The arrow of mezuzah is pointing inward and upward. It is pointing to a Higher Purpose. But what exactly is this Purpose?

The idea that the Creation is purposeful is central to Judaism. In truth, we cannot genuinely know what exactly this purpose is, for it precedes the creation of the intellect by which we dare probe it. The very belief, however, in a Purposeful Being who created this world for a purpose implies that the creation as a whole has a purpose and so do our individual lives. Indeed, for many, life itself is pursuit of purpose. As Primo Levi put it,

“The aims of life are the best defense against death.”

Conversely, a Socratic dictum states1,

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Not only is human life bound to a purpose but time itself, which is an essential aspect in the framework of any existence, is almost synonymous with purpose, as it is written,

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes III, 1-8).”

It is indeed worthwhile to seek the purpose of life (and while Gds ultimate Purpose of Creation is beyond probe, as far as our life is concerned, He certainly does make this purpose known to us through the Torah and the Prophets).

But before we look in the Torah for the answer, let us ask ourselves, what is our innermost desire? In all likelihood, most of us would answer: happiness. Putting aside abstract ideals, most of us would like to pursue our heartsstrongest desires. This is only natural. Even from a kabbalistic point of view delight (taanug, the innermost aspect of Kether, the level of Yechidah) precedes and indeed motivates will (ratzon, the external aspect of Kether, the level of Chayah). Man wills that which gives him delight. Thus the pursuit of happiness constitutes the life goal, conscious or unconscious, for the majority of the human race. The Founding Fathers recognized this in the Constitution of the United States of America by guaranteeing the pursuit of happiness as a basic right of an individual.

It so happens that our selfish purpose (we will consider its selfishness later) to be happy coincides with Gds purpose in Creation. Our happiness is exactly what Gd hadin mind when He, in His infinite wisdom, decided to create the world. And it is exactly what He hasin mind for us when He, in His infinite compassion, continuously recreates the world giving us opportunity to accomplish this elusive goal.

In the section of Chapter One entitled The Reason for Creation we discussed at length that G‑d, the source of all goodness, created the world in order to be able to express His goodness by bestowing it on us, His creations. Thus, we concluded, the entire drama of creation is the story of a great love. At the same time, as we pointed out, G‑d is Absolute and so must be His goodness. Hence, the reward G‑d has in store for us is the ultimate reward G‑d Himself, the source of all goodness.

For us to enjoy the ultimate reward to the utmost it cannot be given as a free gift, called in the Talmud nehama dksufathe bread of shame; we must feel we have earned it. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan thus concludes that it was natural for G‑d to divide the history of human civilization into two major epochs: the first, in which the reward is earned, and the second, in which the reward is received and enjoyed by those who have earned it. The first period is called Olam HaZeh, literally, This World, and the second, Olam HaBa, the World-to-Come. To provide us with an opportunity for reward, the first period is characterized by the concealment of Gdliness, by dismal darkness in the midst of which we are challenged to “discover” the Creator. The second period, by contrast, is characterized by the revealed Presence of Gd, as it is written:

“For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lrd as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah XI, 9)

It is this time of total goodness and happiness that is called the Messianic era.

What remains to be understood, however, is how to reconcile the altruism of Gd, who desires our happiness, with our own selfish desire to be happy. The answer to this important question may be found in the following parable:

After completion of its tenure on earth, a mans soul ascended to heaven. Upon judgment, it was decided that the man had had as many good deeds as evil, and therefore the soul was given a choice: to enter heaven or hell. Being quite ignorant in these matters, the soul requested a tour of both places to decide between the two. The request was granted. The soul entered hell first. What it saw astonished it. The inhabitants were seated at a long table filled with countless delicacies. Their left hands were tied to the chairs and their right hands held long spoons. Everyone was crying. “What is the matter?” inquired the visitor, “Dont you have enough to satisfy even the most demanding palate?” The inhabitants of hell cried out in response: we are being tortured! We have all delicious foods in front of our eyes but we are given spoons that are too long and the food does not get into our mouths! It is a horrible place indeed, concluded the soul, and quickly sought the exit.

The soul then traveled to Paradise where it found a very similar, but very different picture. People were seated at the same table with the same food. Their left hands were also tied to the chairs and the right hands held very long spoons, too long to put anything in ones mouth. However, everyone was happy and rejoicing in his lot. The visitor was puzzled. “What is going on here? How can you eat with such long spoons?” he wondered aloud. “Oh, it is very simple,” answered the citizens of heaven, “We feed each other!”

The secret of our happiness is simple indeed. It is achieved not by worrying about ones own profit but by assuring the happiness of his neighbor, his fellow man. This concept is expressed in the fundamental principle of Torah: All Israelites are responsible for each other. As Rabbi Ashlag pointed out, the acceptance of such mutual responsibility was the prerequisite for receiving the Torah. Hillel the Elder gave this concept its classic expression, when a proselyte asked him to teach him the entire Torah while he stood on one foot. Hillel replied: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the whole Torah; everything else is commentary! Now go and learn.”The great sage Rabbi Akivah also expressed this concept: “Love your fellow as yourself this is the fundamental principal of the Torah.”

On a deeper level, the happiness of man is achieved through altruism towards Gd, through giving joy to the Creator. We have discussed this in the section of Chapter One entitled The Reason for Creation.

Of course, there is no contradiction between these two approaches. As the sages explain,

“So says Gd: if you love Me, show it by loving My children.”

Thus, loving Gd is the same as loving ones fellowman.

When, in 1991, the Lubavitcher Rebbe pronounced that we are standing on the threshold of the Redemption, he said,

“The time for your redemption has come.You can hasten it by increasing in deeds of goodness and kindness...”

The Rebbe explained that Divine service must be done now on the level of self-sacrifice. This self-sacrifice is signified by the word meodekhain

“You shall love thy Gd with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy meod(very much).”

This word, meod, as we discussed before, parallels the commandment of mezuzah. The service of self-sacrifice stems from the level of Gdliness parallel to the inner aspect of Atik, which is signified by mezuzah, and is intimately connected with the messianic revelation. In this regard, the Rebbe points out that

“In the Era of Redemption, there will be an entirely new degree of revelation, infinitely higher than the present degree. All the revelation of the present era have their source in the external level of Atik, while in the Era of the Redemption, the revelation will stem from the inner dimensions of Atik.”

The Rebbe has also explained that Mashiach parallels the level of Yechidah, which in turn parallels the mezuzah, as we discussed. Mezuzah, then, points to the purpose of Creation, which is brought about through Mashiach, who will bring to the world its ultimate reward of happiness, as our sages explain.

Humanitys true fulfillment and happiness will only be achieved with the messianic redemption through accepting mutual responsibility for, and being genuinely good to one another. The mezuzah, as a signpost, points towards the era of Mashiach, when the goal of universal goodness and happiness will be realized.