Do you ever feel like you’re running on a treadmill that you can’t stop? The constant demands of life seem relentless and our priorities easily become obscured. Yes, we have many responsibilities and commitments to fulfill, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that these are a means and not an end. Where are we going? What’s the ultimate goal? Is our endgame just the achievement of financial freedom and comfort?

There’s a loftier goal—one that is far more expansive and enduring. It’s available to everyone, regardless of status, income or profession. Studying the Torah, in conjunction with mindfully observing the mitzvot, enables us to build a personal relationship with G‑d. It increases our spiritual reception and enriches everything we do.

This heightened spiritual reception is illustrated throughout the book of Leviticus. It begins with the Hebrew word, vayikra—“And G‑d called [to Moses from the Tabernacle].” Rashi explains that although he called out with a loud and thunderous voice, only Moses was able to hear it.

Chassidic philosophy emphasizes that G‑d is constantly calling to each and every Jew to draw near to Him in a spirit of love and awe. There is a small spark of Moses within each of us;1 the challenge is to utilize this spark to tune in to the appropriate spiritual frequency to hear His calling.

Experiencing G‑d isn’t limited to earth-shattering spiritual experiences. Elijah the Prophet came to realize that G‑d’s call was to be found in a “small, thin, voice.”2 G‑d is reaching out to us through the circumstances in our daily lives, but if we’re not tuned in, we miss out.

Each of us is created in G‑d’s image. We’ve been given individual potential and capacities., with the ultimate goal of building and maintaining a strong relationship with Him. Of course, there will be stumbling blocks to overcome along our spiritual journeys.

A story is told about two men incarcerated in the Soviet Gulag. Previously, they had been prominent physicians; now they were forced laborers. One called out to the other in despair. “In Moscow, we were respected and admired, but here we’re nothing. How are you still in good spirits? Why haven’t you been broken by our awful plight?”

The other man replied: “Wherever I am, regardless of the circumstances, I view myself in the same way. I always strive to achieve the same goal every day—to build a strong relationship with G‑d and serve Him in all that I do. In Moscow, I served him as a physician. Here, in the Gulag, I’m still serving G‑d, but as a forced laborer. Our relationship hasn’t changed; it’s just as strong. The difference between you and me is that you still view your worth only as a doctor.”

Many people mistakenly think that their identity comes from what they do. They’re living an illusion. When these people are no longer able to do what they thought defined them, they face an existential crisis. In reality, what one does isn’t who one is. There is no such thing as “feeling like a nothing” for those who are spiritually alive and growing. Proudly serving G‑d—no matter the circumstances—bestows one with dignity and continued purpose. Eventually, people may retire from what they do, but not from who they are. There is no such thing as spiritual retirement.

Redefining our ultimate goal and aligning it with G‑d’s greater purpose can be positively life-changing. We each can strive to integrate both the physical and the spiritual aspects of our lives. There’s no greater moment than right now to strengthen your relationship with the Almighty. All of your relationships will benefit, especially your relationship with yourself.

Making It Relevant

  1. Think of situations in which you’ve recently been. Ask yourself: What could be the purpose for which G‑d had this happen to me? What lesson can I learn? What hidden benefit can I uncover?
  2. Recognize your spiritual self-worth. Focus on striving to develop greater spiritual value throughout each day. Think of ways to do that on a daily, or at least a weekly, basis.
  3. Establish a set time for prayer, self-reflection and Torah study.