Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.

How many times have we whispered to ourselves, and even discussed with others, the opportunities that were missed? All of us, at one time or another, feel pangs of regret—I should have—I could have—I would have. Each path we take in our journey for the best that life has to offer is strewn with many possibilities, some accomplishments, major and minor disappointments, and, of course, defeats.

However, we lose sight of the things that we experienced that gave us joy and feelings of purpose. Somehow our tendency is to concentrate on the things that escaped us. It is even more prominent when we lose someone who crossed our path during their lifetime.

If all there is to life is birth and death, then what is the purpose of our existence? Each of us is endowed with gifts, some more prominent than others, but worthy of having been given the gift of life and the promise of eternal life. Just as creation is never ending and is continually changing, so it is with us, because we are part of creation—a vital part. Without us there would be no purpose to creation.

The Sages teach us this through a parable, which states that when God was creating all things and then determined that humans were part of the creation, the last on His blueprint, the angels began to argue with God. They inquired as to why God would want to spoil all that was created by situating humanity in all this glory. God then replies that to what end creation if there is no one to enjoy it?

We were not created last as an afterthought but, rather, after all had been prepared for us. Everything was created for our arrival—formed for us to enjoy and marvel at the beauty of creation and the elegance of our birth into this wondrous setting.

This is the sum of the importance of creation and the place designated for us in this conceived design. Why then do we purposely ignore the destiny ordained for us? Why do we hesitate to enjoy the moment? After all, our lives are but just moments in time. Our Sages taught us another important lesson when they exclaimed that when we die, God and the angels will hold us accountable for all the pleasures we were allowed in life and denied ourselves. Depriving ourselves negates the purpose of creation.

The one ingredient in the gifts given to us by God that surmounts all others is a simple word—love. The worst regret of all is to never have loved or been loved. It is the glue that connects all that we do in our lives. Without love there can be no fulfillment. As the poet once said, “Tell me whom you love, and I will tell you who you are.”

Perhaps we should concentrate on being accepting and, in turn, accepting others. And perhaps we should also consider God, who gave us this life, commanded us to enjoy it so that the legacy we leave will not be measured by what possessions we amassed, but rather by the living of our lives.

Then perhaps we can all agree that the purpose of creation and our purpose in this beautifully designed world bequeathed to us by a loving and caring God is what is needed for completion and fulfillment. And then perhaps we will go through our experiences without regret.