The Question ... Reflections on Mortality
by Eitan Shiskoff, Executive Director, Tents of Mercy Network

Two of Israel's most beloved entertainers, Arik Einstein (74) and Sefi Rivlin (66), died recently, within a week of each other. Their passing unleashed national grief. Both represented the generation of Israelis who were born here in the land and grew up during the early years of statehood. For many in our country, it is hard to imagine life without the music of Einstein and the humor of Rivlin.

Arik Einstein
Sefi Rivlin
Einstein, known for his lengthy acting and singing career, has been said to epitomize the modern Israeli, the sabra. "His music contained much of what is positive and beautiful in the contemporary Israeli soul," wrote Steven Plaut, in TheJewishPress.com. Prime Minister Netanyahu called Einstein's songs "the soundtrack to the country".

Rivlin starred as a comedian who helped Israel laugh for decades, on stage, screen and television. He was eulogized by former Knesset Speaker, Reuven Rivlin (a family relative), as "a member of the generation that shaped the Israeli experience." Netanyahu described him as "a beloved artist who made generations of Israelis laugh with his witty humor."

The passing of these Israeli cultural icons reminds us that, in the physical sense, no one is immortal. Our treasured, lifetime friend and Tents of Mercy co-founder, Katya Morrison, just went to be with the Lord at the age of 63. The loss of those we've been close to and/or well-known personalities with whom we identify, raises the existential question of mortality. Maybe it is THE question. One day life as I know it will end. Yes, I am assured that I will enjoy eternal, unbroken intimacy with my King, Yeshua, and with all those who choose Him. But what bearing does this fate have on my day to day life now? How then shall I live, to paraphrase the Apostle Peter?

This month I turn 66. What if I had only one more year to live? I've been thinking about it. What are the most essential things I want to do, want to give myself to, before "taking off my boots"? My list won't be the same as yours. But I'm recommending that you give it some thought and prayer. Maybe even make a list of your own.

Adios to 2013

As we say "Adios" to 2013 and walk into the yet unknown days of 2014, it is fitting to reflect on the brevity of this life. My dear father, Nicholas, called it "The Inevitable". He made up charts and extensive instructions to guide my sister and me when the time should come. And we knew that time would come. Thankfully, he and Mom "waited" until they were 94.

If the corridor from life to death to life is inevitable, in what am I investing my life's unrenewable energies? What will last when I am gone? Am I living in the light of eternity, or am I frittering away priceless days on trivial pursuits and petty resentments? What does the Holy One say about ultimate priorities during our brief sojourn on earth?

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

"This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Yeshua HaMashiach, whom you have sent." (John 17:3)

"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

I'm sure you can add your own favorite statements from the Source. What's important is to live intentionally. Being thankful brings everything into perspective. Our days are a gift, not to be wasted. Yet neither do we want to live under a cloud of condemnation: "I'm not doing enough. I'll never measure up." Life is to be enjoyed to the full, not spent wallowing in guilt. Loving relationships - especially within the family, life's beauty in all its forms, and being conduits of Yeshua's love, healing, and deliverance - these are all richly to be enjoyed.

I like the simplicity of Mother Theresa's statement: "At the moment of death, we will not be judged by the amount of work we have done but by the weight of love we have put into our work ... If only we could make people understand that we come from God and that we have to go back to Him!"

So, if during 2013 you've lost a loved one, or observed the brevity of life, or sensed yourself drifting from ultimate purpose, take these reflections as a timely reminder.

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