I know I’m not alone in wrestling with my own mortality. I was asked these questions many times during my rabbinic career as people aged and as loved ones died – but never did I think they related to me personally. Now I find myself looking for answers to these questions, and I’ve found answers in Hillel Halkin’s After One-Hundred-and-Twenty: Reflecting on Death, Mourning, and the Afterlife in the Jewish Tradition.
Does being a person of faith mean you believe in blessings and curses? Why should we always "do the right thing?" Are we rewarded or punished for what we do in the world?
Like our ancestors, we focus on our own modern day tribes: The tribes of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and secular. Amidst our real differences, can we sew ourselves together into a larger identity of being Am Yisrael – one people?
Do we do things because they bring us meaning, or do things have meaning because we do them? Can your morning yoga class or walk through the park serve as a source of spiritual inspiration?
Even with good intentions, when we talk about people who are not present, we run the risk of disparaging them, without giving them the opportunity to respond.