There were a few incidents in my life recently that pointed out to me the fact that so much of the effort within the Jewish community today is to 'sell religion.' The bottom line is that we try and encourage Torah observance because it is a __________ [insert the word: better, more enjoyable, meaningful, etc.] way to live. In other words, it seems to be all about the person. Everything seems to come down to what religion can do for you.
Of course, you still hear a rhetoric of the importance of truth and the demand to serve God but, to be honest, this all seems secondary to the recognized, real motivating force -- how it will enhance your life. You can see that even as someone declares an acceptance of a chumra, a stringency in observance, as a supposed indication of commitment to the Divine, the real motivation behind this is really that somehow it enhances one's life. It can even be declared openly -- the reason one wishes to commit to the Divine is because it makes one's life _____________ [again fill in the word].
I am not saying that this is all wrong. Why we serve God is a significant question and cannot be ignored. How else would you get people interested in Torah is you do not point out its benefits? The problem is that if the yardstick of observance is personal, what one wishes becomes the arbiter, not what should be. With all this selling of religion -- and I use the term religion because I find that this exists beyond the world of Torah to somehow sell all faiths -- religions becomes necessarily defined for you need a concrete, demanded lifestyle in order to sell it as _________________ [again fill in the word]. The difference with truth is that it really is built on a reality of na'aseh v'nishma, that I do it because it is not because I benefit. In our present world, we seem to always put the benefit first, thereby defining religion as we wish it.
Rabbi Ben Hecht