We all wish to live a meaningful life. But why are we living? What are we doing in this world? What are we straving for? What are our goals after we die?
To find the answers to these central questions we must look in the very book of life itself – the Torah, which is called Torat Chaim (a living Torah). The word “Torah” means “instruction” or“guidance”, for the Torah is our guide in life (Torah strictly speaking is the first five Books of the Bible, but also is from one end of the Bible to the other). The Torah makes us constantly aware of our duties in life; it gives us a true definition of our purpose, and it shows us the ways and means of attaining this goal.
It is obviously necessary to study Torah and be aware of how to fulfil its directives in one’s daily life. Torah is Divine wisdom and there is no greater union with G–d than by the intellectual unity of study. Yet, “the deed is the main thing.” The ultimate purpose of study is to lead to action – to mitzvah performance – in fulfilling the purpose of creation, the making of an abode for the Divine in this world. Each and every mitzvah has a cosmic effect and reveals the presence of G–d. You may never know what huge change you bring to this world for every good deed from the Torah that you do!
In contrast to these concepts, we learn: The more flesh, the more worms. The more possessions, the more worry. Pirke Avot 2:8 (written by Hillel) The more possessions the more worry. It is certainly true that the more stuff you have the more worry you have. Worry about taking care of it, worry about using it, worry about others trying to take it away from you. Possessions can make your life easier in some ways but they tend to make it harder in other ways. We all see this in action every day. A car may be necessary where you live – do you need a second one (or a third…) with the attendant insurance costs, maintenance costs, etc. The greedy person says in his heart: "We cannot have it all and should not want it all. But since when did that stop us from trying?" And yes we have to remember that: " Rejection of Torah leads to lawlessness, degeneration and ultimately, spiritual death."
But we also learn: The more Torah, the more life. In contrast to feeding the body which is destined for corruption, feed the spirit through scripture and reach for eternal life. Hillel was NOT against the body, he was not a dualist who always set the body and the spirit in mortal opposition to one another. But in their day, as in today, we have a world around us that glorifies the body and the material world and material things to the complete neglect of the spirit. Hillel calls us all to these more important (in the long run) activities.
The more study, the more wisdom. It doesn’t come easy. It will take a lot of work to re-orient ourselves and a lot of that work is study in communion with others of like mindedness.
The more charity, the more peace. Peace doesn’t come through amassing stuff. Peace doesn’t come from buying an estate so large that you never see or worry about people outside your gates. Peace doesn’t come from having refrigerators and freezers full of food. Peace comes when we are fully engaged in our community and world. Peace comes when we share what we have with others who are in need. Peace comes when we know who we are – one of G-d’s children, just like all of these other folks. As it is also writen, "Happy is he who is content with his lot."
Perhaps there is an allusion to this lesson from the famous verse in Tehillim (Psalm) (34) “Which man desires life, who loves days of seeing good? Guard your tongue from evil, and turn your lips from speaking deceit, turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” The man who desires the true life, the life of service to HaShem, is the one who guards his tongue from evil, from wrongly understanding how another asks for and values “life.”
We would do well to heed the advice of King Solomon, the wisest of all men, when he wrote at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, Ultimately, all is known; fear G–d, and observe His commandments; for this is the whole purpose of man. And in the words of our Jewish Sages, “I was created for the sole purpose of serving my Maker.”
We end this piece with the book of Psalms begins with these words: "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law (Torah) of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:1,2) And also is writen: Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the Messiah has God as his father, and everyone who loves a father loves his offspring too.Here is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God, we also do what he commands. For loving God means obeying his commands. Moreover, his commands are not burdensome, because everything which has God as its Father overcomes the world. Yochanan Alef / 1 John 5:1-4 (CJB)
Among those who love the truth, this restoration has already begun. For those who have not yet embraced the Torah as their lifestyle, don’t wait till Messiah comes, but rather be counted now as among the people of God – the Household of Israel.
Tags: abode, books of the bible, central questions, cosmic effect, divine wisdom, first five books, first five books of the bible, good deed, greater union, hellip, hillel, insurance costs, maintenance costs, meaningful life, possessions, purpose of study, rsquo, Torah, true definition, ways and means
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