We know that hashem created the whole world only for the purpose of human's on earth. Everything else is there for his benefit to obtain his purpose. So the question is, what real purpose does he have. And do all human beings have the same purpose. Let us be more specific. Women's purpose is mainly to help the man obtain his. Some men may also be in this category to help other men obtain theirs. But what is the 'top' purpose for a man to have. Is it to learn Torah or is this only a way of reaching a higher 'real' one.
סוֹף דָּבָר הַכֹּל נִשְׁמָע אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים יְרָא וְאֶת מִצְוֹתָיו שְׁמוֹר כִּי זֶה כָּל הָאָדָם
The end of the matter, everything having been heard, fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the entire man.
and keep His commandments, for this is the entire man: Because, for this matter, the entire man was created.
וזה כל האדם ותכלית בריאתו ובריאת כל העולמות עליונים ותחתונים להיות לו דירה זו בתחתונים
This in fact is the whole [purpose] of man, and the purpose for which he, and all the worlds, both upper and lower, were created: that G‑d should have such a dwelling-place here below.
Man’s faith in the unity of G‑d fulfills this goal. For when G‑d’s unity is revealed in the mind and heart of men, this world becomes an abode for G‑d; He is revealed there just as one reveals himself completely in his own home.
From Likutei Amarim Tanya of HaRav Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of Tanya and Shulchan Aruch Harav.
Just had a learning of this the other day when my Rabbi referenced the Vilna Gaon..
Here it is...
The entire service of G-d is rooted in refinement of middos. If not, of what purpose is life (Vilna Gaon)
Different phrasing with concrete source [Beur HaGra to Mishlei 4:13]:
Overcoming negative character traits is the essence and purpose of life.
So everyone has to constantly work on improving and overcoming his/her own unique character flaws that they are either born with or acquired is the purpose.
The purpose of life is to serve Hashem...but for one to truly do that that is what one must do.
The Rambam says in the Moreh Nevuchim (3:51-52) that the main purpose of all the commandments is to arrive at deep fear (awareness) of G-d at all times
here's a short excerpt see there from 3:51-52 in Karfach hebrew version
"If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God" (Deut. xxviii. 58). Consider how clearly it is stated here that the only object and aim of "all the words of this law" is to [make man] fear "the glorious and fearful name.
on the other hand, according to Rabbi Chaim Vital the main goal is (Etz Chaim hakdama daf 13):
"And not only that but man was created only to delve into the depths of the torah. But this requires that his body (and lower soul) be clean first, through the action of the mitzvos whose entire purpose is for this and are therefore necessary. Then the neshama (higher soul) which is called the candle of G-d (Prov 20:27), will be capable of illuminating this body, like a candle inside a glass container, which shines through, and it gives him the power to understand secrets of the torah and it reveals depths from within the darkness.
there's a Bach commentary on the shulchan aruch along the same lines regarding why the temple was destroyed. if anyone can add the source.
In his introduction to Nefesh haChaim, Rav Itzele (Yitzchaq) Volozhiner recalls about his father (and the author), Rav Chaim:
והיה רגיל להוכיח אותי על שראה שאינני משתתף בצערא דאחרינא. וכה היה דברו אלי תמיד שזה כל האדם. לא לעצמו נברא רק להועיל לאחריני ככל אשר ימצא בכחו לעשות.
He regularly rebuked me, because he saw that I did not participate in the pain of others. And these were his constant words to me: This is the entire person. One is not created for himself, but to benefit others with the full extent of his powers.
This is the founder of the Yeshiva Movement, and yet he defines the purpose of creation not in terms ofTorah study, but as "להועיל לאחריני - to benefit others"! (He is also responsible for the split-off from the Yeshiva Movement, Mussar, but that is not surprising from this quote.)
Similarly, to quote the opening words of Rav Shimon Shkop's introduction to Shaarei Yosher:
יתברך הבורא ויתעלה היוצר שבראנו בצלמו ובדמות תבניתו, וחיי עולם נטע בתוכנו, שיהיה אדיר חפצנו, להיטיב עם זולתנו, ליחיד ולרבים בהוה ובעתיד בדמות הבורא כביכול, שכל מה שברא ויצר היה רצונו יתברך רק להיטיב עם הנבראים, כן רצונו ית׳ שנהלך בדרכיו כאמור “והלכת בדרכיו”, היינו שנהיה אנחנו בחירי יצוריו, מגמתנו תמיד להקדיש כוחותינו הגופניים והרוחניים לטובת הרבים, כפי ערכנו,...
Blessed shall be the Creator, and exalted shall be the Maker, Who created us in His 'Image' and in the likeness of His 'Structure', and planted eternal life within us [i.e. gave us the Torah], so that our greatest desire should be to do good to others, to individuals and to the masses, now and in the future, in imitation of the Creator (as it were).
For everything He created and formed was according to His Will (may it be blessed), [that is] only to be good to the creations. So too His Will is that we walk in His ways. As it says “and you shall walk in His Ways” (Devarim 28:9) – that we, the select of what He made – should constantly hold as our purpose to sanctify our physical and spiritual powers for the good of the many, according to our abilities.
Note that this answer could be taken as his definition of what it means "to fix / establish the world as His kingdom" (לתקן\לתכן עולם במלכות שד-י) or to give Him a home in this world, or to sanctify this world (the latter definitely, as the intro continues "In my opinion, this whole concept is included in Hashem’s mitzvah “Be holy, [for I am Holy]....”), etc...
- Keep Mitzvot
- Not only your own mitzvot but also help others keep theirs.
Non-Jews keep their 7 mitzvot and also can help Jews to keep theirs and also sustain the earth and the animal kingdom. Not one of the sheva mitzvot b'nei noach as such but part of the world order.
Women's role is also obviously to keep the mitzvot that apply to them and whilst p'ru ur'vu is not a direct command to them due to the pain (and previously the danger) involved it is also part (but not their entire) purpose.
- Learn Torah for its own sake (i.e. not just to know how to keep mitzvot). This 3rd part applies to Jews only, non-Jews only need to learn the parts of Torah that apply to them.
With regards to sources, Rambam's Mishnah Torah is probably the most likely to cover this subject but obviously it is very widespread and I don't have specific references.
Mesillat Yesharim (ch. 11) implies that Torah study is a means to an end:
כפי רבות חשיבותו וחכמתו כן ראוי שירבה זהירותו בדברי העבודה ודקדוקו בה, ואם איננו עושה כן, הרי שם שמים מתחלל בו חס וחלילה, כי כבוד התורה הוא, שמי שמרבה הלימוד בה ירבה כמו כן ביושר ובתיקון המדות
This could similarly be inferred from the whole structure of Mesillat Yesharim which explicates Pinchas Ben Yair's statement which begins: "Torah leads to zehirut (carefulness)..." That is, all of the levels of Avodah (divine service) described by the Mesillat Yesharim are meant to stem from Torah learning. Thus, the implication, is that the role of Torah is as a means to an end.
מכאן אמר רבי פינחס בן יאיר: "תורה מביאה לידי זהירות, זהירות מביאה לידי זריזות, זריזות מביאה לידי נקיות, נקיות מביאה לידי פרישות, פרישות מביאה לידי טהרה, טהרה מביאה לידי חסידות וכו
This could be inferred from the Talmud's statement (Kiddushin 40b) that study is primary (relative to acts) since the study facilitates activity. The role of Torah seems to be a means to an end.
נענו כולם ואמרו תלמוד גדול שהתלמוד מביא לידי מעשה
It seems reasonable to assume that these ends are the purpose of Man, and by extension, the creation of the world, and this could be inferred from the Mesillat Yesharim's opening which frames the achievement of the ladder structure of levels, of his work as being the point of the creation of Man.
שהאדם לא נברא אלא להתענג על ה' ולהנות מזיו שכינתו שזהו התענוג האמיתי והעידון הגדול מכל העידונים שיכולים להמצא וכו
We say in Aleinu everyday- Letaken Olam B'malchut. we are put in this world for tikkun olam.
Lurianic Kabbalah has also been used to explain the role of prayer and ritual action in tikkun olam. According to this vision of the world, God contracted part of God's self into vessels of light to create the world. These vessels shattered and their shards became sparks of light trapped within the material of creation. Prayer, especially contemplation of various aspects of the divinity (sephirot), releases these sparks and allows them to reunite with God's essence, bringing them closer to a fixed world. According to Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, in his book Derech Hashem, the physical world is connected to spiritual realms above that influence the physical world, and furthermore, Jews have the ability, through physical deeds and free will, to direct and control these spiritual forces. God's desire in creation is that God's creations ultimately will recognize God's unity and overcome evil; this will constitute the perfection (tikkun) of creation. While the Jews have the Torah now and are aware of God's unity, some believe that when all of humanity recognizes this fact, the rectification will be complete.