“We should never have regrets over what we could have or should have done.”
Rabbi David Ashear
A person with emunah never has regrets. Rather than dwell on the past and on what might have been, he accepts the outcome without frustration or distress. He recognizes that he made his hishtadlut (effort), and if it did not work out, this can only be because this was the best thing for him. And even if, in retrospect, he realizes that he could have put in more effort, he does not fret over the mistake he made. Instead, he accepts the fact that this, too, was ordained from Above.
A pasuk in Kohelet (3:2) says, “There is a time to give birth, and a time to die.” What is the wisdom underlying this statement? Is it not obvious that there is a time for birth? When a baby is born, we can simply look at the clock and determine the time of birth. What is the profound message in King Shlomo’s teaching, “There is a time to give birth”?
I heard a beautiful explanation of this verse from Rabbi Pesach Eliyahu Falk that he had told a young couple who were married for several years without children. They went to doctors and underwent numerous treatments, and they also prayed tearfully, but to no avail. As the years went by and their prayers went unanswered, they grew despondent.
Ten years after they married, they heard that a certain renowned tzaddik; who was known for the power of his blessings, was visiting their neighborhood and would be staying very close to their home.
The wife turned to the husband and said, “Look, the tzaddik is coming practically to our door. Why not go and receive a berachah from him?’
The husband agreed, and he went to the tzaddik who assured the man that he would be blessed with a child within the year, and, sure enough, his berachah was fulfilled.
Seeing that all it took was a berachah from his tzaddik, the wife felt very frustrated. “What were we thinking all this time?” she said to her husband. “We knew about this tzaddik even before we were married. Why did we not go to him sooner? Why did we wait for him to come to us? We could have had a 9-year-old child by now, as well as several other children. All those years of aggravation and anxiety could have been avoided!”
The husband explained that she was mistaken. “We were not granted a child because of the tzaddik’s blessing,” he said. “To the contrary, Hashem sent the tzaddik to our doorstep because the time had come for us to have a child. We did not think of it earlier because the time had not yet come for us to have our prayers answered!”
This lesson applies to all areas of life. We should never have regrets over what we could have or should have done. We need simply to do our hishtadlut, and then leave the rest in Hashem’s hands. And when things do not work out as we had hoped, we must trust that this was Hashem’s decision as to what is best for us.