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February 26, 1993 - Image 50

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-02-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Religion

AFTER I DIE

page 49

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candles. I still call to mind her
counsel, her embrace, her
charity. She created memories
that inform my life and
helped shape my values. In
that sense, my grandmother
enjoys an immortality of in-
fluence. In speaking of her
soul I mean those godly qual-
ities in her personality that
transcend her bodily exist-
ence and affect the character
of those she touched.
A celebrated comedian con-
cluded his monologue on the
afterlife • with the roguish
punch line: "I believe in my
immortality, but I want it
while I'm still alive." There
are indeed intimations of im-
mortality I have experienced
while yet alive. Whenever I
see my granddaughter cover
her eyes before the Sabbath
lights and hear her sing-song
the benedictions in Hebrew, I
sense a transcendent joy
quite different from that
derived from her recitation of
a nursery rhyme. It is not the
- curtsy "cuteness" of her
lisped- recitation or her pre-
cociousness that touches me,
but in her benediction lies a
shock of recognition. This
benediction I heard chanted
by my grandmother and
mother. It is intimately
associated with my family
and the warmth and festivity
of. the Sabbath table.
This blessing is a nexus, a
sacred connection between
my ancestors' world and that
of my grandchildren. Hearing
it from my grandchild, I know
that I am not ,alone in my
future. My Jewishness is val-
idated not onlyby the origins
of my past but by the contin-
uities resonating in my grand-
children. I am not only
descendant but ancestor of
my tradition.

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Immortality, mine, m)
people's, and others, refers tc
something indefeasible, some
thing sacred that will not Ix
trampled underfoot. I hope —
don't we all? — to leave
shadow on this earth to offer
testimony that I have lived.
A legend tells of the angels
who were jealous that God
was to create the human be-
ing in God's own image. That
image is immortal. God and
his human creations would
share immortality. Why, then,
were Adam and Eve so anx-
ious to eat from the tree of life
— the tree of immortality —
after they ate from the tree of
knowledge? Because they
learned that the angels plot-
ted to hide it from them.
One angel proposed that
immortality be hidden from
them in the mountains or the
seas far beyond the reach of
man or woman. But others
argued that human beings
would climb the mountains
and plumb the oceans to find
it.
Then the shrewdest angel
of all suggested that humor-
tality be hidden within and
between human beings. That
angel surmised that within
and between would be the
last place on earth people
would search to discover eter-
nal life, now that_weknow the
secret Immortality is within
and between us, and its in-
timations are here and
now ❑

This article is from a book
published by The Union of
Hebrew Congregations Press,
edited by Rifat Sonsino and
Daniel Syme. The book is en-
titled "What Happens After I
Die? Jewish Views Of Life
After Death."

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