What’s My Purpose? 5778

Back in the ‘60’s one of the things that young people did – to the despair of their parents – was drop out of school and leave home to “find themselves.” Across the country, teenagers made the decision to quit college or just not go, say goodbye to their families and take to the open highway – often hitchhiking – to see what else was out there besides getting a college degree followed by a career that in many cases had been chosen not by them but by mom and dad.

Yes, they did do drugs. They sometimes became involved with religious cults and by the time they returned to their family – if they returned – they had become people their parents no longer knew.

Did they “find themselves?”

There is an old adage of which I am very fond: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

I remember meeting a young man who had been a close friend of my then-husband. He was incredibly good-looking but too many acid trips had rendered his mind into mush. We visited him once at his parents’ house where his days were spent creating bizarre meaningless art works. When he spoke, it was mostly in answer to a direct question and sometimes he was incapable of answering at all.

The reason these young people did what they did is because they were in search of a “purpose” in life. If they left home because they had experienced abuse, they were easy prey to cults that had suddenly sprouted up in abundance. The Manson Family was an example.

I admit I discovered my “purpose” a little late. Once I did, though, I wanted the whole world to realize that my purpose is not mine alone. It’s everyone’s purpose.

And not just Judaism. Judaism is my path, but it’s not everyone’s path. What I have learned is we are a human family, a human race, not a bunch of different races: brown, black, white, yellow, red. It’s all the same race.

And religion is not a myriad of different sects where each sect proclaims it is the ONLY way to follow. ALL of our paths to the Creator of the universe are valid and holy. The fractures that seem to divide us are an illusion; just as we are one human family, created as one, religion is equally familial.

If we were to delve into studying other religions, we would ultimately recognize that there are far more similarities than there are differences.

Judaism, from its inception, recognized that there is no one way to finding our path. Our Creator welcomes all of us, Hindu, Rastafarian, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, whatever.

Our souls are a part of a universal energy – or God – from the moment we are born until the time we die. The soul does not die, it returns to that universal power and continues, being born again and again into a new form.

Reincarnation? Yes, our Jewish ancestors accepted reincarnation – did you know that?

So then, what is our purpose?

As Jews, the Torah is our Instruction Manual. It gives us guidelines to follow in order to live productive, useful lives. Does it give us a purpose as well?

Sure! Hillel said it: “You shall not do to your fellow human being what you would not do to yourself.” The more simplistic way of saying that is: “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.” The Golden Rule.

Hillel then said, “All the rest is commentary – now, go and study.”

Our purpose, then, is to love one another. And that does not mean we should love only white people if we are white, or brown people if we are brown, but to realize that we are all the same.

Look beneath the skin color or the shape of the eye or the inability to speak English.

Look into the heart of the other person and allow that person look into your heart.

That is my purpose. Make it your purpose too.

L’Shanah Tovah Um’tukah.  (To a Good and Sweet Year)

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