Near-death experiences? Past-life regression? Reincarnation?
Are these sorts of things Jewish?
With a blend of candor, personal questioning, and sharp-eyed scholarship, Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz relates his own observations and the firsthand accounts shared with him by others, experiences that helped propel his journey from skeptic to believer that there is life after life.
From near-death experiences to reincarnation, past-life memory to the work of mediums, Rabbi Spitz explores what we are really able to know about the afterlife, and draws on Jewish texts to share that belief in these concepts—so often approached with reluctance—is in fact true to Jewish tradition.
“The increasing interest and faith in survival of the soul may grow into a cultural wave that is as potentially transformative for society as the civil rights movement and feminism. A renewed faith in ‘the soul’s journeys’ will call for a reassessment of our priorities, and will enable traditional religions to renew and transform their adherents.”
—from the Introduction
Spitz, a Conservative rabbi, sets out to convince readers that it's kosher to be Jewish and believe in reincarnation and the afterlife. He details his personal journey from skepticism to belief in the reality of the soul, distilling along the way the work of pioneering mediums like Brian Weiss and James van Draagh. Spitz discusses one seminar he attended in which he found himself revealing images of a previous life as a Native American, and another in which his wife's deceased grandparents "communicated" with her. Spitz employs an array of Jewish sources--particularly mystical texts--that affirm a faith in the survival of the soul, although the concept remains controversial in traditional Judaism. He claims that this faith can provide comfort to those struggling with death. "Letting go is easier when one believes death is not final," he says. He offers the personal example of coping with his mother's death, followed by dramatic instances of how he has used guided imagery to ease congregants into accepting death. While we are alive, our "homework assignment" is to nurture our souls through good deeds and to express gratitude to God, "rooting us more deeply in living this life each day as a precious gift." Spitz's compelling arguments may cement the beliefs of Jewish readers already receptive to the existence of the supernatural and open a doorway for doubters to reconceptualize life and death.