As we get older and mature, our sense of what is pleasurable becomes increasingly sophisticated and subtle. Most people, Rambam notes, will work long and hard for a promotion, even where the reward is merely respect and power without any financial gain. Although these payoffs are intangible — like they say, “You cannot eat kavod” — and many times they are illusory, the pleasure we derive from them is much deeper and more satisfying than physical pleasures, and than the childish pleasure of playing ball. We all have heard accounts of very successful people who possessed every possible luxury, who risked it all, and at times lost it all, for what they perceived as glory. But what is “glory”? It is a non-physical, subtle and sublime feeling.
The pleasure gap between ball-playing and glory is nothing compared to the infinite divide that stands between any enjoyment we can imagine and the sublime delight of basking in the Shechinah’s presence. The latter is so good that it cannot even be captured in a mashal. All we can say regarding this bliss is that which the pasuk says: ,מָה רַב טוּבְךָ אֲשֶׁר צָפַנְתָּ לִּירֵאֶיךָ How great is Your Goodness that You have reserved for those who fear You.
Nevertheless, although anything we experience in this world is incomparable to this pleasure, we constantly feel the need for this closeness even here. It is a primary force in our lives. It gnaws at us and motivates us and drives us to seek meaning.