Wrapping Our Minds Around Loss, Mourning And Comfort (Webinar)
A Jewish Framework For Thinking About Life After Death
Rabbi David Fohrman
Founder and Lead Scholar
How are we supposed to make sense of loss? In this deep dive Premium course, Rabbi Fohrman shares how he has come to understand mourning and loss in the larger context of life, death and living a purposeful life.
Loss, comfort and mourning are not things that we generally like to think about but if we are going to think about them, Tisha B'Av is the day to think about them.
Loss, Comfort and MourningWhat I want to do with you is I want to contemplate some questions having to deal with loss and mourning but then I want to sort of pull back the zoom lens and look at a much larger picture because it seems to me to really get a perspective on those really serene and difficult issues of loss, comfort and mourning, there are lot of other related issues which we need to deal with. Probably we would need to spend a great deal of time dealing with them, longer than an hour and a half or even two hours which we have allotted to us in this webinar.
So what I am going to try to provide to you today, my goal is to provide sort of a framework, which I personally, speaking personally, have found helpful to me in thinking about these kinds of issues. It is a framework again, if you pull back the zoom lens, it's almost as if you were in a plane and viewing things from 50,000 feet, it is a framework that works for a lot of things including thinking about loss, comfort and mourning issues.
So, what I want to do is kind of begin by introducing a number of sort of big question issues, sort of meaning of life issues, kind of things that are not spilling your orange juice one day or going in the car pool or getting involved with all the mundane stuff that you always get involved in but really this sort of deep and meaningful, really big meaning of life issues that we don't always get the chance to think about. I want to sort of tentatively introduce a couple of those and while my goal is to not really directly answer any of these questions, my goal is to provide you hopefully some sort of framework that can be helpful in thinking about them. So let me dive in with kind of a loss, mourning and comfort questions for starters. Let's see if I can actually make my way through with some of these PowerPoint with you.
Comfort from GodOne of the things we do when we are faced with loss, when we try to comfort those who has gone through loss is that we have a saying that we say and if you show up at a Shiva house, you are familiar with the saying. If somebody is mourning there is usually seven days of Shiva and as you leave, we have a custom to say these words, hamakom yinachem etchem b'toch sh'ar aveilei Tzion v'yerushalayim; we say to people, 'May God comfort you along with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem'.
One of the questions I just want to begin with is what exactly does that mean? 'May God comfort you', there, it is sort of vaguely comforting, I think for us to depart a mourner with the hope that God will comfort them but as we get into our car and leave the house and we put our sort of rational head back on, we can ask ourselves, is it really true?
Which is to say, what do we really mean when we ask God to go comfort them? Are they going to have a dream that night in which God is going to come to them and comfort them? Will they immediately feel better because God is providing comfort, immediately and they don't know it? Like what exactly, what do we mean when we say that 'May God comfort you'? Is it just a nice thing to say, it's not supposed to mean anything, is it really true?
So, I would like to suggest that it is really true, it is not just a nice thing to say and we have to try to sort of delve into the words and the two words that I want to focus on with you – and we are going to come back to this, I am really just laying out a bunch of different questions now; so this is just question one, not that we are going to answer these questions now but the path to answer these questions is going to deal with understanding words. In particular the first two words of this phrase, hamakom yenachem etchem.
The very first one is hamakom. Hamakom is a euphemism for God, in Hebrew it doesn't really mean God. Those of you know Hebrew, know that hamakom means 'the place.' – we are referring to God as 'the place.' Now that is one of the attributes that one of the names that we give to God, you won't find it anywhere in the Bible. It is sort of a rabbinic name that we give to God, 'the place,' but why of all the various different names for God – and there are many – do we specifically chose the word hamakom to describe God in this context?
We describe God with so many of the other ways which the Torah itself talks about them. Yud-key-vav-key, the main name, Shakai, Kel, I mean you name it, pardon the pun, there are many, many names for God, why did we chose hamakom in particular?
So it's kind of question number one, having to do with language and now the question number two is regarding the second word over here which is yenachem. Hamakom yenachem etchem. Yenachem really means to comfort. If you look at the word though, you will find that there are times when the word doesn't mean comfort.
Those of you who have been around our videos know that getting a precise understanding of the language is important and often times, you will find the Torah using a word in a couple of different ways and often, there are larger overall meanings when you find a given Hebrew word having more than one meaning. Typically there is an overarching meaning that compensates both of them.
So for example, if you think about the word yenachem, so one of the words means 'comfort' but where else in the Torah do we have yenachem or lenachem that's doesn't mean comfort? So one of the other meanings of the word and Rashi is actually troubled by this is with reference to God changing his mind. A number of… because when we talked about changing the mind, we actually talk about the same word, nun-chet-mem. In the book of Samuel, Samuel says, lo adam hu lehinachem. 'God is not a man that will change his mind' and then of course there are ironically examples of where God seems to change his mind in opposition to what Samuel himself says, back earlier in the Torah. So for example, when God changes his mind about destroying the Jewish people, the golden calf. So Vayinachem Hashem, so God changes his mind about the evil that he was going to deliver to the people and then earlier, the very first time back in genesis, when God originally contemplates destroying the world and what is ultimately the flood. So the same vayinachem Hashem,God changing his mind or God is regretting, Vayinachem Hashem ki asah et-ha'adam ba'aretz vayit'atzev el-libo. God regretted having created the world and became saddened to his heart.
So over here this word 'regret' or 'changing your mind' just happens to be the very same root, nun-chet-mem, which we associate with 'comfort' and the question is why, what is that mean and is there a large idea other than comfort here?
Okay, so these are the things I want to come back to, when we think about loss and mourning try to understand what it is that it really mean by hamakom yinachem etchem. Why is that so comforting and how is it really true? We are going to come back and look really to these two words hamakom and yinachem and try to understand them.
At this point, what I want to do is, I also really want to again, provide a framework, share a frame work which I find helpful for understanding that with you. But what I would like to do now is to spend a few minutes going through a bunch of sort of other big ticket questions in Judaism which I think this framework also helps with and which are connected in some ways to these questions of loss and mourning as well, at least in some kinds of ways.
So let me kind of jump in and entertain a couple with you now. By the way one of the things that I want to do with you here again if I can, I think I have to change my pan around here. One of the other things that I want to do with you is Psalm 23 over here, there is actually a psalm which many of us find comforting as a song which is often said at times of loss in funerals.
Biblical Words of Comfort After a DeathIt is probably the most famous psalm in the entire sacred telling and the entire Sefer Tehillim, Book of Psalms, the most often said, if you are the one who sings during the third meal of shalosh seudot so this song is familiar to you, Hashem roi lo echsar. There are zillion different tunes for it in English, it is the famous 'Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, he make me lie down on green pastures' and I think I have the text here somewhere for you, I think it is right up here actually. Here it is, you can see it on the screen, both in Hebrew and in English.
This psalm, the words are familiar to, I think, most of us, one of the things I want to do in the context of this presentation, is go through this psalm with you. I think it has much to teach us, it is not a coincidence that we sing this song during the times of loss, what does it really mean? And it is not an easy thing to figure out, what it really means but I want to try to work that out with you.
When you look at the psalm, the psalm seems to just be a bunch of vaguely comforting thoughts, loosely stitched together without any…it just seems like poetry, it doesn't really seem to sort of hang together. I think when we get a clear view that there is actually something very deep going on in the psalm there is a central theme that makes it hang together and there is a reason why people find the psalm so comforting. I think that there is a strange sort of thing that goes on with the psalm.
Speaking personally, the psalm has a lot of meaning to me, I lost my father when I was young, when I was 12 years old and at the funeral this was one of the psalms that was recited and even then it seemed kind of strangely comforting to me. At the time I was taking calligraphy lesson in Berkely, California, with the great David Moss. David Moss put a magnificent work, his Haggadah, other things, I recommend you find them but anyway I had the good fortune to be taking calligraphy lessons from him and the very first calligraphy project which I did was Psalm 23 and again it was vaguely comforting to me and I think many of us find it vaguely comforting. I think there is a reason why it is comforting and I think if we understand what it really going on with the psalm it becomes all the more comforting.
The thing I want to do with you, second text that I want to study with you is not just hamakom yinachem etchem, those short words which we say when we leave the house but actually I want to get back to Psalm 23 and understand that with you as well.
I want to take a very quick break just again to get back to the technical issues here. We have a lot of people here in this webinar, more people than I thought we are going to have, that we thought, we anticipated that we are going to have. So because of that there is a possibility that due to the great number of people here that some of you people coming in later, may be unable to see on your screen what it is that I am showing you. We tried to work with the company to make sure that they are very nice to our people and that they allow even those who exceed our capacity to do it but it is possible that you may have some problems with that. If you don't see what's going on the screen, it's no big deal, I am going to be reading everything, you just listen to me and we are going to have a recording of it, so you will be free to have a look at the recording.
Okay, so let's move on here. I want to get to some of the larger questions sort of the 15,000 feet questions that I think this frame work which I will introduce to you also that with as well. Here is the question that always bothered me, I wonder if it has bothered you.
What Is the Jewish Belief About Life After Death?Life after death, right? If we believe in life after death, we believe in the afterlife. How come the Torah is so silent about this? I mean the Torah like never talks about it, right?
Now there are lot of words in the Torah, it's not like I mean not a lot, just give me six verses somewhere. You know, here is the afterlife, it is like this, don't worry about it, everything is going to be wonderful. Something like that. How come the Torah totally ignores it, just completely is not concerned with the afterlife? Does it not believe in the afterlife? And again, in traditional Judaism the afterlife is something which we believe in and it seems pretty normative but it's just not in the Bible anywhere. So does the people afterwards make it up? How come it is not in the Bible if it is really there?
Now of course, the Gemara in chelek, which is the 11th chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin in the Babylonian Talmud, spends a great deal of time talking about the afterlife and says that the afterlife really is eluded in the Torah and emphasizes on that you got to believe that this is true and offers many verses that allude to the idea of the afterlife but the problem is that these are illusions to the afterlife. They are not direct, straight out pros. Here is what's going on.
So of the bible really is such a great theological work and is supposed to offer us all sorts of spiritual guidance, why is it silent on one of the things that we want to know the most, which is the issues of life after death? Why is the Torah so silent about that? So that is one issue that I want to get back and kind of talk to you about.
Here is another issue, let's leave the Torah aside for a moment, let's just talk personally. If life after death is real, if there is some sort of world of souls, a world that existed, a world that we were all in before we came into life, a world that we all will go to when this life is over; if that's really true how should you, as a rational believer in the religion, how should you relate to that phenomena which is just say the afterlife in this world?
Right now, you are in this world, how should you relate to life in the next world and what I mean, this is a serious question, what I mean to ask you is just how much of this should be on your mind? How much should you think letting in, the afterlife, life in the next world should be this huge motivation for you, should be something that preoccupies you, should you be thinking about it, should you not be thinking about it? And I will ask you a personal question, how much do you actually think about that, how much of the afterlife actually occupies your thoughts? And I imagine different religion, different faith and cultures may have different responses to that.
So I can only speak personally about it but I have a confession to make here and I will tell you what I think about this, and personally my confession is, is that the afterlife doesn't motivate me all that much. It sounds like a terrible thing to say but I don't find myself daydreaming about what heaven is going to be like. It's when I do something good in this world, I guess it's not like I am thinking, 'Oh yeah! I have just banked another few points in the next world, I am no longer going to be in the mezzanine level, probably going to be one of the field level boxes now. It just doesn't work that way for me.
For better or for worse, I guess the idea of hell, maybe my mashgichem didn't do a good enough job with their fire and brimstone talks with this stuff but it doesn't seem to be that much of a detour force in my life. I wish maybe it were more so and then again maybe, I am speaking entirely for myself, so it is entirely possible that you guys have a completely different approach on this than I do but for me, it's not like a major thing. And then I guess the question is, is that the way it is supposed to be? Is that a problem, should I be more into the afterlife, more into the next world and is there any rational guidance we can give people about this?
When you are teaching your kids, how much do you want them to be motivated with questions of heaven and with questions of hell? And actually I want to share a little story with you about this, well, humorous story actually. When I was in Yeshivah so, one of my Rabbis, I will leave him nameless but I was there in Ner Israel and he would invite me often for shalosh seudot, for the third meal and the third meal's you know, singing, the spiritual, all that; and I remember very vividly one shalosh seudot as he invited me and we were walking to his house, so he turned to me and he says, now his wife was a very pious woman and there is a statement in the Talmud that says that anybody who is punctilious about eating shalosh seudot, which is always make sure to eat this third meal on Sabbath, mitsalem din shel Gehenna, 'will be saved from the fires of hell'.
So this Rabbi turned to me and he says, I ought to tell you, I eat shalosh seudot because I am hungry. My wife, she eats it for the hell thing. I mean that's what he said and that's actually and yeah, he was making fun of it but what I think you see from that is that same kind of dichotomy with him and his wife. You know for his wife it was something that she really thought of and for himself, it was kind of in the back of his mind and I don't think he didn't feel particularly in comfort by this or feel that it was a terrible thing.
So should we feel guilty if we do not find ourselves motivated by the life after death? So that is the next question that I want to talk about with you which is how should we deal with life after death in this world, why is the Torah not interested in it and should we be interested in it or is the Torah interested in it and we have missed that somehow? A related question that relates to what I might call the life of the spirit versus physical pursuits in this world.
What the Bible Says About Life After DeathHere is another very large ticket question which we can sort of ask about religion or Judaism in particular. If we took sort of a strategic view of this and we ask, what are the large strategic goals of the Torah, what does the Torah think it is all about? So, we could talk a lot about this, the different ways of conceptualizing this and I have actually done some videos on this too. So, if you want to look at our 10 commandments videos, I talked about it there but one of the ways that we can conceptualize this is really through the words of Moshe in Sefer Devarim, in parsha Re'eh or so, somewhere around there where Moshe sorts of try to boil it all down for us and says look, mah Hashem Elokecha doresh mimcha? 'What it is that God really asks of you anyway... ' And then he gives you a list.
Now what's going to happen to that list is that it's kind of the shortlist of everything Torah, the long book but this is a stuff that you really should focus on. So what it is that Moshe says? Moshe says, mah Hashem Elokecha doresh mimcha, 'What it is that God asks of you?' Ki im, except, leyirah oto le'ahavah oto, 'to fear him and to love him and to serve him and to do all of his Mitzvot'. This is all God asks of you.
Alright, let's like go down that list. So apparently, in Moshe Rabbenu's view about all of these really big stuff in life, what all revolves around sort of massive theological challenges that we have in developing a relationship with God.
A. we need to love God,
B. we need to fear God,
C. we need to serve God, and then we have got all these Mitzvahs to do.
So let's just stop after C for a moment, right? So let's just say, take the list of Moshe and say okay the top three were, you have to love God, you have to fear God, you have to serve God, so those are the top three. And let's play a little game right now, which is make your own religion, right? Don't try this at home, don't tell anyone I have said this, I will deny this but let's just play this little thought experiment, let's just make your own religion.
Let's just stop right there and just pretend that Moshe has just outlined from God, a prophetic revelation that the top three things that God wants from human beings in life are to love him, to fear him and to serve him. Those are the top three things and in our make your own religion game, now there is going to be many Mitzvahs, there's going to be many commandments in this book, in this religion and God is now consulting you, one of your local administrating angles for advice on how to construct the mitzvot, which is to say, there is going to be all these mitzvot now, what should they be like? There is going to be 613 mitzvot so what should they all be focused on?
So I mean obviously you would say well, if it is all about love of God and fear of God and service of God, these are lofty, spiritual things and it is basically going to be like a yoga religion. I mean we are all going to sit there with our candles and there is going to be mitzvot about how to get into a meditative trance, how to really up your feelings about love for your God, how to balance those with fear.
The Talmud by the way talks about chassidim harishonim hayishoen shaah kodem shemitvadem, that the really righteous people, so the really righteous people they would sit for an hour before they would daven and before they would pray and they would just meditate. So that shouldn't just be for the chassidim harishonim, that should be for everybody, everybody, that should be the religion. The religion should all be about meditative trances before prayer and then coming down from those trances after prayer, contemplating love, contemplating fear, getting involved in service in these kinds of ways – but there are precious few of the mitzvot that are actually about that.
The mitzvot are focused on very real life things and they take our real life experiences and they tweak them like, ahh you are wearing clothes, wear some tzitzit under your clothes. Oh you are eating, so you should eat kosher, eat this way and not like in that way. It is all about our really mundane experiences that everyday life – you know how to harvest your wheat, how to rest after work and all of the really physical life – and coming back to life of the spirit versus physical pursuits.
I would think that if all I had, you know if the only fragment of the Torah that I read was Moshe's summery of the top three, then I would have concluded that Judaism was very much a life of the spirit kind of religion. I would say this is what it is about, it is all about life of the spirit. And yet, if I actually look at the mitzvot themselves I'd say no, it's actually a very physical religion and it is very focused on physicality. And of course this comes into a great relief when you talk about the idea of the nazir and without getting into too much detail, there is a, as many of you know, there is a mitzvah in the Torah which has to with asceticism, pulling yourself back away from physical pursuits and we call that a nazir; and he is not going to drink wine and he is going to make his hair grow long and he is going to sort of set him aside and live kind of this monastic kind of existence. And while that's okay for part of the time, the nazir does bring a sin offering afterwards, but there seems to be a problem with it because that's not what the religion is really trying to do, it is trying to get you involved with physical pursuits.
So to some extent I hope you see that this is kind of at least tangentially related to the questions which I have brought up to you before about this world and the next world. It seems to be very this world focused religion and yet, it is not the case that we are just a this world focused religion – because look, Moshe summarizes the mission statement in terms of these other worldly, Godly kinds of things, the love of God, the fear of God and service of God. So, is there like a problem inherent within Judaism itself: does it not know where it's going, is it schizophrenic in some kind of way?
A Framework to Think About Life After Death in JudaismOkay, let me take you a little bit further in this PowerPoint here and let me dive into, in a moment, this framework that I have been talking to you about, I am about to introduce this kind of framework for thinking about things like this.
I think it has implications for all of the above that we talked about as well as a couple of other really, really big ticket items and I am just going to wade into this ever so gingerly here, I am not going to devote all that much time to it. One of these days, when we will talk about the problem of evil maybe we will do a course in Sefer Iyov, the Book of Job, it is a fascinating, fascinating book and then there is much to say about it. So, it is on our list of things to do here on Aleph Beta. But just to sort of graze the surface of the topic, the problem evil has got to be the problem that we struggle with in religion, the problem of theodicy, the basic problem which is 'How can a good God allow such evil on the world and stand by?'
There is just terrible things that happen in the world, awful tragedies, deaths you know, millions of people die all the time, death is just and it is terrible. Sickness, suffering and the worst part of it is that God could stop it all, if we believe, you know like if God was not powerful then maybe that would be an excuse but God is powerful and the problem is theodicy is that how is it that we can reconcile these two obstacles: the notion that God is very, very good and the notion is that God is very, very powerful. A good God that wasn't powerful, we can understand him allowing evil. A powerful God that wasn't good, we can understand him allowing evil – but a good, powerful God, why he allows such evil in the world? Why not just wipe it out?
So how is that we wrap our minds around the problem of evil in the world? I realize that theodicy is something which people spend gallons and gallons on discussing, it's been around for thousands of years, philosophers have struggled with it for a long time, I just want to provide a framework for thinking constructively about this – but I think this is one of the issues too. Theodicy is not just how a good God can allow such evil in the world and stand by, that's the philosophical question, that's the objective question.
There is also a much more relevant, personal question, a subjective question. Which is really about us, which is personally, God forbid, in times when we ourselves are struck by terrible, terrible things that happen or those that we love are struck by terrible things that happen, God forbid. In those cases, how do we deal with it, what should we try and do? How can we personally find comfort when those things happen and not just personally finding comfort, just what should we do?
One of the impulses that we have when faced with situations like this is to ask why, to wonder how this could have happened, why it could have happened? Indeed the religious version of this really is to say, well if this could have happened I must be lacking in something and how is it that God wants me to change and you got through excruciating soul searching – and there are some sources within the Jewish tradition that suggest soul searching is appropriate when evil and suffering comes – and that's one kind of response, sort of the soul searching response.
There is another kind of response which is the non-soul searching response actually which just says, look it happened, you are not going to figure out why it happened. You just have to figure out how to go on, and what you should do from here, how you should respond and... I am wondering if I should tell this story, I might get somebody in trouble. So I will tell the story without names and hopefully nobody will know, nobody will figure out what I am talking about.
I go for these Pesach programs, occasionally to Florida, Israel and other places and speak over there, and sometimes there are these 'Ask the Rabbi sessions' during these events. So I vividly remember about one that was six years ago or so. I was there with another Rabbi of great stature and for his privacy, I am going to not give you his name. Those of you who know who I am talking about know who I am talking about but I was there with him and this question came up, it was actually in 2008, it was right around the time of the financial crisis and a lot of people were really hurting economically. And I remember somebody asked him, a woman got up and said, Rabbi, when terrible things happen, what should be our response? And he said, could you explain what it is that you mean? So she said, well you know, people lose their jobs, they are having such a hard time, why are these things happening to us and what should be our response and what should be the proper religious response when we see our neighbors losing jobs and our friends losing jobs and when it is so difficult for everyone, isn't God asking for something of us, what is God asking of us?
So without dropping an eyelash, he said God is absolutely asking something of you. So she says, yes, yes what's the spiritual meaning in all of these? He said the spiritual meaning of this, is that you should help your friend get a job, that's the spiritual meaning of this. So she was like no, no, that's not what I mean. Actually I mean like, intersection like why is it happening, how does God want us to get to understand? He said it is not a time for interspection. When you see tragedy strike people, it is not time to interspect, it is time to help. The spiritual meaning of this is that you are supposed to help.
You are not supposed to ask why, you are supposed to do what you can to help these people by organizing a task force or organize people, getting them together, a job world, people linking with each other. Make contacts with people that's what it is and she was very dissatisfied with this and she came back again and again and said but Rabbi, I was educated that we are supposed to look internally to what it is that God's saying to us; and what he really meant was, you can't really ask that question now, the spiritual meaning of this lies in your response to the situation, not your figuring out why the situation happened.
What was tricky about this was that you weren't saying that there is no meaning to why the situation happened, he just says that's not your avodah, so to speak. That's not what it is about for you, so your response needs to be figured out, how to respond, how to help. Not how to figure out why.
Finally, it came to a memorable end where she said that Rabbi, I was educated... So he turns to her and says that, ma'am, I regret to tell you that you have been mis-educated. And there was this gasp that went up from the crowd. So that's why I am not telling you who it is, I thought it was his greatest line and I thought it was wonderful but I don't want to get him in any further trouble than he is in. But the question again is what should our response be? And taking that woman's question a little bit further, if we really believe in meaning, if there is meaning to why this has happened, so why shouldn't I be searching for it? What was the rationale behind his response, you have to figure out what to do with it? That just sounds like a cop-out but don't you believe in meanings? So what's the meaning? So that's tied into this issue, how we personally find comfort when we face great evil and suffering.
Finally, the third issue in theodicy that I want to kind of talk to you about, at least give you a framework for thinking about this prayer. When we pray to God for help, in situations when tragedy is around the corner, either in our own lives or the lives that we love and mean so much to us, what is it that we can expect from him? You know God sometimes makes things work out; unfortunately God doesn't always make things work out.
So when things don't work out and we pray desperately to God for help, what then? So we can say, I mean did God ignore our prayers, like what do we expect from God? Is the only thing we expect that he is going to make things better, is there something else we can expect for? How should we be thinking about prayers during times of tragedy, how can God help us in times of tragedy? What sort of help can we expect? These are very, very large questions, again I don't mean to answer them all to you here today. I just want to provide a framework.
So, we have got questions about evil and again, a close cousin of these implications for dealing with death, we are all going to die, death and taxes, those are the inevitable things, we all fear death. Thinking about death and how we relate to that, how is that we can think about that constructively also.
So really lot of big ticket items on the agenda which are at least in the same ballpark as loss, mourning and comfort issues. I think to be able to think about loss, mourning and comfort, clearly it means grappling at least to some extent with these other issues too, these really large issues. And let me jump in now and try to give you that sort of promised framework for thinking about this.
An Approach to Loss, Mourning, Comfort and DeathThe guy on your screen is Ludwig Wittgenstein. I was introduced to Wittgenstein, who is the philosopher of language and a philosopher of mathematics as well as thought a lot about epistemology, I was introduced to Wittgenstein back in I guess, it must have been the late 80s when I was pursuing a master's degree in Johns Hopkins University. And one of the fellows that I was... talking about the person who introduced me to him was a professor of philosophy by the name Steven Vicchio. Vicchio was helping me at the time with my master's thesis paper which was, I was writing on the theme of Jewish philosophy.
Here is the issue that Vicchio was concerned about or wanted to tell me about with Wittgenstein. He was interested in certain issues with philosophy of language concerning definitions – whenever we have an idea and are seeking to define an idea. So how is it that we go about doing that? How is it that we define an idea, what does the definition mean?
So there is a traditional way of defining things and the traditional way of defining things is basically you give philosophical terms, instead of necessary and sufficient conditions, for something to be true and if you do that, you define something. So if I say what it is a, you say what it is a school? A school is an institution of higher learning or it is an institution designed to educate people and help them understand about themselves and the world. So I have defined the school and that's the typical way that we define things.
But the concerns, argument is that it is not the only way we can define things and it doesn't work all the time. He says that there is a second way of defining things which he calls family resemblance characteristics which you have to resort to occasionally because there are certain things that you just cannot define in the traditional way.
One of the examples he gives is how would you define the letter A? So if you think about the letter A, I mean that actual letter A, in other words imagine you want to help somebody recognize capital letter A, so what would be your sort of necessary and sufficient conditions for a letter A? So, you might say, well letter A is a letter in English that you have these two slanted lines that come together at the top. Okay, so now I ask you, dear friends in the audience, can you think of letters A that do not have slanty lines coming together at the top? And the answer is yes, there is not only slanty lines, you can have parallel lines that come together with a flat bar at the top, there is not always slanty lines. So with the letter A that has that crossbar, you know sort of right below the top that makes it letter A. Well, I can show you a hundred calligraphic designs for capital letter A and a number of them will not have a crossbar and you will still be able to identify that the alphabet is letter A.
The problem is that there is no set of conditions that you can come up with that will be necessary and sufficient to find letter A, there will always be some As that will elude the definition. So that's where the concern comes up and says you know what, the only really reliable thing you can do is you can go when you are dealing with things like as to what we call family resemblance characteristics and basically, that's a fuzzier way of defining things in the way you define something with family resemblance. The easiest way to imagine that is that if you or your family have kids that always look like a certain thing, so imagine your very distinctive looking kids.
So you say Fohrman kids, so people say my kids are pretty distinctive. So you can say there is a set of family resemblance characteristics for Fohrman's kids and there is like 120 of these characteristics. Their hairs, certain kind of curly hair, their certain kind of eyebrow, certain kind of smile. And if you put all these family resemblance characteristics together, you can say that the more of them you have the more you look like a Fohrman kid, right? So being a Fohrman kid is in this idea it is not black or white, it is not like being little bit pregnant, it is not something that you define that way. It is looking like a Fohrman kid, it is like you can look more or less like a Fohrman kid and there is 150 shades of grey and the more family resemblance characteristics you share with Fohrman kids, the more Fohrman kid like you look.
This is basically what he argues. He says there are a lot of really interesting things that you cannot define traditionally, you can only define them through family resemblance characteristics. So Vicchio, at the time I remember I was talking with him in the parking lot about this, turned to me and said, so I have a question for you, how then would you define a game? Do you think you can come up with a set of necessary and sufficient characteristics to define the idea of a game?
Now, of course there are all sorts of games. There is soccer, there are board games like Monopoly and Chutes and Ladders, there is tic-tac-toe games, there are other kinds of board games, there are like zillions of different kinds of games. So where Vicchio is going with this he argued that there are so many different kinds of games that you really cannot come up with a lot of necessary and sufficient characteristics for games. All you can do is come up with family resemblance characteristics. It is not possible to define a game using traditional means. Not all games you play for fun, there are serious games too. War games.
[Just going to pass this little siren over here]
War games are very serious games but they are games. So can we come up with a way of defining games? So I want to throw that out to you, actually I am going to make this an interactive challenge with you guys right now. We are going to test our interactive capabilities here. Okay, so I would like to invite you to like raise your hand over here and you can, just sort of throw out... what I want to do is suggest that Vicchio is wrong. That you really can define games or if you can't define them completely, you can define them mostly. You can get a pretty good standard definition of game.
We can come up with three or four different things that games have, they have this, pretty confident that we are talking about games, something that games always have. Can we come up with a list of characteristics that you think games would have? So if you can do your little type in the chat box, raise your hand thing or even if you want to talk and Imu is our little moderator here, you can throw things out to me. I am going to take a little 15 second break and let you guys do that, throw some of those things at you and see what we can come up with and I will meet you back in 15 seconds.
Okay, Shusana, what does Shusana say here? So Shusana says games have some sort of challenge in them. You can't have a game without some kind of challenge. Okay, I will take that. There's some sort of resistance, if you want to run right through a game, there's no sort of challenge then it is not a game.
Competitive, somebody says, a game is competitive. So yes, although just to be tricky about this you are not always competing against someone else, you can be competing against yourself. So for example, Solitaire, right? I can get better playing it. Video games, I am like playing against myself.
Okay, to look at couple of other things, challenge, competitive, diversion. Sulama says, a game is a diversion, a diversion from what? From real life. Escape from reality, similar to that and notion of diversion. Then we have another idea here, Ellie, escape from reality, yes. A game will take us away from reality.
Will there be winners and losers? Most games have some kind of winners and losers but remember, you can be playing against yourself, so you are kind of always the winner. So, I am not quite sure that there is always a winner and a loser in a game. Possible the competitive element, some of you say. You want to win in a game, there is definitely an object and to achieve that object I want to win.
Okay, what else, Josh, okay Josh gives us a little bit more of a detailed view in this and the activity, Josh says, that is removed and separate from regular life. Okay either challenges or entertains the players for the duration. Okay, I will buy that Josh, I am going to come back to your idea Josh. That's actually very subtle there, I think about the removal from real life and we will come back to that.
A game should be entertaining and fun. But not all games are fun. War games are not fun, necessarily but many games should be fun.
Okay, so games have an end. That actually fits in with what Josh says also which is that if a game is circumscribed part of reality, it has its own borders so to speak. So, it is eventually going to end and it cannot go on for ever and ever.
Okay and games should be rewarding in some ways which gets us to question, why we play games?
Games, Susana says, can teach a concept like strategy, problem solving etc. and that is one reason why we play games, not just for entertainment or fun but we can play games to enhance our skills in various areas.
Okay, good. So I think we are working our way towards a really good series of things which we can put down for the definition of games. So let me try to get back to my PowerPoint now and share this with you over here.
How do you define a game? [Talking to another person]
Okay, are there certain properties that games share and have common among one another? So going back to your list here, some of the things which you guys have mentioned. First of all games have participants, right? So it is either just me or some other people also. That's one thing that all games have. Games have an object that you try to achieve. There's some sense of competition in trying to achieve that object, which that object is not easy to achieve; it is not a very good game if it is easy to achieve the object. I have to stretch myself in some way to achieve that object.
So and there is by definition, I really liked that point that someone said in the beginning, got challenge. So, I can't edit my PowerPoint over here but you can use your little pen over here to write over there, if we could just type in, then there is a challenge that you are trying to achieve. In addition to that I am sorry, there is a challenge which you face when you are trying to achieve your object.
Games have rules, this is an important thing. A game has to have some sort of rules, there is always the little manual that comes along and tells you how the game has to be played.
And there is one more characteristic and this is what Josh was talking about, which I suggest is a little bit more subtle, which I believe it is, which is you see if I stop right now, right here and say, okay games have challenges, games have participants in them, games have objects that you try to achieve and they have rules. If you think that, that all is what a game is, you still have not sufficiently said or you haven't sufficiently defined the game as being different from anything that I do in real life. Because in real life, I am participating in real life and then in real life there are various rules of how I am supposed to behave and how I am not supposed to behave.
There are various objects that I am trying to achieve in real life but we don't call that a game. So a game is something special. So the other characterics which are bit more subtle is that a game has borders. A game is its own world, you know if you are playing board games so the game ends at the board. If you are playing soccer, so it is on the soccer field, so if it is football, it is in the football field. So it is mugbal as we say it in Hebrew, it is defined in both time and space. So if it is in the football field, 60 minutes of playtime. It is in the basketball, 60 minutes of playing time. It is in the monopoly game until someone beats the other. So there is always a time and space borders for a game, a game that doesn't have a time and space border is not a game or either than in real life. So that's what makes a game, a game.
So if you have this, something that has its own little world, set aside, circumcised part of life, its own little world and then you have this other thing, these things over here, within this little world you are participants, you have objects that you are trying to achieve, you have rules right? Then you are playing a game and in other words, a little bit more precise about that, when you say we have rules, you have rules that are different than real life. Not real life rules, the real life rules are I have to stand up, I have to eat polite, I should not cut people off in the intersections and those are my real life rules. So when I am playing a game there is a different set of rules which are game rules. There is a different object that is different than my real life object. Then I am dealing with a game, there are certain kinds of challenges that are different than my real life challenge.
Okay, so this I think is a pretty reasonable way of defining a game. Now once we accept that, those basic properties of games, here are some further qualities of games that I think emerge or are helpful when we think about games.
The question of identity. Who are you when you are playing a game? Now this is little bit of a tricky question. You will say what I mean, right? Well, if you are playing Monopoly, it is not just you. You are also the battleship, you are also the little dog, you are also the thin ball, right? You are the little piece, you are the marker on the game. If you are playing soccer, I am David Fohrman but I am also, if I am playing baseball, I am David Fohrman but I am also the number 22, the right fielder. I have a dual identity if I am playing the game. On the one hand, I am the person but on the other hand I am the little dog, the little hat or the little shoe, I am the game player. So I have both the identities at the same time when I am playing the game.
The second thing is the quality of immersiveness. It seems to me that games create a kind of illusion that if you are going to play a game well, the game creates a kind of illusion and you need to get immersed in the game. When you are in the game, your focus is on the game, right? And the illusion is you can lose yourself in a game. The illusion of a game is that if I get caught up in the game, it is like the game is my world, it is like going into a movie theater.
We used to spend this belief, we know that this movie theater isn't real but when you go to a movie theater, everything is black and you see the screen, the deal with watching a movie is you have to lose yourself a little bit in the movie. You have to buy the science fiction, whatever the new rules of the game are, the science fiction world. I have to accept that as a new reality and I know that that is not the real reality but I need to get immersed into that. So there is a quality of immersiveness, games tend to create that kind of illusion.
So these are two really important qualities of games and addition to the definition that we had above, the issue of identity, who are you – you are both game player and real life person and immersiveness, the illusion of the game, the game creates an illusion.
And now let me get to the point which I am really getting at over here. Here is where the framework really starts to pay off. Let's talk about goals now. Let me ask you a trick question and I am telling you right now that this is a trick question. The question is, 'What goal are you trying to achieve when you play a game?' Here is why it is a trick question; it is a trick question because, I am sorry, let me get back to my….It is a trick question because there are two kinds of goals, two different kinds of goals, two reasons that I am trying to achieve when playing a game.
You see there are real life goals when playing a game and there's also game goals for playing a game, and those are different and it is nonsensical to mix those though I can't say. You know the reason why I play soccer? The reason why I decided to play soccer is because so that I can kick more goals than my opponent, that doesn't make sense. That's not the reason why you play soccer. Once you are playing soccer, you are trying to kick more goals than your opponent, I get that but that's not the reason you play soccer. The reason why you play soccer is not a goal within the game, it is a goal out of the game, there is a real life goal, there is a real life reason why you chose to play soccer. When I play Monopoly, I try to get more money in Monopoly than any of my friends but that's not why I am playing Monopoly in the first place. Why are you playing monopoly in the first place?
So what are the real life goals for playing a game? Let me actually throw this out to you guys here and since you have done so well in texting your answers to the last things, let me just take 15 seconds and ask you that just throw out some real life goals. Why would you play any game, any game you like playing or any game you play at all, give me some real life goals, why do we play games?
I will give you 15 seconds and see if I can read some replies if any of you are gracious enough to provide some.
Okay, so we play games to have fun. We play games with my dysfunctional friends. Okay, that's good and what that means, by the way even though that's clearly tongue and cheek, is we play games because it is a social thing to do. We play games to make friends because that's what friends do, because it is a way of spending time.
When I am in the afternoon, I want to spend time with my family, ah! Let's play a game. It is a way of spending time with friends. So I do it to have fun, I do it because it helps me build bonds with friends, I do it to improve my skills. I play games because they sharpen my skills, enjoy time with family and friends. Physical and mental exercise is again kind of like improving skills, enhance your minds kind of like improving your skills. So you see, you guys are all kind of coming up with the same kind of reasons. Let's see if we can make a little list here within PowerPoint.
Here are some real life goals, and you can now stop the texting and focus back on the PowerPoint. Here are some real life goals for playing a game which more or less like a lot of the reasons we play.
We play to make friends or we play with friends as a way of spending time. There's clearly an important social component within games. We can do that whether we are talking about horizontal relationship, so to speak with pears, or vertical relationships with our parents or with our kids. We want to spend time with those whom we love. I want to spend time with my kids, so I will play soccer with my kid.
Sharpen my skills. I may want to get better with something so I play brain games, I practice. War games, war games are very serious and not social events but I do them to sharpen my skills and that's very important too. I could just be playing games for enjoyment, to relax or because I just feel like I need a challenge, so I play games. I think enjoyment and next to that we can put challenge. Enjoyment/challenge.
So these are real life goals for playing games. Now these are the reasons why you play a game. These are not the objects of a game once you play. So there is this whole second set of goals which you might call game goals. Game goals are very different. They do not have anything to do with making friends or spending time with kids, sharpening your skills or enjoying game goals or things alike. Kick the ball through the goal and more than your opponent, that is your game goal. If I am playing Monopoly, make more money than my opponents. Those are my game goals.
So the point is I want to distinguish between two types of goals here. Real life goals for playing a game and game goals and therefore getting back to the question I asked you earlier which is what is the goal of playing the game, right, you really have to come back and say, well what do you mean? Do you mean the real life goal for playing a game or the game goal for playing a game? They are two different goals and we seek to achieve them simultaneously.
Which leads me to the next question I want to ask you which is, well the next question I want to ask you and let me actually go back over here, the next question that I want to ask you is which do you think you should be concentrating on more when you are playing a game? Should you be concentrating on your real life goals for playing the game or should you be concentrating on your game goals; and let me throw that out to you, so why don't you give me some replies on this here for a moment, okay? Take a quick poll, can we throw up a quick poll for this guys?
So, Jim is our little magician over here, not so little magician but big magician. No polls!
Next time guys, next time we are going to do this, we will try to give you some polls. That would be a lot of fun to get hold of that with you but we are going to do a little infirm to poll, the old dinosaur way but just ask me to text in your responses and just kind of tallying up our first 10–15 responses that we hear from you. Which do you think should be on the fore front of your mind, your real life goals or your game goals? When you are playing the game which you should be focusing on? Okay, I am going to give you my 15 seconds here, well let's see some responses guys, real life goals.
We have from an anonymous person, that's 5 against 0.
Okay, so far real life is winning.
Alright, so it seems to me from my thoroughly unscientific counting of responses that initially we have got 12 to 7 in favor of real life and that makes sense, right? I mean real life honestly, is what matters. A game is just a game, guys. It is just a game, so obviously the real life goals are much more important. So I should be focusing on that, right? Okay, now I am going to give you my answer. 'Wrong'. My answer is that actually the both are wrong and the answer is it depends on a very tricky kind of balance and this is the subtly of it. Which really gets down to how to play a game well. There is an art to play a game, well, it has to do with balancing real life goals and game goals. Those goals have to be balanced in a certain way otherwise you will fail to play the game well.
I am going to skip a slide over here and then come back to that slide in a moment. I am just skipping through this. And here is what I was talking about you, which goal you should focus on more, the game goal or the real life goal. To demonstrate the balance which I want to suggest here, I want to sort of take each extreme. The question I asked you was a trick question which should you focus on more, it is not really which you should focus on more question. If you focus on one to the exclusion of the other, you will always lose. Here is why –
Let's take an example of playing soccer with your kid. Okay, let's talk about your real life goal. Why are you playing soccer with your kid – well, we all know, you are playing soccer with your kid because you want to spend time with your kid, right? That's wonderful to spend time with your kid and that's why you are playing soccer with your kid, okay.
Now let's stop right now. We all know that the real life goal is much more important than the game goal, right? So now what happens when I focus as I am playing the game, only on my real life goal? Okay, so let's just play it out, you are my kid and I am playing soccer with you. I am kicking the ball around and I say, son, it is so good to be spending time with you here. I just love spending time with you, isn't it great, we are fortunate, father and son, to be able to sit here out on the grass just spending time with each other, it is so delightful and I just keep on saying this to my kid, as I am lazily kicking on the ball, what is my god going to say to me? I mean he might keep up with this for a couple of minutes and then he will be like dad, just keep quiet and kick the ball, kick a goal, right? The point that I am not playing a game. If I focus on the real life goal I will be playing the game. I can't focus on the real life goal if I am playing the game. The kid is back to immersiveness of the game to play a game well, a game is immersive, you have to lose yourself in the game. The game has to actually matter, you have to, there has to be a new world. So I have to actually be trying, I have to try and kick the ball. So, we say alright, great, so obviously we should focus on the game goal. Well, what happens when you only focus on the game goal? Let's just play this game, I say, right, I was wrong, I shouldn't have done that way, I should be only focusing on my game goal. What is my game goal? On playing soccer, my game goal while playing soccer is I am supposed to score more goals than my opponent. I have a 9 year old son and I am a great athlete. Now four minutes into the game, what's going to happen? It is 17 to 0. I am racing down the field to kick my 18th goal as my child is in tears and in the other end of the field, right? Am I playing the game well, no. you are not playing the game well. You have just sacrificed your real life goal. This is not the way we want to do it. So what is the answer and the answer is there needs to be a certain kind of balance. What kind of balance? It seems to me that this is the balance. We need to do that following –
You have to focus overtly on the game goal while keeping the real life goal out of the corner of your eye. The game is immersive. You have to be concentrating on the game, you have to focus on that real lie goal but the trick is you want to try to achieve whatever game goals you are trying to achieve. While making progress on the life goal along the way, you do not want to shoot for the game goal away, that messes up your ability to achieve the real life goals. You always have to keep the real life goals out of the corner of your eye and this is the paradox because the real life goals are the important goals. That's really what it is about. The problem is I cannot achieve those goals unless I don't overtly focus on them. Unless I actually try to play the game when I have to play the game and in a way that preserves my ability to achieve those real life goals too which gets to one last level of subtlety and the difference between the way real life goals and game goals work. It seems to me there are all sorts of real life goals, all sorts of reasons why I can play a game in real life. I can do it to sharpen my skills, I can do it to spend my time with my kids, I can do it to spend my time with my family, I can do it for all sorts of reasons and there are all sorts of game goals that I can play but there is one which I think, it is really a remarkable thing when you actually think about it, that I think we can say about virtually all game goals and how all game goals differ from life goals and let me take you back to the last slide that I have skipped with you and it is this –
It is the difference between what I call, end versus process. It seems to me that game goals, almost by definition tend to achieve only when you reach them at the end. A game goal isn't end point goals, right? In other words, a game goal is it is about kicking the goal. If I get the goal down in football, I pass the ball and I do other things and it is all very nice but if I don't score at the end, I haven't done anything. The game goals are always achievement goals that are real lies at a particular moment and time completely. I scored a goal, you know whatever it is that the game goal is. On the other hand, the real life goals if you think about all of them, they all seem to have a certain kind of quality to them. Their quality is they tend to get achievable along the way through the process of achieving your real life goals. So for example, let's get back to our real life goals and ask when do they get achieved when you play a game? Let's say I am playing a game to make friends, let's say I am playing a game to spend time with my kid, to sharpen my skills, for enjoyment, exactly when in the game do they get achieved? The answer is all through the game, their processed goal. If I am playing a game right, then as I am playing the game at various points I am making friends with you, it is not like, ah! I met him 03:23 at the game, ah! I made friend with Shirley. It didn't work like that, right? At what minute did you spend time with your kid? It wasn't the point when you spent time with your kid, it is the process of the game you spent time with your kid. Same with sharpening your skills, you gradually sharpen your skills as you play. You get more enjoyment as you play and these are process goals. So typically, if you are thinking about goal that is process goal, more often than not you are thinking about the real life goal. If you are thinking about a goal that's an end point goal, more often than not you are thinking about a game goal, it seems to me.
Okay, let me skip our slide over here again, I apologize for PowerPoint, we usually have beautiful videos but this is live and that's what happen when you are live.
Okay, so that's what we should say about playing a game and now the next question I want to ask you is and this is the reason why I have taken you through this whole journey here and the journey is really about this, getting back to the really large questions. The framework is could life be a game? Could real life be a game? What if we thought of real life as a game? Now, at this point, you should be rebelling, you just say, Fohrman, that's ridiculous. Real life is not a game, your whole point is that real life is not a game. There is a difference between a game world and a real life world. That the game is this circumcised area of real life. So, real life obviously cannot be a game because real life is real life, it is everything, it is not a game. So obviously real life cannot be a game, why you are treating me like I am an idiot or something, why you are telling me real life could be a game? Could real life be a game? Let's go back to our list of definition points. Games have participants, games have objects that you try to achieve. Well, real life have participants, real life has objects that I am trying to achieve, real life has rules on how to achieve it.
So let's look at this last piece over here. In a certain way the most important, the most interesting piece. Games have boarders. Games comprises its own circumscribed world. Is that true about real life? Let's say you believe in a world of souls. Let's say you believe that this world is not all there is, that there is another world, a world from which we came, that we don't know much more about anymore at least, not in this life. A world to which we would go after that, that there is an afterlife and if we believe in that then isn't it true that life is a game? That life actually is a circumscribed reality within a larger reality that operates according to its own rules? Wouldn't it be true then that there are different objects, there are game goals and there are real life goals? The game goals are actually the things you are trying to achieve, the end points that you are trying to achieve but there are also real life goals and by real life goals now, I mean goals that matter once you leave this world. Once you get back into the real world, once you get back to the world of souls. It could be that why are we here? Well, the game maker puts us here, the game maker is God. We get put here for various goals. We don't quite know what those goals are but we know enough to know something about real life goals, about the way the real life goals look like, when you are in the perspective of a game. Whenever you are in a game, what does a real life goal look like? It always look like a process goal, it doesn't look like an end point goal. So we know when we are looking at these end point goals, we have these various end point goals and typically those are going to be game goals but ask ourselves, in the process of doing these might there be real life goals? We don't quite know what they are but we are going to have some sense what they are might be. Let's go back to the real life goals when we play any game. To sharpen our skills, maybe one reason why we are in the game called life, to sharpen our skills. Maybe God wants to get us better in something and another reason why we play games is to make friends, to spend time with friends. Maybe we are in the world to make friends. Maybe we are in the world to create relationships with friends, with those around us, to create relationship with God. Maybe relationships are something that get enhanced by games the same way by the game of life the same way that we play games to enhance our relationships.
So when I am playing the game, what do I focus on? So I have various game goals, so let's say what am I trying to achieve in life? Well, there are a bunch of, I am trying to get married, I am trying to have kids, I am trying to build a nice house by myself, I am trying to be successful in work, I am trying to make a certain amount of money, I am trying to drive carpool every day. So I have various things that I am trying to achieve, those are my game goals. Now my challenge is to make sure that I achieve the game goals in a way that did not sacrifice and promote my real life goals. That's the ticket and it is always tricky because you have to ask yourself what is the game goal and what is the real life goal and it brings to mind the old story, possibly apocryphal story that was told by Rabbi Israel Salanter, founder of the Musar Movement. The story was told about how he was on his way to Kol Nidrei on Yom Kippur night and everyone waiting for him and he is not there and the whole shul is waiting for him to start Kol Nidre but he is still not there. So they sent out search parties and it turns out this half mile away, at some house, turns out that on the way to shul, he heard a crying baby. The parents left the baby asleep and went to get to Kol Nidrei on time, the baby woke up and he was crying. So he is there with the crying baby. What's he doing there with the crying baby? So again, it gets to the definition of goal, the parents who left, why? Well, they had a certain game goal. Their game goal was, get to Kol Nidrei on time, right but the question is what is the real life goal? In another words, from God's perspective, from the game makers perspective is it really about getting to Kol Nidrei on time or is it about what happens on the process of getting to Kol Nidrei, will you get to Kol Nidrei on time while you manage to keep your relationships with those in the world with God and those in the world intact and growing. So he found this baby crying, it was a relationship, I have to focus on that. It is a real life goal, you know, it is messing up. It is the father whose child is crying and he is not paying attention to the real life goal. The real life goals need to be paid attention to also but interestingly, out of the corners of our eye, when were in life, getting back to some of the questions we have asked before, why is Judaism, if Judaism is really a religion about the big things, abut loving God, about fearing God, about all of those big things, so why don't we focus overtly on them, why it is not all about that, why is it all about game goals? The answer is because we are playing the game, the Mitzvot are about all the stuff that you do mundane on life, that's you have to play the game. If you don't have to play the game, you are not playing the game. You cannot just sit in a room and focus on God all day. You got to play the game, that's not real life, isn't is wonderful that we can spend time together, you have to actually play the game in a way that promotes the real life goals and now, let's get back to the question, why would the Torah not talk about the afterlife? Well, why do you think, let's talk about games.
Every game comes with a manual. The Torah is the manual, right? What would you think about the Parker Brothers manual about from monopoly that you started to read the manual and I have told you all the wonderful things about how you should live your life, that's not what the Parker Brothers manual going to do. It is going to focus on what, it is going to focus on how to play the game. It is going to teach you, it is a game manual, it is going to teach you how to play the game. Hopefully the game has been constructed in a way and the rules of the game have been constructed in a way that they promote real life goals at the same time but the overt goals are going to be the game goals. So the Torah is a manual that is there to teach you how to live life, how to live in the game world and merged in the game world in a way that you do not sacrifice your real life goals and you end up promoting your real life goals. Now we are not going to talk about that because a game requires illusion, it requires an illusion of self-sufficiency, you don't want to puncture that illusion, that's the whole point of the game. So the Torah is going to focus on all, the Torah is going to focus on the stuff that you need because it is all about.
So look, we have set aside 2 hours and I am actually going to use them up. So we are 90 minutes in and let me try to bring this together for you, do some text studies with you around this. Mishna Avot actually seems to conceptualize life this way and the very game like kind of way. It is little bit of scarier picture but notice that game like picture of it. Everything is ready for you and all permissions are given. These are the rules. Hu hayah omer: hakol naton be'eravon, everything is given to you but there is always collateral. U'metzudah prusah al kol hachayim. There is a net that spread over all of life. Hachanut petuchah, the stores open, hachenvani makif, the store-keeper is willing to extend credit. Hapenkas petuach, the ledger is open, hayad kotevet, the hand writes, vekol harotzeh lilvot yavo vayilvah. You want to borrow money? You can borrow money but hagavaim machzirim tadir bekol yom, there is always people coming around who are there to collect the debts. Venefrain min haadam medato veshelo medato, that gets collected with your knowledge or without your knowledge. Yesh lehem al mah shismuchu, it is always just, vehadin din emet vehakol metukan lesudah, everything is just and let the feast begin. It is kind of scary but it is that game sort of imagery, a net that spread over all of life, the circumscribed area with its kind of rules.
We get back to our questions and we address these, let me come back to you and kind of finish up with the loss and mourning issues that we started with. What are the implications of loss and mourning and tragedy and suffering? It is interesting that maybe Gods perspective on suffering is little bit different than our own. We are in the game, we have the illusion of the game. There is an interesting thing about children, as children grow and become more adult like, they change but let's talk about children for a moment. When I used to say goodnight stories, bedtime stories to my girls when they were very young. I used to ask them occasionally before telling them a story, do you want a scary story or do you want a not scary story? So invariably the older girls would say the scary story and the younger ones said not scary story. So a question for you is why do you think older kids can handle scary stories better? Probably because when you hear a story you also get immersed in a world and part of really getting into a good book or good story is getting immersed in that world, accept. So then if you are an adult or a mature kid, you are practiced in the art of being able to immerse yourself in a world while understanding that it is not the real world, that there is a larger world outside of that and therefore, I don't get scared so much because I know that the scary stuff is just in the story but the little kids tend to get more scared by scarier stuff and hence they don't like the scary stories. Why – because the little kid is not as practiced at maintaining that delicate balance. The illusion of the game world is complete, the illusion of the story is complete. As I go into that world I lose myself into that world. It is hard for me to remember that there is a real life outside of it and therefore the scary stuff remains real.
Now, back to me. So I would ask my kids this and I would say, so you want a scary story or not a scary story? So invariantly as I have mentioned the younger kids would say, no, not scary story. So it is okay, not scary story. Baby Jane throws a tea party, here is how the story goes, once upon a time, there was this baby whose name was Baby Jane and she invited her friends over for a tea party, the butterflies were faltering, the birds were chirping, it was a beautiful day. Everyone sat around in the backyard, had the tea party and then they all went home, end of story. That wasn't the story! What do you mean that wasn't the story, I have told you a wonderful story, you wanted the scary parts? Remember that one of the things you guys said about games is that games have challenges. Evil right, is one of those challenges. The problem is it is like we are all children in this world. Children have a hard time remembering that the game world is the game world, that there is another real life world outside of that. The game world feels entirely like it is, like it is the only world, when you get immersed in that. And because of that all sorts of the scary stuff is very scary. Now, put yourself in the position of parent. What do you do as a parent when your kids get scared playing a game, what do you do? What do you do in a movie when you get scared? Take it that you are watching Snow White with your kid, what do you do with that?
Let's talk about the game, let's say I am playing monopoly with my kid and my kid is 7 years old and they pick a chance card. By the way isn't it interesting that the called chance. In the real life what is the thing that terrifies us most? One of the things that terrifies us most is being subject to the winds of chance. Here is this deck of cards and you never know what's going to come along or right there in the monopoly game there is this chance file and I pick a card of the chance file. It says the worst of all news you have in the monopoly chance file 'Go to jail'. Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect 200, go directly to jail. My 7 year old kid sees that, reads those words and bursts out crying. I don't want to play the game, this is terrible, wait, help me. You are the father, what do you do? What it is that the kid want you to do and what are you going to do? So this is kind of interesting. What it is that your kid want you to do? It seems to me that your kid want you to change the rules. Now why are you not as traumatized? So if we analyze your emotion as a parent, is that surely complex your emotion going on. The danger itself doesn't scare you, you know it's just a stupid chance card, it's just a game but the tears of your child are real, those are real life tears. In the game, your child is both the game player and child and those tears are real and those tears affect you as a father. Now as a father what are you going to do about those tears? One of the things you can do is you can change the rules of the game, that's what the child wants you to do. You can say, ah, you don't have to stay in the jail, it is just three turns, you only have to be in jail for turn. Let's just go on to the next card. You could do that. That to me, it seems like praying to God for a miracle to get saved from evil and you can do that. Kids can get their way from you, because a parent looks at your tears and your tears matter and occasionally, the parent can change things but there are also more things that parents can do. In an arsenal, that can help a child understand. What else can you do for the child? One thing you can do there for the child is sit next to the child and say look, I know it is hard for you to being in jail, I am going to come and sit right next to you, I am going to be in jail with you. Please in next few turns, we are going to be in jail together. That's one thing you can do to provide comfort and it seems to me that if you look at Psalms, that some of the comforts that Psalms offers is that there was another psalm that was said in my father's funeral. It was Esa einai el heharim. If you have been following news from Israel, it is one of those things that probably you, yourself have said. Let me see if I can find it here, I think I have put it, here we go, I am just calling it up in Hebrew now, if you cannot read Hebrew, just follow along with me. This is a psalm that provides some kind of comfort. Esa einai el heharim, 'look up to the hills', me'ayin yavo ezri, 'and I ask, from where is my help going to come?' I look up at mountains, looking for help. Strange, the word me'ayin in Hebrew from where. Whenever the word me'ayin is projected towards the future from where in the future, the answer, it is always a rhetorical question and the answer is, no. Like for example, when Moshe says, me'ayin li basar,'where am I going to have all the meat for these people?' the answer is no, I am not going to have all the meat. I don't know how to feed all these people. I look up at the mountains, me'ayin yavo ezri, I am not going to find help in the mountains. The mountains cannot help me, there are some comforting things about the mountains but the problem with mountains is that they just don't care about me. A mountain can't provide refuge if I build a fortress there. A mountain can't provide shade, I can't look at a mountain and imagine poetically that it is looking down at me, it is always in there, that I sleep in its shade and get comfort out of its huge bulk and it is there and it is infinite but the problem is that the mountain just doesn't care. It is a mountain. So when it is a closed system, in the game when I look in the game for comfort, esa einai el heharim, when I feel that I am struggling with tragedy and I look up at the mountains because where else I am going to look and I say, from where is my help and the answer is just like with Moshe, the answer is no, I am not going to find any help. I feel closed in, I feel like there is no way I can find help, where is my help going to come from and then the answer comes like a lightning bolt from outside of the game. Ezri me'im Hashem, my help comes from God. Who is God, oseh shamayim va'aretz, the maker of heaven and earth. Why are we calling God the maker of heaven and earth now? When you lift up your eyes towards the mountains, why are you looking at the summits of the mountains? What happens on a summit of a mountain? The summit of a mountain is a place within your gaze where heaven and earth converge. You are looking at the place where heaven and earth come together. What the song is saying is when you look up your eyes to the mountains that's 22 degrees and you see the place where heaven and earth come together and you think that there is no help to be found within the game, keep on looking beyond the game, peel back the scene between heaven and earth, keep your same line of sight 22 degrees but look further out to the maker of heaven and earth, he will help you but how he will help you? He is going to help you just like the mountain. A mountain doesn't care for you, God is the mountain who cares. If you saw a mountain that you thought could help you, you want to rush towards it and climb it, would the mountain help you climb? No! Because it is just a mountain but God is the mountain that will help you climb. Al yiten lamot ragleicha, the mountain, God, will not allow your foot to slip, he will help you climb him and just like a mountain, he really does look out at you, he is your shomer; al yanum shomrecha, just like a mountain, unceasingly looks out towards you but only in our imagination but God unceasingly looks out toward you, lo yanum velo yishan shomer yisrael, he will always look out towards you. Now the mountain guards you but in what kind of way? There are two ways I can guard someone, one way is that I can practically assure them that they will not meet harm. I can actually protect them. That's one way a mountain protects, that's one way anything protects you. But there is another way that you can protect, another way that I can provide guardianship that has nothing to do with protecting you from game evil, there is something else too, sitting next to you in jail. Hashem shomrecha, God is your watcher over, Hashem tzilcha, he is your shadow, he is always there. Look at verse 6, yomam hashemesh lo yakeka, by day the sun will not smite you because you will always be there under the mountain shade. God is like that, he can protect you from the hurtful rage of the mountain. That's providing protection that matters, providing protection from actual evil, you will not be harmed but then there is another kind of protection here too that God can provide. That's the kind of protection which, so okay, you won't be in jail for 2 days, you will be in jail for less. God can help you in that kind of way but God can also help you another way, just by being with you, just by being the mountain in whose shade you rest. Look at the next words, the sun will not strike you by day, veyareyach balailah, nor the moon by night. Well, moonlight is not a big deal. Why do you need shade from moonlight for? The mountain provide shade all the time, even when there is only moonlight, what's the point of that? The shadow of the mountain, of moonlight is just my way of knowing that the shadow is there. It is always there, is not sleeping. Even at night, even when I don't need to be protected. Hashem yishmorcha mikol ra'ah yishmor et nafshecha, God will watch you from all evil, he will watch your soul. It is such a wonderfully ambiguous verse, what does that mean? Which kind of protection? Practical protection from evil? Could be, but there is another possibility also. How does God protect you from evil? How does he yishmorcha mikol ra'ah? He protects you by yishmor et nafshecha, he always guard your soul. Remember there is a double identity when you are playing the game. Who are you? You are real life you and you are also the little token in the game. When you die what happens? You leave the little token behind and real you goes back into real life. That's your soul. Nothing can harm your soul, I got your soul. Hashem yishmorcha mikol ra'ah, I am going to save you from evil. Evil, you leave behind. I will take your soul with me, I can take care of you, I am with you. Hashem yishmor tzetcha uvo'echa, I will be there, always watching over. When you are coming, you are always coming home to God.
He is there eternally like the mountain. It seems to me that this song is giving you a game and out of game like picture of how the parent can protect you by being there. Two kinds of guardianship.
I want to close for our final minutes here. How many minutes do we have left?
Okay, so for final minutes here I want to close by taking you into another psalm, one more psalm, the most famous Psalm, Psalm 23. I think that it is really, really mind blowing. I want to suggest you a radical new reading of Psalm 23. Let me see if I can get into it with you. By the way, before I do, let me just make a remark here about death which I brought up also and come back to that issues of comfort. Hamakom yinachem etchem b'toch sh'ar aveilei Tzion v'yerushalayim, let me put that back on the screen for you.
We are going to talk about these two words, hamakom and yinachem. Change in perspective, imagine this word here, yinachem, can mean not just comfort but also change in perspective. Is there a change in perspective that could offer comfort and what might that be and when does that comfort get provided? I wonder if one of the meaning is hamakom. Why is that we call God hamakom, the place? So Chazal pithfully saying and I have mentioned this in one or two of our videos, I think. That the word hamakom for God is based upon the phrase, mifnei shehu mekomo shel olam, ve'ein ha'olam mekomo, 'God is the place of the world', ve'ein ha'olam mekomo, 'and the world is not his place'. It is a little bit of mindbender of think of it one more time. God is the place of the world and the world is not his place. God is not in the world, he is out of the world. Where is he – he is the setting for the world. He is the place of the world. What a beautiful way of talking about the game. Isn't that what Chazal is telling us? Life is a game, it is a circumcised world, that works according to its own rules, with its own objects but exists in something. When you go out from that world or before that world, where are you – you are in God. God is the place, he is the setting for it all. I wonder and this is a bit radical but I wonder, I read an article recently in the New York Times, that suggest that a human being, you think that you are a human, 99.9% of the cells inside you are not human. Yes, that is actually true, they are bacteria, foreign bacteria. You are a colony for foreign bacteria, most of you is not you. So that's ridiculous. This is me, I can feel me, no. Most of you is not you. They are nice bacteria, your body likes them but it is not you. We say that men is created in the image of God, I wonder if that's what God, God too, right? God is the place, he is the place for all of us, for everything. Most of God is not God, it is us. He is the most benevolent host for all of us. We come out of light, we go back to God. We go back to God and when we do, we get comfort. What do we see, we see something else. The problem with evil is evil is very scary but it is just game evil, it is just the challenge in the game. There is more to life than that. As you get out of the game and you look back, you leave all of that behind. The evil cannot follow you and when you leave that behind, you also have a new perspective. In the game, the illusion of the game constricts your perspective. As you are out of the game, you come back and you are in the real life, you get perspective on the game and perspective is everything. That's nachamah; nachamah is change of perspective. You achieve a change in perspective when you go back to the place. When do you go back to hamakom, the place. When do you go back to hamakom? After death. It is not now. After death and you say, why, how could that have happened, what was it all about and you meet the game maker and at that point the game maker can show you what the change in perspective because you are not in the game. Yeah this is what it is all about, that's the comfort. You can't really achieve that comfort in this world. All you can do is play the game and in the game, all you could say is, what do I do with this tragedy? You can't ask why. When you are outside of the game there is time for comfort. One other piece of comfort I want to leave you with, one other way of looking at comfort within this. Again, I think Psalm 23 is the notion, getting back to this notion that there is a dual identity in every game player. I am real life me and I am also the little token in the game. When I leave the game, I leave behind the token, I leave my body and I take my real life with me but what else do I leave in the game? I leave evil behind. A;; of those challenges, all of those hardships, all of the stuffs that were there to make the game challenging that seemed so frightening when I was in the movie theatre because it was so hard to realize that that was just a circumcised reality. I was like a 6 years old in the movie theatre and it was really scary. All of that I leave behind, it can pursue me beyond the game. Then I believe what Psalm 23 is about.
Let me take you to Psalm 23 now. By the way, just before I do, one little parenthetical piece because if I don't give it to you now, I don't know if I will be able to get back to you which is, have you ever been to a movie theater and the fear of death thing. You know why it strikes me that we have such fear of death? It has to be that way. What if life got frustrating and there is no fear of death and you realized that it was just a game? You will do whatever you feel like in a game. If you are 6 years old and you don't like how the monopoly game is going, you throw out the board and say I am not playing and you get out of the game. Fear of death is what keeps you in the game. Whenever any monopoly marker gets too close to the edge, to the little homing bacon that you are too close to the edge, go back. Death is not a good thing for us to get involved in life, it is shattering. What is so scary about death? When good friends die, it is scary, why? You know what it is like? It is like you are in a movie theater. When you are in a movie theater, you know when you are watching a really good movie, you are getting to the climax, you are really immersed in it and all of a sudden, some guy in the front row gets up and decides he is going to leave through the emergency exit and the bright light comes in the movie theatre and you say why the heck did he do that? You ruined my illusion. There is an illusion, the illusion is this is all there is and somehow death shatters that illusion. We always see people die and we see them leave the theatre. It makes us nervous, it makes us scared.
Psalm 23, I will put it up on the screen and I will let you go and wish you a good end of the fast. I hope I have provided you a little bit of diversion from you, from the rumblings in your tummy.
Biblical Words of ComfortHere is Psalm 23 – read it with me for a moment, you may know the words by heart and I will try to get it for you in the screen here.
Mizmor le'David, Hashem ro'i lo echsar. What is it all about? The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want'. There is a funny thing about this Psalm. Look at all the verbs. Who is the actor in all the verbs? Look carefully, go through the verbs.
You will find that the Psalmist, the person in the Psalm is almost completely passive. Everything that is happening has been done to him by God. He is almost entirely passive. There is only one active verb, there is only one thing that he does actively in the whole Psalm. It comes in verse 4, gam ki elech, that's the one active verb. 'Even as I walk', be'gei tzalmavet, 'in the valley of death shadow'. It is the only thing that you are doing in the Psalm. You are walking in the valley of the death shadow. Everything else God is doing.
I want to suggest that most of us fall victim to a fundamental misunderstanding of this Psalm. We think that this Psalm is a vague comfort that yes, when evil threatens us God is going to be there, it is all wonderful, it is all going to be good but that's not what this Psalm is about. This Psalm is not about getting saved from death, this Psalm is about dying and that's why it is read at funerals.
It is about the process of dying. It is about walking in the valley of death shadow. That's the process of dying, making the transition from game back to the real life. It is giving you a vivid picture of what that process of transition is actually like. By the way and I can't get into this now but if you read the literature on near death experiences and collaborate it with this Psalm, it's pretty ere. You can go to the neurosurgeons book, proof of heaven if you want. I forgot what his name is. Look it up on Amazon, compare that with this stuff, compare it with the Psalm, I will let your imagination do the rest but let me in your remaining minutes take you through this Psalm and why I believe that's true.
It is not just gam ki elech be'gei tzalmavet, look at the verb, look at the very first verb. Hashem ro'i, let me read out it to you, 'God is my shepherd'. Who is a shepherd? A shepherd is someone who led sheep. What's the difference between sheep and shepherd? The difference between sheep and shepherd is that a shepherd is qualitatively on a different level of intelligence and understanding than sheep.
Sheep have no understanding but they trust the shepherd, they been led to a path by the shepherd. God is our shepherd, he is leading us somewhere and we do not know where we are going and we are afraid but at that moment, the moment of death ironically, lo echsar, I shall not want, I shall not be missing everything. Isn't that strange? Death is the moment that you miss everything, everything is gone in death but somehow the experience is the experience of missing nothing, needing nothing. Why? Binot deshe yarbitzeni, these words I believe are mistranslated. The way it is always translated as you see here in the 1917, JPS, it is binot deshe yarbitzeni, 'He maketh me lie down by green pastures', that's not what the words mean. Yarbitzeni doesn't mean 'Maketh me lie down', in Hebrew it is not yashkiveni, yarbitzeni from the word rovetz means to collapse, to crouch. 'He collapses me in green pastures'. He collapses me in green pastures, when you collapse that's the moment of death, it is the moment when your body doesn't support you anymore. God is the one who is taking my soul from me. Al mei menuchot yenahaleini, 'He is not going to leave me by these rivers' but what's going to happen? Nafshi yeshovev, 'He is going to return my soul to me' and now, yancheini, 'He will lead me again', now interestingly, verse 3 talks about God leading me and verse 2 talked about God leading me. First in the beginning of the transition God was leading me along terrestrial past. Where was I – I was in green pastures. I was by still waters, all of a sudden after God returns my soul to me. After I leave the game piece behind, I pick up and I take my marbles home and I take me home and so at that moment and I leave everything behind, all the monopoly money and all that. The reason why I won't work in the next world is not because it is different currency, I am leaving it all behind, all the game and I am just taking my real life and I am getting my soul back, it is the real me and now, I am being led on different paths. No longer green pastures, no longer terrestrial paths, bemagalei tzedek, paths of righteousness, ethereal paths. Paths in the next world where there is no physicality anymore, there is no space and time. Gam ki elech be'gei tzalmavet, 'Even as I make that transition', even as I, the only thing I am doing is I am walking, walking through this valley of death shadow. Leaving the game behind and going back into real life, even as I do that lo ira ra. 'I will not fear'. We all fear death. This Psalm is the bomb for fear of death. Fear of death has to be part of real life because if it wasn't part of life, no one would ever stick around. Fear of death is that what keeps you in the game when it gets frustrating. God knows that it has to be there and therefore unfortunately as you die, you are going to be scared. Yes, it is just got to be that way. You have to realize that, now not get too scared, just realize that's the way the game has to work. So God says look, what I am going to do is help you because I am going to be your dad in the movie theatre, I will be the father who sits next with you in jail. You scared, you are calling out me, you don't want to die, I know you don't want to die, I know that you don't want these things to happen, you are in the game and it is the worst thing that could happen to be out of the game. I get it but it is time for you to get out of the game. So you know what I am going to do? I am not going to bend the rules, I am not going to say you are going to live forever, not going to do all that. I am going to sit next to you, I am going to be with you, I am going to accompany you. Lo ira ra ki ata imadi, 'I will not fear because of you are with me'. It is the only thing that matters, you are not saving me but you are with me. In death what is the greatest chesid that we can provide? You know what we call funeral, we call it a levaya. Know what levaya means? It means accompaniment, the greatest chesed you can provide is to accompany the dead. It is such a scary journey, it is journey to the unknown, a journey where the shepherd leads the sheep and you don't know where you are going. God says don't fear, don't be scared, I am right next to you. I am going to come and sit next to you in jail, it is going to be okay, I know it is scary, I am going to lead you through. Shivtecha u'mishantecha. Your rod and your staff. Hema yenachamuni. Isn't that an interesting phrase? Yenachamuni, that's the word, comfort. I will find comfort or change in perspective while holding on to your stuff and make this transition. All of a sudden my perspective changes, I see things differently. I am going out of the world as I lean on your stuff making this journey. All of a sudden my perspective changes, I see things from a real life point of view and I find comfort.
My father when he was struggling with his illness, once told me that you know, the people always think the mourners has it hard because the mourner is losing his friends. What about the person who is dying? He is losing everyone. The person who is dying is the one who really needs comfort. So God will be there to change your perspective, to provide that comfort and finally, the phrase that I want to take you to and with this I will close.
How many minutes do we have left?
Ta'aroch lefanai shulchan neged tzorerai. 'God will set up my table before my enemies'. Will set up a table for me before my enemies, what a strange thing! I don't want that. God, these are my enemies, vanquish my enemies, get rid of my enemies, I don't want to table set, I don't want to feasting before my enemies. You know what's going on here? God is not vanquishing your enemies, your enemies don't need to be vanquished. You are leaving evil behind. You are leaving evil behind, your enemy is there back in the world, they are just game evil, they are just stuck there. You are going to look through the glass, you are going to see them and they are irrelevant to you. You are just going to feast, you are going to have this feast. You are going to sit down for a meal with God, you will be together and there are your enemies, 'Hi, enemies! I don't care you, you are behind the glass, you cannot bother me now. You are just irrelevant, I am leaving you behind' and the comfort is they are game evil. They doesn't follow you when you leave the world. You leave it all behind and when you leave it all behind, what's left? The only thing that's left is dishanta vashemen roshi, a feeling of specialness. You will anoint my head with oil. When you anoint someone you say, you are special, you stand out from all of them and in the process of death we have that feeling that we are the only that counts. It is just us and God. Cosi revayah, you have a feeling of your soul, fleeing over. Ach tov va'chesed yirdifuni, I have been chased alright but I am not being chased by my enemies. As I leave challenges and my enemies behind, the only thing left is goodness. Goodness runs after me. All the days of my life, which life? The real life, ve'shavti be'veit Hashem lorech yamim, 'I will sit there in the house of God' in hamakom, in the place of God', lorech yamim, 'For all of my life, forever'.
Folks, I am going to tell you, this has been a thrill. I enjoyed interacting you as much as we could over here. Next time, we will bring in sound, the pause and all sorts of fun. I want to invite you back next month and join us for another of these webinars. It is great for me, I really enjoyed and one of the things I loved about it is the chance, you know in the videos, it is all very choreographed and this is a chance to really talk with you and in a un-choreographed way and just kind of relate with you and I would love to get your feedback, you can email us at email@example.com. I will get all of those emails. Feedback on the webinar, thoughts on the webinar, do you like, do you have suggestions, please give those to us. I want to really, really thank you for joining us and hope to see you back next month.
Thank you very much.
Oh, one last thing, there is going to be a recording available. So if you have missed this or you have friends who want to listen to it, we will record this and we are going to get this as soon as possible. We are not going to do it immediately because we actually have to process it, record it, put it out but it's going to be there real soon. So stick around with us. We will email you the link so that you are able to get this recording. You can share it with your friends and thank you very, very much. It has been a thrill. I wish you a good rest of the fast. I hope it has been meaningful to you and thanks for participating.