If your neighbor’s car won’t start, there’s a special Mitzvah (commandment) to give him (or her) a boost, call a mechanic, or do whatever it takes to get the car working again. “Do not ignore your brother if you see that his ox or donkey’s load has fallen. Pick up the load together with him (Deut 22:4).” The Torah speaks of an ox or a donkey, but the same applies to a car that won’t start.

There is, however, one condition — one should do it “together with him.” When your neighbor sees you coming he could say, “I really appreciate your offer to help. And since this is your special Mitzvah, and not mine, I’ll give you my keys and let you take care of my car for me, while I go inside and grab a coffee.” If that were to happen, you would no longer have any obligation to help. Assist your neighbor, but only if he is willing to work together with you!

This is also true, says Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan zt”l (the Chofetz Chaim), with our personal requests from G-d. Consider this scenario: Larry needs a loan of a few hundred dollars, so he asks his good friend Bill if he could help out. “Sure!” Bill says, “I’m happy to help you out. Just meet me tomorrow around 1:30 at my office, and I’ll write you a check for the amount.” 1:30 the next day arrives, and Larry fails to show up. At 3pm Bill gets a call from Larry, “I thought you said you were able to lend me the money? What happened?” “What happened?!” Bill says in disbelief, “You didn’t show up — that’s what happened!”

The Al-mighty loves us, and wants so much to help with all of life’s challenges. However, to demonstrate our sincere desire to receive His help, we have to work with Him. If we ask Him for help with our livelihood, but make no effort to find a job, or study a trade, then it’s clear we don’t really want a job. He wants to help us live life to its fullest, but only if we want it too.