What Is the Meaning of Life? – Cape May County Herald

Posted By on July 19, 2017

I recently returned from Israel, having spent 10 glorious days in the Holy Land. It was a magical trip with lots of spiritual moments and adventures. In my last article, I mentioned that I intend to devote the next few articles to answering questions that I have received on my Ask the Rabbi website.

One of my favorite questions is this one: "What, according to Judaism, is the meaning of life?"

Judaism sees the life that is given to each human being as a gift to be used for the benefit for all who dwell on earth.

Being a good person is clearly at the core of Judaism, and Gods first concern is with a persons decency. In an interesting Talmudic passage (Shabbat 31a), a person is brought before the heavenly court in heaven for judgment and asked a series of questions.

One might think that the question would be, Did you observe the Jewish holidays or do observe all of the rituals?" You might be surprised that the first question quoted in the Talmud by the rabbis is: Did you conduct your affairs honestly?

Rabbinic advice states that a person is to stay honest and learn to be good and honorable by adhering to Judaisms special system of religious obligations, called mitzvot in Hebrew.

God gave us a variety of religious obligations (the Ten Commandments being the most familiar), and if we are diligent, I believe they will help us all do our part in bringing more mercy, kindness, and peace into the world.

The Book of Deuteronomy asks us to follow and walk in Gods ways. I understand this phrase to mean that we should follow the attributes of God.

So just as God clothed Adam and Eve, so should we give clothing to those in need. Just as God visited Abraham when he was sick after his circumcision, so we too should make it our duty to visit those who are ill.

All acts of justice and goodness are closely connected with the concept of honoring Gods name by following Gods ways.

Back in the 1990s, I had the good fortune to host a central New Jersey radio show called The Jewish American Hour.

As the host, I decided to end each program by going off the air with a verse from the Bible that was so important to me that I wanted my listeners to always remember it.

The verse that I chose is one of my favorites (it even adorns the wall of my home office). The verse is from the Book of the Prophet Micah, and sums up for me what God requires of all of us, and thus how God intended for us to find lifes meaning:

"God has told you what is good, and what God wants of you: only to do justice, to love goodness, and to walk modestly with your God."(Micah, 6:8).

I look forward to hearing from you with your questions and comments.

Wishing you a restful and tranquil summer and if in the area, do visit historic Beth Judah Temple where you will be welcomed with open arms.

On July 28, Sabbath services will take place at 6:30 p.m. in North Wildwood at the Booth Amphitheatre.

All are welcome for a musical and spirited worship experience. I wish you a peaceful and tranquil summer.

Rabbi Ron Isaacs is Interim Rabbi of Beth Judah Temple in Wildwood. Contact him at http://www.rabbiron.com.

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What Is the Meaning of Life? - Cape May County Herald

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