This coming Sunday, April 12, is Easter. Our Christian friends celebrate the resurrection of their Lord and Savior, who had been crucified on the cross, who had been dead, and who was resurrected. “He is risen” are very important words in the Christian faith. Andy Stanley, the pastor at North Point Church in Atlanta, speaks passionately about how the physical resurrection of their Lord and Savior is a foundational tenet in Christianity.
What do Jewish sources have to say about resurrection? It seems implausible that somebody who was dead could get resurrected.
Perhaps surprisingly, not only do foundational Jewish sources accept the physical resurrection of the dead. Our sources democratize resurrection. It is not only one man who gets resurrected. All of us get resurrected. This is not some minor side doctrine. To the contrary, resurrection of the dead is absolutely front and center in Judaism’s most important prayer. The second paragraph of the Amidah, known as gevurot, because it extolls God’s strength, affirms five times in one paragraph that God resurrects the dead, mechayei hameitim. We daven the Amidah three times a day on week days, a fourth time on Shabbat with Musaf, the additional service. In other words, 110 times a week, in the daily and Shabbat Amidot, we affirm that God resurrects the dead.
We say it, over and over and over again. But do we mean it? Do we believe it? And if not, why are we saying it?
Mordecai Kaplan, the great teacher at the Jewish Theological Seminary, who would go on to become the founder of the Reconstructionist Movement, taught that when we pray, we should say what we mean, and mean what we say.
On Shabbat, Michelle, Aliza, Elias, Dan and I will be in a conversation about resurrection of the dead. Do we mean it when we say it?
Wishing all of you a happy and healthy Pesach, and look forward to being with you virtually on Shabbat morning at 8:30.
Chag kasher v’sameakh,