In today's Best of Episode, we feature Steve Leder. Steve is a husband, father, and the Senior Rabbi of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. He’s also a respected scholar and religious commentator and the author of several bestselling books, including The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things and More Beautiful Than Before; How Suffering Transforms Us. His latest book, The Beauty of What Remains; How Our Greatest Fears Become Our Greatest Gifts, shows us how our fear of death can help us define what’s truly meaningful and bring more gratitude, value, and purpose to our lives.
In this episode, you’ll hear from Rabbi Leder on:
(00:15:10) The joy of hugs. As enthusiastic huggers, we talk about the power of human touch and its ability to connect and console people in a way that words can’t. Also, Rabbi Leder explains how hugs help us demonstrate trust, express empathy, and affirm each other’s humanity.
(00:31:18) Death as a teacher. Despite Rabbi Leder’s long experience of dealing with the dying and their grieving relatives, he admits that only the experience of looking at his own father’s body made him finally realize that he, too, was going to die. As a mourner rather than a rabbi, he reveals how his experience of bereavement changed his life for the better and helped make him a better husband, father, and human being.
(00:38:57) The transmigration of the soul. Rabbi Leder shares his stories of witnessing the sense of peace that comes over the dying as the energy of the soul leaves the body and is transformed into an unknown but continuing force.
(00:53:01) The indefinable nature of God. We discuss the meaning of God’s ‘ I Will Be Who I Will Be’ statement to Moses, and Rabbi Leder points out that the phrase is deliberately vague since the true nature of divinity and cosmic justice is just too powerful and complex for human beings to understand.
(01:04:38) Gratitude. Rabbi Leder encourages us to count our blessings and keep going until we reach a hundred! In particular, he reminds us to be grateful for even the smallest of things and celebrate all the abundance and beauty in our lives.