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Do the dead outnumber the living?

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil

As of August 2016, the world population was estimated at 7.4 billion. The United Nations estimates it will further increase to 11.2 billion in the year 2100.

A student recently approached me and told me that, “there are more people alive today than ever have lived!”

I was startled at this statement. Could it be true that currently in the world there are more people living on earth now then have ever died since the beginning of creation?

It is true that if you delve back into the mists of time, the population of Earth was tiny in comparison to today and logically it might seem plausible that the living outnumber the dead.

But after researching the matter I saw there were many professors that have since denied this “fact”. Wendy Balwin of the Population Reference Bureau in Washington estimated that in the history of mankind there has been 107 billion people. This implies that alive today, we are only 6.55% of the world’s historic population.

Whatever the statistic, historically, we live in the most populated world. That means more people, but also more opportunity.

Globalisation has led to the demise of borders and international interaction of people. There has never been a more opportune time.

We are blessed with clean water, spoilt for choice with food, high living standards that our grandparents only dreamed of and higher life expectancy rates.

Yet we are challenged.

Have you ever been under so much pressure you can’t keep up? Just when you arrive home after a long day, placing your bag down at the entrance, you hear a Bing. It’s another email from work.

We have had Generations X Y and Z, but this one is the busiest!

This generation is so busy making a living we hardly have time to live!

Life – that is the key word of Yom Kippur.

Zochrenu Lechayim – remember us for life, King who loves life; write us into the book of life, for Your sake, G-d of life.

The entire prayer of Yom Kippur focuses on our beseeching G-d for forgiveness and asking for life.

Little do we know that the answer for life lies squarely in our own court!

It is our choice!

The Rambam famously explains what the message of shofar is.

It’s an alarm bell ringing screaming at us to stop and open our eyes. Is this really the way to spend life –traveling so fast you have no time to enjoy view?

Life is G-d’s greatest gift. He grants it to all of us on equal terms – no matter how rich or poor we are, there are still only 24 hours a day seven days a week – and a span of years of life.

The question is how did we spend the last year how are we going to improve?

Many times we mistake the means for the end – focusing on how not why.

The car industry has really improved over the years producing four wheel drive MPV’s that can travel the north pole and Sahara desert. Going from 0 to 100 mph in seconds.

150 years ago there were no cars; rather there were plenty of horses and carriages. The average speed of traffic in central London was 10 miles an hour.

Today the average speed in central London in the day is? 8.98mph!

We have gotten carried away with the ‘how’ and left the ‘why’ behind.

Life in Judaism means the ability to reflect, recognise your strengths and build a meaningful future.

For us life has a purpose. Our magnificent bodies have been imbued with a spiritual soul from the highest of realms. A person is defined by their soul. It is the soul that oozes emotion and spiritual connection with G-d and it is for that soul that we require life.

Imagine being offered a magical suggestion. You are told that if you agree then simply lie on the grass outside your home for your entire life. All your needs will be provided for – food, clothing, etc. You will never have to work again. Sound good? Or would you perhaps intelligently say, “Thanks but no thanks”.

Why? Is this not the ultimate in luxury – the worry-free life the world has been dreaming of?

The answer is, Yes it is for a cow!

There can be no better life for a cow, let her lie every day in the pasture and chew the best straw. A person who is emotionally healthy cannot simply lie in pasture all day. Not all “life” is considered by man as a true “life”. A person possessed of his full intellect and emotions understands full well that life which is just centred around food and a place to live is not a real life.

In Hebrew the word for life is Chayim. The centre of this word is two Yuds.

G-ds written Name begins with a Yud, and G-ds pronounced name (A-don-ai) ends with a Yud.

At the centre of our lives must be G-d.

He is our Creator; He is with us from birth to death and beyond.

Whilst we will desist at one stage in this world, He Was Is and Always Will Be.

It is to Him that we answer too on the day of reckoning.

The two letters on the outside of the word Chayim are Chet and Mem – spelling Cham – warmth. Backwards they spell Moach – brain – centre of our intelligence

If we are able to implant G-d in the middle of our lives, to make him warmly part of our actions then we have achieved life.

This Yom Kippur Choose life! Don’t let the dead outnumber the living.

Take a stop out of your busy schedule, ask yourself where you are heading in LIFE.

Remember that life is full of opportunities and Yom Kippur is one of them.

Today is the day we are granted the biggest blessing itself – a clean sheet and the ability to create our own lives.

You are living in the most opportune generation, don’t get carried away busying yourself, rather concentrate on yourself and build your bright future.

May we all be written in the book of LIFE, fulfilling our potential in this world.

Tizku Leshanim Rabot Tovot Veneimot – Gemar Vechatima Tova

 

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