10 Tishrei 5781 / Monday, September 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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The Taste for Life    

The Taste for Life

In these final weeks of Elul before Rosh Hashana, a person should be engaging in serious self-assessment. What are we doing on earth? What's it all for?


Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody


In these final weeks of Elul before Rosh Hashana, a person should be engaging in serious self-assessment. What are we doing on earth? What's it all for? Why is life so difficult? Why all of these hopes and aspirations if everyone's fate is the cemetery?


Life doesn't have to be so bleak. It can have a sweet taste to it, but…


Without emuna, there's no taste for living because in the end, everyone faces the same bleak fate – death. If death is the utter end, then all of life is for nothing. Even if a person achieves his dreams, he won't be able to enjoy them forever. King Solomon says, "As he emerged from his mother's womb. Naked, he shall return as he had come, and he can salvage nothing from his labor to take with him" (Ecclesiastes 5:14). All the more so, no one knows when their final day on earth will be. All of a person's grandiose plans are liable to be abruptly terminated at any given moment. He or she will be taken from this world without accomplishing half of what they had hoped to accomplish. Our sages say that no person dies without wishing that he had double of what he had. Indeed, the greater part of life is filled with hardship and suffering than it is with moments of joy, for King Solomon also said, "For all his days are pain and displeasure" (ibid. 2:23).


One of the great wise men once said, "Everyone says that there is ‘this world’ and there is ‘the world to come’. We believe in the world to come. Perhaps there is a 'this world' too, but I don't know where, because where we are now seems like purgatory, full of suffering and tribulations. In fact, there is no 'this world' at all" (Likutei Moharan II:119).


Look at the people around you – your relatives, your neighbors, your associates at work or school – they all have problems. Some are plagued with health issues. With others, it's an income or emotional challenge. Some have problems with their children and others don't have children at all and wish they did. Even if we look closely at the world-renowned success stories, there's a person who hides his or her real suffering behind the mask of glitter. Look at all the bankruptcies, divorces and suicides that accompany the rich and famous. The reality is in our face – no one has true gratification in this world. Without emuna, nothing makes sense and there's virtually no purpose to life.


Emuna gives flavor to life; it's a reason for living. Even a person who suffers his whole life will find comfort and strength in emuna. He'll also receive the proper guidance how to rectify his life and effectively repent so that he can attain salvation from further suffering. The Almighty doesn't want to make people suffer; the objective of tribulations is to trigger a process of self-rectification that will enable the person to taste a sweet life.


A person who walks out in the streets sees a tense and angry world. Everyone is stressed and in a hurry. There's dissension everywhere, all the outcome of a lack of emuna. If people had emuna, they'd have inner peace, calm and joy. The world would be tranquil and pleasant. Everyone would know that everything is under Divine control and there's nothing to be anxious or worried about. What a nice place the world would be! Even a lone person with emuna enjoys peace and tranquility. If everyone had emuna, we'd see a world of Redemption that we all dream of.

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