Readers Discuss The Book

The Rebbe and his teachings in Toward a Meaningful Life have touched people from all walks of life. Please share your story and discover the transformational experiences others have had.



Submitted by Anonymous
I am a 47-year-old executive—very successful and accomplished; admired and respected. Yet beneath this fine veneer lies a woman in shreds. You see, my soul was murdered as a young child when my parents abused me physically, emotionally, sexually. Every day of my life is essentially a struggle against suicide. I feel no self value, actually no self at all. I am a sum of my parts, and my value is based on how others value me. I have tried many therapies but essentially have remained the same. Intimacy doesn’t work in my life, relationships are either unhealthy or nonexistent.In order to compensate for this deep void and lack, what I have done, as do people in this situation, I have become superambitious and hyperproductive in order to create some semblance of outer control in place of no inner control. It helps distract me somewhat and helps get me through the day, but it doesn’t really change anything. Inside I am a wreck, and every day, sometimes every moment, is another struggle. I had long given up hope and resigned myself to this life of misery. But then a miracle happened. Someone gave me the book Toward a Meaningful Life as a gift. I am Jewish but non-observant, and I was glancing through the book with a measure of skepticism until a line jumped out at me and struck me like a thunderbolt, like a silver bullet between the eyes:The line said: ‘BIRTH IS G-D SAYING THAT YOU MATTER.’ I read it again. ‘BIRTH IS G-D SAYING YOU MATTER.’ I read it over and over at least 500 times. And I will continue to read it every day of my entire life.I suddenly realized, after 47 years, that no matter what my parents told me, no matter how they said I was an accident and a source of misery in their lives, that no matter how society tells us that we are just a statistic in someone’s balance sheet, that our value is measured in buying power, productivity, looks, youth, contacts, and money—none of matters because I matter to the One who matters most. To G-d, who created me and said, ‘I want you on this Earth. I need you. The mere fact that I was born, that I exist, regardless of my mood, my performance level, my looks that day. The mere fact that I am here is a vote of confidence from G-d that I am indispensable, absolutely necessary, irreplaceable. No one can replace me. I matter. I truly matter.

Do you know how that made me feel? That I have permission to matter. I am commanded to matter.
So though I still have many years to heal, now, for the first time in my life, I have hope. And I know what I need to do. I need to create bypass surgery to bypass the infected arteries that my parents gave me when they touched me, criticized me, hit me, for the first time, and reconnect to that first, pure, innocent moment of birth, when G-d said YOU MATTER, you are indispensable.

So thank you for giving me back my life.


Submitted by Amy Austin
Many years ago, during a difficult period in my life, I wrote to the Rebbe. I never dreamed he would answer my letter, but he did and he gave me a bracha that I should have “good news to report.” The Rebbe stressed that the important thing is that “the daily conduct conform to the instructions of our Torah, Toras Chayim, in compliance with its commandments by which the Jew lives. And, he ended the letter that “In addition to the essential aspect, namely, that this is the command of G-d, which must be complied with for its own sake, it is also the way to receive G-d’s blessings in all one’s deeds.”
Fast forward approximately twenty five years and I can attest that the Rebbe’s advice has been far reaching and true each and every day of my life both on a personal and professional level.
Today, I am blessed with two sons, two beautiful daughter’s in law, a granddaughter and a new grandson who had his bris recently. We all live an observant life, sharing simchas, going from strength to strength, even during the challenges that life brings us.
There are no words for this life of mine, other than gratitude for all the nachas that Hashem has given me and my family. And, for the Rebbe and his shluchim that carry his message all over the world to educate and spread more light about the greatest gift we’ll ever have, our Torah.


Submitted by Malka
About three years ago, I was regaining my balance after a divorce, and had just started going out on shidduchim. I am a ba’al tshuva with Lubavitch, and frum for over 30 years, and I asked a shadchan what was the minimum number of years that a BT could be frum and be stable enough in his frumkeit for me to even consider dating. The shadchan answered, “Five.” But someone I heard about who said he’d only been frum for 3 years sounded quite interesting, and I had that same shadchan call him to see if he sounded appropriate. His return call came pretty quickly, “He’s a mentsch, I’ll set up a date.”
The story continues with out first phone call, pre-first date… he jumped right over small talk and said after only a few minutes of conversation, “In marriage, if both people give 100% then neither one of them will have any wants.”
“Wow, sounds pretty kabbalistic to me, where did you hear that?” (Perhaps I was being the tiniest bit sarcastic, thinking I was the more religious one.)
“In the chapter on marriage from Rabbi Simon Jacobson’s book, “Towards a More Meaningful Life” Did you ever read it?”
Well, I jumped up, pulled my copy off the shelf, and yes, there it was, just how he quoted it!
Yes, we got married, B”H. Yes, that wonderful man didn’t just quote Rabbi Jacobson book, who was giving over to the world the Rebbe’s advice, he internalized it, and lives it everyday.
That’s the short version…….how the Rebbe “arranged” everything for us, setting the stage starting more than 30 years ago for all of this to play out so beautifully, that’s a much longer story…..


Submitted by Anonymous
Dear Rabbi Jacobson,
I wanted to sincerely thank you for being such an inspiring example of what being a mentch really is. You give such kind, loving advice and have inspired me (a non-frum Jew) to be more connected and more observant. You set a high standard for kindness, refinement and compassion that truly shows what living by Torah really means, and what “being a light unto the nations” genuinely is. Thank you so much. Through your book “Toward a Meaningful Life” you really have brought me much closer to the Rebbe and to Torah.


Submitted by Rivkah Abigael
Living through a difficult childhood, I had no interest in religion, nor was I raised in a traditional Jewish home. Little by little I became interested in spirituality then Judaism. At age forty four I became involved with the National Jewish Outreach program where I learned Hebrew, Torah, Pirkei Avos and Talmud. I then took five JLI classes where I learned Tanya. I became an adult Bat Mitzvah and of course I voraciously read Toward a Meaningful Life, underlining phrases and passages to look back upon. I have a photo of The Rebbe in my kitchen, a student of mine gave it to me when my husband, of blessed memory passed. Judaism is my G-d given heritage and I embrace it daily.


Submitted by Anonymous
A few years ago I was feeling very much in the dumps, was having a very hard time at home and everything and I was constantly having suicidal thoughts. One day, a friend who was taking a JLI course, read a passage from Rabbi Simon Jacobson titled “Do you think you matter?” It’s an essay about someone who was contemplating suicide like me and then she came across Rabbi Simon’s book and one line jumped out at her “Birth is g-d’s sign that you matter” and that really helped me a lot. Thank you!


Submitted by Anonymous
I was a baal Teshuvah, deeply involved in Lubavitch of many years, when I found myself hitting a spiritual plateau. My observance was becoming rote, and lifeless, to the point that I was oblivious to what was happening. Suddenly, the son of a Lubavitch couple, who had helped makariv my husband and I years earlier, came into our lives. He would come to us for Shabbos, and would inspire me with stories of the bal Shem Tov, the Rebbe, and Chassiddus. I began to re-embark on a new journey, of more intense learning, and a re-connection to the Rebbe. I had read the book, Towards a Meaningful Life, as well as many others. As I re-read them, they began to take on a whole new meaning. My spiritual thirst and hunger were now being nourished, and my observance of Torah, and mitzvahs, became alive again.


Submitted by Anonymous
Toward a Meaningful Life was the first book that I read on my spiritual quest and journey into revealing my Jewish roots. The book introduced me to the Rebbe who today is my spiritual guide. The book and the Rebbe enabled me to turn my life inside-out and lift me from the muck and restore my soul to the purified state it once was in.
Thank you!


Submitted by Moshe R.
I heard this story from the shliach Danny Moskowtiz A”H. There was an elderly lady who he knew that was suffering from a terminal illness who had signed a DNR (an order to let her die rather than resuscitate her if resuscitation would become necessary). Someone recommended the book Toward a Meaningful Life to her, and though she couldn’t read, she had her daughter read her the chapter on education – she had spent her entire life as a teacher. After gaining a brand new perspective on the value of her life’s work, she was so moved that she revoked the DNR, and thanks to her new interest in living, she actually went into remission!!


Submitted by Olivia
I landed at Simon’s booksigning in Cincinatti after seeing his book Toward a Meaningful Life lying around on a table in a cafe where my boyfriend and I were getting coffee. I picked up the book and decided to open to a random page and read it to my boyfriend. It opened to the page about the two varieties of depression – one positive and one negative and I read it out loud to him.Not only was it exactly what I needed to hear at that time, but the gentleman drinking a coffee at the table next to ours came over with tears in his eyes asking what book I was reading from. We weren’t even sure ourselves, so we looked at the front cover together, and after writing down the title of the book and Simon’s name, he left the cafe to go to a local book store to find the book. We called the bookstore to find out about the book, and were thrilled to hear the Simon himself would be visiting fora book signing event.


Submitted by Buddy
Rabbi Jacobson,
You may remember that I contacted you to thank you for writing this treasure after I received it as a gift in 1996. At the time I was depressed and strongly connected to my girlfriend who was Christian.
I recently found your website, and I want to let you now that after I made a practice of reading four pages every morning as I told you back then, I started succeeding to lift myself out of my depression. As i started to feel happier and healthier, I chased down a local Chabad Rabbi here in Toronto who was happy to host me for a Friday night Shabbat meal at my request.Thanks to your book and my Rabbi who it motivated me to reach out to, I am happily single reconnecting with my past that once felt so distant.
I owe you more thanks that I could possible express in writing.



The Meaningful Life Center