You can’t take your stuff with you

Friday, 6 January, 2023 - 2:00 pm

We tend to define our lives with “stuff”. 
And we have way too much stuff. We buy too much stuff. And then we keep too much stuff.
And when we have all this stuff, we start to worry about it; “What if my kid breaks some of my nice stuff? What if someone steals my fancy stuff?”
Is the answer to downsize? Join the tiny home movement or the simple living movement? Perhaps. 
But the truly enduring and effective shift is our attitude toward our stuff. Too often our self worth is wrapped up in our stuff. Where we live and what type of house we live in, the car we drive and the cell phone we use - even the brand of clothing we wear. 
Our stuff makes us into who we are.
And that’s a really precarious place to be in - what happens if we can’t afford stuff? What if we lose our stuff? And most importantly, what happens to our stuff when we die? We can’t take it with us.
The truth is we all know that life is about much more than stuff. But we get so carried away with it all. 
So this week’s Torah portion comes along to help us keep our lives in perspective. 
Allow me to explain. In what could perhaps be considered strange irony, this week’s Torah portion is called “vayechi”, meaning “and he lived”; yet the content of the portion surrounds our forefather Jacob's final days, passing and funeral. 
It also discusses Joseph’s demise and the promise he extracted from his descendants to bury him in Israel when they ultimately leave Egypt.
Considering that the Torah is Divine communication, keeping in mind that the Torah is a guidebook for life, it’s obvious that this is not a mistake. In fact, the name of this portion along with its content provides us with profound insight to living our lives - free of stuff.
Our forefathers' lives were defined by values and ideals that are not limited to physical life. Unlike stuff, what defines their lives doesn’t get old, doesn’t need storage space and most importantly, truly never dies.
In fact, our sages tell us that “our forefather Jacob never died”. Because his life wasn’t defined by stuff, his life is truly eternal. 
And by adopting his mindset and approach to life, our lives could be too.
Once somewhat on the topic, it’s important to note the high value placed on Jewish burial as evidenced in this week’s Torah portion. For various reasons, sometimes economic, it’s become popular to choose cremation instead of burial. It’s crucial to understand how devastating cremation is to the soul and how the underlying values that lead to choosing cremation are contrary to Jewish values and ideals. If this is something you might have been considering, please take a few minutes and read these articles: Why Does Judaism Forbid Cremation? And Cremation or Burial? 
The Torah precepts regarding burial over cremation are so significant that this is one of the areas where we are instructed to violate our parents’ direct request rather than cremate them after their passing. If economic concerns are primary, please be certain to contact me as we have funds specifically earmarked to help cover burial costs.

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