Purpose of Life

QUESTION #5: What is the purpose of life?

By Rabbi Tully Bryks

For an audio recording of a related topic, you can listen to my class on The 5 Levels of Pleasure.

Judaism maintains that G-d created the world for us.[1] G-d wants us to have the happiest and most enjoyable lives![2] But rather than have us guess which decisions in life might lead us to the most happiness, G-d actually gave us an instruction manual on how to get the most out of life; it’s called the Torah (Bible). There are many people, advertisements, books and salesmen claiming to be able to show us how to achieve the ultimate happiness in life. But only G-d is truly all-knowing and all-powerful and only G-d cares about us 100%, with no ulterior motives.[3]

Let’s take the notorious used-car salesman. When he tells you that a particular car is the best car for you, can you be certain that he really cares about your needs? And even if he is extremely honest, has no ulterior motives and truly is only looking after your needs, can he really know 100% that the particular car he is promoting is really the very best one for you?

In contrast, G-d is infinite and all-powerful and thus has no needs. When He tells us that following certain instructions will give us the ultimate happiness, we can trust that He truly cares about us, with no motives for personal gain. Furthermore, when He proclaims that following the Torah is the best thing for our lives, He makes that claim with 100% certainty.

On a practical level, Judaism instructs us to take the middle road in life and to avoid the extremes.[4] On the one hand, Judaism maintains that a gluttonous and materialistic lifestyle is not the path to happiness.[5] On the other hand, G-d does not want us to completely abstain from the physical world either.[6] Rather, we are instructed to utilize the physical world and uplift it into something Spiritual.[7] Even activities as mundane as eating, sleeping and playing sports, can be extremely meaningful and Spiritual, if done with the right mindset, utilizing G-d’s instructions.

To learn more about the Free Will, click on any of the items below:

Book Stop Surviving Start Living
Book simchah - It's Not Just Happiness
Book Serenity

To comment on this article or to see more recommended reading about this topic, scroll down to after the footnotes.

[1] Mishna Sanhedrin, 4:5; Talmud Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin, 37A; Talmud Nedarim, 9:20; Ramban (Nachmonides) on Devarim (Deuteronomy), 22:6; Sefer HaChinuch, 545; Nefesh Hachaim (Soul of Life), 2:4

[2] Likutey Maharan II, Lesson 24; Tehilim (Psalms), 100:2; Mesilas Yesharim (Path of the Just), 1:2

[3] Bereishis (Genesis), 18:4; Devarim (Deuteronomy), 7:8; Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah), 31:3 and 23:24; Tehilim (Psalms), 34:9 and 106:1; Rashi, Bamidbar (Numbers), 1:1; Ramban (Nachmonides), Introduction to the book of Iyov (Job); Rambam, Talmud Sanhedrin 10:1 (10th Principle of Faith); Kuzari, 3:11; Meiri, Talmud Brachos, 7A; Meiri, Talmud Sanhedrin, 39B; Maharal, Nesiv Haemunah, 1:2; Rav Chaim Vital, Sha’arei Kedushah 2:4; Derech Hashem (Way of G-d), 1:5:8

[4] Rambam (Maimonides), beginning of Hilchos De’os (Laws of Personal Development)

[5] Devarim (Deuteronomy), 21:20; Talmud Sanhedrin, 63A; Pirkei Avos (Ethics of Our Fathers), 4:1; Biur Halacha, 529:1

[6] Talmud Yerushalmi, 4:12; Rambam (Maimonides), Hichos De’os (Laws of Personal Development), 3:1

[7] Examples include eating good food and wearing nice clothes to honor the Sabbath, exercising or eating with the goal of being healthier to serve G-d, building a large home in order to be able to host more guests in need, partaking of food in order to bless G-d, etc.

Book The Eye of the Storm
Book Happiness
Book what the angel Taught You

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  1. So I have heard before many times your answer that G-d created us and put us on this planet so that we can achieve happiness and earn Gan Eden and become close to Him. However, what i dont understand is why G-d wanted to do this? Basically, why did G-d need to create the world and humans? I think i understand the purpose but not the reason… I understand that this question is very philisophical and there might not be an answer that we as humans can understand, but im just putting it out there….

    • Thanks so much for your comment! You are correct that we may not be able to fully understand G-d’s purpose in creating us. But perhaps we can grasp a limited insight. Among the definitions of G-d is that He is Omnipotent, Infinite and Benevolent. So since there is nothing for Him to take (He has no needs) and since He is completely good, His ultimate function is that of a giver. In order to give, there need to be recipients for His gifts. So He created us in order to give to us.

      • Thanks.

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