I heard an interesting speech today by the Rabbi Baruch Frankel at Aish about meaning and purpose in life.
One thing that Rabbi Frankel said that really had an impression on me was that:
Everything truly pleasurable in life starts with considerable pain.
More colloquially in working out, we usually say: “No pain, no gain!” And there really is a lot of truth to this.
As examples, Rabbi Frankel said a good marriage is one of the most pleasurable things in life, but it takes hard work. Similarly, having children is pleasurable and rewarding, but again, you have to invest a lot of work into raising them.
If you think about it, this concept really applies to everything meaningful and ultimately valuable in life. You want a good career? Well you have to put in the time into your education and then hard work to advance. If you want to get and stay in shape, you have to eat right and work out. If you want to be religious and close to G-d, you have to spend the time and effort to learn Torah and do mitzvot.
Nothing worthwhile just comes by itself. In fact, the more that something just comes to you, the less meaning and value it has. It’s your pain, sweet, blood, and tears in working towards something that ultimately gives it a large amount of the meaning and value that it has to you.
Your life’s journey is about learning and growing your soul, and to do that you have to face challenges and work hard to overcome and solve life’s problems that get thrown your way. General Avigdor Kahalani, one of the true heroes of Israel’s Six Day War and Yom Kippur War who lead the Tank brigades to victory said:
Armor is Iron, but man is steel.
Man is steel, and steel is forged in fire and that’s how we become strong and sharp and our soul ready for battle. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we need to reflect on what’s really important in life, are we prioritizing these goals, and are we working hard to achieve them and to refine ourselves.
Our sages taught:
לפום צערא אגרא
This means “As the suffering, so is the reward.” As we reflect this time of year, it is good to ask ourselves, what are we chasing and working so hard for in our lives? Are we chasing vanity–more riches, power, and honor or are we striving to do good and make a difference? The latter is a life worth living and where our efforts and pain can bring true reward in this world and ultimately in the world to come.
May you all have a Shana Tova for a good and meaningful New Year!