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The Ultimate journey

01/16/2020 03:51:07 PM


Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus


Death is unnerving for many, even if departure is years away. We wrap protective amulets around our neck. Hold our breath when strolling by a graveyard. Change our names to confound the Angel of Death. There are countless superstitions we follow in an attempt to avoid confronting the inevitable.


Jewish literature abounds with tales of folks who travel into the Hereafter for a glimpse of what is to come. A compassionate God or an empathetic angel was often the escort for the nervous soul gripped with the angst of mortality. Death, the Talmud teaches, is as peaceful and painless as drawing hair out of milk. Certainly, gentle imagery meant to calm the fearful. Our tradition does its best but perhaps we might learn from a South Korean mortuary that is offering people a chance to experience their own ‘living funeral’ before their passing.


For a fee, the curious are placed into a closed coffin for ten minutes with the hope that they will discover ‘death’ is not so bad. It’s an interesting concept, but I’m not sure our community would go for it especially if we have read Edgar Allen Poe and Steven King. And there would be the additional concern of a mortician who goes home for dinner, forgetting he has a guest locked in a box.


Death is so beyond comprehension that we can never be sanguine about our finality nor adequately prepared for that ultimate journey. And so, we must do our best, by living full, meaningful lives so that when the time does come, we leave knowing we made a difference.

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Tue, April 7 2020 13 Nisan 5780