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October 13, 2015 | 30th Tishrei 5776
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M'chayei HaMeitim
  1. Mar 2005 Digest 045

    Here's another case where the difficulties of translation lead us to controversy. I think a better translation is giving life to the dead, Resurrect, aside from its specifically Christological associations, means to rise from the dead, not quite the same thing….While I personally do not believe that the dead will eventually be given corporeal animation, I know that I am guided daily by my father, dead for half a century, and by my mother, whose 23rd yahrtzeit I will observe next week. That to me is a kind of m'cheyei ha meitim.

  2. Mar 2005 Digest 045

    I am not a Hebrew scholar, nor an expert in these traditional beliefs, but I believe, if I understand correctly, that m'chayei ha meitim refers to the end of time when all the dead will be restored in Jerusalem. (When the messiah comes!) Since the Reform Movement position is a Messaianic Age rather than a personal Messiah and not believing in the possibility of the dead being restored, the debate ensues.

  3. Mar 2005 Digest 045

    In Mishkan T'filah--Sanctuary of Prayer--the new Reform siddur, most of the Hebrew texts have been preserved. But some have been altered, often reverting back to the traditional text. The most striking example of this is in the G'vurot which speaks of God's acts in this world. The traditional text praises God "who gives life to the dead" (m'chayei ha-meitim) while the Reform version has read "who gives life to all" (m'chayei ha-kol) for more than a century. Although bodily resurrection is, indeed, a Jewish concept, the Reform interpretation goes beyond that, acknowledging a Creator God who is the Source of all life.

  4. Mar 2005 Digest 046

    …I mentioned that certain terms like metim were eliminated from the Reform siddur many years ago. The Reform Movement at one time apparently did not want to emphasize the idea of resurrection of the dead. However, in a spiritual more modern interpretation that I heard in a sermon once, resurrection could also refer to the rejuvenation and reassembly of the Jewish people and not as a literal reassembling of the dead. There is in my opinion a lot to be said for a broader perspective of some of the traditional, historical ideas and rhetoric, some of which was eliminated, but which might, in a sense, could bring a deeper understanding and thought-provoking concept into modern services.

    …There is more than the literal meaning of many of the original writings, and to eliminate them also eliminates an aspect of Judaism's philosophy.


  5. Mar 2005 Digest 046

    Historically and theologically, 19th- and early 20th-century Reform , both European and American, continued to entertain the belief a life beyond the grave, but, relying on precedent in medieval Jewish thought and in Kantian philosophy, emphasized immortality of the soul rather than the ancient Rabbinic notion of bodily resurrection in the eschaton. See the chapter on the Yom Kippur Memorial Service in my Were Our Mouths Filled with Song: Studies in Liberal Jewish Liturgy (Cincinnati: HUC Press, 1997), pp.146-184, for a detailed discussion of how Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Jewish Humanist liturgies have variously dealt with the classical doctrine of an afterlife. After all is and said, what is remarkable is that for over a century and a half non-Orthodox Jews grappled with the belief non-dismissively and in earnest.
    Eric Friedland

  6. Mar 2005 Digest 048

    When meitim is recited in the traditional G’vurot, the concept of God's greatest power vis-a-vis the self, whether it be resurrection, or resumption of life, or life after death, is invoked. The GOP use of "ha kol," determinedly takes us away from that particular, ancient example of God's awesome power to a more modern, rationally palatable one.

    The last iteration of Mishkan T’filah I used cut the difference, using both meitim and ha kol within the G’vurot, which I have taken as permission, minchag Reform, to use whichever I choose, quietly.

    435 units

  7. Mar 2005 Digest 049

    For those who want an accessible, yet scholarly and complete discussion of the history and theology involved in the resurrection concept, including its place in our liturgy, take a look at Dr. Neil Gillman's The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality In Jewish Thought (Jewish Lights Publishing).

    Gillman outlines the evolution of Jewish thought about bodily resurrection and spiritual immortality. Beginning with the near-silence of the Bible on these two issues, he traces the development of these doctrines, and the eventual shift to ambivalence about resurrection. He also describes why today, somewhat surprisingly, more contemporary Jewish scholars—including Gillman--have unabashedly returned to the notion of bodily resurrection.



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