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From the Desk - Reincarnation and Past Lives

Shalom Friends! Busy at Beth Ora We’re coming back into a busy season at Beth Ora! This coming Shabbat, we invite you to take advantage of the long Shabbat afternoon and the beautiful Montreal weather (??!) and come along to our new Shabbat on the Lawn program. Shabbat on the Lawn is a new monthly series in which we meet up in the park opposite Beth Ora to discuss a topical issue. The program begins this coming Shabbat at 5:00 pm and the topic is Making Our Prayers Meaningful and Personal. Come along and enjoy the discussion! Next Wednesday (July 5th) is our next BBQ. At the last one, we enjoyed a huge turnout and we look forward to seeing you there again! Then, on Friday, July 7th, in conjunction with PJ Library, we invite you to Shabbat in the Park – a special event, running from 4:30-6:30 PM, at the park across from Beth Ora. We invite young families to bring their own picnic and join us for Kabbalat Shabbat, including candle lighting and Kiddush. There will be music, crafts, refreshments and fun for the whole family! And finally…. Please join us on Shabbat July 8th to hear a speaker you won’t soon forget! We are delighted to welcome internationally acclaimed inspirational speaker, Yossi Goodman, whose message will leave you mesmerized and change the way you think, speak and act! Yossi will be speaking during the service at 10:45 AM and again at the Kiddush at noon. I hope you will take advantage of these great events which will enrich our lives and invigorate our community. Last Week in Synagogue Last Shabbat, in synagogue, I spoke about how our environment can lead us to being terrible people or, conversely, can inspire us to discover a greatness of which we didn’t know we were capable. You can read more about this here. Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami

What’s the deal with... Reincarnation and Past Lives? In preparing this, I benefited from an article by Rabbi Gil Student for Jew in the City. The Ramban (13th century Spain) argued that reincarnation solves the philosophical problem of why seemingly righteous people suffer. Why does G-d allow the suffering of children who are too young to be responsible for their actions? According to some interpretations, a person could possibly be experiencing punishment for sins the soul committed in previous lives. Seen more positively, reincarnation allows people to complete tasks they did not finish in a previous life. Indeed, Ramban sees reincarnation as the final answer to the book of Job which is dedicated to the question of why the righteous Job suffered. Rabbi Saadia Gaon (10th century, Babylonia) explicitly rejects the concept of reincarnation. He believes that there are other explanations for suffering in this world and, even if we haven’t yet found all the answers, that is no basis for affirming belief in reincarnation. Similarly, Rabbi Yosef Albo (15th century Spain) rejects the idea of reincarnation. According to Rabbi Albo, it is unnecessary for the soul to come to the world a second time. However, reincarnation is an important idea in Kaballistic thought and is quite widely accepted amongst Orthodox thinkers today.

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