Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Try to see things from a place where everything is equally close to us, equally loved by us.”

“Death is terrible, but it is terrible only from our own personal, limited viewpoint, which is attached to certain forms.

Let us, then, distance ourselves from our preference for certain forms that are close to our hearts, and try to see things from a place where everything is equally close to us, equally loved by us.

Or, in more precise words, let us try to see things from the perspective of the Creator, with Godly eyes.

If we look at things in this way, we can also try to see the world from the point of view of the microbes, of the worms and flies living in the dunghill, of the growing green grass and the animal that eats it.

Then when a body dies, it is now the property of microbes, worms, and other creatures. Now the form of the dead person, who was so close to our hearts, changes into another, very different, form of life.

The microbes and worms, too, die in their turn and in their death they nourish the growing grass.

And the animal who eats the grass also gets eaten in due course, and becomes a new form of life in an endless life cycle.

Is this really cruelty and horror?

If only we detach ourselves from our habitual viewpoint we shall see that death, the cruelty of the struggle for survival, is merely one point in the cycle of life, the unending cycle of creation and recreation, of shifting from one form of life to another — in which there is no death at all.

This is how our ancient sages interpreted the verse ‘He shall be our guide even unto death’ (Psalm 48:15): He will guide us up and above death, in eternal life.

The strong may overpower the weak, but here there are no strong ones, no weak ones.

The tiger devours the doe, but the worms who eat up the tiger are not strong, nor is the grass that is nourished by worms.

And the doe eats that grass.

There are no weak or strong here, only a long cycle of life, no cruelty, but rather a transformation of familiar forms into new forms, new lives.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz