A Lesson From the Dead: Trust the Unknown

This is what your spirits are telling your about putting faith in what you don't see.

February 8, 2017
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Adapted from What the Dead Have Taught Me About Living Well

My brother Baruch is a perfect example of someone who surrendered his resistance to live a life that was "meant to be."


He'd reached the peak of his career as a synagogue rabbi, leading one of the most innovative and flourishing synagogues in the country. He was also compensated well for his work, earning more money than most of his colleagues and doing well by most anyone's standards. He and his family lived in a beautiful home in New England, and he'd become a pillar of his community.

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Baruch woke up one morning with the title of one of Rabbi Harold Kushner's bestselling books—When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough—ringing in his ears. Baruch thought, "I have everything I thought I wanted, but it's not enough. I love my wife. I love my kids. I love my friends and community. But I no longer love my job." Baruch realized that he now had a big decision before him. He'd just been asked to renew his contract with the synagogue—and it was a good one, which would likely ensure his professional, financial, and personal security and comfort for the rest of his life.

More: A Lesson From the Dead: Relationship Success

He said to me at the time, "My head has given me a thousand reasons why I must sign that contract, stay put, and make this work. But," he confided, "I no longer feel called, and I feel trapped."

So what did he do? He surrendered his resistance and listened to his heart—and it told him to move to the place that did call him: Israel. Yet, there was a small problem with this plan. It was 2014 and Israel was in the midst of war. Tourism was altogether absent, and the FAA had shut down most flights to Israel. It wasn't a good time to move to this particular country.


Just as Baruch was about to give up on his dream and renew his contract with the synagogue, out of the blue, he was invited by a friend on a solidarity trip to visit wounded civilians and soldiers near the Gaza Strip. He said that even with family and friends begging him not to go on this dangerous mission, it was the first time in years he felt truly guided. He recounted later, "I never felt more alive, more secure, and more at home. Literally, as missiles were being shot down overhead and after having been evacuated to a bomb shelter, I knew then and there that this was where me, my wife, and my children were meant to be. It wasn't rational. It wasn't even sane. But it felt like this was the direction my life was meant to go."

More: A Lesson From the Dead: Practicing Forgiveness

Within the year, Baruch moved his family from New England to Israel, where he currently works full time as a grief counselor. I speak with him often, and while he admits that living in a foreign country is not easy or always comfortable, he has found relief away from a lifestyle that no longer "fit" and where now his days feel like they divinely flow.