This article on the portion of the week was originally published in 2018.
The poet Tagore wrote, “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because dawn has come." My husband, Rav Berg, often taught that death is the greatest illusion of all – that we find out we simply go through another door. The eminence of death is indisputable. To lose someone we love is one of the greatest pains of life, but it is my hope with the wisdom of spirituality and the Light of the Creator that we can help overcome that. As kabbalists throughout many generations have predicted, the day will come when death will be no more, it will be swallowed up, disappearing from our midst. But does nature not already hint this to us? When the leaves die and fall to the ground in the fall, do new ones not come again next spring? Do we not see in the eyes of our children our loved ones who have passed? I believe there is no death, because energy never dies, it just changes form. Our soul continues on, even though the body may not. The soul continues on into other incarnations, shifting its being into new vessels. Like the water that becomes a vapor, everything is simply changing form. We never really say goodbye to anything, we merely move through a new door, just as the Rav taught us. This week, we are able to glimpse into the immortal, touching endlessness where death does not exist. We are revitalized, renewed, and resurrected physically and spiritually. To be alive is to be a being in transition, and this week, we understand this profound secret.
"Death is the greatest illusion of all."
Our guide and wisdom for the week is the portion Chayei Sarah, or The Life of Sarah. It is the story of the passing of Abraham’s wife and the discovery of their son Isaac’s soulmate. Sarah lived for 127 years. Every year of Sarah’s life was filled with the Light of the Creator. It is said she later reincarnated as Queen Esther who ruled over 127 nations. Abraham and Sarah were soulmates, both prophets, yet it is even written that Sarah was a better prophet than Abraham. Sarah was so righteous that even angels were subject to her command. Could such a presence and great being like this so easily come to an end just like a candle being snuffed out? The answer is no. Sarah lived on even after death. After Abraham buried Sarah, he requested his servant travel to find their son Isaac’s soulmate. The servant traveled to where Abraham prophesied the location of Isaac’s soul mate would be, found her, and returned with her. Her name was Rebecca. When Isaac met Rebecca, he brought her into his mother’s home and from the moment she entered it was filled with Light. When Sarah had died, the Light in her home had gone out, but when Rebecca was joined with Isaac, the Light reappeared. “And Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother, Sarah and took Rebecca and she became his wife and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” The Torah is teaching us here about the transitioning of energy and the continuity of life. Isaac was comforted as if his mother was alive again, and indeed she was. Her energy returned, and after all, the energy of something is really all that we ever connect to. We do love the physicality of a person, but we love far more their energy; for we are more energy than we are matter. Chayei Sarah allows us to see our immortality and to be comforted by the endlessness of life, even when it may appear the opposite.
The portion of Chayei Sarah is there to infuse us with the necessary wisdom and courage to believe in the great world that lies just beyond ours. When we pass on, we enter a realm far greater than that on Earth. We are just small lamps compared to the enormity of the Creator’s sunlight. We truly do not ever need to say goodbye to anyone or anything. Energy does not ever cease to exist but finds a new vessel in which to dwell. We can see our grandparents in the eyes of our children just as we see the new flowers budding each spring. The love we experience never dies and we never have to say goodbye to it. It can always be found again in the hearts of our friends, our children, or in the light of a new dawn. When we pass on, we return to the greater source energy where we are able to shine even more than we were able to do here on earth. When Rav Brandwein, Rav Berg’s teacher, left this world, Rav Berg indeed felt great sadness at first. But after some time, he understood that now Rav Brandwein was helping him even more than he could ever have helped in this world.
"When we pass on, we enter a realm far greater than that on Earth."
In your meditation this week, take yourself to a calm and quiet night at the foot of a mountain. It is moments before dawn and you have had beside you all night the warmth and glow of a beautiful lantern. The lantern illuminates your area keeping the dark blanket of the night at bay. The lantern shines strong and bright, sparkling like a diamond. Just then, in the distance, you begin to see the sun peak over the mountain skyline. The dawn has come and the light begins to shine across the land, causing the trees to shimmer and the mountains to gleam. Each moment the sun’s light grows stronger into a bright and crisp morning. The birds begin to sing, and you feel an indescribable joy, knowing you face a brand new day full of new possibilities and blessings. Then, without any hesitation, you reach down and extinguish the lantern. The morning sunlight shines through the lantern’s glass, glowing with even more splendor than it had throughout the night.