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What are the earliest sources that support or contradict the view of Sfas Emes and Chiddushei HaRim that each person (or Jew) has a unique mission in the world? Specifically looking for sources pre-Gra.

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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/51323/5323 (not duplicate; too specific) – MTL Feb 16 '15 at 4:40
  • Also somewhat related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/34605 – Fred Feb 16 '15 at 4:43
  • @Shokhet It is nevertheless useful as the slight implication is that this want assumed as a universal principle, but rather the source (Chiddushei Harim) had to be invoked. – mevaqesh Feb 16 '15 at 4:44
  • Following links reveals that the Gra implied as much [here] (daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2008/07/…). The new challenge is to find precedent. – mevaqesh Feb 16 '15 at 4:46
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    Could you clarify by editing the question what you mean by "unique"? Specifically: do you mean the mission is unique to the person (i.e. that no one else has the same one) or that it's unique for the person (i.e. that the person has but one)? – msh210 Feb 17 '15 at 4:35
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I don't have any pre-Gra sources for you, but R' Chaim Volozhin makes the point fairly explicitly in Ruach Chaim on the words of mishna 2:8 אם למדת תורה הרבה, explaining the words כי לכך נוצרת:

ואמר "כי לכך נוצרת" כי הנה כל אדם נברא לתקן מה, זה דבר זה וזה דבר אחר וכו

And it says "for this purpose you were created" as each person is created to fulfill something, this person one thing and this person a different thing...

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    As you noted, this is clear from the Gra in Mishlei, so this doesnt answer the question of pre-Gra sources. – mevaqesh Apr 13 '15 at 18:03
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    I really wanted pre-Gra sources as the Gra in Mishlei is pretty explicit. – mevaqesh Apr 13 '15 at 18:08
  • @mevaqesh You said "particularly", not "specifically." And your comment above indicated you didn't fint it to be explicit in the Gra, having said "the Gra implied as much"... – Y     e     z Apr 13 '15 at 18:12

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