Born Again

January 11, 2007 at 1:21 pm 3 comments

I’m kind of jealous of the cancer patients who go through hell and back and do not dwell on those huge life questions that I obsess about. One in particular: death. Or more so, life after death. Or should I clarify, life after life. To be fair to those of you who do not know me, this was a topic that sparked great interest for me way before I even considered death as a possibility for myself (who is not familiar with the immortal youth mind-set?).   

I believe in reincarnation. Some of you are probably thinking, “wait! I thought she is Jewish?!” Reincarnation is a very Jewish belief though.   If you are Jewish and this shocks you – I highly recommend you get in touch with the thoughts and teachings of The Ari (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, ב”ה) – who was the one to make reincarnation a popular Jewish belief. I remember learning about this in 4th Grade Judaic class and it making so much sense to me – all my friends thought I was insane to be buying it.  

There is something, though, that really hurts me about the teachings of Jewish reincarnation. It’s the theodicy of why bad things happen to good people. When I was about 10 years old I cringed at a picture in a magazine of a woman who was born with severe physical disabilities.  “Ewww,” I said. My Rav responded with, “if you are not careful, you maybe blessed by a child like that. In this life or your next. None of us know how the Holy One works.” I sighed it off then, but now I want to know – what did I do in my previous life to have ALL in this life. To be “blessed” (as the Rav never says “cursed”) with leukemia.

If I can’t learn this lesson in this life, what surprises my next one will have? There is no guarantee that the next life will be better.  More recently, I am finding that the teachings in Jewish reincarnation do not suggest tit for tat – but rather that opportunities (aka disabilities) are not the punishment, but rather, the lesson. Learn from them and be rewarded or fail to learn from them and be taught it all over again. A scary feeling – as my nature of avoidance is tempting me to take every opportunity to fight this lesson rather than deal with it head-on.

In that same Judaic class, 4th grade, we had a “Questions about G-d” box. We could ask any Judaic or life related question in that box and never had to sign our name so no one would know the questioner. That was a promise. The questions were asked to the class (read by the Rav to keep confidentiality) and as a class we tried to figure out the Jewish answer. There was always an answer to the questions in that box, so I asked, “If someone is separated from their birth mother as a baby in this life, could they be born again her daughter in their next life?” Week after week I waited silently for the question to be picked from the box. Months passed and I forgot I had even asked. A few months after I submitted it – it was pulled and the Rav read it out loud. Much to my devastation the class realized I was the questioner and all turned around and looked at me after it was read. (How did I not know that would happen?! I was the only adoptee in the class!) The class concluded that I probably would never meet her again in my next life – but no one knows how the Holy One works.

No one knows. Not even if the question is put into the “Question about G-d” box.


Entry filed under: ALL, Judaism.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sue  |  January 14, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Weird, I saw a book by Rabbi Luria when I was at the library today and didn’t pick it up. Now I wish I had. I did pick up Stalking Elijah by Rodger Kaminetz. Apparently the Dalhi Lama told him to seek the connections with Buddhist spirituality in his own religion and he did. I have been looking into the connections between Hinduism/Buddhism and Judaism, particularly through kabbalah (oh how I wish Madonna had left it alone and not ruined it for the rest of us.)

    I’ve been obssessing about death too lately. I just watched all five seasos of Six Feet Under, and have concluded that the dead really are the lucky ones. I don’t mean that suicidally, I just mean that the actual act of dying is a pretty simple and ultimately painless thing, but surviving is f-g complex and painful.

  • 2. papa2hapa  |  January 15, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Geez, I hate the sense of guilt any religion tries to instill in people when it comes to the unknown. For your Rav to say that about the picture is disturbing.

    Working in a Catholic environment, there is the sense of Catholic guilt with everything these kids do.

    The question box. I wonder what other questions were in there?

  • 3. Cheryl  |  January 31, 2007 at 12:30 am

    Glad to read your writings again, Julia. I have been wondering about you.
    I have also always wondered about the having to learn the lesson over again until you get it right. But how do we ever know what is really “right”. Often “right” is from our cultural bias. i ponder that often.
    Personally, I do believe you would meet your birthmom again. From what I understand we tend to meet and interact with many of the same people time and time again. Sometimes in different or switched roles. So I believe the answer is yes.


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Julia’s Jam

It’s just not that black & white. Not because I am taking a stand against. Just because, the issues I face are somewhere in the grey area and to weed through them, I blog. I blog. ~

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