Friday, September 19, 2014

Rabbi Sacks on Parashat Nitzavim-Defeating Death

This is an extraordinary essay on the Torah portion of Nitzavim. 

It's really beautiful, and I urge you to read the whole thing.

It explains a lot about Judaism, about life and about immortality.

I really loved it and will be discussing it at my Shabbat table.

"Life is good, death is bad. Life is a blessing, death is a curse. These are truisms for us. Why even mention them? Because they were not common ideas in the ancient world. They were revolutionary."

"They still are."

"How then do you defeat death? Yes there is an afterlife. Yes there is techiyat hametim, resurrection. But Moses does not focus on these obvious ideas. He tells us something different altogether. You achieve immortality by being part of a covenant – a covenant with eternity itself, that is to say, a covenant with God."

"When you live your life within a covenant something extraordinary happens. Your parents and grandparents live on in you. You live on in your children and grandchildren. They are part of your life. You are part of theirs."

"It is precisely because Judaism focuses on this world, not the next, that it is the most child-centred of all the great religions. They are our immortality. "

"To be a leader, you don’t need a crown or robes of office."

"All you need to do is to write your chapter in the story, do deeds that heal some of the pain of this world, and act so that others become a little better for having known you."

"Live so that through you our ancient covenant with God is renewed in the only way that matters: in life. Moses’ last testament to us at the very end of his days, when his mind might so easily have turned to death, was: Choose life."