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tv   Mosaic  CBS  November 20, 2016 5:00am-5:31am PST

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> good morning and welcome to mosaic. i'm honored to be your host this morning. this morning, we're going to have a wonderful conversation with rabbi susan who is a senior rabbi about the notions in [inaudible] and health. welcome >> thank you reporter: let's start our
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conversation. from your perspective, how does jewish life theology look at the body? >> what a great question and something that's with us every day, no doubt. it essentially says that our body is a gift from god and it's on loan to us. so perhaps we are tenants just like a landlord- tenant relationship and this is our sanctuary. we need to take care of it. we need to do all of the preventive measures just as we would with taking care of a home. that includes everything from preventative health to addressing illness to mental wellbeing. that's all included in the commandments and obligations to god in taking care of our sanctuary if we want to think of it that way. >> it's interesting because it
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reminds me that with that relationship of a devine relationship. something question think we have ownership of actually is on loan from god, some might say from the universe. >> a greater power, yes. there's a differential in the relationship and that divinity or that sense of that this is a gift also should inspire gratitude which would be the basis for the blessings that form our core response to life. >> so in this notion from the jewish perspective that we put body, mind, spirit, as a complete whole, we don't parse them out. we have them as a complete whole. it reminds me of the text that we have that says when you go to a new place that you do three things. first off, you find a teacher, which i think is set
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up an education system. you establish a burial society that i think then implies that you set up all of the structures for how you take care of someone when they die and bury them. and then you also find a doctor, which i think implies that you need to understand what we would call health care is all about. it's sort of that basic drive that we are told from our text life that we are told to do so i think those three embody what we say as mind, body and spirit as a holistic thing. >> i'm thinking of the words of the great medieval sage who talk about this commandment, guarding or keeping the body.
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so when we name something, make a category for it, it commands our attention so he was trying to command our attention to say this is something that needs your full attention. you know, all the time, every day. its not something that just when something crops up that is an illness or something that we must address but something we need to look at in the fabric of or life. >> so with that kind of a foundation, when we come to illness and sort of, let's say the rubber hits the road sort of speak, it seems that there are so many advances in, in disease and health management that really put a lot of these sort of notions into action, so using breast cancer an an example because -- as an example because breast cancer has had so many advances in terms of treatment, in terms of preventive treatment, in terms of genetic markers. how do you see some of the ways
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in which that particular disease, process and experience applies to these notions? >> i think it's an excellent example because it highlights this idea of there being a trajectory. when someone is undergoing a diagnostic procedure, they know that there can be so many different answers than there would have been decades ago. treatment looks different. symptoms look different and what one can go through emotionally and physically, and mentally through treatment also looks different. you know, so in terms of counseling people and the people i speak with in my congregation and the broader community, there's a wider swath of experience i would say in dealing with all of these different segments from diagnosis to treatment, et cetera. >> wonderful. we're going to come back
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and continue this conversation in just a moment. (upbeat music) - [voiceover] you are san francisco. we've been with you from the beginning. we've seen each other through good times and bad. sickness and health. we're with you san francisco, and you bring out the best in us. care. zuckerberg san francisco general hospital and trauma center.
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u'll. >> textual. welcome back to mosaic. we're in the middle of a wonderful conversation with rabbi susan. we're in the middle of this conversation about judaism and illness and the body and how we approach those issues in your life using breast cancer as an example. from your perspective, what are some of the ways in which breast cancer as an example present some of the nooned ways that we
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approach health. >> we've been talking about this and breast cancer doesn't effect just wyoming women and men can be diagnosed together and -- women, women and men can be diagnosed together. before we would even be ill or have the prospect of what that could look like in our lives, we have the option, some of us to have that information without all of the answers but with some knowledge that we may be genetically predisposed to breast cancer and that is giving us knowledge that we didn't have decades ago. >> yes, and i believe that medicine now can, can [inaudible] a man can be a carrier of the gene and pass that on to his offspring. what's your experience as a
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rabbi that that capacity has on the way people choose to know or not know and then from there, make other decisions? what's your experience with that? >> its an interesting question. it goes back to what we were talking about earlier can with this obligation toward the divine or toward higher power god to take care of our bodies. the question is to what end. so do we have an obligation to find out what, how our bodies could potentially be suffering in the future and judaism doesn't weigh in on that in my experience and my interpretation of the text is that if one should choose to get genetic testing, that would certainly be in line with taking care of our bodies. also, one would say i'm not going to opt for that, i'm going to take care of my body now with the information and knowledge that i have, that is also a choice that i believe judaism would validate as well. >> and so what are some of the
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nuances in that from your perspective? it's a big question i know we don't have a specific answer but when people, however they language it, essentially said what does god want me to do or what's the commandment, what's the devine expectation here, -- divine expectation here, how do we discuss that? >> when i'm having these discussions with people, i will ask them, if you had this information, what, to the best of your knowledge, once you have this information, what would you want to do with that both emotionally, spiritually. they don't have to have the answers, i just want to see where it takes them and that is not a dissimilar approach to how i would counsel and work with people in other areas of their life. do we know if we're going have the same job three years from now.
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do we know where our children are going to be going to school? do we know any number of different factors that we would have about our lives if we had that crystal ball. what i try to do with people is help guide them to where their inner response would be versus saying in is the way to go. >> it reminds me that, again, without a specific answer across the board, that so much of the experience of breast cancer and any other illness where there's advances medically that impacts the theological perspective that so much relies on a leap of faith, and so much relies on maybe not knowing in fact, not knowing the meaning or purpose of something but rather the ultimate leap of faith itself, and then how do you live in leap of faith and how do you understand landing and how do you
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understand, you know, what maybe psychology calls a risk but theology has a different perspective on? >> i would also say that living in the present is also a leap of faith, right, so even for people who choose not to have that advanced information, that is also a leap of faith, right. >> yes, all of it, all together. >> so not making a choice is also making a choice. >> yes. >> both spiritually and medically and for what, how you want to live your life now day-to-day. >> so let's take a break and we can come back to this conversation about leaps of faith and living day-to-day as we continue our conversation. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
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swer. >> nuance. >> nuance. good morning and welcome back to mosaic. we're in a conversation can about judaism and health and we've been talking about breast cancer as an example. we were talking before the break about this notion of taking leaps of faith and how ultimately, if you make a decision about treatment or you make a decision about knowing a genetic marker, that's ultimately a leap of faith. you know, it reminded me from a jewish perspective that we talk about the exodus at pass over and a key part of the pass over telling the story of the exodus is that if you have a child that says why in the world do we do this, the answer is we do this because i was a slave in egypt and god took me out of slavery with
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an out stretched arm into freedom and so it kind of occurs to me that if you really do retroject yourself backward in time and really do imagine yourself a child of israel in that time, the truth is, you didn't know the end of the story. we have the story and we tell it and every theology tells its stories so that value system into the soul of the person so christianity might say what would jesus do and we have an example of modern day plagues and all off these things that are part of the story, but if you were a child of israel in that time, you actually didn't know the end of your own story and it seems to me that a core part of all, i would say jewish life and theology life and spiritual life, the core of all of that is nobody ever knows the end of
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their own story, so the core of, i would say identity of development, really is the leap of faith which in some ways i think is counter cultural because it's not necessarily making meaning and it's not necessarily having purpose because if you take a leap of faith, you may or may not know what a meaning is. somehow you just say yes. so if you were a child of israel you said yes to moses or to god but i'm just thinking, how does that -- i think there's something about that in people when people think what should i do with a disease process, what should i do about knowing or not knowing. >> we could gain so much by remembering how closely we're linked to our ancestors and this idea that we often feel isolated in thinking we should know or someone else knows but if we remind ourselves as you said through narratives like the exodus or
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looking to the matriarchs of our tradition, there's so many times in their lives they didn't know and they still made some choices or found a way to move forward. thinking about this is people are making decisions about whether to go into hospice or not or what type of treatment or approach for alzheimer's or so many of these other micro steps we have to make along the way of a journey of an illness. what i keep going back to is that core of what's inside. and the jewish tradition talks about that that we have this sense inside guided by people we love and guided by people we respect but ultimately, a lot of those leaps of faith are inside, right,
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thinking if i look inside i'm going to find the next step. will i know the outcome, no, not necessarily but that's where community comes in to support. >> do you think that ultimately, ultimately is a big word to use, but understanding divine guidance, understanding what to do with one's body that's on loan from god, that's where we come to a metaphoral way of hearing got's voice do you feel like it's inside or outside. >> i do. i'm not saying we're only relying on what's internal but in the face of -- if you think about abraham leaving his home and going to this place he didn't know, taking a leap of faith. i have to believe that he looked deep inside of him to find that spark to
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make that leap of faith. i think in grappling with illness, in terms of our body that keeping awareness is paramount. >> interesting. we're going to take another quick break and continue our conversation in just a moment.
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metaphorical. good morning and welcome back to mosaic. we're in the middle of a conversation about judaism and health. we have been talking so much about faith and how that impacts the experience but in jewish life, we know that part of our jewish diversity
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and in fact, theologically we know that many of us don't believe in god and that is say [inaudible] stance to have. what about folks who say i'm jewish but i don't believe in god, i'm agnostic or don't believe in god. >> i would say tell me about the god you don't believe in. [inaudible] i think that's what comes out in that answer. >> i think as you say that it reminds me of what you were saying before the break, whether you believe in god or don't believe in god, the notion of what's deep inside you that can ultimately be wordless but can articulate yearning or desire. >> and compassion. >> and compassion and a sense
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of what to do in the world is, i think maybe where those two things kind of intersect in this context, does that make sense to you? >> absolutely. that's what's behind that rather flip question that i offered is when someone shared with me the god they can't believe in, i usually, my response is i don't believe in that god either and it opens up another conversation for people to understand that the best of what they need, the highest aspiration of what they want to be in their lives and how to experience a relationship is possible through other people's expression of what god is so they feel less isolated. >> absolutely. i don't think it's such a flip question because i think our culture, we're focused so much on we must talk in the positive and of course that's important but there is the human experience of disappointment and what someone might think of
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as the negative, so to ask somebody what they don't like or what they don't believe in or don't want cultivates a lot of things for people depending on how we're wired so i think it's a good question to be asking. >> gives them a place to put that. >> if we put all of this together whether you believe in god or don't believe in god or you're somewhere in between along the way because certainly we know we are all in between at different points in our life, what do you think happens to us, what do you think is important to consider when we come to the end of life, when we come to this understanding that our bodies on loan to us as an example and what happens when we come to the realization that the body we have isn't going to work anymore. >> that's exactly where we began the conversation today is this idea of our body being on loan and what judaism says is that just as we would continue to
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care for our home or our apartment in this tenant/landlord relationship, we could continue to do that therefore my understanding of judaism says that anything that would say before we return that apartment to the landlord, we're going to in some way drill holes into the walls or change something about the apartment, you know, damage it in some way, not for the reason of making it more beautiful or enhancing our living in it but saying we're going to hassen the demise of that -- hasten the demise of that property, we don't do that with our body with the precedent to say if there is something that is blocking end of life, that removing that is not a violation of damaging the apartment as it were. so that has to do with, you
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know, removing breathing tubes, feeding tubes, those kinds of things. that's such a question that rabbis hear all the time. there's a difference between administering something at the end of life to hasten death versus something that's a removal of something that's obstructing someone from letting go peacefully. >> it reminds me that just building what you said we have this notion that we are neither to prevent death nor hasten death. i know for some people that can seem like kind of crazy making in the moment but what i think actually happens is that it forces awareness. it forces leaps of faith, and in some way, it forces focus and conversation so in a way, it's an antidenial mechanism because you're not literally told do x or y, you're told here are
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the principles and this is what you need to struggle with. ultimately we have to come to our end of our time together. thank you so much. thank you so much for joining us for this conversation. keep talking, take care and thank you for being with us.
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we've got a great show lined up.. with some terrific guests. first up.. a group that has captured our attention from the ing.. and they . welcome to bay sunday . we've got a great show lined up today with terrific guests. first up a group that has captured our attention from the beginning and they're here in the bay area. "luzia, a waking dream of mexico" is at a-t-an . >> it's definitely a circus like no other. you might have noticed the tents are set up. cirque du soleil is in town.

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