Monday, February 23, 2009

A Timeless Question

Last night I read the transcript of "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. Near the end of his most inspiring talk, he gave the following instruction to the audience: "Find your passion". He noted that it may take you a long time in your life to find your passion, but once you do, pursue it fearlessly.

His lecture, aside from making me bawl like a baby, got me thinking about a common concept in yiddishkeit, namely that we each have our individual mission to fulfill. As of late I've been wondering: how do you live your life if you haven't yet figured out what your primary mission is? I've been in this world going on 4 decades, and I'm still trying to figure out why I'm here in this particular incarnation.

But then it occurred to me. Maybe that's the point. As we age, most of us tend to find that more and more time in our day is devoted to responsibilities, stuff that needs to get done and falls on our shoulders. The question then, is not "How should I use X gift to serve Hashem?" or "What is my unique mission in life?"- although these are components of the question. Rather, the question is, how do we choose to serve Hashem? Do we find a way to make our day joyous? Do we find a way to serve Hashem in a way that works with our personality?

I think a lot of the problem of people going off the derech is feeling that there is only one proper way to serve Hashem. While we certainly are required to fulfill the mitzvot, and there is no room to negotiate with regards to that, I truly believe that we are all supposed to serve Hashem in our own way. Part of my "problem" with Flatbush, if you will, is that there is an undercurrent of a single way of serving Hashem being the only correct way to be frum.

Yet Hashem made us all unique. We all have a unique personality, unique set of tastes and interests, and it is by find a way to serve Hashem that uses personal strengths, while enabling us to overcoming our weaknesses, that seems to be the ultimate goal. At least, so it seems to me.

And there you have it. By watching something on the internet (horror!), I've had a point of Torah clarified for me. That may run counter to the party line around here- but it sure works for me. :)


  1. 'Part of my "problem" with Flatbush, if you will, is that there is an undercurrent of a single way of serving Hashem being the only correct way to be frum.'

    I think many local people are afraid to be different. I first noticed it in HS where 98% of the girls had similar hair styles. We were each created different for a reason...

    And, a wise person learns from everyone/thing which includes the internet:)

  2. Hear, hear!! There was D'Var Torah that I heard long time ago that went along the same lines: we had twelve shvatim, and they all served Hashem in their own way. Once we lost the shvatim, we lost the appreciation of uniqness. Of course, I always add that we gained the shtettel mentality. Either way, it is always an uphill battle.

  3. Sometimes one tries to understand for reason some of these ways became mainstream, and I personally am at a loss. Why white shirts and not blue? Why black suits? Why shoulder length hair and just below the knee skirts? And that's only on the surface...