With Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet. 

Read Rabbi Schochet’s blog at shul.co.uk/rabbi or follow him on Twitter @RabbiYYS.

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  • Life after death for my mother

ShochetDear Rabbi

Is there really life after death or does it all end here? I lost my mother this past year. I’m a teenager and I miss her very much. It would be nice and comforting to know she is still alive somewhere else.

Samantha

Dear Samantha

First, let me tell you how sorry I am for your loss. A mother is irreplaceable, especially at your young age when she is needed most.

This must be a very difficult time for you and I do hope through the much love that hopefully surrounds you, you will find some comfort. The idea that there is life after this one is a basic principle of Jewish faith. It would be inconceivable that there should not be somewhere else beyond the here and now where one receives ultimate reward for the good done while here on earth.

Think about one of the very first stories they taught you in cheder: Cain and Abel bring offerings to God; God likes Abel’s offering but not Cain’s; Cain is jealous and kills Abel. End of story. But wait. In one line the Torah says God is happy with Abel, the next minute he is dead! And Cain, who God was not happy with, walks away! Is that justice? The message is clear: without belief in an afterlife, there is no justice. The Cains of this world can get away with murder.

True, this world, as we perceive it, isn’t always fair. But God doesn’t remain indebted. There is always ultimate justice and reward, if not here then elsewhere. Moreover, you have to appreciate that the love you shared with your mother was more than just a physical bond.

The relationship we all share with our loved ones is a deep spiritual connection. Even though the physical can be removed from our midst, that spiritual bond remains in tact for eternity. A mother continues to be a mother, albeit on a different place – feeling your pain during life’s more difficult moments and yearning for your happiness once more.

I’ve heard many people share experiences where they have felt a loved one’s presence. Whether a very vivid dream that stays with them or sometimes little things out of the ordinary that captivate the attention and are too compelling to ignore.

Light a candle each Friday evening before the onset of Shabbat. Take that unique opportunity, which is one of the single most spiritual moments in a Jewish woman and girl’s life, and just think about your mum.

Talk to her; she hears you. She is watching over you. Even as you cannot see her, she can see you. Even as you cannot feel her, she is reaching out to you with her ethereal embrace.

Even as you cannot hear her, know that she is whispering love into your heart. I lost my father earlier this year, and while I am a little older than you and in a more independent place in life, I am sure on some level it hurts no less.

But it is the precise fundamental belief of knowing that our loved ones are still every bit with us that gives us some comfort. Wishing you a long life filled with wonderful accomplishments because you can always still make mum proud!

  • A peace treaty is but a dream

Dear Rabbi

I’m the university student who wrote to you recently about a two-state solution, which I believe will ease tensions around the world including, but not limited to, university campuses. You completely disregarded my argument that Israel is an occupying nation. If you truly believe Israel is so innocent, then why is it holding up peace negotiations, now insisting the Palestinians have to first recognise Israel as the Jewish state? As Secretary of State John Kerry already pointed out, this was done in the past, and there is no need to repeat it. It is a minor detail in the bigger scheme of things and I believe, as does Kerry, it is being used as a delaying tactic by occupiers who never really want peace.

Asaf

Dear Asaf

Yes, Arafat did say he recognises the state of Israel – in 1988 and again in 2004. Tell me this: why has the PLO charter calling for the destruction of Israel never changed?

Tell me something else: When Ehud Barak was prepared to sell most of Israel and his own soul down the river – offering 97 percent of Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, 75 percent of the Old City of Jerusalem, control over the Temple Mount, etc, etc, did Arafat still flatly turn it down?

That Kerry is prepared to be so intellectually dishonest as to cite Arafat’s lip service “recognition” makes one wonder just how sincere he is in the negotiations. Rather than criticise Israel for requiring recognition as a Jewish state, his criticism should be directed at Abbas for flatly refusing to accept Israel as such.

Here’s a little home truth for you Asaf. Abbas, in keeping with the goals of Islam, will invariably always refuse to accept Jewish control over any land Muslims view as holy, such as Jerusalem.

Moreover, the charter of his Fatah party makes it clear the entire state of Israel is to be replaced by a single Islamic state of Palestine. So unless Abbas is willing to contradict his own party, or Islam, he cannot conceivably recognise Israel as a Jewish state, or accept Jewish control of Jerusalem.

Contradicting his party is one thing, contradicting Islam is quite another. It won’t happen. And, therefore, a peace treaty is as likely as pigs flying. Mind you, there’s one thing we can agree on. Neither of us likes pigs, flying or otherwise. [divider]