. The story that I find most gripping in the parasha is the story of the offerings brought by the two brothers, Cain and Abel, to Hashem. The story is fascinating, painful, and mainly teaches us many lessons.

What exactly was the problem with Cain’s offering, causing Hashem not to pay attention to it?

From the simple reading of the text one can see that Cain brought “from the fruit of the earth,” whereas Abel brought “from the firstborn of his flock.” Two essential differences can be seen between these two offerings: a. With Abel it says “from the firstborn”, noting that he brought his offering from the best of his sheep and goats. b. With Abel it says “his flock” – he brought his own, from himself and perhaps himself as well, while by Cain it says “from the fruit of the land”, and not “from the fruit of his land.” He didn’t bring something that was his, and probably didn’t bring himself, either.

Put simply, it seems that Abel invested thought and effort, while Cain invested less. So it seems that we are requested to show 100% effort and not just achieve 100% success.

And if we are talking about effort, here’s another small point. In my opinion, when we talk about effort and making an attempt in all realms of our lives – whether it is in work, parenting or marriage, one should invest thought and perhaps also consult with professionals or experienced people, how and on what to focus in order to maximize the result. For, many times there are shortcuts or highways that when we discover them we will feel that there is a better balance between the effort and the result.

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

Comments on: Not 100% succes, but 100% effort
There are no comments.