Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The purpose of our existence


Worth repeating, in the run-up to Yom Kippur:

"My father always used to rebuke me, as he saw that I would not take part in the pain of others.

"This is what he always told me: 'This is a person's entire purpose. A person is not created for himself. A person is created only to benefit others, with whatever power is in his possession.'"

(R' Yitzchak of Volozhin, citing his father Rav Chaim of Volozhin, Introduction to Nefesh haChaim)

Gmar tov,


  1. This seems to contradict "im ein ani li mi li"
    gmar chatima tova

    David Tzohar

  2. How would you render "im ein ani mi li"?

  3. "If I am not for myself who will be for me?" Seems to contradict " a person is not created for himself.He is created only to benefit others" as you quoted R'Chaim of Volozhin.This extreme Mussardik self-negation is I think far from the hashkafa of Chazal, who also said that every person is a whole world in and of of himself (olam umelo'o)

  4. See Avos d'Rabbi Natan 1:12 or 2:27 for one alternative rendering.

    And then see Hillel's use of "Ani" in Succah 53a, which puts an entirely different spin on it.