Shmuley Boteach is an American Orthodox rabbi, radio and television host, and author. He rose to prominence with the publication of his international bestseller Kosher Sex. He received his rabbinic ordination in 1988 from the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement in New York City, as a disciple of its leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. He frequently appears as a guest on television and radio discussing politics, religion, society and morality. He also now hosts a reality television program entitled Shalom in the Home which involves facilitating conflicts between family members. He has authored many books since Kosher Sex, the latest of which is The Broken American Male.
Question: What is the measure of a good life?
Shmuley Boteach: I think a good life is first one that is balanced. The great Jewish philosopher Mimonadese and Aristotle said it as well. They advocated the golden middle path to really find balance. I believe . . . I’m a very committed family man, but I also believe people have to have careers . . . absolutely, and feel professionally accomplished. You have to find balance. I believe we’re individuals, but we’re also part of larger communities – a larger whole. And finding the balance between the two is very important. For me the good life is a life of illumination and a life of enlightenment. It’s where we transcend our material desires, and we just live for acquisition, and the impulse purchase. And we really . . . we love reading. We love engaging in intelligent discussion, and we gain self-knowledge. Not just self-mastery, but self-knowledge. And we really begin to understand ourselves because we’re enlightened about the human condition and about human nature. I think the good life is a relationship with God and a healthy spiritual anchor; feeling a proximity to God. Not just using God as a furry rabbit’s foot. Not just using God in some sort of superstitious context, but to use God in a relationship context – that we’re close to God and we try to bring Him into our lives. And that sometimes means we’ll have to complain against God. Sometime we feel like God is unjust, and that’s okay. It’s part of an honest relationship. I don’t believe that total submission is an honest relationship.
Recorded on: 09/05/2007