This topic interested me not only because you can write a lot about it, but because it seems to me it is important for each person. Throughout our whole life, we are trying to answer this question so that at the end we can turn around and remember everything that has happened to us and be sure that life has been lived not in vain. Human life as a whole is an amazing mystery. We unexpectedly appear in this world, live our lives and after some time disappear. Each of us lives a life full of emotions. I believe that, sooner or later, a person can realize that he, like any other person, could not come along, and in principle, nothing would have changed, since each of us brings something new to our world.
So what is a person born for? After all, he is not the cause of his appearance in the world. Why do we need a life with all our achievements, falls, joy and sorrow, pleasure and torment, peace and war? Why do we experience different spectra of emotions, why do we love or hate? Why did it take so long to acquire one’s opinion, defend it, prove it, protest, disagree, organize revolutions? After all, in the end, we all die. This is the whole mystery for me because everything that we will do in life will sooner or later become useless to anyone because we will disappear.
Our mind tries to find meaning in everything that happens with us and around us: the features of natural phenomena, in acts, thoughts, etc. Without reasoning and analyzing, it cannot calmly exist and adequately perceive the world. For the same reason, our mind is trying to find the meaning of our existence. After all, all the components of our body and body have some specific functions and purpose – which means that the person as a whole must have a meaning.
In our world, everything is expedient and everything has some function and meaning. For example, a train – it consists of a huge number of parts and mechanisms that function to make the train move, at the same time the train itself also has a task to take us from point A to point B. This means that the same conclusion can be made about us, because we also have organs, and scientists have long proved that each of the organs has its own function to support our life, that is, there is a sense in every human component. And then it is natural to believe: if there is meaning in all the constituent parts of a person, then the person himself should have a purpose.
Not only the mind obliges a person to seek an answer to the question about the meaning of life: this search is a natural human need. Each of us has a need for meaningfulness, which comes from the deeply embedded desire in a person to feel his own worth, that he needs someone, that his strengths and abilities can be applied and will be appreciated by someone. As an example, children can serve, most often they go to school and earn good grades, not for their own sake, but for their parents to praise. Therefore, the human is unbearable the idea that his/her life is meaningless and does not mean anything, that is why human wants so much that there should not be “shame for the aimlessly lived years.”
The essence of a person – his soul – does not suddenly appear from nowhere at the moment of birth of a person. It exists before it appears in this world. In essence, the soul is part of the Creator. And since the Creator is timeless and eternal, the soul of a human is also eternal. The soul is in a state of waiting in the place intended for it, where it rests and enjoys the proximity of the Light of the Creator. At some stage, according to the Plan and the Will of the Creator, the moment comes for this very soul to descend into the world. The soul comes to this world in order to pass the test, make itself more perfect and leave this world, reaping the fruits of its own efforts. Pleasure, creation, reproduction, development I read many articles about the Jewish meaning of life, one of those that interested me narrated about the dialogue between a man and his teacher. From this text, I learned 4 ideas about the meaning of life:
It was said that in the first five days God created the earth, and at the end of each day of creation he looked at what was done and saw that “this is good.” And on the sixth day he wanted someone to share his joy, a viewer who could appreciate the beauty of the world created by him (the animals could not do this) appeared – and for this purpose, he created the Man and commanded him to enjoy the beauty of the world. And this is the first meaning of life. If you enjoy the sky, the sun, the rain, enjoy the taste of food or the smell of a flower, then your life is meaningful because you become a true connoisseur of God’s art and thanks to you God is not alone in his admiration. If the only thing that a person did in his life was happy and enjoyed, his life is already meaningful, because he fulfilled the first prescription of God.
The second meaning of life – God created a man of his own kind – which means he also created him as a Creator and invited him to co-create. And Man began to complement the world of God: draw pictures, build buildings, compose music. God did not paint with oil paintings, but the man-artist saw and recreated the world in his own way, and God looked at the art of his hands and said now what the man had done: ‘this is good.’ And God became a spectator of man’s creations, just as man is a spectator of God’s creation. And therefore it does not matter whether a lot of people are appreciated by a person’s creativity – it’s enough that the music of words or colors would please God – and then his second prescriptive will be fulfilled.
“God said to the people: breed and multiply” – this is the third meaning of life. In fact, it is incredibly important and surprisingly to create a new person, to put knowledge in him, to bring upand grow. Thus, a new generation of Jews is born, which bears something new and incredibly important for our culture and religion. In our religion, every Jew is worth its weight in gold, because we respect each other and appreciate because we are one people. God created a human like himself, but not equal to himself – not as perfect as himself. There was a gap between Man and God, and therefore God commanded man to grow in order to reduce this gap, to become more perfect, to get closer to God – this is the fourth and in my opinion the most important meaning of life – development.
The Torah is given to us in order to form and learn something new throughout our life. This means that the Torah that we have kept is given by God and contains not only the way of life but also the key to understanding our being for all times, because it is eternal, just as He Who bestowed it. This is not a collection of theories, philosophies, and speculations, but a practical guide to everyday life, valid always and everywhere.
However, the text of the Torah is not so simple to understand, and its true meaning is difficult and deep enough, including even for those who study it, for centuries the wise men tried to comment on certain of its provisions for other people. Some commentators, such as Rashi, have prepared comments on virtually every sentence of the Written Torah. In addition, according to tradition, Moses on Mount Sinai, along with the Written Torah, also received an Oral one, which reveals a deep, hidden meaning, complements the Written Torah and explains what is “unsaid” there.
Here, in the Torah, in the Written and in the Oral, the meaning of human life on earth is clearly marked. If to explain in a nutshell, it means living in accordance with the Torah, fulfilling its prescriptions, and observing its prohibitions. The meaning of life is to live according to the Torah, perform mitzvot and live a natural life. There are people who love to teach the Torah and teach it.
You can not force a person to learn more than he can master. Everyone learns – by his condition, by his nature, and by his abilities. If you ask about the meaning of life from any rabbi who studies only the Torah and the Talmud all his life, his answer will be short – the point is to live every day according to the laws of God and be sure to be righteous. I thought because for me the meaning of life was a bit different in perspective, so I asked one of the rabbis I knew: “Is this really all? Is the meaning of life only to live according to the Torah? ”. To this, he replied: “Of course. After all, when a person lives righteously, according to the laws of the Talmud and the Torah, he lives happily. The main thing is not to forget about it at every stage of your life, to remember the large role of a person who was born not without a reason”.
The Torah also envisioned the precarious nature of man and the temptations and trials that he, being a creature of flesh and blood, meets in his life. It is difficult for a person, it is almost impossible to never make mistakes, and the Torah says that in case of a mistake you don’t have to despair: the person always opens the way ְּתׁשּוָבה – returning to God, returning to the right path, and the error itself can become a kind of springboard for jumping forward, for further improvement. Judaism encourages everyone to read two holy books – the Torah and the Talmud, in order to more subtly understand all the laws of God. After all, those on Earth do not always understand what the sky wants to say. That is why one must live even in order to understand the meaning of existence through the holy word. Even in Sholem Aleichem, in the book about the boy Motla, almost all the main characters know that they need to attend services and read the Talmud, to be pious, fair and just. And everyone knows that God is doing everything that a person needs. Even when a person perceives it as a disaster. Is a man dead? This happened because God needed that. So he wanted to take this devout man or woman into another world. Did someone get sick? So God wanted it.
For Christians and Buddhists, the meaning of life in the form of serving God is not very clear, although there are quite a few common nuances. Christians also believe that it is necessary to live by the law of God’s commandments, but for them, the meaning of life is not to piety and interpret each event as chanting the glory of God. Judaism sees the meaning of life very original. This is one of the reasons why Jews are so pious and able to carry their faith through the ages. And it’s true because our people survived so many disasters and incredible persecutions, but still managed to survive and not lose faith!
However, I am worried about one question concerning one of the worst tragedies for a whole nation of Jews – the Holocaust. For 75 years from the beginning of the Holocaust (from June 1941), a lot of documentary and artistic materials and eyewitness memories of barbaric extermination of Jews have been collected. The implementation of the systematic elimination of the Jewish population in the world was begun in Europe with particular thoroughness in order to destroy the carriers of even a small fraction of Jewish blood. This tragedy affected every surviving Jew in European countries who had lost dozens of relatives. The official number of the dead is underestimated since there is no documentary evidence. Were shot, burned, buried alive, entire families were poisoned in gas chambers.
The Sinai Scholars program includes meals in various religious Jewish families. One evening we had the opportunity to visit one wonderful person – Rabbi Biederman. He shared his thoughts with us during the evening, told interesting stories, and finally asked if anyone had any questions. One of my comrades asked: ‘If God is so supportive of our people if he loves our people, then why did the Holocaust occur, which destroyed a huge number of people belonging to our religion?’ This question has touched the feelings of everyone sitting in the room, and also made me think. The Rabbi answered that he could not give an answer, because he himself did not understand why such bloodshed happened to our people, but he also shared a deep thought: “Imagine that our whole life and history is a movie. And all that happened is part of the film, we don’t know how it will all end”. These words made me understand that everything in our lives is not just like that, and perhaps what happened is an indicator for a new generation that now lives in peace. We need to think and be a single force, because if we are together, unite because we are one powerful people, then dark days will never come again in our lives.
While writing the work, I thought that we have been studying the meaning of life all our lives. But doesn’t everyone have own the meaning of life? It seems to me that this is the case, since people are completely different from each other, and everyone has their own meaning in life. But in order to find it, there is a system called ‘Kabbalah’, which gives us a tool in our hands, how to grasp our meaning of life. Each has its own soul, its own source of a soul, its own purpose, its own way to the goal, to achieve the meaning of life, and therefore everyone goes his own way. But you still need to know how to go, so as not to rest on a dead end, not to disappear somewhere, not to deviate by one degree, which will then turn into a large deviation, perhaps even fatal. In order to properly achieve the goal, we need certain guides, navigators, skills – all that is necessary for the traveler. This is what Kabbalah supplies us with. Kabbalah allows us to discover the navigator of our life within us. And then we, as in the car, which with the help of the navigator goes to a given point, see how we move, where, how not to deviate to the side, go the shortest way to achieve all the best, to the correct goal of life, so that the navigator shows us what is she!
As far as I understand, many people have one life goal: the most comfortable state for each of us. But for all, it is individual, it is own because each has its own soul, its own source, its own set of parameters. And therefore, everyone should come to his most comfortable state his own way, heading to his point – this is what I understood from the lesson about Kabbalah.
Many believe that a meaningful life should have a framework. At first glance, the presence of a goal limits human freedom. For example, if the goal is to reach point A, then you should only move in that direction. And then no longer get to point B, no matter how desirable. Studying at Lauder Business School, I realized that if your goal is to pass an exam, then you need to sit and study, and not going to have fun, even if you want more. Most often, restrictions seem undesirable, but in fact, it is a restriction, taken as a personal decision, allows you to achieve your goal. So with the purpose of human life. Having a goal outwardly limits a person’s freedom; for all his actions, speech and thoughts must correspond to the purpose of creation. But it is precisely the position of self-restraint that is consciously chosen by the person himself and allows him to achieve the goal.
About meaning and meaninglessness
The presence or absence of meaning will depend on the result of life at the end of life. If by the end of a person’s life there are all moments, all his deeds, statements, thoughts, dreams, experiences, etc. gather in a certain natural result, which means life makes sense, both in general and in every living moment, in every detail of existence.
But if at the end of life there is no result, and nothing waits for a person, emptiness, then there is no sense not only in life as a whole but in the whole life process, in all its details and intermediate goals.
Suppose someone is going to go abroad. To do this, he needs to take certain actions: buy a ticket, get a visa, pack things in suitcases and so on. The result of all the preparations becomes the flight abroad.
If in the end the goal — the journey — is realized, then all the actions taken will acquire meaning, becoming parts of the overall process. But if all the preparations were made, and as a result, the trip did not take place, then all intermediate actions lose meaning. These intermediate actions consist, in turn, of many other intermediate actions. For example, to pack things in a suitcase, you must first iron the shirt, and for that, fix the iron; you need to collect toiletries, and for this – go to the store and buy shampoo; etc. All these actions make sense, as they lead to the goal – to pack a suitcase. But if the intermediate goal was realized and the suitcase was assembled, and the final goal – the trip – was not realized, then all these preparations become meaningless.
In other words, just as the cancellation of the trip made all the preparations for it meaningless in the given figurative example, so death turns the whole life of a person into empty vanity.
If one goes through all the most intimate desires of a person, then his instinctive desire to live is basic. And if you live, then without suffering, in pleasure. And if you live in pleasure, you no longer want life to stop, you want to live like this forever. It turns out that the all-encompassing desire of a person lies in the fact that he longs for a life of eternal enjoyment.
The intuition of man does not fail him: it is for this purpose that man is created. The meaning of human existence is to build your own “self” in the course of a given life, able to deserve the eternal enjoyment of closeness to the Creator. A naked person comes to this world, naked and leaves, without taking anything with him. Everything acquired and contrived will remain in this world and will eventually disappear, and only your “I”, created by hard work, will remain in eternal enjoyment. If a person succeeds in his own efforts to transform the material life given to him into spiritual life, that is, to spiritualize a material one, then such a spiritual life will never end, it will continue forever.
I came to the conclusion that I need to pay more attention to the Torah, because it will be able to give me a lot of advice, as well as teach me how to act in certain situations, so that in the end I could throughout my whole life (which I hope will be long ) spiritualize the material, and come closer to the Creator.