Imagine I own a very successful retail store. I’m making money hands over fist, expanding and growing. Life is great. One day, my CFO walks in and says boss, I’ve got some bad news for you. What’s up? Well, you know, the internet has changed the business, it’s not the same as we started ten years ago. And I’ve been carefully looking at the numbers. Boss, I have to tell you, if we don’t stay open on Saturday we’ll be bankrupt within six months. Oh my goodness! We’re obligated to go in the derech hateva (way of the world). If I keep my business closed on Saturday, according to the ways of the world I’m going to be bankrupt. So I guess I have no choice but to keep it open.
Explains the Chovos Halevavos that’s a fallacy. Why? Because Hashem commanded us to use the derech hateva, the way of nature, but Hashem also commanded us in many other things. Sheishes yamim ta’avod, work for six days, uba’shvi’i tishbos, and rest on the seventh day; do not work on Saturday. I can’t open my store on Saturday saying I’m using the world in the way that Hashem wants to, because Hashem clearly explained that He doesn’t want us working on Shabbos.
And this is the concept that really brackets all of our derech hateva hishtadlus (effort). I have to use the world in the ways of the world as bracketed by the Torah, as explained by the laws, rules and principles of the Torah. To earn a living I have to work very diligently, but there are also many obligations of a Torah Jew. I have to daven (pray) with a minyan (ten men), I have to learn, I have to be a husband, I have to be a father. I have to allocate time for all of the various obligations that I have.
Do I have to work very diligently? Absolutely. Do I have to be very focused? One hundred percent. And I also have to find a way to meet all of my obligations and I have to find a way in the derech hateva to do all of the things that a Jew is obligated to do. I have to use the ways of the world as defined, as bracketed, by the Torah. Using the derech hateva according to the Torah system is the right hishtadlus. And then I have to know that exactly what Hashem determined will be, not a penny more and not a penny less. I am supposed to go in the derech hateva, knowing that Hashem determines what the results will be.