Dear Rachel,

I feel like G‑d is rejecting me. I try to do good things—really I do, but I seem to fail miserably at them. I’ll give you a few examples. I invited a couple for Shabbat dinner, and they didn’t show up. I spoke to them right before Shabbat, and theyI try to do good things, but I seem to fail miserably said they that were coming. No show, no explanation, no apology. I sent a check to a charity, and the check bounced (on a technicality), even though I had enough money in the account. Another example: I put my name on the list for people who were interested in volunteering to help organize a fun day for kids, and they never called me. It’s like G‑d is saying, “I don’t want your mitzvot; I don’t want your good deeds. Can you get any lower than being rejected by G‑d?


Dear Mitzvah-Seeker,

It’s so refreshing to read about someone who is depressed because she is prevented from doing good, rather than someone who is depressed because they’re prevented from doing bad. G‑d wants us to build a world full of kindness, and I have no doubt that He is very pleased with your efforts. And you, too, will reap benefit from them because all we can do is make an effort; the results are in the hands of G‑d.

You seem to think you haven’t done these mitzvahs, but youAll we can do is make an honest effort actually have. Someone who tries to do a mitzvah and is prevented from completing it gets credit for the mitzvah as if he or she had done it. Of course, beyond the reward, you would like to see the satisfaction of the mitzvah being fulfilled and helping accomplish tikkun olam. But G‑d often has other plans for reasons we cannot fathom, and we have to learn to accept His reality.

Here are a few reasons that might account for your not being able to complete your worthy aspirations:

  1. Each one of us comes to this world with a heavenly “To Do” list. We have things we must accomplish and things other people must accomplish. To prevent us from doing things on other people’s lists and help focus on our own, we are given certain limitations. Sometimes these limitations are physical, sometimes mental or emotional, sometimes financial, and sometimes even other people are involved in keeping you on track. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invite people for Shabbat or volunteer or give tzedakah, but when it doesn’t work out, it means it wasn’t meant to. Think of it like runners in a race. If they weren’t limited by the boundaries of the track, they would be running forever off-course, never reaching the finish line.
  2. Sometimes, G‑d wants us to make an even greater effort that we are doing, either to reap greater reward or to flex our character building muscles. By having to go the extra mile, we are paving the way for future greater successes. This seems contradictory to the first reason, so how do we know which one it is? We don’t. We do the best we can, and then we leave it up to G‑d.
  3. Sometimes, what we’re meant to work on isn’t doing kindness, but how we react when we’re prevented from doing it. Do we take it as a personal affront, disappointed that the world isn’t running according to our will? Or do we accept that everything that happens is G‑d’s will and part of a master plan, and it is our mitzvah to accept it? How we react to frustration, disappointment and glitches in our lives, especially when we are trying to do what we believe G‑d wants of us, helps mold us into servants of G‑d, serving G‑d with complete faith that He knows what’s best for us.
  4. Ask yourself if you’re doing this kindness at the expense of someone else who needs it more. Should you be spending more time with your family instead of volunteering? Could the money you wanted to donate to charity be used to help a down-and-out relative or neighbor? Is there someone needier of a Shabbat invitation? Even charitable deeds work on a hierarchy, and charity begins at home, with those closest to you. So, maybe the mitzvot you are trying to do should be directed a little differently.

There are many other reasons, but whatever they are, they’re all good.Learn to focus on your intentions Learn to focus on your intentions and efforts, and not necessarily the results of your actions. Keep them focused on becoming closer to G‑d. If you do the best you can, even a little extra and surrender the outcomes to G‑d, then you will be happy doing kindness whatever the physical outcome, and the spiritual outcome will be only for the good.

Far from G‑d rejecting you, I am sure you are one of His favorite people, which is why He is challenging you to climb even higher to reach greater spiritual heights. King Solomon wrote in his book of Proverbs, “For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise.”

I am certain you will rise to the challenge.