If God is in charge, why is my effort necessary


If God determines our wealth and marriage partner, is there a point to purchasing a book on how to obtain these?

Tom P.


Dear Tom,

Did you ever watch the 1960s’ TV show Gilligan’s Island? Seven people became castaways when their boat foundered. One of these was known as the Professor. While the show was far from reality TV, the Professor had access to the same raw materials as each of the other stranded passengers. While they fashioned cups out of coconuts and used fronds to fan themselves, he turned the same materials into communication and transportation systems.  We each construct something different with the raw materials assigned to us and what we construct often depends upon what we know.

We do believe that before conception, God declares who our ideal marriage partner is and that each year He decides what our ‘work-multiplier’ is.  That is not the same as handing us those things. Just as one person can turn a one-room apartment into a palace while another can turn a mansion into a prison, we can mess up a relationship with the greatest potential and elevate a relationship that starts out as second-rate.  Without the right knowledge and without having acquired the correct patterns of conduct, we may never meet our divinely assigned partner, or having met her, we might repulse her.  

Similarly, God may allot us a certain ‘work-multiplier‘ meaning that He has decided how much financial abundance each unit of our work will deliver.  But the kind of work we do and how effectively we do it is entirely up to us and those decisions are very much a function of what we know and what best practices we have absorbed. Again, information and wisdom are vital.

So, we would strongly encourage you and, indeed, all of us to treat marriage and wealth acquisition as areas where we constantly want to read, listen and learn how to improve. We should each strive to make the most of what God graciously prepares for us even as we pray for His help in doing so. 

Be a professor,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin


16 thoughts on “If God is in charge, why is my effort necessary”

  1. Thank you for your words of wisdom, I have learned a lot from reading, listening to, and watching your material. It is very thought-provoking. In this post and on one of your episodes you have mentioned a “work-multiplier.” I’m a little confused about this concept. How do we know He sets a unit every year for our work? I’m sure I have missed something. 🙂

  2. I love your program. This week I was watching a repeat of the episode explaining how Isaac’s prayer to Jacob and Mose’s prayer, blessings, upon the Israelites, were almost exactly alike, except Moses left out the fat. And both of you talked about the word fat in a terms of being so blessed, so rich, so filled with themselves and the world that they forgot God. Then I began to think about our physical body. We need a little bit of fat in our diets to stay healthy, but over indulge in fat and it can kill you, if it doesn’t kill you, you will feel slow and sluggish and not worth much and you think only of yourself and your condition. So Moses was right in both ways, physically and spiritually. Thanks for all of the thought provoking episodes. And God bless!

    1. We’re delighted that you watch our show, Ancient Jewish Wisdom on TCT network. (http://www.tct.tv/watch-tct/on-demand – look for Ancient Jewish Wisdom in the drop down menu). We love hosting the show and hearing from viewers. There is a concept in ancient Jewish wisdom that you don’t really know something until you have taught it and we find that to be so true. We get as much or more from the show than you do.

  3. Dear Rabbi your books are very expensive for me to buy as i am currently unemployed is there no other way that i can get hold of your books Desmond

    1. Desmond, we would like to give a longer answer to this than is appropriate for a response to a comment. We are moving it to its own ‘Ask the Rabbi’ question and hope to answer within the next few weeks. We hope that by the time it appears it will be unnecessary for you as you will have found a way to serve other people by then, but it can still help others.

  4. When asked a similar question, by a young man in my youth group, I explained that there are two paths in front of us, our way and God’s way, and it’s up to us which path we take. But you have really made me think about the ways that our decisions can make those pathways branch off. God got me back on the right path in spite of myself by directing my Mother and I met the man God had planned for me. We’ve been married for 34 years. I’m so thankful that God is patient with us.

  5. Carmine Pescatore

    You find success at the intersection of preparation and opportunity and opportunities are rarely marked. You have to look for them carefully.

    The same goes for relationships. You can ask God for help in finding a partner but don’t expect them to show up wearing a red ribbon. You have your idea of a perfect mate and so does God. Choose carefully among those presented. Beware that Satan can send you someone. I speak from painful experience.

  6. A useful, simple response to question which arises often. Thank you. The publications I have of yours are of such quality that I would not hesitate to encourage others to read and listen to anything you produce.

  7. Maria Kosatschkow

    Your book, “Thou Shalt Prosper,” has been my guide in financial growth. I share it’s truths with those who are in need to see a God perspective of increase. I live it’s benefits today. Thank you for writing it. I am looking for Mr. Right number two as the first perfect match has passed away in 2013. I am only 60 years old and in want of male companionship as the first relationship was wonderful. I believe God has made more than one good man (from the same tribe) for me. I hope I am correct in this belief. Your biblical knowledge is priceless and cherished as fine pearls. Blessings to and your family, Rabbi Lapin.

  8. While the idea that God has a perfect plan and that We Humans really messed it up…

    And while I don’t pretend to know God’s ways

    I am more than disconcerted, that most of “us” have no concept of God and freewill

    His ways are not my ways

    His ways are always right – ours aren’t

  9. Your answer was straightforward and contained no cynicism… I chuckled at the question and was impressed by your handling… I think I would have been a “wise guy” had I answered it…

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Art–
      yes, the temptation is all but irresistible. That’s why we usually discard our first drafts and start all over once we’ve got the instinctive and usually wrong responses out of the way.

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