A tale is told of a well-known 17th-century Chasidic rabbi named Zusya, who, when he died, went to stand before the judgment seat of God. As he waited for God to appear, he grew nervous thinking about his life and how little he had done.
"Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world." -Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a)
I caught her before her head hit the ground. It was close, though. She was about to get her blood drawn at a college screening for Jewish genetic diseases.
I’ve been interested in meditation since college. The attraction began with a notion that I could achieve “inner peace,” though I’ve since come to realize the key is to focus on increasing awareness of my experience in the present moment – with whatever thoughts and feelings may arise.
It was hours before I would step on the bimah and conduct the Erev Rosh HaShanah service. As the nation was reeling from the cataclysmic events of 9/11, I lay upon the examination table of the cancer ward. Was it just weeks earlier that life was normal?