(Martha Irvine/AP) (Martha Irvine/AP)
Hugging babies
Rabbi Ari Enkin

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel

One can choose to add purpose to life by turning his or her everyday activities into meaningful efforts for the benefit of society and in the service of God.

Jewish thought and philosophy teaches that one can turn even mundane activity into tremendous acts of kindness and reward-generating opportunity. It’s all in the attitude. Let’s take a look at some examples.

A baker is a very important person (in my books at least!). A good baker, certainly one who is the only source of bread for an entire town, wakes up at about 4:00 am each morning to start his day. He has to get to the bakery and ensure that the first loaves are available for people to eat for breakfast and for parents to make sandwiches for their children for school.

It’s a great profession. There are two (or more) reasons why one may especially want to be a baker. One could be in order to make a living. Nothing wrong with that! Nothing wrong with wanting to make an honest living selling bread and other baked goods.

But there is another reason, or intention, that one could have for wanting to become a baker, and that is in order to ensure that everyone has fresh bread, that the children will be well nourished and able to learn properly in school, and in order for people to enjoy a meal in which they will thank God for their food through the recitation of the grace after meals.

A baker who becomes a baker for the second reason turns his entire profession into an act of kindness and, by extension, a mitzvah (Divine commandment). With this attitude, every single loaf of bread is an independent mitzvah.

A person may operate a wedding band because he likes music, and what could be better than getting paid to do something enjoyable. That’s completely legitimate. But then you have my friend Menachem Herman (look him up!) who runs a wedding band not only because he enjoys music, but also because he wants to fulfill the great mitzvah of making a bride and groom (and all people!) happy. Again, Menachem turns his profession into a mitzvah, not merely a way to earn a living.

And the list goes on and on: one who becomes a doctor because he wants to help people, a lawyer because he sincerely wants to see justice prevail, a school bus driver because he truly wants to play a role in getting children to school so that they can learn and succeed, and on and on.

A person can turn his entire life into one continuous mitzvah in the service of God. It’s so simple. No additional effort is required. It only takes attitude and sincerity. Be sure to turn your life into one long mitzvah!