By Rabbi David Aaron
(This was composed primarily from Rabbi Aaron’s book – Living a Joyous Life – The True Spirit to Jewish Practice, which we highly recommend. Check out Rabbi Aaron’s other books or visit his website.)
Judaism clarifies the essential beliefs that inspire and enable us to live a purposeful, passionate, pleasurable life soaring to the greatest heights of vitality, meaning and joy.
The goal of Judaism is to be who we are, godly beings.
When we live according to Torah, we’re connected with a higher perspective on life. We’re seeing the bigger picture and behaving in a manner that expresses and reflects what reality truly is, even if we do not completely perceive it.
When we live the mitzvot, we behave in a way that is harmonious with the way life truly is. And we are rewarded with living according to our true essence.
Torah articulates the universal principles of spiritual and ethical life and empowers us to be who you really are. It frees us to live in harmony with the universe and to be one with G-d.
Through our involvement with the text of Torah we meet G-d the author, and begin to see how, through His words, he speaks through us and reveals Himself to us.
Prayer makes us a vessel to receive G-d’s blessings. It builds our awareness of G-d. The more we acknowledge G-d and the more we invite Him into our world, the more we experience His divine presence in our daily lives.
When we don’t work on Shabbos, we remind ourselves that we’re really working for G-d. Judaism says we are souls, a part of the creator, and therefore we are also creators. But we don’t create for ourselves, we create for G-d. When we realize that, we draw much energy and blessings from G-d.
Judaism gives us powerful and practical ways to connect to God and each other, ways to express our love and to feel love. It provides down-to-earth spiritual strategies for living a more complete, joyful, meaningful, and enlightened life. But we have to put a little soul into it. And when we do, our lives fill with profound purpose and passion and abundant spiritual pleasure.
Money, career accomplishments, vacations and physical pleasures can bring happiness but without spiritual awareness, it is a low level. Judaism helps us struggle with issues like “Am I a good person?” “What more can I do to better the world?” “Is my life meaningful?” “How can I be more connected to G-d?”. Even though such questions might bring discontent and sadness into our lives, the end result makes us much greater people.
The Torah does not give any dispensations from the challenges of life. It does not promise an easy life but a meaningful life. It does not offer an instant solution to sadness but it does offer a soul-ution to sadness and the secret to happiness. Through its’ wisdom and guidance, Torah empowers us to be souls and enables us to make I-contact with the Ultimate I – God.
Judaism offers us the tools so that we can be truly living a joyous life.