In our previous article, we began exploring the Torah’s powerful approach to happiness. To review, growth is the underlying root of deep existential happiness. This is because the deepest human desire is to express our unique purpose in this world. We therefore experience incredible happiness when we are growing and maximizing our potential, fulfilling our purpose. However, while an important layer of happiness results from the expansion of self as we actualize our potential, there are a few keys that are necessary to fully experience the happiness we generate when fulfilling our mission.

It is always important to reinforce our commitment to the journey of faith. There is no greater act of emunah than living a spiritual, holistic life in an often chaotic, fragmented world. The famous words, “K’doshim tih’yu – You shall be holy,” are not a call to be transcendent, angelic beings, lofty and perfect, completely beyond the struggle innate to the human condition. This is not permission to deny our humanity and restrict our sense of self. This is a calling to be human, to be the ultimate human, to bring transcendence and spirituality into this world. We don’t aim to escape this world; we aim to transform it. K’dushah is not transcendence or escapism; it is the meeting between the transcendent and the immanent. This is the journey of faith, where each individual must embark on a quest for internal and objective truth, where we must leave the comfort of the known and travel toward the infinite, toward the future we know we are destined for, toward our own personal and collective purpose. There are five stages in this journey of faith:

If you ask the average person what he wants in life, he will likely answer with one word: happiness. Many people’s lives are centered around this goal. The big decisions, such as who we marry, where we live, the jobs we take, the people we interact with, as well as the smaller decisions, such as what we eat, how we dress, or how much sleep we get, are often made with the goal of attaining a greater level of joy and happiness. However, we often find people who appear set up for happiness living a life stuck in misery, and people who seem destined for a life of anguish living lives of great happiness.

Benjamin left his office building in Manhattan to get lunch, walking straight into the beggar standing beside the door. The beggar looked decrepit and ungroomed. Everyone on the sidewalk eyed him with contempt. Something stirred in Benjamin, though, and he was filled with compassion.

Each individual has his own perception of reality, his own view on religion, and his own ideas about leadership. Every religion, as well, has its own perceptions and views on these topics, and just as a person’s views serve as a gateway into understanding his inner beliefs and values, a religion’s views serve as a window into its inner beliefs and value system.

The day had finally come. For months, I had been trying to meet this famous sage, renowned not only for his wisdom, but for his beautiful, majestic physical appearance. I had heard the stories, but I wanted to experience it for myself. After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally able to get an appointment.