I learned from the linked article in the Washington Post that Harold Kushner, a rabbi whose books brought solace to millions, died at 88. He was a hero of mine. I have read most of his over a dozen books and found them all helpful. I was especially touched by his most famous Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” It meant a lot to me as I recovered from a near-fatal car accident in 1984 that killed the driver and the other 2 passengers in the car. I have re-read that book many times, each time learning more. His books helped me contemplate meaning and purpose.
Meaning & Purpose
Meaning and purpose in life are desires of most of us. Rabbi Kushner provides us with many clues on how to find it. I have contemplated questions about meaning and purpose in these posts: Meaning from Meaninglessness, Making Sense of Chaos, Meaninglessness, Disorientation, and Randomness & Creating Outcomes. Also, the post, Everything Happens for a Reason! Make it Good! relates to what I got from my many readings of Harold Kushner’s book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”
Although the book became a bestseller, the obituary stated that Kushner wrote the book to “redeem my son’s death from meaninglessness” and to try to understand why the world is not fair. His son died as a teenager from progeria, the rapid aging disease. As he contemplated the bad things that happened to him, his conclusions were another example of an undoing of tradition. Kahneman and Tversky’s extensive scientific work demonstrated breakthroughs generally break with traditional practice. Michael Lewis reviewed their work in his book, “The Undoing Project,” and I discussed their work in my “Undoing” Needed to Create Better!” post.
Rabbi broke with traditions by giving up the belief that God was good, but not all-powerful. As he explained,
…“If I, walking through the wards of a hospital, have to face the fact that either God is all-powerful but not kind, or thoroughly kind and loving but not totally powerful, I would rather compromise God’s power and affirm his love,” Rabbi Kushner once told NPR.
…“The theological conclusion I came to is that God could have been all-powerful at the beginning, but he chose to designate two areas of life off-limits to his power,” he continued. “He would not arbitrarily interfere with laws of nature, and secondly, God would not take away our freedom to choose between good and evil.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/obituaries/2023/05/04/harold-kushner-bad-things-good-people/
Below is a short video summary of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People:”
I hope this helps in your search for meaning and purpose. If you have not read his book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” I strongly recommend you do. It is a short book, just over 100 pages, but very powerful. It helped lay the foundation for how I work to create meaning and purpose in my life. I do this by working to generate comprehensive benefits by creating regenerative, net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Please share how you generate meaning and purpose in your life.
Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!
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