Who is the Centre of your life?
There are two perspectives to look at life,
One way is where we make ourselves the centre of the world - Torah is only there if I have time for it.
The other way is where we make Hashem the centre of the world - Hashem has created my life, my reality. My life is about my service to Hashem and to others.
Now you may ask that this sounds all nice and 'holy' but then I don't get to have all the fun that I want to have in this world. How could I live like this if there are things that I need to do for "me!"Obviously we have to nurture and care for ourselves to be a valuable vessel for others. We can't just lock ourselves up and frustrate ourselves as then we wont be any use to the world at all.
However the truth is this. The more we live for ourselves the less we succeed in this world. We live in a world with a lot of addiction, and addiction is rising. The internet has also made addiction much more common. When someone goes on an addiction recovery program. Their program is simple. They find the cause of the addictive behaviour.
Now, this cause does not only lead to an addiction, it is the root cause of so many other human dysfunctional behaviours.
The person is so self centred, they live with fear, resentment, anger. This person could list hundreds of people in the world that they resent. They could pick hundreds of things in the world that they wish where different or that they were a bit annoyed about. Whether it's someone in a traffic jam or a friend that has said something to others. This person lives in a world of resentments and full of fears.
If we look deeply into all of these we find that behind every fear and resentment is what we call "middos raos' - bad middos. Pride, self pity, arrogance and self seeking. In these addiction recovery programs, what they do is develop a relationship with Hashem and live a life based on the service of others. This stops a person from being so self-seeking and self-centred which would ultimately lead to the path of destruction. These forces stop relationships and cause people to try and dominate other people or withdraw from them. It prevents people from being able to have open and honest relationships.
The antidote to this is a world of giving. It may seem paradoxic, but the truth is that the more one gives the deeper pleasure and fulfilment one has in this world.The more we give, the more we love, the more we love the more fulfilled we are in this world.
Focusing on others peoples needs is the path leading to a G-d centred life.
Of course I have to look after myself in that too, because if I don't take care of myself how can I live. But! .. the ikkur, the reason why I am sleeping, the reason why I am having fun, the reason why I am eating, is for one purpose only... for the service of others!
For the question of why Hashem created the world. We can't answer that because 'why' means 'what's the cause?'. On an ultimate level Hashem is the first cause and there is no cause before the first cause. But we can know is what the 'goal' of creation was. Hashem, who is an infinite being, can't gain or take from the world. Which means that the world was based on a basis of giving.
If Hashem created a world to give then why didn't Hashem make a world full of pleasures? We should have been made of machines for enjoyment just absorbing pleasure with no pain, just full pleasure?! This can be easily answered. Pleasure gained for free is not very pleasurable. It comes with negativity and resentment. If you give a poor person something for free he will appreciate it. But it wont be enjoyable as he didn't earn it.
So why didn't Hashem make the world in a way where we can absorb all this pleasure without getting upset about it?!
The answer is deep. The greatest pleasure an infinite being is infinity itself. Namely, the greatest pleasure Hashem could give us is Hashem himself. The only way to have a relationship with anyone is by being like it.
Yo can have a physical relationship with someone by being physically like it. An emotional relationship with someone by being emotionally like it. How can we be close to Hashem?
The Gemara answers this very simply. By 'emulating' Hashem. How do we form a relationship with an infinite being?
We emulate the ways of Hashem. Hashem created the world by a virtue of giving. Every act of giving we do brings us closer to Hashem. This creates a relationship with Hashem. Whereas, every act of 'taking' manipulating others for our own benefit is a way of distancing ourselves from Hashem.
The great paradox of this world is that even in Olam Hazeh there are no pleasures that are as strong as giving and loving to Hashems world and the people in it. All of us subconsciously respond to a programming inside us that tells us that this is what existence is for.
No amount of taking from the world can substitute or satisfy the deep drive we have as humans to give to others.
Hashem has given us His Torah which is the manual for a life with Hashem as the centre and hence giving.
There is no one way to live a Torah life because all of us are different, Hashem needs men, women, Leviim, Cohanim, Rabbis, people in full time learning, baal habatim, doctors, lawyers, chesed workers etc. However the key is this: if any of these positions is 'how can I take from the world' and this could be a lawyer 'I want to make tones and tones of money!" or if this position is to gain Kavod, it doesn't matter who you are, you could always be self-centred. However, if we are shifting in the direction of the life centred around Hashem then this is the ideal Jew. What can I do for you? The key of living a complete life is a life of viewing Hashem as the centre of the world.
Now, this can't be conquered in one day. Hashem wants to see that we are moving in the direction of the world of giving. That's all. Just make the first step and leave the rest to Him!