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When it comes to the attempts we make to serve G-d, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov assures us that no effort is ever lost. In Sichos HaRan (12) we find the following words of encouragement:

“When people want to become truly religious and serve G-d, they seem to be overwhelmed with confusion and frustrations. They find great barriers in their path and cannot decide what to do. The more they want to serve G-d, the more difficulty they encounter. All the enthusiasm that such people have when trying to do good is very precious, even if their goal is not achieved. All their effort is counted like a sacrifice, in the category of, ‘For Your sake, we are killed each day; we are counted like sheep for the slaughter’ (Psalms 44:23). The Tikkunei Zohar states that this verse speaks of both prayer and sacrifice.

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When a person wants to pray, they encounter many distractions. Still, they should give themselves over entirely to the task, exerting every effort to pray properly. Even if their prayer is not perfect, their every effort is like bringing a sacrifice, in the category of, ‘For your sake, we are killed each day.’

The same is true of all devotion. You may wish to perfect and sanctify yourself, but find yourself unable to do so. Still, the effort and suffering involved in the frustrated attempts are not in vain. They are all an offering to G-d, included in the category, ‘For your sake we are killed each day; we are counted like sheep for the slaughter.’

Therefore, always do your part, making every effort to serve G-d to the best of your ability. Whatever task is at hand, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Keep it up even when all your efforts seem to be frustrated and all your attempts to be in vain. Do everything in your ability, and G-d will do what is good in His eyes (I Samuel 3:18).”

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Rabbi Nosson Rossman is a rabbinic field representative for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at nathanlrossman@gmail.com.