You may be surprised at the answers you get.
Some take a scientific approach to this age-old question. I'm not opposed to that.
But I'm going to suggest a non-scientific answer and I'm betting you'll agree with me.
But first, a word from our sponsor.
It's that time of year again, end of the tax calendar: Your last chance to make a 2012 donation. So all of your favorite charities are sending those last-ditch emails.
Let's try for something more appealing here (pardon the pun): just a question.
This is not a question for your table. This is a question for you.
What's this weekly blog actually worth to you? A nickel? Two bits? A dollar?
Think about it for a moment.
Think about your favorite table talks. Maybe the Sandy Hook one last week did it for you. Perhaps it was We of the Storm. One of the most popular of all time was Late for the Train (2006). Some still remember the musical Chinese Food on Xmas, dedicated to the yahrzeit of Bert Walker that falls at this time of year.
If you had paid a buck for your favorite one, would you have said, "Money well spent"?
Now what does it say that it comes to your inbox for free every Friday? Does that make worthless or priceless?
This blog actually costs several nickels to produce, and we rely on readers like you to keep it going. There are the costs of the 7-year-old computers and the rest of the office overhead. There is staff time.
Yet this blog is provided as a free service by JSL in order to achieve our mission of increasing the level of Jewish spiritual literacy worldwide. You have the opportunity today to enjoy being being an active partner in this mission. At any level of contribution, you will be a partner. (If you are already a JSL partner, thank you.)
Once you estimate the average value of the weekly blog, please multiply by 50 and show your appreciation by making a tax-deductible contribution. For online and snail-mail instructions click here (and read about the thank-you gift you'll receive).
(If you cannot become a partner today, then at least enjoy the fact that when you read this blog, you are enabling someone else to give to you!)
With that out of the way, the promised answer....
To remind you, the question was, How can you live forever?
Try asking this at your table before reading my three answers.
My first answer is very simple and perhaps too obvious. When I give to you - anything, whether a physical gift, time, or just a smile - some of me is now part of you.
Maybe you'll give to others, so that some of me now gets further redistributed.
But you may or may not give to others. So to maximize my immortality, I need to give to as many people as I can.
You already knew this answer, didn't you? Maybe this answer is reminding you to be a bigger giver, but so far, you haven't heard anything new.
My second answer: acquire wisdom. Whatever wisdom you acquire in this life stays with you in the next world (Talmud).
My third answer is deeper: Someone who learns to live in the moment turns every moment into eternity.
"Living forever" is therefore possible right here, right now.
It takes practice, spiritual practice. Some kind of meditative practice.
(If you would like to learn this kind of meditative practice in the comfort of your own home, shoot me an email. Perhaps we can create an online program.)
The fourth answer is deeper still.
(Wait, didn't he say there were 3 answers? This is a blog, not a math class.)
Jewish wisdom teaches that we all live forever. Nothing to worry about. But the quality of that forever - the experience you will have after you leave this world - will be a sum of three things:
- the wisdom you acquired
- the giving that you gave
- the meditative level that you achieved.
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