And the answer is that this most noble attribute of Mankind, is actually the cause of all the trouble in the world.
The longing to come close to Hashem is one of the most pure instincts of human beings and at the same time it is the cause of most of the disturbances, wickedness and misfortune in the world.
It’s only because Mankind has this longing, but he doesn’t know what exactly it is that he longs for — he can’t put his finger on it — that’s what causes all the trouble in the world.
He seeks and he seeks and he seeks more, but because he doesn’t know what he seeks, he becomes the biggest troublemaker.
I think we've all heard by now that love songs are really expressions of yearning for connection with Hashem, yet the neither the composer nor crooner realizes it.
But all longing ("I never stop thinking about you") and the demands inherent in many love songs ("Show me what springtime looks like on Jupiter or Mars"—VERY demanding! Who's your man, Elon Musk?) are really only needs that Hashem can fulfill.
Finding meaning or escaping meaninglessness drive a lot of behavior, but really, it's all only found with Hashem.
The big challenge is to click into it.
Satisfying Soul Yearnings: Don't Settle for Substitutes
Making money & travel, art & fame (including infamy), power-seeking & revolutions—these are all superficial attempts to succor the soul.
(It's worth checking out Rav Miller's colorful descriptions of all this on pages 11-13.)
This is also the reason that liberal Jews tend to be so destructive (albeit so well-meaning). They're looking satiate their soul's yearnings, but get completely lost in the Thicket of Substitutes, created by ignorance and the yetzer hara.
As Rav Miller sums them up:
...there’s no end to the trouble he’ll cause while he’s trying to requite his yearning – because he doesn’t know what he seeks.
And en route to the final good, a lot of trouble is caused – a lot of vessels are being smashed and a lot of hearts are broken. The maaveh [spiritual desirer] becomes a mazik [damager].
Healthy Love & Intense Unrest
Rav Miller points out that if you love your Rav/Rebbe/Rosh Yeshivah, you can move to live close to him and spend time with him, but there are certain boundaries you shouldn't cross.
For example, you wouldn't start hugging and kissing your Rebbe (unless you're Sefardi, in which case you might reverently kiss his hand—if you're also a man).
Rav Miller offers an example (using Rav Yaakov Kamentzky) on pages 14-16 on how to satisfy that longing via connecting to a spiritually great person, and how to do so in a sensible, psychologically healthy manner.
Many people today suffer from dissatisfaction. Many people feel restless, anxious, depressed, etc.
But Rav Miller says that's NORMAL. It's even a good sign. It mean that you possess an urge to come close to Hashem:
Everyone must feel within him an intense unrest.
Yet many people are told they have a disorder, mental illness, or syndrome if they feel this way.
How to Find True Happiness
- Learn Chumash.
- Learn Gemara.
- Learn holy books.
- Think about Torah ideals.
- Perform mitzvot.
- Live a Torah life.
- Work on changing your character.
- Bring up children to be members of the Holy Nation.
In Tehillim 14:2, Hashem asks, who is seeking Him?
Hashem is actively searching for the God-seeker, the doresh et Elokim.
If you are seeking Hashem, you're exactly the person He is looking for too.