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THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
Arachim
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This World And The World To Come
Rabbi Yinon Kalazan
THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
Question - - 02/28/2013
What is man's purpose in life?
Answer by Arachim
Let's open our answer with a well-known anecdote:

When the West was yet untamed and unsettled, and there were railroads only in the East, an adventurer whom we'll call John Greene decided to cross the country from coast to coast.

It was a daring venture. Much of the West was not yet mapped. From the reports that filtered through to the East, Greene knew he would face a double threat, from native Indian tribes and from wild animals. Blizzards, dust storms, deserts, deep, churning rivers and steep, high mountains would impede his progress.

Greene's restless spirit impelled him westward despite all the risks. He chose his gear carefully and set out for the Pacific coast.

The adventures that befell him are far too many to enumerate here. At long last, after overcoming the dangers of nature, man and beast, John Greene scaled the final peak that separated him from his goal. When he reached the mountain top, his gaze fell on the waves of the mighty Pacific Ocean. He paused to take in the panorama before him, then scrambled lithely down to the shore. His heart was filled with a jumble of emotions as he tread upon the sand, and saw his footprints in the sand.

He bent down, took off his boots, and washed his weary feet in the froth that played up on the rocky shore. For a long time, his sharp eyes scanned the western horizon: water, waves, and more water.

He had arrived at his goal. But somehow, he was not content. He stood there, meditating, as the foamy wave washed over his feet.

"Now what?" he asked himself. "Where do I go from here?"


Whether folklore or fact, this tale highlights several aspects of man's restive spirit and the course of his life. One lesson we might learn from this account is that man's struggles to achieve his goals will bring him satisfaction only so long has he has not yet attained them. Once victory is attained, its sweet taste soon fades, and with it, the great significance previously attached to it.

With each successive accomplishment, man restlessly seeks new heights to scale.

Each individual reaches points in his life from which he can look back and review the past ─ days, months and years which are gone forever. He has traversed a long path, sometimes fraught with many difficulties. He has struggled through one crisis after another, accumulated material possessions and wealth, and now?

Those who have already covered the greater part of their journey in life tend to look back and make a reckoning: "What have I accomplished? Did I follow the right path? Did I make a mistake somewhere along my route?"

From the vantage point of this perspective, social pressures and accepted values fade in meaning. Events that seemed less important at the time take on heightened significance. We ask ourselves: What will remain when I am no longer here? What have we accomplished that will have a lasting impression?

On the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Judaism declares: "Life does not end here; it goes on!"

True, it takes a different form ─ dry land becomes a vast ocean of seawater. But there is life after death! The human soul is the main component of man, and it is immortal. It lives forever!"

At the meeting point of life and after-life, there is a special importance that attaches to faith, performance of the Torah commandments, the mitzvos, to good deeds and acts of kindness, and to adherence to the path which the Jewish people has faithfully followed for thousands of years.

For those who follow the path of the Torah, the active years of one's youth will not bear disappointment in one's senior years. This life-path follows a master plan that imbues man's actions, both in his youth and his old age, with eternal values and significance.

It is important to note, that Judaism does not advocate a life of asceticism. The path to eternal meaning is pleasant and meaningful here in this world as well. At each stage of one's life, the individual is free to draw forth from the waters of Torah a full portion of joy and contentment.
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