Most of us need to feel that we matter in some way; perhaps this explains the high value placed on titles, corner offices, and even fleeting celebrity. But most of us also need to feel that we are good people. In this luminous yet practical book of spiritual advice, Harold Kushner bridges the gap between these seemingly irreconcilable needs, showing us how even our smallest daily actions can become stepping stones toward integrity.
Drawing on the stories of his own congregants, on literature, current events and, above all, on the Biblical story of Jacob, the worldly trickster who evolves into a man of God --Kushner addresses some of the most persistent dilemmas of the human condition: Why do decent people so often violate their moral standards? How can we pursue justice without giving in to the lure of revenge? How can we turn our relationships with family and friends into genuine sources of meaning? Persuasive and sympathetic, filled with humanity and warmth, Living a Life That Mattersis a deeply rewarding book. A person's longing for significance--which can lead to excessive ambition, moral compromise, and preoccupation with status--often stands in conflict with a longing to be good. In Living a Life That Matters, Harold S. Kushner (the Massachusetts rabbi whose bestselling books include When Bad Things Happen to Good People) suggests that the most successful lives are the ones that most effectively manage and resolve that conflict. For example, Kushner retells the biblical story of Jacob, in a chapter whose lesson is named by its title, "How to Win By Losing." Hamlet, Dirty Harry, and Exodus are a few of the dozens of examples he cites while elaborating on the essential lesson of this book: that success and significance converge in every act of love, generosity, and self-sacrifice that we make for our families, friends, and communities. --Michael Joseph Gross