Living the Good Life

Question

Dear Rabbi, I just came back from my first Orthodox Jewish funeral. I didn’t understand a lot of the service, but I was really moved and inspired by being there. What do you suggest is the message I should take from this experience? Thank you.

, , 2 years

Answers

  1. Allow me to share a true story with you. Last week we witnessed a great tragedy in Israel. A bus filled with people traveling to Jerusalem crashed and two young women from the community were killed. One of my former students, who lives in that community, cried to me and asked me what he can learn from it.

    I’m sure that many Rabbis and many people who are not Rabbis are able to offer their own insights and words of inspiration. The following idea is one that I felt might “speak” to my former student, and is one that should be universal enough to speak to you as well.

    I once read this “simple” yet poignant message: “A long life is not good enough, but a good life is long enough.” This means that a person’s “goodness” cannot be measured by how many years the person lives. Rather, the “goodness” of a person’s life is determined by how the person chooses to live.

    If a person chooses to live a life of goodness — helping others, being selfless, doing what is moral and right — each day of a person’s life is “long with goodness,” even if the person’s passes abruptly at a relatively young age. Goodness is not about gathering more and more materialistic goods in life, but is about doing something to help others in need, to make their lives better.

    And even when a person chooses a life of helping others, the giver becomes a receiver. It’s part of human nature that a person who gives to others has a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Even a person who is altruistic and chooses “goodness” purely because it’s the right thing to do will almost certainly feel a sense of happiness. I’m sure that you know somebody like this or have at least met someone who is selfless and wants only to help others. I know that I was very lucky to know someone like this. You can probably guess who it was.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team