How can I know what specific direction to take in life so I can best serve Hashem (God)? Should I just make sure to do all mitzvot (Torah commandments) equally, or should I put more emphasis on specific mitzvot?
Rabbi Chaim Mintz responds:
Since every person is different, there is no black-and-white answer. Of course there are basic mitzvot that must be performed by all. For example, every Jewish man is required to learn Torah, whether or not it appeals to him or he feels capable. In addition, every Jew is required to do chesed, even if he or she doesn’t feel like being a “giving” person. And in truth, as we struggle
to do things that are harder for us, we often grow to new spiritual levels, and uncover strengths we didn’t know we had.
But your question is what should be a person’s main focus. The classic sefer Chovos HaLevavos teaches that each person has an innate yearning to pursue a certain path in life. This is a G-d-given gift to help us direct our efforts toward our soul’s specific purpose. Each person has to discover what resonates with him. For example, some people might feel a stronger pull toward doing kind deeds. Others yearn to live in Eretz Yisrael (Israel), as a member of Hashem’s holy nation living in His holy land, even if it means sacrificing convenience and comfort for that purpose. A person should see which talents he has been blessed with, and use them to serve Hashem and to make the world a better place.
At the same time, to channel these talents in the best way, it takes a great deal of wisdom, and it is the rare individual who can be objective enough to discern the right path on his own. That’s
why when we’re standing at a crossroads in life and deciding which direction to take, we should have a mentor in our lives to help us make the right choices. A mentor can see the situation clearly, and give guidance as to which choice is the best for him.
The best advice I can give is to discuss the options with your rebbi or mentor, who can guide you properly in taking the best path for your individual situation. The answer to the original question, “How can I best serve God?” is to consult someone with a clear Torah perspective who knows you well; such a person can help you find your answer.
This question and answer session is taken from Oorah’s Ask the Rabbi book by Rabbi Chaim Mintz, published by ArtScroll.