The Mission of the Seven Shepherds
The lives of the Seven Shepherds were spent clarifying that Hashem does everything in Creation. The level of emuna of the World of Emanation is to know that even when you lift your hand, it’s really just Hashem who’s lifting your hand. There is no movement and no action that a person makes that’s really not just Hashem.
We also find this with Moshe Rabbenu. He was a shepherd until the age of 79 and, when Hashem decided, He instantly turned him into the redeemer of all Am Yisrael. Incidentally, what was Moshe’s sin that meant that he wasn’t allowed to come into the Land? He hit the rock instead of speaking to it – i.e., he added a little bit of his own hishtadlut on top of what G-d had commanded him to do.
If we’re doing too much, we may be pushing off the redemption
We’re certainly not on the level of the Seven Shepherds (Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon and David). However, each of us on our own level needs to pray about this, and to clarify the amount of hishtadlut we’re meant to be doing at our own level. If we’re doing too much, we may be pushing off the redemption.
Sometimes, a person decides to take some action, but he doesn’t know how much effort he should really put in. The advice then is to do hitbodedut, to pray and to connect to the Tzaddikim who are from the root of the World of Emanation, like Yosef HaTzaddik and Moshe Rabbenu, and to ask Hashem to give you the correct understanding of how much effort to put in, and what to do and what not to do.
The Torah teaches us a great lesson from Yosef’s story, namely that a person can make a big mess when he decides to act when he’s not meant to. Hishtadlut has to be undertaken as part of a process of deep clarification, emuna and simplicity. The way a person wants to go is the way they lead him. So when a person has a question and has doubts about how much hishtadlut to do, and he prays on this, he’s then helped by Heaven, and guided to the point of truth.
Rabbenu, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, revealed to us that the main tikkun in the final generations is strengthening ourselves and following the path of emuna and simplicity. Through prayer and hitbodedut and connecting to the true Tzaddikim, we can learn how to connect our hearts to Hashem, and how to light ourselves up with love and awe of Hashem.