HAVE YOU EATEN DESSERT?
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
I have worked hard to be a good, decent and honorable human being. I don't drink, smoke or eat unhealthy food. I don't cheat, lie, gossip or humiliate other people. I stay away from bad company and am allergic to shady business. But I am still unhappy and constantly have this ongoing feeling of emptiness. Can you help?
The answer to your problem is in your question. You have clearly described what you don't do but you haven't mentioned what you are doing. Decent living can be achieved by avoiding evil. But happiness, meaning and purpose can only be reached by engaging in something positive.
In two weeks, we will celebrate the Pesach Seder. The Hagadah mentions three Mitzvot that are central to the Seder experience.
a) Maror - we eat bitter herbs
b) Matzah - the special unleavened bread that we eat on Pesach
c) Korban Pesach - the Paschal offering that was eaten on Pesach night in Temple times. Today we remember it with the shank bone on the Seder plate.
The commentaries explain that these Mitzvot create a formula for a life of growth and meaning.
a) Maror - The sharpness of these herbs symbolizes the bitter things in life that we need to stay away from. It reminds us to reject impurity, immorality and all evil activities.
b) Matzah - The mitzvah of eating Matzah reminds that it is not enough to avoid evil. We need to feed our soul by doing something positive. We cannot just reject bad, we must do something good.
c) The Paschal Lamb - One of the laws of this sacrifice is that the roasted lamb should not be eaten as the main course. The meat had to be served as a dessert and enjoyed as an extra delicacy. Doing only what is necessary satisfies the hunger? bus doesn't bring a sense of fulfillment. It is only when we go beyond our comfort zone, exploring new opportunities of goodness that we experience true happiness.
You have a body and a soul. The soul needs its nourishment just as the body needs its food. Just staying out of trouble is like not eating poison but not eating anything else either. You are missing the main course and the dessert too. Find a friend who needs help, come to an extra Shiur, do an extra Mitzvah or volunteer for a good cause. The more you do the more it will taste good.