לבקר אחרים ולתת להם הרגשה שאינם רצויים – זאת יכול כל אחד לעשות. אך לרומם את רוחם ולהעניק להם הרגשה טובה – לכך דרושים כישרון מיוחד והשקעת מאמץ
Translation: “Criticizing others, giving them an unwelcome feeling, can be done by anyone. Uplifting them and giving them a good feeling – that takes a special gift and spending effort.” – Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out the way Zac wanted.
Now, this isn’t an entry dealing with the death of a friend. Don’t get me wrong, Zac was a good guy, I found his death very sad (which included sitting at my desk at work that Sunday afternoon trying not to cry), and I really do think the world is a lesser place without him. Fact is, I really didn’t know Zac that well. At least not well enough to be able to blog about him. What I want to do is take something he said in the above video and see if I can work through a few thoughts on death, afterlife, and the meaning of life.
“…cancer is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am a better husband and a better dad. A better boss, and a better employee. A better friend, and a better follower of Jesus. And through cancer, God has shown me some amazing things about himself.”
In the book of Ecclesiates, Qohelet says, “The end of the matter, everything having been heard, fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the entire man.” When you add to this Rabbi Hillel’s famous quote, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn,” what are we left with? In my humble, and often incorrect, opinion, I feel that God did not create us to be self-absorbed. You aren’t truly living until you realize that meeting the needs of others trumps your own selfish pursuits.
Not that you should neglect yourself, as that really isn’t healthy, but your needs shouldn’t be your priority. How many relationships have you seen fall apart because one or both parties involved were more concerned with what they could get out of it? How many times have we neglected doing something meaningful to go after something trivial, feeling that we had time to do the other thing later?
A thought that I had the other day, which I’m sure will get someone upset at me: I honestly think the theological doctrine of an afterlife, present in all 3 Abrahamic religions, can do more harm than good. There are texts in both Christianity and Judaism that support a belief in life after death, but the beginning of this belief comes from Daniel 12:2, “and many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken-these for eternal life, and those for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence.” One verse in the Hebrew scriptures definitely supports an afterlife, the rest is silent about what happens after death.
This is something I’ve dwelt on a lot over the last few years, and here’s my conclusion: I really think, regardless of whether there is something on the other side, God doesn’t owe me anything after this life. My obligation is to approach this life as though it’s all I get. Obsession with what comes next has the potential to lead one into a mediocre existence, as the important stuff is supposed to happen in the next world.
So, what is the meaning of life? Serve God, love others, and don’t waste a single moment of life. If someone’s day isn’t somehow better because of you, then you have some work to do.
As usual, this is still something I’m working through, so thing may seem a little disjointed, and I’ll probably revisit this later.