Question: Coming up to Rosh HaShana it’s natural to reflect upon one’s life and its direction. Before addressing that, however, I’ve been plagued by an even more basic question: “What makes life worth living?”. Assuming I decide that life is worth living, my next question would be: We’re supposed to be “mamlich Hashem” come Rosh HaShana – declare Him the King. How do I do that when I am full of anger and complaints against Him? How do I move from a place of anger, sadness and bitterness to a place of joy and love, accepting the way that He deals with me with a full heart?
Answer: I would imagine that you could get many answers to your excellent questions. Part of that stems from the fact that the challenges that you are facing are quite universal. For my part, I’ve learned a bit about how Victor Frankl, the founder of a school of therapy known as Logotherapy, approached the first question. In a sense he would force a person (that means each of us) to discover the meaning of his life. I credit him with using his intellect to discover that which our Sages have always insisted on: “Bishvili Nivra HaOlam” – the world and all that it contains was created so that I can achieve my mission in this world. He asserted that each of us has a unique mission to accomplish in the world and that nobody else can fill that role.
Deep down, each of us knows that this is true but we hide from the call of our lives. We are meant to use Rosh Hashana to answer the ancient call to the first man: Where are you?! Chazal went much further and taught us that if we take away a moment of life – even from a murderer (Sanhedrin 37a) where Jewish law did not require that he be put to death – then we have taken away that which is absolutely irreplaceable. Now think about your own mission. If you wish to discover what your life means to you at this juncture ask yourself why you don’t kill yourself. Life, after all, is filled with suffering. Is it worth it? Why not end it all? As you think about the question you will discover the things in life that are meaningful to you; the things that it is worth suffering for.
When you find yourself getting angry and bitter with G-d, it is really a projection of the bitterness that you feel towards yourself. I’ve failed myself and so I project that G-d has failed me. Discovering that you have a mission and a meaning to pursue right here, right now, allows you to see your life as absolutely irreplaceable and to see the Source of that mission as the only true King. It is not a question of how He deals with me, it is a question of how I am dealing with the challenges that my life calls me to.
Wishing you a wonderful new year,