There is a parable about a fisherman who was transporting a passenger by boat. The passenger urged the fisherman, “Hurry up, I’m late for work!” Then the man noticed that one of his oars had the word “pray” written on it, while the other had “work.” Curious, he asked, “What is that for?”
“To remind us,” replied the fisherman, “not to forget the importance of both prayer and work.”
“It is clear to everyone that work is necessary, but prayer seems unnecessary. Why waste time on prayer?” the man persisted.
“It may seem unnecessary, but it’s not,” the fisherman replied calmly. He then pulled out the oar with the word “pray” and started rowing with only one oar. As a result, the boat just spun in circles.
This parable shows us that not everything depends on us, and there is always room for prayer. At the same time, if the fisherman had pulled out the oar that said “work,” the boat would also spin in place. Without work, there is no progress. Praying alone is not enough.
Most importantly, we should direct ourselves in accordance with the development of nature and humanity. Advancing according to the laws of nature means doing everything in our power and leaving the rest to the Creator. In Hebrew it says, “HaShem Igmor BeAdi,” meaning “the Creator will finish for me.” That is, we do all that we can, and the Creator completes the rest for us.
That does not mean just praying to the Creator when we hit a dead end or terrible suffering. It means accepting the Creator as the force of nature that determines everything, and trying to resemble that force.
It is constant movement: we exert effort, but we know that the Creator will finish the work for us. We can then advance correctly, i.e., in a way that brings us closer to the Creator. We move ahead using both oars and pray that they complement each other.