Friday, June 22, 2007

Instant Karma

Dedicated to the memory of Galit Schiller, who died last Shabbat from complications after the birth of her third child. Our deepest condolences to husband Judah, son Tomer, daughter Naomi and baby Satya.
To dedicate a future Table Talk, send an email.

Question for your table: From a Jewish perspective, what do you think is the most problematic aspect of Christianity?

For me personally, growing up in America, one of the things that I found most challenging about the dominant religion was the idea of some guy “dying for our sins.”

Preposterous, right? How could someone die for my sins? And why should my belief in him have anything to do with it?


Actually, it turns out that 95 percent of Christian and Islamic theologies come directly from Jewish thought. They just changed some of the key details.

For instance, the Talmud states: “The death of the righteous atones (for the living).”

Gee, that sounds a lot like the religion that I just dismissed....

To understand the Talmud, consider two questions:

1. What does atonement mean?
2. Why it should be only the death of the righteous that atones. Why not anyone’s death?

The answer to #1: atonement means purifying the soul of negative karma.

The answer to #2: it isn’t the death per se that atones, rather how we react to it.

When a less-than-righteous person dies, we may be sad but we don’t feel that sense of incomprehension, “Why did this happen?!!”

When a righteous person dies, we feel that overwhelming shock, “How could this have happened?” Some even say, “How could God let this happen?” It’s much more than a mere shanda.

And it is precisely that deep-down shutter of realizing that I don’t understand that atones, because negative karma can come from ego, which is characterized by feeling that I know something, that I’m smart, that I’m good because I know what good means. The shocking “unjust” death of the righteous wakes us from this ego-trip and thereby atones for all who hear the tragic news.

Is this what Lennon meant?

Think about it.

Shabbat Shalom.

(By the way, in that video, what's the deal with the knitting?)

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Upcoming speaking schedule:

June 25 – Philadelphia: The Foundation of Ethics (Business lunch)
June 25 – Philadelphia: The Kabbalah of Wine (evening wine tasting + class)
(For details, send an email)

Yiddish of the week:
shanda — shame

Yiddish review - how many do you know?
anee — poor person
koptsen — panhandler
ballaboss — homeowner; layman
nu — various meanings (see archives)
mishpocha — family
mameh — mother
tateh — father
mazal – (MAH-z’l) luck or fortune, as in, “It was good mazal that....”
beshert – (b’shairt) - meant to be, as in “It was beshert that...”
mine eltern – my parents
mine lair-er – my teacher
hamantashen – Haman-pockets
zeigezunt – all the best (said upon parting)
kesher - connection
Ikh volt veln a kave, zayt azoy gut. - I'd like a coffee, please.
...kave mit shmant. – ...a coffee with cream.
...kave mit milkh. – ...a coffee with milk.
...kave mit tsuker. - ...a coffee with sugar.
Di Fir Kashes - The Four Questions
Oy vey! - Good grief!
mensch — a decent person
rachmanos — mercy
neshoma (neh-SHOH-ma) — soul
minig — custom, as in, "Why do you do that?" "It's my minig!"
Gavaltig — wonderful
Oy gavalt — how wonderful (sarcastic)
Azoy gait es! — That’s how it goes!
Shabbos — Cessation; stopping; day of stopping; weekly sabbatical experience
"Gut Shabbos" — "Enjoy your weekly sabbatical experience"
Neshoma — Soul
meshugass — insanity
meshuganeh — insane
kyna hara — no evil eye
shvitz — sweat

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