Thursday, August 27, 2015

Torah's Hobgloblin / Parshat Ki Teitzei 2015-5775

Are you a consistent person? As a whole, our society prizes consistency and considers it to be an attribute allied with maturity, reliability, and rationality. Before you laud yourself for never veering from stated principles and positions, or flay yourself for being changeable, consider what Ralph Waldo Emerson famously wrote:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.[1]

Emerson was on to something. We speak from present knowledgewhat we know today. When tomorrow arrives and we learn more and think further, if our minds and hearts are open, we view yesterdays certainty from a new perspective and less assurance. Put another way, in the words of art historian Bernard Berenson, Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.[2] This naturally makes people who contend that Torah is completely consistent because it is entirely the word of God uneasy.

How could God be inconsistent? How, indeed? Heres how: Parshat Ki Teitzei provides two stunning instances of Torahs inconsistency: First, we are told (Deuteronomy 23:4) that Ammonites and Moabites may never, even in the tenth generation, be admitted to the khal Adonai (Assembly of Israel), which is to say, the Jewish people. Yet Moses wife, Tzipporah, is the daughter of the priest of Moab, Jethro (Exodus 2:16; 3:1). Second the parashah closes with an admonition to, blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven, and without missing a beat, in the very next breath, Do not forget! (Deuteronomy 25:19). Put another way: Remember to forget Amalek! The mind spins.

A friend recently told me that Rabbi BenZion Gold (he was for many years the director of Hillel at Harvard University) would say, Consistency is not the first mitzvah in the Torah.

The Rabbis carried on the long, proud chain of inconsistency, understanding that, as Oscar Wilde expressed it, Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.[3] The Rabbis were very imaginative. Among their brilliant solutions to deeply troubling problems is their halakhic conversation about the Ben Sorer uMoreh (The Rebellious Son), found in this weeks parashah, Ki Teitzei:

כִּי-יִהְיֶה לְאִישׁ, בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה--אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁמֵעַ, בְּקוֹל אָבִיו וּבְקוֹל אִמּוֹ; וְיִסְּרוּ אֹתוֹ, וְלֹא יִשְׁמַע אֲלֵיהֶם.  וְתָפְשׂוּ בוֹ, אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ; וְהוֹצִיאוּ אֹתוֹ אֶל-זִקְנֵי עִירוֹ, וְאֶל-שַׁעַר מְקֹמוֹ.  וְאָמְרוּ אֶל-זִקְנֵי עִירוֹ, בְּנֵנוּ זֶה סוֹרֵר וּמֹרֶה--אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁמֵעַ, בְּקֹלֵנוּ; זוֹלֵל, וְסֹבֵא. וּרְגָמֻהוּ כָּל-אַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ בָאֲבָנִים, וָמֵת, וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע, מִקִּרְבֶּךָ; וְכָל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, יִשְׁמְעוּ וְיִרָאוּ.

"If a man has a wayward son, who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey them even after they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the public place of his community. They shall say to the elders of his town: This son of ours is disloyal and defiant; he does not heed us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.  Thereupon the men of his town shall stone him to death. Thus shall you sweep out evil from your midst: all Israel will hear and be afraid. (Deuteronomy 21:1821)

The Rabbis, in discussing the Rebellious Son in tractate Sanhedrin of the Talmud, notice that the son must be a child in his parents care. Who executes a child? What is more, his crimesdefiant behavior, excessive eating and drinkinghardly seem commensurate with the punishment of stoning. At the same time, the Rabbis conclude that something far more nefarious must be going on here to explain Torahs harsh judgment about the Rebellious Son, and also render the punishment inapplicable. They tell us:

תניא רבי יוסי הגלילי אומר וכי מפני שאכל זה תרטימר בשר ושתה חצי לוג יין האיטלקי אמרה תורה יצא לבית דין ליסקל אלא הגיעה תורה לסוף דעתו של בן סורר ומורה שסוף מגמר נכסי אביו ומבקש למודו ואינו מוצא ויוצא לפרשת דרכים ומלסטם את הבריות אמרה תורה ימות זכאי ואל ימות חייב שמיתתן של רשעים.
It has been taught: R. Jose the Galilean said: Did the Torah decree that the rebellious son shall be brought before bet din and stoned merely because he ate a tartemar[4] of meat and drank a log of Italian wine? Rather, the Torah foresaw his ultimate destiny. For at the end, after dissipating his father's wealth, he would [still] seek to satisfy his accustomed [gluttonous] desires but being unable to do so, he would go out to the crossroads and rob. Therefore the Torah said: Let him die while yet innocent, and let him not die guilty. (Sanhedrin 72a)

This suggests that the boy was stoned not because of what he had already done, but to prevent him from committing a more egregious violationtheftwhich is also not punishable by execution.[5] Is this consistent with Torahs notion of justice? Hardly.

Yet this justification comes after the Rabbis have devoted no fewer than six full dapim (68b through 71b) to successfully dismantling the law of the Rebellious Son by placing so many strictures and limitations on it that it is impossible to carry out. Thus the Rabbis simultaneously justify and promote the law of the Rebellious Son, on the one hand, and effectively demolish it on the other hand. Are the Sages consistent?

Certainly, consistency has much to commend it, but it was consistency that Emerson criticized, but rather foolish consistence”—doing things the same way without regard to consequences, new knowledge, or consideration of deeper values and concerns.

From a certain perspective, the Rabbis are meticulously consistent. The underlying valuesa premium on family and respect for parents, concern for the welfare of society, respect for the dignity of every human beingare consistent and admirable. The way to best live and promote those values in law and life changes with time. But even our values change with time, as we acquire more knowledge and wisdom. To say that nothing changes is to deny the magnificence manner in which halakhaha system and tool chest for responding to questions of morality and practice, not merely a set of rigid lawsresponds to our ever-changing, dynamic reality. To reduce halakhah to a strict set of immutable laws is to render it a foolish consistency that is, indeed the hobgoblin of little minds.

© Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

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[1] Self-Reliance, 1841.
[2] Notebook, 1892.
[3] "The Relation of Dress to Art, Pall Mall Gazette (February 28,1885).
[4] The Jewish Encyclopedia (volume 12, p. 489) says a tartar is slightly under seven ounces.
[5] The Rabbis famously considered, but rejected, the idea of killing Bar Kamtza, although they knew that he intended to bring false evidence to the Roman government that the Jews were rebelling, a lie that would likely lead to war and the deaths of thousands. Gittin 56a reports that confronted with a preponderance of evidence concerning Bar Kamtzas intensions, R. Zechariah ben Abkulas said to his colleagues: "Is one who makes a blemish on consecrated animals to be put to death?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Prophetabiity / Shoftim 2015-5775

Jeremiah Johnson, who calls himself a prophetic minister, recently wrote in Charisma Magazine:

I was in a time of prayer several weeks ago when God began to speak to me concerning the destiny of Donald Trump in America. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, "Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger."[1]

Trump. Trumpet. Cute. Johnsons promotion of Trump does not entail a rational discussion of issues and policies or an attempt to persuade the reader of his views. In fact, Johnson undercuts reason by claiming direct communication from God: prophecy. If Johnson were an isolated case of lunacy, what he wrote might be funny. In fact, there is a broad swath of America that believes that people like him do, in fact, have a direct line to heaven. And there is a long history in this country of prophetic rhetoric and claims to divine insight that avoids rational inquiry and examination: If God said it, who are you to question it? NYU professor George Shulman wrote about the American proclivity to address politics in prophetic terms in American Prophecy: Race and Redemption in American Political Culture (2008: University of Minnesota Press) where, as the title suggests, he focuses on race in America. But as Jade Schiff, a professor at Oberlin, writes in a review, although Shulmans book is, a critical analysis of biblical and contemporary prophetic traditions [the book itself] is a work of prophecy in ways that Shulman does not acknowledge, and it displays the same tensions in and limits of prophetic thinking that he illuminates. Shulmans prophetic voice is at times uncomfortably close to the ones that he resists. Sometimes he appears to foreclose rather than invite engagement with others, and so occludes the democratic possibilities he wants to open up. I think this occlusion is a symptom of Shulmans own, tense relationship with prophecy: he is a reluctant prophet.[2] Apparently the notion of prophecy so infuses American culture that even some anti-prophets unknowingly see themselves as prophets.

Prophecy is dangerous stuff because false prophetslike Jeremiah Johnsonabound in every age, as Torah long ago pointed out. In Parshat Shoftim, which we read this week, Moses assures the Israelites that God will send them prophets to guide them. But how are they to know these prophets are legit? Moses supplies criteria by which to discern if one who claims to be a prophet is the genuine article:

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֵלָי:  הֵיטִיבוּ, אֲשֶׁר דִּבֵּרוּ.  נָבִיא אָקִים לָהֶם מִקֶּרֶב אֲחֵיהֶם, כָּמוֹךָ; וְנָתַתִּי דְבָרַי, בְּפִיו, וְדִבֶּר אֲלֵיהֶם, אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּנּוּ.  וְהָיָה, הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יִשְׁמַע אֶל-דְּבָרַי, אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר, בִּשְׁמִי--אָנֹכִי, אֶדְרֹשׁ מֵעִמּוֹ. אַךְ הַנָּבִיא אֲשֶׁר יָזִיד לְדַבֵּר דָּבָר בִּשְׁמִי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר לֹא-צִוִּיתִיו לְדַבֵּר, וַאֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר, בְּשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים--וּמֵת, הַנָּבִיא הַהוּא. וְכִי תֹאמַר, בִּלְבָבֶךָ:  אֵיכָה נֵדַע אֶת-הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-דִבְּרוֹ יְהוָה. אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר הַנָּבִיא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה, וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר וְלֹא יָבֹא--הוּא הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-דִבְּרוֹ יְהוָה:  בְּזָדוֹן דִּבְּרוֹ הַנָּבִיא, לֹא תָגוּר מִמֶּנּוּ.

Whereupon Adonai said to me, “…I will raise up a prophet for them from among their own people, like yourself: I will put My words in his mouth and he will speak to them all that I command him; and if anybody fails to heed the words he speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account. But any prophet who presumes to speak in My name an oracle that I did not command him to utter, or who speaks in the name of other godsthat prophet will die. And should you ask yourselves, How can we know that the oracle was not spoken by the Lord?”—if the prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and the oracle does not come true, that oracle was not spoken by Adonai; the prophet has uttered it presumptuously; do not stand in dread of him. (Deuteronomy 18:17-22)

Is that all there is to it? An accurate prediction confirms that the speaker is a prophet? Jeremiah, who had serious credibility problems in his own day, said that a message that is painful to deliverand equally uncomfortable to hearis more likely to be authentic than a fluffy one that pleases people and confirms what they want to believe about themselves. And then there is Amos. Amos protests to Amaziah, the priest at Beth El, לֹא-נָבִיא אָנֹכִי, וְלֹא בֶן-נָבִיא אָנֹכִי I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet (Amos 7:14). Here Shakespeare's famous apophasis from Hamlet fits: The [man] doth protest too much, methinks, for Amos was, indeed, a prophet. He spoke truth to power on behalf of God, trumpeting the Northern Kingdoms failures of social justice (particularly the growing disparity between the wealthy and the impoverished). What made Amos a prophet, despite his protests to the contrary?

The Rabbis, in masechet Baba Batra, discuss whether prophecy still exists in their time. R. Abdimi claims that there are no longer prophets as of old; rather wise men embody Gods prophecy. In other words, prophecy has been transferred from the Isaiahs, Jeremiahs, and Amoses solely to the Rabbis. Others support his claim because, after all, the Sages are engaged in writing Oral Torah”—its very name embodies a claim to divine prophetic inspiration. But R. Yochanan, recognizing the danger in the claim, declares: Since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from prophets and given to fools and children.  (BT Baba Batra 12a,b) Gemara supplies examples of the fool and child that prove his point: Prophecy is a phenomenon of the past. On several occasions, the Rabbis assert that those who claim communication from, and justification by, the Holy Spirit, rather than rational reasoning, need not be given credence[3]. The human intellect is gift enough to tackle the matters of halakhah and interpretation before the Sages. R. Yochanans declaration took enormous courage. He was bucking not only a millennium of tradition, but all of Jewish tradition and history to claim that reasoned, rational argument had rightly supplanted the claim to supernatural inspiration. R. Eliezers bat kol was no longer welcome in the study house.

I can understand that some people find the give-and-take, rough-and-tumble of intellectual debate, where a position can seem logical and reasonable one day, but far less so when another set of arguments are brought to bear the following day to be unsettling. Prophecy is so much simpler, direct, and definitiveand far less messy. And thats precisely the problem: Hidden in the folds of its simplicity and cleanness hide a host of dangers, and not just those made utterly transparent by the poster children for deranged, mega-narcissistic self proclaimed prophets: Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Marshall Applewhite.

American historian Paul S. Boyer described many of these in When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (1992: Harvard University Press), which focuses on how the main tenets of dispensational prophetic belief have influenced the policies and actions of the American government since World War II. Prior to the Second World War, dispensational premillennialist thinkers generally imagined that the end of Americas enemies would come about due to earthquakes and cometsGod working through natureor perhaps more directly. With the advent of the atomic bomb, however, many prophetic thinkers began to consider the use of nuclear weapons to be part of a divine plan. Boyer notes, for example, that the Reagan administration was stocked with pre-millennialist thinkersWeinberger, Watt, and Koopand that this thinking influenced their efforts to limit the arms race, craft environmental policies, and yes, shape an American policy concerning the State of Israel. But human beings control the bombs; claiming that God mans the trigger is beyond disingenuous and irresponsibleits very dangerous.

Torah took the first step in warning us about false prophets: If they undermine a moral and value system we cherish as good and legitimate, their message should be condemned for the artifice it is. The Rabbis took the next giant leap, establishing extensive examination, intellectual reasoning, and morality as the criteria for ideas we should adhere to and promote.

As the 2016 Presidential election season proceeds, we will see more and more of this and this and this and this. It doesnt take a prophet to know that we need to proceed with extreme caution.

© Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

[3] E.g., BT Eruvin 60b and BT Bekhorot 45a. In addition, the famous example of R. Eliezers claim that the Holy Spirit affirmed all his opinions is roundly rejected by his colleagues who say, We dont listen to the Holy Spirit (BT Baba Metzia 58-59).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The What and How of Life / Parshat Re'eh 2015-5775

When did people start talking about Bucket Lists? The term was popularized by the 2007 movie The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as terminally ill patients who flee the hospital to pursue their to-dos before they die. The origin of the term bucket list seems to be a book self-published by Patrick M. Carlisle in 2004 entitled Unfair & Unbalanced: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky. Heres the source sentence: So, anyway, a Great Man, in his querulous twilight years, who doesnt want to go gently into that blacky black night. He wants to cut loose, dance on the razors edge, pry the lid off his bucket list! A cursory check reveals dozens of websites offering 25, 100, 800, even 1000 things to do before you die and numerous books and journals encouraging us to focus on the accumulation of experiences while we have the chance. This raises an age-old question: Which is more important, what we do in our lives (and, as a corollary, how much we do), or how we do it? In a sense, it is a quantity-versus-quality question. Added to that: does the answer to that question change as we age?

Parshat Reeh opens with the famous challenge laid at the feet of the Israelites to do it all:

רְאֵה, אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם--הַיּוֹם:  בְּרָכָה, וּקְלָלָה.   אֶת-הַבְּרָכָה--אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁמְעוּ, אֶל-מִצְוֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם, הַיּוֹם.   וְהַקְּלָלָה, אִם-לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ אֶל-מִצְוֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, וְסַרְתֶּם מִן-הַדֶּרֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיּוֹם:  לָלֶכֶת, אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים--אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יְדַעְתֶּם.

See, this day I set before you blessing and curse: blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin upon you this day; and curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn away from the path that I enjoin upon you this day and follow other gods, whom you have not experienced. (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)

Torah wants us to do it all, but the Torahs bucket list is mitzvot. As the sedra continues, Moses instructs the Israelites that when they enter the Land of Israel, and are safely settled,

וְהָיָה הַמָּקוֹם, אֲשֶׁר-יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם בּוֹ לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ שָׁם--שָׁמָּה תָבִיאוּ, אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם:  עוֹלֹתֵיכֶם וְזִבְחֵיכֶם, מַעְשְׂרֹתֵיכֶם וּתְרֻמַת יֶדְכֶם, וְכֹל מִבְחַר נִדְרֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר תִּדְּרוּ לַיהוָה

Then you must bring everything that I command you to the site where the Lord your God will choose to establish [Gods] name: your burnt offerings and other sacrifices, your tithes and contributions, and all the choice votive offerings that you vow to the Lord. (Deuteronomy 12:11)

Midrash Sifrei tells us that מִבְחַר נִדְרֵיכֶם choice votive offerings intends not only offerings that people bring of their own accordfree will offeringsbut that they should be the choicest, the best offerings that they can bring. When we ponder the quality of offerings, we might want to consider the story of the first offerings: those of the first siblings, Cain and Abel. Torah tell us that Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. Of their own volition, they each brought offerings to God:

וַיְהִי, מִקֵּץ יָמִים; וַיָּבֵא קַיִן מִפְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה, מִנְחָה--לַיהוָה.  ד וְהֶבֶל הֵבִיא גַם-הוּא מִבְּכֹרוֹת צֹאנוֹ, וּמֵחֶלְבֵהֶן; וַיִּשַׁע יְהוָה, אֶל-הֶבֶל וְאֶל-מִנְחָתוֹ.  ה וְאֶל-קַיִן וְאֶל-מִנְחָתוֹ, לֹא שָׁעָה

In the course of time, Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil; and Abel, for his part, brought the choicest of the firstlings of his flock. The Lord paid heed to Abel and his offering, but to Cain and his offering [God] paid no heed (Genesis 4:3-5)

Why does God graciously accept Abels gift, but ignore Cains offering? Bereishit Rabbah 22:5 famously interprets: Abel brought the best of his flock: the firstborn sheep. Cain brought the worst of his crop to unload on God. The result was disastrous for all concerned: Cain killed Abel and lived forever in exile. The Sages are telling us that quality matters. In fact, it matters very much. Notice that Cain and Abel brought different sacrificesone brought produce and the other firstlings of the flockyet the Sages sees fit to compare them. We are not told the quantity of their gifts to Godhow would we compare a certain quantity of produce to a certain number of firstlings anyway?yet they are compared. Heres the key: The Sages understand that God is not comparing the sacrifices themselves to one another; God is comparing the efforts of Cain and Abel, each to his potential. Cain brought something; Abel brought the best he had to offer. What God wants from us is not quantity, but the quality of our effort because it reflects our devotion and caring. God wants us to do our best and give our best.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (1892 1953)  was a Talmud scholar and spiritual advisor in the Ponevezh Yeshivah in Israel. In Mikhtav Me-Eliyahu, a collection of his correspondence and ethical writings published posthumously by two of his disciples, he provides another example which is perhaps far more helpful. It concerns Enoch[1], the father of Methuselah.

The Torah writes of Enoch, who was the seventh generation after Adam, And Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22), concerning which the Rabbis say: Enoch was a cobbler, and with every single stitch that he made he achieved mystical unions with his Creator.[2] I have heard a beautiful explanation of this in the name of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter[3] of blessed memory, an interpretation which is indeed typical of his whole approach. He said that this midrash cannot possibly mean that while [Enoch] was sitting and stitching shoes for his customers his mind was engaged on mystical pursuits. This would be forbidden by the din [Jewish law]. How could he divert his attention to other matters while engaged in work that he had been hired to do by others? No, says Rabbi Yisrael [Salanter]; the mystical unions which Enoch achieved were neither more nor less than the concentration that he lavished on each and every stitch to ensure that it would be good and strong and that the pair of shoes he was making would be a good pair, giving the maximum pleasure and benefit to whomever would wear them. In this way Enoch achieved union with the attribute of his Creator, who lavishes his goodness and beneficence on others. This was his mystical union: he was united and wholehearted in his desire, his single-minded ambition, to attach himself to his Creators attributes. Of course, as a natural consequence [Enoch] was protected from any hint of evil or wrongdoing. There could be no question of his ever deceiving or over-reaching his customers, even unwittingly. His taking would never exceed the value of the work he was doing, the measure of his giving.

Rabbi Dessler, following the tradition of the Rabbis, emphasizes the quality of human effort and devotion over the quantity of what we produce: each stitch Enoch sewed was the finest he could sew.

It would seem that tradition weighs in heavily on the quality over quantity of our experiences. Does that mean that making a bucket list is a bad idea? Certainly some lists are merely an array of exotic and exciting travels and experiences, including items such as: skydiving, hike to Machu Pichu, climb Everest, travel around the world, snorkel at Ras Mohammed. But it is possible to balance quantity with quality, the what with the how. One of the many websites devoted to helping us formulate our own personal bucket list tells us: If you dont live your days by personal goals and plans, chances are you spend most of your time caught up in a flurry of day-to-day activities. Ever feel your days are passing you by without any tangible output to speak of? What did you accomplish in the past 3 months? What are your upcoming goals for the next 3 months? Look at the things you did and the things youre planning to do next Do they mean anything to you if you are to die today? Having a bucket list reminds you of whats really important so you can act on them.[4] And therein lies the key: whats really important.
Celestine Chua, the woman who shares this bucket list on her personal development blog, Personal Excellence, lists some of the more typical entrees youll find on other lists:
    Travel around the world
    Learn a new language
    Run a marathon, or participate in a triathlon
    Do an extreme sport
    Climb a mountain
Those goals might sound rather exotic or perhaps self-serving to you. But keep reading. Celestine also lists:
    Witness a sunrise, or sunset, or solar eclipse
    Go for a walk in the rain
    Fly a kite
These are more modest and, for many of us, more achievable.
But Celestine also includes these:
    Befriend a stranger
    Connect with past teachers [or friends]
    Let someone know how much s/he means to you
    Perform a kind deed without expecting anything in return
    Be a mentor to someone
    Read a book on a subject you never thought to read about

What we put on our bucket list says a lot about what kind of people we are. Prioritizing according to our moral values is the key to developing a list that balances quantity with quality so that our lives are not focused on how much we have but how good we are. Whats on your bucket list?

© Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

[1] Enoch is mentioned in an extended genealogy in Genesis that traces the generations from Adam to Noah, about whom Torah cryptically says: Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him (Genesis 5:24). On the basis of this verse, it was surmised that Enoch never died. Rather, God took him to heaven at the end of his life on earth. Accordingly, there are numerous pseudepigraphical and apocryphal books about Enoch.
[2] Rabbi Eliyahu ha-Kohen of Izmir, Midrash Talpiot.
[3] Rabbi Yisrael b. Ze'ev Wolf Lipkin (1810 1883) was the founder of the Musar (Jewish ethics) movement.