Ahavas Yisroel for the effort
Recently, a story has been going around, told over by one of the roshei yeshiva of Chofetz Chaim in New York. The story is incredible, and I will try to give it over as best as possible because the message is very applicable to you and me.
A boy in Bnei Brak, unfortunately, left Yiddishkeit and moved in with an irreligious cousin somewhere else in Israel. Unfortunately, things got worse and he became engaged to a non-Jewish girl. His irreligious cousin was quite upset but was unable to convince him to break up the engagement. However he did convince him that basically since he would be cutting ties with the jewish people and with his family, he should at least go home, and face to face tell his parents what his plans were. He agreed and invited himself home for a Shabbos on "his terms." Friday night was (nebach) spent smoking on the porch and Shabbos day found him again on the porch on his iphone. Shabbos afternoon his father approached him and invited him to join a shiur he was going to, given by Rav Aron Leib shteinman ztz"l. Interestingly, he agreed to go. After the shiur, his father brought him over to Rav Shteinman to say good Shabbos and informed the gadol that unfortunately his son is not shomer shabbos. Rav Shteinman looked at him and asked, "How long are you not keeping Shabbos?" The boy answered "Two years". "And during that time did you ever have a hirhur teshuva?" "Yes, about four times." "And how long did the hihur teshuva last each time?" "Approximately 10 minutes." "Oh, so it comes out that for 40 minutes during the last 2 years you were in the matzav of b'makom she'baalei teshuva omdim ain tzaddikim g'murim yecholim la'amod, and of that i am jealous. Gut Shabbos." The boy went home and returned to his cousins house. Rav Shteinman's words left him no peace. The engagement was broken and from there, things turned around. Today he BH is a shomer Torah Umitzvos.
He was asked what made him go to the shiur. Here he was smoking and playing with his I-phone on Shabbos rach"l and he went to a shiur?! He replied that when he was in kitah daled in cheder, his class went to be tested by Rav Aron Leib Shteinman. The rebbi had obviously requested an easy farher and the boys were asked very simple questions. Each boy, upon answering a question received a candy from Rav Aron Leib. When this boy's turn came he did not know the answer to the question. So Rav Aron Leib asked him an easier question. Again he did not know. So the gadol asked him an even easier question which again he did not know. When the farher was over, everyone had a candy besides him. As the boys were respectfully filing out, Rav Aron Leib motioned for him to come over. He told the boy, "In Torah and yiddishkeit we reward for effort, not results. All the other boys put in an effort for one question so i gave them one candy; you put in the effort for three questions so you are getting 3 candies." And with a smile, he handed him 3 candies. And that is why when his father invited him to go to that rav's shiur, he went.
The story is one of extraordinary gadlus and shows an ahavas Yisroel and chochma in understanding people that is incredible. But for you and me there are two awesomely powerful messages:
One - when one has a hirhur teshuva - and anyone accessing the GYE site, chatting/texting/calling a chaver for help advice and chizuk, doing any other action to stay clean, or even just davening to Hashem for help because he does not know what hishtadlus he is suppossed to do, is most definitely is exhibiting a very large hirhur teshuva - he has to know what madreiga he is on. He, which in this case is you and me, is in a place that tzaddikim gemurim ainom yecholim la'amod! And that is even if the hirhur teshuva does not bear fruit.
Two - we must remember Rav Aron Leib's words - in Torah and Yiddishkeit we are rewarded for effort not results. We are trying so hard, and even so, sometimes we unfortunately slip or fall. We cant fall prey to yi'ush. We should be proud of what we are doing even if the results appear far off in the distance. Is it farfetched to assume that our sincere efforts, even if not always perfect, are protecting klal yisroel from difficulties and dangers?