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Knowing that Death awaits us….

Knowing that Death awaits us….

Yes, that is quite a header….but stay with me….I found this short explanation written by someone unknown concerning how we should view ‘death’ …. here we go:

“Every year, as the high holy days approach, I remember the strange synagogue in Jerusalem I visited on my first trip to Israel a long time ago.

It was built by Jews who emigrated from somewhere in deepest Africa. They brought with them a very odd custom that was part of their tradition for almost 2000 years.

Like every congregation, there  was an ark behind a beautiful decorated curtain, with a number of Torahs inside it. But on the adjacent wall, highlighted by special lighting and built into the surface, was a coffin.

I knew there couldn’t be a body inside, Jewish law forbids Kohanim, the priestly tribe whose descendants still make up a significant number of present-day Jewry, from coming in contact with the dead  or even being in the same room with them. It was inconceivable that this was a Jewish version of Westminister Abby, serving as a inal resting place for some prominent ancestor. That would preclude some Jews from entering.

So I asked, what in the world was a coffin doing so prominently displayed in a synagogue?

The elder of the congregation explained it to me:

Knowing that death awaits us
helps us to evaluate everything we do in a different way!

“You surely know the Mishna in Ethics of the Fathers that says we are to constantly consider these things in order to avoid falling into sin. Know from where you come, to where you are finally going, and before whom you are destined to give a final account. You come from a drop of semen, you are going to the grave, and you will have to justify all the deeds of your life before the Creator. Awareness of our mortality is the most important truth we must impress upon ourselves every moment in order to live our lives to the fullest.”
Gazing at the coffin every day as they occupied themselves with their prayers to God, they had created a visual symbol – not of the affirmation of death – but of the way in which its recognition could transform life.
To the outsider, it might appear morbid. To those who understand its message, it is a profound statement with a demand for introspection by its viewers.

Knowing that death awaits us…helps us to evaluate everything we do in a different way.

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