Once I was searching for the meaning to life. And while wandering through different religions, I met an old friend in Jerusalem who was learning about Judaism. When I asked him my usual question though, something different happened. "What do you think is the purpose to life?" he asked me right back.

That was the first time somebody had turned the question around and encouraged me to try to figure out my own answer. But all I could come up with was, "I don't know." And then, after an awkward silence, "To be good?"

My friend simply responded, "Well, I'll tell you one thing. As a Jew you could learn more about your Judaism since the Torah is filled with details about how to be good!"

Details just seemed to get in the way of the big sweeping pictureThere was no drum roll just before my friend said those simple words. I didn't see any mystical light emanating from his mouth as he spoke. But if it was a movie, there would have definitely been a build up in the soundtrack during those momentous seconds in my life. Because somehow those very plain words effected me. And I wasn't even into details. Details just seemed to get in the way of the big sweeping picture. Why would I want to focus on details anyway? I wanted to soar.

So even though lots of details really sounded kind of dry and boring to me – I was still intrigued. Details guiding goodness? I wanted to find out more about them.

And so I did. For years and years, I've been learning about these detailed directions for living. I've discovered how we are transformed each time we freely choose light over darkness. And how we also transform the world with each act of choosing good.

Like all the details about Shabbat, for instance. No driving, just walking. No cell phones or computers, just talking face to face with another human being. It takes so much longer to walk down the block than to drive there, but how much more do I see at my slower Shabbat pace? How much more do I see in my friend's face on Shabbat, or in my husband's? And how does "the pause that refreshes" affect the world? We could ask anybody in a "back to nature" movement about the multitude of benefits it brings. Amazingly, a spiritual space in time is created week after week, through the discipline of adhering to details.

And yet, even after all these years, every little detail on top of other details can still kind of get to me. I have to admit that sometimes I have felt like there are just too many picky details. And questioned the need to fuss about them so much. Like there are many specific guidelines about not gossiping, about conscious eating, and about dressing modestly, and we may think, why bother?

Then just last week I had this new insight. I could almost hear the soundtrack building up again, it felt so significant. I don't remember exactly what precipitated this new realization, but it occurred to me that I may not feel like caring about G‑d's details sometimes, but I still expect G‑d to care about every single little detail in my life!

Are there too many details? Not when I'm the one asking for them, it seemsJust for one example, I may not want to keep detailed records of the money I give to tzedakah (charity), but in order to follow the Jewish guidelines toward goodness, I strive to give 10% of my income to tzedakah. It may feel kind of tedious to keep the detailed record to try to do this right, and I may not feel like bothering sometimes, but guess what? I expect and want G‑d to be concerned about my income – down to every last penny. I don't want G‑d to miss one little detail that's supposed to come my way.

So it's not like I am trying to make some kind of bartering deal with the Cosmic Infinite Source of the Whole Universe. It's not even that I want to stick to G‑d's details, so G‑d will stick to the details that I'm hoping will materialize. It's just that I realized that maybe I'm a lot more into a vast variety of details than I ever faced – whether it's a bus coming on time, the temperature outside, or even the subtle qualities of a co-worker or mate.

Are there too many details? Not when I'm the one asking for them, it seems.

So bring on those divine details to goodness! As many as there are, they don't come anywhere close to comparing to the long, long (maybe infinite?) list of details that I am constantly requesting and expecting all the time.

Once, I met an old friend in Jerusalem when I was searching for the purpose to life. And since then, the detailed instructions I've received, along with each new layer of understanding obtained, keeps making the whole big and ever-widening picture - just right for soaring.