Eyes on the Prize

Thursday, 10 April, 2014 - 10:13 am


Life is rich and complex. Which also means it’s full of potential distractions.

For example: You want to have a job. Why? Because you want to work.

Then again, do you really want the labor? Or is that you want to earn money and work is your way to earn cash?

If it’s the latter: do you really want the money itself? Or do you just want the ability to buy things?

Assuming it’s the latter: Why do you want to buy things? It’s likely that all you really want is comfort for yourself and your family.

This brings us to an interesting awareness: If the real reason we work is in order to provide a comfortable life for our families, wouldn’t it be bizarre if we neglected our families for the sake of a job, which we only really want for their sakes to begin with?

When you think about it, we all have deep-seated, primal objectives; and we need to use life’s rich array of tools to achieve that objective. The sad thing is that we often get so wrapped up in the tools that we forget what we’re really trying to achieve.

The Midrash depicts this parable: A King once entered a city, together with a retinue of officers and ministers. Each of these functionaries had the power to afford favors of various types; so many of the inhabitants chose to welcome and entertain respective officials, according to their needs.

The wisest among them said “I will welcome the King himself. The officials are temporary; the King isn’t transient”.

The Midrash uses this parable to describe our primal need to connect with the Divine. We have an objective in life: Meaning, which ultimately means Oneness with the Divine. While we have many avenues to reaching our goal, sometimes the avenues eclipse the goal.

In the midst of deep meditation, Rabbi Schneur Zalman (Chabad’s 18th century founder) was heard saying [to G-d]: “I want nothing. I don’t want Your Paradise. I don’t want Your World to Come, I just want You Yourself”.

Sometimes we need to free ourselves of life’s distractions, even the holy distractions, to focus on the real goal. With proper focus, we see that life’s paths are but a valuable means to a meaningful end.

This Passover, try to free yourself of life’s traps. Commit yourself. Follow the path; but keep your eye on the ball.

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