How does one know or determine one's tafkid in life? And can a person have more than one tafkid?

Please include sources.

Thank you.


5 Answers 5


This Chabad website says something which I think is generally accepted by all:

How does one know one’s own specific purpose? The answer is that everything happens by Divine Providence and if a person is presented with a certain opportunity, this is certainly sent from Above and should be treated as if it is the purpose of one’s soul’s descent.

In a similar way (but not directly answering the question) Rabbi Frand writes:

One who – when the occasion warrants it – will seek to determine what Hashem is telling him, will be following in the footsteps of our great teacher Moshe, about whom it is written "let me go and investigate the meaning of this great wonder I am seeing."


Rabbi Akiva Tatz wrote a book called "The Thinking Jewish Teenager's Guide to Life," in which he outlines a process of identifying who you are and what are your goals in life. In short, he says to draw a circle and write whatever you are inside the circle and everything you're not outside the circle. Everything inside the circle are your tools and everything outside the circle are your fantasies. Your task is to use your tools to their max as they define your role in life.

I oversimplified it; it is more insightful and profound than what I described.

  • 1
    I enjoyed reading that book many years ago. It seems to me to be a highly unfortunate title though.
    – Gavriel
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 19:30
  • @Gavriel Agreed. It's an excellent book. I would imagine it's far above the level of most teenagers as well as most adults
    – SAH
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 19:19

The Gaon and Chasid of Vilna writes in his commentary to Mishlei 16:4

Every individual has a unique way that he is to serve G‑d. (Berachos 58a) : Just as no two people look the same, no two people have the same way of thinking. Therefore no two people have identical natures. When there were prophets, people went to the prophets to inquire of G‑d. The prophet would respond based on his prophetic understanding concerning the way that person should conduct himself according to the source of the person's soul and the nature of his body. When prophecy ceased to exist there was still the power of ruach hakodesh that is in each person and each person could use it to determine what he should do. …However this is only useful if the person is spiritually refined and is purely directed to serve G‑d. Otherwise his spiritual intuition is totally unreliable…. Therefore now that we lack the purity of spirit, we can not rely on spiritual intuition and instead we can at most focus on doing mitzvos and Torah study for the sake of G‑d to the best of our ability…

The translation is taken from here: http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2008/07/gra-each-of-us-has-unique-way-we-are.html

There are other sources quoted there that would be useful to look at.


Chapter 1 of M'silas Y'sharim discusses this. He says our purpose of existence is to enjoy God in the the next world, and the way to get to do that is to fulfill his will (do mitzvos) in this world. He does not differentiate among different people (although you ask about a person's individual purpose).

  • He furthermore says on that same page that "[...] Man was not created for any other purpose other than to take delight in Hashem and to enjoy the splendor of His Presence for this is the true delight and most delightful of all delights that can be found". The obvious question then being how one does such a thing with the answer being Torah and mitzwot and you mentioned above and which Ramhhal also mentions in Derekh Hashem.
    – Lee
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 19:47
  • I thought the OP was referring to the Mesilas Yeshorim Chap 1 where he says, הוא שיתברר ויתאמת אצל האדם מה חובתו בעולמו Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 21:40
  • @AvrohomYitzchok, if he was, then this answer is perfect. After all, the MY goes on, after that sentence, to explain precisely what that chova is, and that's what I paraphrase in my answer.
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 21:58
  • @Lee What is your source that Torah and mitzwot brings to delight in Hashem and to enjoy the splendor of His Presence?
    – Adám
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 14:41
  • 1
    @NBZ, M'silas Y'sharim, chapter 1. Lee seems to have been merely expanding on my answer.
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 18:23

the vilna goen (Rus 1 18) writes that if someone is over enthusiastic with a certain act it may well be with the help of the yetzer horah.

the vilna goen (Yona 4 3) writes that the area in his torah observation where he has had the most falls, is the one chosen for his lifes mission. similarly the avairah a person is most attracted to is result of wrongdoings in a previous gilgul and must be repaired in this life


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .