February 2023

Mazel & Mishagoss: Posing Questions That Would Cross a Rabbi’s Eyes


By Stephanie D. Lewis

After taking a class on Jewish mysticism, I’ve become a much deeper thinker about reincarnation and resurrection, but some concepts still pose confusing dilemmas for me. For instance, if our soul is put inside many different bodies over the course of thousands of years, and all those bodies return to life simultaneously, (after Mashiach arrives) can our soul hold a contest to see which of its bodies best fits into a size 6 Versace dress? And also which profession can afford to buy it at Nordstrom? Stuff like this truly perplexes me.

And will all the dozens of husbands I’ve been married to over many lifetimes hold a general meeting to discuss things like, “Did she dust under the piano when you were married to her?” Or “How did you put up with her dried-out brisket for 55 years? I had to become a vegetarian shortly after we said, “I do!”

I also discovered a reincarnation belief that Jewish souls go around again and again in “family groupings” so your loved ones can always remain together. But with one caveat…your relationships might change or switch around. Can this mean what I think it means?? My youngest daughter physically resembles my beloved grandma, who was always so kind and nurturing to me. Could that just be their shared DNA or has my grandma actually returned so we’d stay closely connected? Peeking into my college-aged sleeping daughter’s bedroom, (Is that you, Nana? I miss you so much!) I lean over to cheerfully whisper, “Good morning!”

“It’s never good morning!” she retorts. I freeze. (Wow! That’s utterly amazing. Morning = Mourning! I’ve been told it’s not healthy to grieve so much. Only my Nana would offer profound advice like that upon first opening her eyes!) “Mmmm, I sure miss homemade chicken soup,” I continue hopefully. “How about making a pot today?”

“Go away! Cook your own dumb soup!” my daughter shouts, throwing a pillow at my head. I suppose that could be considered borderline nurturing? I have another idea. Nana loved to knit and I’ve kept a lovely cardigan she made many years ago. “Look at this sweater?” I say, as my daughter combs her auburn hair. (Nana had reddish hair too!) I peer into her eyes for signs of recognition of a garment she once lovingly created. “Oh no, you don’t! You’re not handing that ugly thing down to me. If you want to wear old-fashioned stuff like that, that’s your business, Mom. But if I were you, I’d put it in my next garage sale!”

Fine. Maybe we don’t go around in family circles. But that’s even more exciting! That means I could have been someone famous in a previous life! My brain goes to work making obvious correlations to all my quirky personality traits. 1) I hate being pitied – I used to be Eva Peron singing, “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina!” 2) I refuse to play tag in pools because I get headaches from children swimmers chanting incessantly – I was Marco Polo’s wife! 3) My favorite meal is an Orange Julius with a Caesar salad – I was Cleopatra! 4) I constantly tell my kids to speak up because I can’t hear them –I was Charlie Chaplin’s mother! 5) When we’re out of cereal, milk, or eggs for breakfast and my kids are starving, I eye Hostess Twinkies and think, “Whatever…Let ‘em eat cake.” –I was Marie Antoinette! 6) When lecturing my daughters, instead of saying, “Listen here, young ladies,” I say, “Go to your room, Little Women.” – I was Louisa May Alcott! 7) I don’t use profanity and my biggest cussing outburst is, “Oh shoot. Shoot! Shoot!”—I was Annie Oakley! 8) I talk to my engagement ring and sometimes even confide my deepest secrets to it. – There can be no doubt that I was Marilyn Monroe …because wait for it … diamonds ARE a girl’s best friend!

Alright. So maybe I won’t have a past life regression based on the above evidence. And perhaps when resurrection occurs, people will have far more important matters to work out with God than their many husbands’ opinion of them. But I’m signing up for more Kabbalah classes and this time I’m bringing my twelve-year-old son (who used to be my Rabbi!) because he’ll surely ask far more intellectual questions than I am capable of – and together we’ll get to the bottom of this!


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