“There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael” (BeReishit Rabbah 16:4).

WHAT'S THE PURPOSE? - Judaism’s View on the Meaning of Life


From the Back Cover


What’s the purpose of life?

  • a. To serve God
  • b. To reach the World to Come
  • c. To study Torah
  • d. To overcome the yetzer hara (evil inclination)


If you chose one of the answers above, you’re not alone – and this book is bound to be an eye-opener.


Which one of us hasn’t asked this basic question during the course of our lives? But how many of us know the true answer?


In “What’s the Purpose?”, …translated from the original Hebrew sefer Al Matarat HaChayim, this long-standing issue is explored and elucidated – with answers that will surprise you. In a clear, contemporary style, [the author] Rabbi Rotenberg enwraps the teachings of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto from his classic works, Mesillat Yesharim and Derech HaShem, in modern-day, easy-to-understand language, making the Ramchal’s timeless wisdom accessible to all.


Featuring engaging stories, anecdotes, and examples to concretize the abstract, the author shows us that our true purpose in this world – though hard to believe – is simply, to live it up. That is, to really live – by deriving the most meaningful and lasting pleasures.


What does this mean? Is the pursuit of enjoyment our real purpose? This question and many more are thoroughly answered in this invaluable book on the true meaning of life.

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From the Preface

On a deserted street in the center of Jerusalem stood a lone Jew leaning up against a bus stop. The street was closed to traffic, and I had no idea how to get home, so I asked the man for directions. Unintentionally, my innocent question led to a long, but ultimately unsuccessful conversation on some very serious, even crucial, issues.

The conversation became what I call “unsuccessful” when I asked him a simple question. “Can you explain to me why you are alive?”

He immediately stopped, looked at me incredulously and with great disappointment, and replied, “What an irrelevant question! It’s purely theoretical, a philosophical issue, and I am not interested in such areas.”

I was astounded. Painfully, I realized that day just how vast is the schism between our worldviews. If a twenty-year-old secular Jew can stand before a seventeen-year-old yeshiva student and dismiss as “irrelevant” the question of questions, which Jewish children throughout the generations have always answered with ease, that is a terrible situation.

What is the purpose of your life? What are your obligations in this world? Is it possible to be alive and not know the answers to these questions? Is it logical for a person to possess a sophisticated machine and not know its function?

Over the course of several years, I met with many Jews, the majority of whom were religious, and to my amazement, most of them could not answer these questions. Therefore, I felt obligated to record in this work the ideas that I shared with them.

I am sure that even observant Jews will find these ideas helpful, for they elucidate essential concepts in Judaism and consolidate many details into one complete system of thought.

The foundations of this book are based on the writings of Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto (the Ramchal), who enlightened the Jewish people with his works, especially Mesillat Yesharim (The Path of the Just) and Derech HaShem (The Way of God). I merely enwrapped his ideas in modern-day language and elucidated them with contemporary examples.

The result is a clear explanation of the Torah’s outlook on the purpose of life, presented as a complete, organized system. A careful, in-depth reading of this book can give one the tools to truly succeed in life.