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Enjoy the small moments to live a more meaningful life

It can be easy to detach ourselves from the world around us, but stay attached. Seek connection: small moments, kind words, a helping hand. And hum your favourite tunes to inspire and uplift your soul.

Do you have any favourite songs for difficult times—songs that calm you’re when your stressed or uplift you when you’re sad? Perhaps you have a tune that you hum when you’re trying to figure out what you’re doing or why you’re here. You may not remember the lyrics but the tunes sooth your mind and soul. Perhaps, like Jewish nigunim (melodies), you sing your song with sounds that are beyond language, just syllables to carry your emotions away from whatever is troubling you into happier thoughts and feelings. Some of my favourite songs don’t have words, while others offer profound messages of hope and purpose.

One such song is Neshomele by Abie Rotenberg, a Jewish musician, composer, and entertainer from Toronto. It is the story of a pure soul (Neshomele) that is summoned to be the spark and soul of a child who is waiting to be born. Neshomele is afraid to go into the physical world because there is pain and evil there. An angel shows Neshomele that there is good in the world, too. With the hope of being able to bring good to the world, Neshomele enters the newborn child. The angel’s final task is to tap the child on the lip so that the Neshomele forgets everything it knows. After a moving musical interlude that represents a lifetime, the angel comes to take Neshomele home, back to heaven, but Neshomele is afraid to go. The angel assures Neshomele that they are going home to heaven, and that Neshomele has earned a place by the throne.

So, why is Neshomele one of my favourite songs? Because it speaks of life before life and life after life: the life of the soul.

When I was in my early teens, I felt that I was a spiritual being living a physical existence. Nothing that has happened in my life since then has changed that belief. I still sometimes wonder what I am doing here. Jewish tradition holds that a soul may come into this world and live for a lifetime just to do a favour for someone else. Since we don’t know exactly for whom we are supposed to do a favour, we can see every favour we do for another person as the reason our soul came to this world.

This world we live in is temporary; our time here is finite. Every day when we wake up, we have something that we’re supposed to do that only we can do. No one else can do it for us. When we help someone else, we experience one of the key reasons we are here on this physical plane. Even in this technically connected yet physically disconnected world, we can share good news stories, words of encouragement, congratulations for accomplishments, and heartfelt consolations when sad times occur.

It can be tempting to detach ourselves from the world around us. However, if we approach life with the idea that we are spiritual beings living a physical existence, then there is no need to detach. We were detached before we came here, and we will be detached when we pass on to the World to Come.

So, stay attached. Seek connection: small moments, kind words, a helping hand. And hum your favourite tunes to inspire and uplift your soul.

Today, May 27, is the second day of Shavuot, the festival that commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people. But this isn’t something we celebrate as history; we celebrate it as memory. Our souls were all there at Mt. Sinai—proof of life before life.

Fiona Prince, MA is a coach and teacher who provides fundamental communication and writing skills through her own company and through Royal Roads Professional & Continuing Studies. Fiona acknowledges that her home and office are located on the traditional territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ and Lkwungen-speaking peoples, on whose traditional territories, she is thankful to live, learn, play, and do her work.  She worships at the Chabad Family Shul in Victoria where she volunteers teaching children and adults how to read Hebrew.

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* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, March 27th 2023