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So Jewish mamas, do you think about death much?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Are there specific teachings that you gravitate toward? (I'm talking afterlife or not, reincarnation, ressurrection of souls, stuff - not funeral ritual.) Or are you ok with it just being a big mystery? For the Orthodox mamas, are there beliefs about death that are accepted as "truth" in Orthodoxy (rather than just speculation)? What about Jews who say our immortality is the impact we leave on the world - rather than preservation of our unique selves - does that belief bother you? Do you feel that you are very conscious of your mortality? Just curious, my mind just can't get off these topics for some reason; I'd appreciate your thoughts. Thank you!
post #2 of 29
I think about it all the time. I don't have any beliefs in afterlives. And death scares the bejebus out of me.
post #3 of 29
The tone of your post is interesting. It sounds like a statement that Judaism doesn't have a particular viewpoint towards after-death, so which viewpoint do you 'like.'

Judaism holds certain things as core beliefs about after-death ...



Reincarnation, for one thing. Which is talking about two different concepts ... tekhiyat ha'meytim (resurrection of the dead that is supposed to come when Mashiakh comes) ... and second, the basic return of the soul to the next lifetime that happens every time someone shuffles off this mortal coil. That's standard Jewish thought. We keep coming back 'til we do it 100% right, is how that one goes.

Tangential but relevant: One of the minor but entertaining points I do so love in learning is finding out some person in the Nevi'im/K'tuvim (Prophets/Writings) is thought to be the gilgul (reincarnation) of someone particular in the Khumash ("5 books of Moses"). Enriches the story/possibilities in all sorts of ways.





The folks who reject standard Jewish thought/traditional views will reject that , as well. What do I think about their rejection? Hey, freedom of thought. But since no one has come back to us to give us first-person accounts of what happened to them after-death, it's all speculation, right?





Yes, I think about my mortality regularly. I live within the range of the Grad rockets that have been hitting Ashkelon, and Ahmedinejad says that I will be "removed," and the Syrians have been playing with their chemical weaponry, so yeah, I think about it. We keep lots of water in the house, several packages of nori/seaweed (good for radiation sickness) and are working on getting gas masks. Any other suggestions, am happy to take 'em.
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by merpk View Post
The tone of your post is interesting. It sounds like a statement that Judaism doesn't have a particular viewpoint towards after-death, so which viewpoint do you 'like.'
Thank you for your response. No, I haven't totally understood what Judaism thought. I've bee reading articles, and it is all "at this time they thought this" and "at that time they thought that". And it seems that Reform Judaism doesn't have a particular viewpoint? It scares the crap out of me when people start saying stuff like "it's just our memory that lives on" or "the legacy of our deeds" or worse yet "our particals live on as carbon, oxygen, etc"!- that's all fine and good, but I don't want *me*, my unique self to be totally gone. I guess it's not in my control, but still I don't like that idea - it's too scary I just can't believe this one life is *it*. Things we love we keep, we guard, we protect - if God loves us, surely he keeps us... Sounds like I need to read some better sources. To start with, I thought there was a standard viewpoint, and then I read some stuff that made me think there wasn't and that kind of messed with me.

I've been reading this book "Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life" by Rabbi Irwin Kula. (I guess he's conservative.) At first I really liked it, but somethings about it are bugging me - he references other religions alot - like they all teach the same things or something. I'm thinking "is this a Jewish book or New Age?" And then he suggests that the coming of the Mashiakh and tikkun olam are metaphors and suggesting that we just embrace beliefs that help us deal with the knowlege of life and death. Ack, if you don't believe the Torah was given to Moses by God, then what is the point of following it? Just cause you think it is a cool religion that "works" for you? If that is the case, I'd rather have a religion that commands eating pizza and ice cream, rather than giving up lobster...
post #5 of 29
This is interesting! I am always interested in learning more about Judaism, since it for some reason seems so confusing to me. So..the Jewish belief about the afterlife is that of reincarnation? That you are reincarnated until you get it all right, but what happens after that?
post #6 of 29
Quote:
I'd rather have a religion that commands eating pizza and ice cream, ...
Vegetarian pizza and BR ice cream can be kosher. : serve it up!
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by merpk View Post

Yes, I think about my mortality regularly. I live within the range of the Grad rockets that have been hitting Ashkelon, and Ahmedinejad says that I will be "removed," and the Syrians have been playing with their chemical weaponry, so yeah, I think about it. We keep lots of water in the house, several packages of nori/seaweed (good for radiation sickness) and are working on getting gas masks. Any other suggestions, am happy to take 'em.
My uncle is in Special Forces. He believes that Saddam Hussein did indeed have weapons of mass destruction, and simply moved them to Syria before the Americans arrived. (Thus making the war pointless.) No, I do not have any information beyond what he has told me. No, I have no idea if he is right or wrong.

But it's clear we have a problem with Syria and Iran, and thank you for being honest about it.

Sorry, OT.
post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelpie545 View Post
This is interesting! I am always interested in learning more about Judaism, since it for some reason seems so confusing to me. So..the Jewish belief about the afterlife is that of reincarnation? That you are reincarnated until you get it all right, but what happens after that?
What I thought I understood before I became confused was that we are reincarnated to help with tikkun olam "repairing the world" and when we have brought a sufficient amount of light into the world, then the Messiah will come. We work with God in creation. Correct me somebody if I've got it wrong. Isn't there a teaching that every generation has a potential messiah, but we have to produce enough light to bring him forth?

The best pizza I ever had was at a kosher restuarant in Chicago - whole cloves or garlic, mmmmmmm... : But still I don't eat lobster anymore, cause I belief God said not too, not just cause I think it's trendy.
post #9 of 29
2blue, your view of it is pretty much correct, by many & various schools of thought.


Your problem with the Reform perspective is also my problem with the Reform perspective on *all* of Judaism ... that they've taken all of Judaism out of Judaism and have ended up with a generic whatever-you-like/pick&choose version of it. Am okay with pick&choose to a degree ... it's not like Judaism is an all-or-nothing thing (meaning that if you're not up for trying do it all then don't do anything), but at the same time, it's removed the center from it all.


Not able to explain this too well, am just coming out of yomtov (Shavuot was today ... and it's still Shavuot in khutz l'Aretz/the US and everywhere else that's not Israel) so maybe my eloquence will show up after a good night's sleep.
post #10 of 29
i grew up reform and was taught jews dont beleive anything about after death and the focus is on this life.

it is true that judaism focuses on this life as it we do good stuff to make the world better not to avoid hell. (that definition is so xian centric) but there is alot that judaism says abt the life of the soul and it is eternal (as opposed to the body but the 2 are not one and the same) and every soul was created as a "part" of adam's soul and keeps coming back untill it has copmpleted its unique mission. i have links i will dig up.
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by gilamama View Post
i grew up reform and was taught jews dont beleive anything about after death and the focus is on this life.

it is true that judaism focuses on this life as it we do good stuff to make the world better not to avoid hell. (that definition is so xian centric) but there is alot that judaism says abt the life of the soul and it is eternal (as opposed to the body but the 2 are not one and the same) and every soul was created as a "part" of adam's soul and keeps coming back untill it has copmpleted its unique mission. i have links i will dig up.

When the soul completes its mission, then what, though? Does it begin a new mission? Is it elevated to something else?

A gentle correction about your Christian centric comment, though. It's true that a lot of churches throughout history have used hell as a way to keep people in line, and under their thumb, but that's not really biblical. Kind of like how Reform Judaism teaches that Judaism doesn't support an afterlife, when really it does. Social leaders have misconstrued hell and the afterlife.

According to the New Testament, being good makes the world a better place, but no one can really be that holy. In fact, just about everybody will do something really rotten at one point. So it's not a works-based faith- eternal life is available to those who ask for it. It is a faith-based faith

Being good is not the way to avoid Hell, or gain entry into Heaven, according to scriptural Christianity. Being bad doesn't necessarily lock you out of Heaven, or lock you in Hell.

What's interesting is that reincarnation was the first Christian belief of the afterlife, and with the exception of Revelations, there really isn't that much information about the afterlife either in the Bible. It's all a big mystery. I wonder if the ancients were more accurate when they believed in reincarnation? I'll have to look up why this belief changed.
post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by merpk View Post
it's removed the center from it all.
I think this is exactly it - or at least moved the center over in a corner where a few bother to acknowlege it. When our baby was hanging between life and death, and our reform rabbi came to the bedside and prayed for r'fuah shlemah, I know he believed Hashem was there and could grant a full recovery. I guess it offends me then to hear someone suggest that core beliefs, including a belief in Hashem, are just constructs we use to make ourselves feel better about life and all religions are the same. I looked in the face of our baby that didn't breath and "heard" the name "Yosef". When I asked dh what it meant, and he told me "Hashem will add" then I felt that the name was given to comfort me. I just can't believe that I just make up those kind of experiences in my life... I guess there's probably a difference too in reform Rabbis in rural places like where I've lived just working to pull Jews together and help them find their way, and reform Rabbis in urban areas. In the synagogues we've been in, there's a mix between very observant families, and Jews who aren't religious but just seeking a cultural connection.

My topic kind of rabbit trailed, but I think it went where I was needing it to go. I just needed some clarity.

kmeyrick, once again correct me if I've got it wrong, but I believe what happens is when the messiah comes we are resurrected to be with him, the temple will be rebuilt, we'll worship in Jerusalem, there will be peace. Are there folks that have time off between reincarnations and the messiah coming and what are they doing? I dunno.
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bluefish View Post

kmeyrick, once again correct me if I've got it wrong, but I believe what happens is when the messiah comes we are resurrected to be with him, the temple will be rebuilt, we'll worship in Jerusalem, there will be peace. Are there folks that have time off between reincarnations and the messiah coming and what are they doing? I dunno.
This is not very clear. Never has been. Christianity is actually rather vague about the after-life as well.
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmeyrick View Post
Christianity is actually rather vague about the after-life as well.
LOL, the Baptists that raised me weren't vague - they had it all figured out, from Rapture to Armegedon to new heaven and new earth...
post #15 of 29
I'd like to piggyback on this thread as long as the OP doesn't mind.

I'm not sure what I think about death but like another said, it scares me. I think it's the unknown and the potential finality of it. Also, I can't imagine anyone raising my kids but me so the thought of dying while they are young is probably one of the scariest possibilities I can imagine.

My dd Isadora, 4.5 yrs, has been asking about death A LOT. There's a road we take to get to her preschool and it has two cemeteries on opposite sides of the street and that's how her questions started - about the cemeteries, what they're for, etc. etc. The questions eventually turned to death and I admit I had to tell her I couldn't talk about it any longer when she asked about what will happen when I (her mother) die. My eyes welled up with tears and I just about bawled.
I'd like to answer her questions in a well thought-out way but HOW, especially since I'm not sure what I believe. I'm a non-practicing Jew who was raised reform but feel more in line with reconstructionism and Jewish renewal.
Thanks for starting the thread. It's been such a taboo topic for me personally and I know I have to eventually face my fears and think hard about it.
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bluefish View Post
LOL, the Baptists that raised me weren't vague - they had it all figured out, from Rapture to Armegedon to new heaven and new earth...
True, but scripturally it's been vague.
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bluefish View Post
At first I really liked it, but somethings about it are bugging me - he references other religions alot - like they all teach the same things or something. I'm thinking "is this a Jewish book or New Age?" And then he suggests that the coming of the Mashiakh and tikkun olam are metaphors and suggesting that we just embrace beliefs that help us deal with the knowlege of life and death. Ack, if you don't believe the Torah was given to Moses by God, then what is the point of following it? Just cause you think it is a cool religion that "works" for you? If that is the case, I'd rather have a religion that commands eating pizza and ice cream, rather than giving up lobster...
My religion DEMANDS that I eat pizza... when i feel like it. :

Rynna, who is only half-kidding.

I have to agree with Amy; This is one of the places where, for me, Reform Judaism falls short. Don't get me wrong, I love it... but it's kind of like stonewashed religion to me. It adds color and interest, makes them more comfortable to wear, but removes a fair bit of the texture and weakens the integrity of the structure. A few hard wears & washes, and you've got the tattered remains of something that, upon closer inspection, might once have been a pair of jeans... :
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy
This is one of the places where, for me, Reform Judaism falls short. Don't get me wrong, I love it... but it's kind of like stonewashed religion to me. It adds color and interest, makes them more comfortable to wear, but removes a fair bit of the texture and weakens the integrity of the structure. A few hard wears & washes, and you've got the tattered remains of something that, upon closer inspection, might once have been a pair of jeans... :

Rynna this is so funny and really quite sad actually.
post #19 of 29
interesting.....


I think about it, death, and what's next?


Several years ago I went to a class, "What happens after I die" hosted by a Reformed Rabbi. He ask everyone in the class what we throught. There were many answers, everyone had a different ideal. After everyone spoke he said "Your all right."

I was disappointed.

Where's the pizza???
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna06 View Post
Several years ago I went to a class, "What happens after I die" hosted by a Reformed Rabbi. He ask everyone in the class what we throught. There were many answers, everyone had a different ideal. After everyone spoke he said "Your all right."

I was disappointed.
That is so totally my experience with Reform Judaism (which I grew up in) - all questions and no answers.
I was at a Jewish funeral for my step grandmother and the Rabbi read a line from a Psalm (I can't remember which one now) and he said something like "we search the scriptures looking for answers because we know they are in there - but we never find them." I thought that was a very profound description of Reform Judaism.

As far as the whole after death thing - I grew up with the concept that we don't know what happens after we die - it is unknown - so we don't worry about it - we focus on now.
Even though I am now a born again Christian, I have rather retained that attitude. I don't buy the whole heaven/hell thing and I don't think the focus of a Christian life should be death. What I have gained as a born again Christian is the enjoyment of the Lord in my life right now. I do believe now that I will be with the Lord after I die. But whether that will be immediately or after some time passes or where or in what capacity I don't know and don't think anyone knows. So, I don't worry about it.

I just started reading a book that I got at the library called "Journeys to a Jewish Life" by Paula Amann. It is very interesting.
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