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Nisan 4

May goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life (Psalms 23:6).

What a strange expression! Goodness and kindness should pursue me, as though I was fleeing from them?!

Perhaps the Psalmist had in mind the verse: "You shall pursue righteousness, only righteousness" (Deut. 16:20). Many people have things reversed. They pursue goodness and kindness for themselves, but leave righteousness to somehow catch up with them. The Torah dictates a different order. A person should pursue righteousness and allow goodness and kindness to catch up.

If we asked people for their goal for life, many would say, "to achieve happiness." While this answer is certainly understandable, happiness is not the primary goal of creation of man. Indeed, the Scripture states very clearly: "Man was created in order to toil" (Job 5:7). And the Talmud explains that this means to work on the Divine mission, to fulfill the Divine will. If our primary goal is happiness, we are certain to be frustrated. The average person's life is abundant in distressful happenings. If the primary goal is to do the Divine will, then those times of happiness that do occur can be enjoyed, and the times of distress are borne without bitterness.

Today I shall...

try to remember that I was created to do the will of God rather than to lead a blissful life.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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