Midot Hayom: Day 39: Netzach in Yesod
One day Hillel, walking along the road, met men carrying wheat. “How much is a se’ah?” “Two Dinar,” they replied. Then he met others and asked them, “How much is a se’ah?” “Three Dinar,” they said. “But the other men said a se’ah is two Dinar!” Hillel countered. “Foolish Babylonian!” they shot back, “don’t you know that the reward is in proportion to the exertion, and we carried our wheat over a greater distance; so we are entitled to more money.” “Empty-headed fools!” Hillel replied, “Is that the way to answer my question?” What did Hillel do? He helped them understand the right way, explaining that the adage applies only to Torah study and Mitzvot, not the world of commerce. Avot of Rabbi Nathan 12:12
There are people who feel that the adage, “the reward is in proportion to the exertion” is a law of the world, or at least, should be. They do not understand that effort does not always guarantee reward. The maxim applies only to Torah and the Service of God because their very nature is connection with the source of eternal life. Any effort expended in effort to study Torah or to develop one’s relationship with the Creator will automatically bring eternal reward.
I believe that the mechanics of this idea is dependent on the person’s awareness of the eternal of Torah and Mitzvot at the time they are learning or serving God.