“We all have two lives. The second one begins when we realize we only have one.” – Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld
Sometimes the simplest statements are the most profound… and perhaps the most difficult to live and fulfill.
Life begins when we realize that life ends… Truly realize it. Understand that we have a limited time on this earth, to love and live and create something worthwhile.
Simple, profound lessons.
Love thyself… love thy neighbor… be kind… always do the right thing…
We instantly understand these ideas. They make deep and logical sense, and yet too often, putting them into action is an immense challenge.
I do love myself, but it bothers me that I do this, or look like this or act like that…
My neighbors drive me crazy.
How do I be kind to someone who is so filled with hate?
Wait… I have to do the right thing EVERY TIME???!!!
You get the idea.
And as we study Judaism, we realize pretty quickly, that the Torah is a blueprint for living… a guide as to how to live and thrive.
Shlomo’s quote, which I have cited several times in this blog, has stuck with me. It hits me in new and powerful ways all the time, and in its latest iteration has put a little scare in me… the scare of mortality. Which also brings me to a short secular portion of this post… a quote from Rush’s amazing song, “Dreamline.”
“When we are young
Wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we’re only immortal
For a limited time.”
(Written by Neil Elwood Peart, Gary Lee Weinrib (Geddy Lee), Alex Zivojinovich (Alex Lifeson)
While only one-third of the band is Jewish, Neil Peart (who is not) writes lyrics that are deeply philosophical… and deeply Jewish in idea and tone. I highly recommend reading his lyrics/poetry, and of course listening.
So yes, I only have one life and it is moving pretty darn fast… and on top of that, I have yet to accomplish all that I want to, both professionally and spiritually.
I had a full life before I truly discovered Judaism…
Yes, I was raised Jewish, had my Bar Mitzvah and so forth, but it was a JMI trip to Israel with AISH in 2014 that transformed me… that really set my soul on fire. So I suppose I am on my “second life” in that regards.
I am beginning to really delve into and study Path Of The Just tomorrow with my friend Saul, which I am told will change my life, yet again… so there’s that… another rebirth… (and yes, no pressure!!!)
But… this whole notion of two lives into one got me thinking on other levels, as well.
When we find the love of our life and marry, two lives become one… one couple, united… together…
When we begin a family, two lives become one… one unit, one family.
Yes, of course, there are individuals and multiple lives connecting and thriving together, and that is key. We need to keep our individuality, to bring the best of each of us to those relationships… To love, not in spite of who someone is, but BECAUSE of who someone is. Rabbi David Aaron writes about this a great deal… about how love and marriage is not something you “fall into” but something you work very hard at.
As Jews we clearly believe in the afterlife… in the world to come. So there is a life after this one, and how that goes is contingent on how this one goes!
But for us, in the here and now, the earlier we learn that we have only one life… at least in this transmigration… and work hard to make it fulfilled and meaningful… flowing with kindness and love and always doing the right thing…
Well… that seems to me to be the very essence of Judaism. So let us begin the “second one”… today!