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Purpose in the Real World

Purpose in the Real World

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Imagine this: A new season approaches, and you don’t have to replace an entire wardrobe for your little ones; their clothing grew right along with them. The clock strikes noon, and you don’t have to to fix lunch; it’s delivered right to your door. Think about what you could accomplish if only you weren’t tied down to such mundane tasks! It sounds idyllic to have all They ate manna from heaven your needs provided for, a page right out of science fiction.

The Jews in the desert after leaving Egypt experienced such miracles. They ate manna from heaven and drank water from a well, and their clothing miraculously didn’t wear out. And when the time came to leave the desert and enter the Holy land, the Jews were reluctant to give it all up.

Moses sent spies to scout out the land ahead of the Jews, and when they returned with a disparaging report, that it was a “land that eats its inhabitants,” the Jews believed them. However, the spies, as well as the rest of the Jews, weren’t simply being lazy or doubting G‑d’s ability to conquer the nations of the land. They truly felt that life in the desert was more conducive to serving G‑d: By having all their material needs tended to, they could devote many hours each day to spiritual pursuits.

Their fear was that if they entered Israel, which required much physical labor to work the land, they would become preoccupied with providing for their physical needs and there would be no mental space or time to serve G‑d. They feared that the land would “eat its inhabitants,” consume their energy and hamper their ability to live a Torah life.

However, they were making a fundamental mistake. The TorahThe Torah was never meant for angels was never intended for angels or humans with no physical concerns. The desert was a temporary situation—preparation for entering the real world. In the grand scheme of things, G‑d wants Jews who serve Him while dealing with the world, not shying away from it.

In fact, the entire purpose of creating the physical world was for mortal beings to incorporate spirituality into their day-to-day lives, bringing G‑dliness into the workforce, home and everything in between.

Thoughtstream: Today, I will appreciate that making dinner and doing laundry for my children epitomize my purpose, rather than distract me from it.

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichot, vol. 4, pg. 1041, cited in Shulchan Shabbat, Bamidbar, p. 139.)

Sara Blau is a teacher and extracurricular director at Beth Rivkah High School. She is a wife, mother, and author of several children“s books.
Artwork by Yoram Raanan.
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