Tag Archives: religion

Our Souls Uplifted

A ray of hopeWhat you are about to read is something I wrote on June 10, 2007, 3 days before my father passed away.  With all that is happening in the world today, and on this meaningful day in the Jewish calendar, I wanted to share this very meaningful and personal post.  So many of our days recently have been ordinary days interrupted with moments of tremendous sadness.  On this, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, and at a time when the events in the world are often incomprehensible,   I present you with what I hope provides you with some faith and inspiration.





What I write today I do not write for myself, but I write for those who struggle with emotional pain, anxiety, and doubt. It is for those who out of love or need or responsibility, take upon themselves what feels like the weight of the world.

I am not sure that this falls into the category of religion, but there certainly is a place for it there. This weight that these people feel, the pain, the hurt, is far more easily removed than they realize.  Sometimes all they need to do is to allow God to lift it.

Let’s start with one very important concept and from there it will become so much simpler. When we know our loved ones are going to pass on, or have passed on, we need to make a distinction between how it hurts us to no longer have them in our lives, from the existence and life that they have had and are about to encounter. Let’s work under the assumption that if it hurts to see them go, that we have memories that will make us smile and laugh and shed tears of joy for what they brought to our lives. In that we can celebrate their life and glorify their memory.

And in their passing let’s realize that the human soul is only less powerful than God and is in essence a part of God’s manifestation on earth. And with that knowledge and understanding we must remember and understand that not only will there be no pain and suffering for our loved ones who leave us, but more than likely there will be a bliss, a joy, and an eternal beauty that we find so difficult to grasp on to on this earth. Ironically it us, those who are left behind, who need to be uplifted in spirit. And the one most poignant way to do so, is to allow the souls of our loved ones to do that which they either have begun, or truly desire to do. To guide us, prepare us, and teach us. As long as we realize that it is their souls attempting to instruct our souls, then, and only then will we bring that true connection and symmetry between our life on earth and the life our souls live now and later.

Be strong everyone and be sure to keep moving forward. But at one point if you truly want to achieve an even greater joy with those you have loved and lost, let go, trust, and allow yourself to be guided to a higher level together with them.

The Last Seder?

mealDespite my own personal ideological struggles, I am a Jew who believes in the philosophies of Judaism before I believe in those of any other religion.  However, I do feel that now maybe more than any time in history the alliance between Christians and Jews has never been more important.  The rise of Islam, a rise that in many places preaches only Islam, has put the concept of freedom of religion in more danger than any time in modern history.  With that in mind I am making a short post to discuss, and hopefully create a discussion regarding the connection between Passover and Easter.

I often say, only partially tongue in cheek, that there are 2 major differences between Christianity and Judaism.  One is that while Christians are awaiting the 2nd coming, us Jews are still awaiting the 1st.  Either way we are still awaiting the supposed Messiah or Messianic era.  The second difference would be the disagreement over who is the best Jew of all time.  There would be some discussion on the matter, but as a Jew I would put in my vote for Moses, and I would be surprised if I didn’t end up backing the winner.  Christians however, even if they have a fondness for Moses, clearly would pick Jesus.

It is widely believed that “The last supper” was actually a Passover Seder.  Seeing the apparent time of year and the fact that a group got together around the table for discussion, there is much credence to this belief.  Ultimately, those who believe in the Messiah coming in a mystical, ultra spiritual way would see the events celebrated by Christians as a realistic method for the savior to be revealed.  Us Jews however do not believe that has actually taken place.  However, if either belief causes people to behave in ways of peace, love and tolerance, they help the world far more than hurt the world.

What are your thoughts?

Freedom: Not a Religious Concept

mosesEvery year as Passover approaches I find myself intrigued by how many Jewish people, even those relatively uninvolved in religious observance, put importance on some form of celebration of the holiday.  Seeing as it is a holiday that begins with sitting around a table with friends and family, telling a story and eating, naturally it is partially due to how uncomplicated and potentially enjoyable this form of observance can actually be.  However, when thinking about it this year I came to an entirely different and much deeper explanation.  The attraction to Passover is that it has very little to do with religion.  Passover transcends religion, inasmuch as it about something not provided by religion.  That would be the basic theme of Passover, the importance of freedom.

We live in an increasingly complex society.  People consider freedom to manifest itself in issues once not even considered important to humankind.  In the United States, freedom now has become connected to lifestyle choices, possession of weapons, and how to treat your body.  In Muslim populations, as well as ultra-religious communities everywhere, levels of freedom are often gender based, men are often provided with freedoms women are not provided with, and when not are based on first accepting the basic rules of the community.    In more progressive, liberal environments, freedom is expressed by the decriminalization of things like drugs and prostitution.  And in some parts of the world, freedom is still about the basic right to survive and live as the person you were born to be, without restriction from governments or dictators.

Freedom has always been the ultimate weapon.  Take away someone’s freedom and the belief is that you have the ultimate control over what they do.  It is the primary and justified complaint against religious leadership.  The belief that impacting someone’s freedom because your belief system considers their personal choices to be wrong for society and the individual, sets up a scenario where people do exactly what is expected of them.  Ironically it takes away from the freedom given by God that is very possibly the most important freedom that exists. The freedom of choice.

The truth is that no one can take that freedom away from any man or woman ever.   The consequences may be dire, but the freedom remains.  My grandparents, when presented with the option to accept Baptismal papers in 1943 Amsterdam, refused to accept them.  Everyone, including them, knew their chances survival would be greater had they accepted them, but they made the ultimate sacrifice in choosing the freedom to live as Jews and subsequently die as Jews by refusing the papers.  They let no man take away their freedom to be Jews, even though it resulted in them being murdered in Auschwitz.

The lesson to be learned is that what makes Passover so attractive is that it is truly about freedom.  A freedom that no government, religious institution, or random individual can ever take from any of us.  That freedom is the freedom of choice.    And the reason no man can ever take it away from us is because it is a freedom given to us by God.  Where religions and governments have failed all over the world is in their unwillingness to take second place to man’s freedom to decide for how he wishes to live his life. A freedom no one can ever take away and a freedom and a concept far greater than religious observance, for it is a freedom given directly to man by God.  That is a freedom all men and women share equally, and the expression of that is part of what makes the celebration of Passover so attractive to so many.

Happy Passover to all who celebrate, and to those who do not, in the theme of the day I wish you a life filled with true freedom.

The Importance of Freedom

As Jews all over the world celebrate Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), I think back once again to what we commemorated and remembered this week.  It strikes me how the Holocaust reached even further than the 6 million killed.  The basic freedom to practice the religion in any way was stripped from mostly every Jew in Europe.  The lesson to  us all, regardless of what we believe in or practice, is to never take for granted our freedom and to stand up and fight those who would oppress others merely for being what they are and for what they believe in.  We must recognize it happened before in order to prevent it from happening ever again.