On Rosh Hashana, we prayed the following words to Hashem, the Compassionate One:
“The remembrance of every created thing comes before You, each person’s deeds and mission.” (Musaf – Zichronos Section)
Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, a noted Torah educator of the 20th century, explains that each person’s “deeds” refers to the mitzvos – Divine mandates – that one fulfills, and each person’s “mission” refers to the unique task for which each person was created. In this spirit, the Talmud states:
“Each human being is obligated to say: ‘For my sake, the world was created.’ ” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)
Upon saying these words, however, a person is confronted with the following question: If the whole world was created for my sake, then how can my neighbor say that the whole world was created for his sake? We can find an answer to this question in the words of a noted Chassidic Rebbe, known as Reb Zushe of Annipoli, who taught:
“Our Sages have said, ‘Just as their faces are different, so too are their thoughts different’ (Brochos 58a). There exist on earth millions of people, and they all have the same basic features on their faces: two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Nonetheless, no two people look alike. Similarly, if the outward appearances of people are so diverse, then how great must be the differences in their inner workings, the qualities of their souls, and their natures. If the beauty of the soul in all humans was identical, then why would Hashem need to create so many millions of people, where each one is no different from the next? However, the secret is this: Each person is sent down to this world in order to fulfill a specific Divine task, to carry out on earth a lofty, heavenly purpose. This is the mission of human beings on earth; moreover, for as many people as Hashem sends down to earth, He has just as many different tasks and purposes. The work of one person is totally independent of the task of any other person, and each one must carry through and complete his given purpose. Therefore, Hashem endows each person with unique talents and attributes necessary for him to fulfill his task. These talents cry out within each person, demanding to be expressed and to fulfill the mission for which they were sent to this world.” (Hamodia, Cheshvan 10, 5759)
In the above teaching, Reb Zushe of Annipoli has helped us to understand that the world was created for the sake of each human being – for the sake of the unique contribution that each and every one of us has to offer.
This universal message is especially appropriate during this period of the universal homecoming – between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur – when all human beings are to return to the Creator and rededicate themselves to their unique missions.
Shalom, and a Gmar Tov – A Good Sealing!
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen
1. The following article speaks about the mission of those who are unable to get married and/or have children: http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/tzedaka/spiritualchildren.htm
2. The above teaching from Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz appears in the ArtScroll biography, “Reb Shraga Feivel,” by Yonoson Rosenblum. Reb Shraga Feivel was a chassid who headed Yeshiva Torah V’Da’as, and he taught his students to serve Hashem with the mind, heart, and body. In his yeshiva, intensive Talmudic analysis was combined with prayerful song and dance. In fact, he shared with his students deep Torah insights regarding the power of music. And through his own example, he demonstrated the power of lovingkindness and tzedakah – the sharing of our resources with those in need.
Reb Shraga Feivel introduced his students to the universal Torah vision within the writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, and he taught his students to appreciate the beauty within the Divine creation. In addition, he reminded them that we are to extend our compassion to all creatures. He was a master educator who encouraged his students to serve the Creator with their own unique talents and gifts, and he stressed that each individual is given a unique mission in this world. He was an idealist who knew how to bring out the idealism in others, and through the power of his example, his students excelled in serving the community. This is an uplifting book which brings hope and strength to the human spirit.
For information on this inspiring biography about a holistic rebbe, visit: