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A Life That Matters

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

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A Life That Matters

When a person says that he is making a living, he means that he is making an existence. Earning money is merely surviving. No matter how much money a person earns, it does not make his life meaningful. Making a living means making meaningful contributions to the world. How is the world now a better place because of you? How will the world look differently by the time you exit it?


A Chassid asked his Rebbe his thoughts on the age-old quandary as to whether the cup half-empty or half-full. The Rebbe said that the answer is obvious — the cup is completely full. It is half full of water and half full of air. People can live without water for a while but it is not possible for a person to live without air for more than a few minutes. People look at their lives and see that it is half empty but that’s insignificant compared to how full it is with what matters. The air of life is your contributions to the world, the meaning you add to the world. Will anyone miss you when you leave this world? Why will they miss you? What have you achieved? What significant contributions will you leave behind in this world?

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At the funeral of a very successful millionaire named David, the eulogizer, Jay, mentioned the wealthy man’s accomplishments. He praised David’s many great business dealings, the real estate he acquired throughout his life, the immense amount of luxury cars he owned and his brand-name watch collection.[1] Jay suddenly realized that David’s family felt embarrassed. They request that Jay make the focus on his accomplishments in meaningful arenas such as the charity he gave and the Torah he learned.


Why did those present feel awkward when David’s material achievements were mentioned? The answer is because everyone wants to leave this world being remembered for their meaningful, deeper, spiritual accomplishments. Most people spend the majority of their time chasing physical matters even though they know internally that this is not the legacy they want to leave behind. Who wants to be remembered for their muscles, nice appearance or wealth? We must ask ourselves: “What do you want people to remember about you after you leave this world?” Once we obtain the answer to this, we can dedicate the rest of our days pursuing those things.

[1] A Chassid once asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe his opinion of him choosing to become a typist. The Rebbe retorted, “you can make a living typing, but don’t become a typist.”

Writer of the weekly Fascinating Insights Torah sheet in Englishעברית ,אידיש and français

Author of Four Books including the recently released “Amazing Shabbos Insights”

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