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Do You Want to Become a Diamond?

Do You Want to Become a Diamond?

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Question:

This is going to sound weird, but it’s serious. I have a friend who is a very intelligent, beautiful and articulate young woman. She is also a conceptual artist. She has now announced what she calls her “ultimate artwork”—she intends to sign a contract with a company that will cremate her body after she dies and compress her remains to form a diamond. She is selling the rights to this diamond, made of her body . . . Needless to say, I was horrified when I found out. What can I say to change her mind from doing something from which her soul and body may never recover for worlds and worlds to come?

Answer:

I have respect for your friend. She seeks immortality. She wants to transcend the limitations of a finite worldly existence and leave a lasting impression on the world long after her time here comes to an end. These are noble ambitions. But she is going about it the wrong way. Cremation is not the Jewish way.

The Jewish mission is not to become a diamond after you die, but to discover the diamond within yourself during your lifetime; not to make your lifeless body into a work of art, but rather to make your life itself into a work of art.

You have a soul, shimmering like a diamond

Within your body, you have a soul, shimmering like a diamond in the deepest part of your identity. Your body temporarily encases your soul for the duration of your lifetime on this earth. The body can be either a hindrance to the soul by concealing its light, or a vehicle for the soul’s light to be fully expressed. It depends on how you live your life.

If we live a life of hedonism and selfishness, if our body and its cravings become the focus of our existence, then the diamond that is our soul gets buried beneath the body’s layers of physicality, and its light is prevented from shining. But if we live a life of purpose, doing what is good rather than what feels good—a life in which the desires of our soul overpower the demands of our body and we fill each day with acts of goodness and holiness—then the light of the soul is not dimmed by the body. On the contrary, the body becomes the vehicle for the soul’s light to shine. By refining our character, bringing light to those around us, and maintaining the purity and innocence of our soul, we become a living, breathing diamond, a divine work of art.

We are truly immortalized by the good that we do in our lifetime. Whether or not we see it, our every act of goodness and holiness makes an eternal impression. Even the most trivial act of goodness impacts the world for the better, and the positive energy we create through our good deeds resonates throughout the world for eternity.

Even if you have been neglecting your soul, it can always be polished and returned to its original shine. For a diamond may become covered in layers of muck, but beneath it all the diamond always retains its luster. As long as you are alive, you have the power to change, to uncover your soul’s power and let it shine.

To make a diamond out of a dead body is no great feat. To make a diamond out of yourself while you are still alive—that is a taste of eternity.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Joyce Singer Baltimore, MD July 6, 2013

Your response Your response is beautiful, articulate, and so very true. I have read it over and over and have printed it out to carry with me to remind myself of my true purpose when this world of glitz and glitter tries to seduce me. Thank you. Reply

Jack Midland Park June 28, 2013

Cremation I believe that it is done because of the high cost of regular burial. If you can not afford a regular burial, you may want to consider Free Burial Society which has a cemetery on Staten Island, NY.
A Joke About Cremation: An elderly woman who was dying asked to be cremated and have her ashes scattered in Boomingdale's Department Store. When asked about this request, she said in that way, her daughter would visit twice a week. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton June 27, 2013

No one’s Decision! Since the body is a borrowed vehicle for your soul, it has to be returned the way it has turned out to be over the years. It belongs to Nature that G-d has created and should not willingly be altered in any ways. One person cannot answer for someone else’s decision. If you follow the Bible, It is said that in the Jewish religion, we do not cremate our bodies, we burry them in the earth where it originally came from. This should suffice as explanation. Of course, there are exceptions like for everything else. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem June 27, 2013

Rabbi Moss Dear Rabbi,

Your article is excellent but it does not take a strong enough stand, or any stand for that matter, against cremation. Since the horrifying statistics are that one third of American Jews are opting for cremation, I think that you should add to your article a paragraph or two against cremation, not just against becoming a diamond.

Please read comment by Martha, June 20, asking you if you are for or against
cremation. Reply

Anonymous USA June 23, 2013

On Becoming A Diamond Hurray for you Dr. Worthington for bringing such scientific fact to the open. The enemies of Hashem, blessed be He, are still trying to make the children of Israel to fall. It seems they are never going to give up. We need to be strong, belief, and obey our King, for He knows better. He wants what is best for us. Shema Yisrael!!! Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL June 23, 2013

The diamond inside us! My first thought when reading this eccentric requirement imposed on her family, was: meshuggeneh! But then I remembered that one should not be judgmental of others. However, I can’t help thinking, only a very conceited person would wish such an eternal fate to be carried on someone or anyone’s finger, put to rest in a jewelry box and then in a drawer or in a bank’s safe for ever and ever. Although it is carbon, the soul has been gone long time ago and the borrowed empty body has to go back to where it came from. Since she is said to be a “young woman” I believe that as her art will improve so will her mind realizing how foolish her thoughts were at the time. Cremation is a new trend today, which has nothing to do with religion. It’s a more condensed dust to dust. Reply

Dennis Worthington, M.D. Ruidoso, NM June 22, 2013

Can't do the Diamond Donald Weinshank is right. This idea of your friend to become a diamond is both spiritually ridiculous, and physically impossible since there is no carbon left after cremation. The top four ingredients of cremated material are Phosphate 47%, Calcium 25 %, Sulfate 11%, Potassium 3.6%, an then other miscellaneous elements, all less that 1%. Sorry, but no carbon, no diamond. Reply

Martha June 20, 2013

cremate You didn't give your thoughts on being cremated are you for it or again it, and why? Reply

Jocelyn Ruth Krieger Boca Raton, Fl June 20, 2013

THE ULTIMATE FAMILY MEMBER In Florida, cremations seems very popular and needless to say, the Jewish population is great. A woman in our condo had her mother cremated and the ashes put into a small vase. She complained at Pesach that no family member would invite her to the seder. From previous years, she brought mom's ashes and insisted an empty chair be at the table and she placed mom's ashes on the table! Another woman had her husband's ashes put into a locket which she wears all the time to keep him with her! When our kids didn't want us to be buried in Israel because they couldn't visit the graves, I told them for shalom bayit, Dad and I have decided on cremation stipulating the ashes be in 6 urns to be placed on their bedroom dressers. Their response? "Go be buried where you want. We don't want your ashes!" Reply

Adam Mary Windsor, Ontario, Canada June 20, 2013

Too Confining Why limit yourself to the confines of a diamond when you could have the infinite universe by the Grace of G-d. Diamonds are not forever or infinite but G-d is. Shalom. God bless You, Keep You, Sustain You... Reply

Karla Tonini, Brazil June 20, 2013

Brilliant and inspiring reply. Reply

Sosa June 20, 2013

Body to Diamond - For those who are concerned What We all need to do when we hear/read odd things like this,
Is to pray that God's Will; will be done and ask
God to deal mightily with whom ever or to intervene and To intercede
in the person's life.
In whatever we see that does not seem right in to our finite minds.

Who are we to criticize - You will get no where -
Take it to GOD and get out of the way - That he can work on the
Perceived problem. Reply

Anonymous USA June 20, 2013

The Diamond In Your Soul I have a couple of elderly friends who want to be cremated after their death. And two of my sisters. I tried to explain that that is not what Hashem, blessed be He, wants us to do. I guest this is a new thing going on. People just want to disappear for good? Or bad? Many people do not want anything to do with "religious" believes. My opinion is that there is nothing one can do. One cannot impose on people our faith. It is their choice. Blessed are those who belief in the Almighty G-d and do as He asks. Reply

Myriam Obadia Kohav Yaacov June 19, 2013

Do I want to become a diamond? Not particularly.
I've never felt bad about by body returning to the soil. After all, since I was born, all my body's nourishment was grown from that dirt, it has always felt natural to me that, once dead my body would in turn serve to grow nourishment for others. My soul is but a G-d given spark. When I die, I trust G-d to choose what's the best use for it.
I've never thrived for eternity, while I chafe at many of my limits, the fact that my life is itself limited has never bothered me at all. Reply

William Jacoby San Jose, Ca June 19, 2013

My body a diamond Whoa, that is so cool. What is the name of the my-ashes-to-diamond company? Reply

Donald Weinshank Michigan June 18, 2013

Making a diamiond Setting aside halakhah for a moment, the Laws of Nature preclude this possibility, Diamonds are pure carbon. The carbon of the body is precisely what is oxidized in cremation. Reply

Anonymous the world June 18, 2013

You say "My elderly friend with dementia is being tormented by her daughter and only living relative". Either their only living relative is trying to push her along to death for inheritance or finding it very hard watching their loved one disappear in spirit but not in body and finding it very hard looking after whats left behind, i've been there its like they've already died but you still have a very stupid demanding child to look after because the body is still there. Just keep helping and let the relative know in delicate ways you are not after any financial gain. Your diamond is already shining by the fact you even care to notice what is going on to others around you around you..many don't. Maybe god has put this in your path so you realize for yourself, i doubt it will be easy the relative is probably very stressed too. holding hands and being there is the best thing this woman could have right now if you werent there she would be lonely and confused you are her angel dont stop Reply

Jorge Munuzuri Qro./Mexico June 18, 2013

Sharing a thought. I think the point with you, Rabbi Aron Moss is that better is to spend our time in this world near to G-d, as much near as possible, and let G-d to decide what will happen to us after we die. I liked your answer very much Rabbi Moss and I hope I have understood it correctly. Thank you for letting us share with your thoughts. Reply

Z NY June 18, 2013

a diamond I'm still coal. When my diamond starts to shine, the mine caves in. I dust the coal dust off and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. It is there, yet so very far away. I light a candle in the darkness and watch it flicker. I know light overcomes evil but when? It isn't for myself I weep, but for the suffering. I read and love Torah and my soul soars. I walk out into the light of day and see the suffering and hear the cries and my soul weeps. I often wonder how can HaShem shine in this evil world. I guess the answer is a mystery and I hope for a future where all know and love Him and Torah. And yes, I'm feeling depressed tonight. My elderly friend with dementia is being tormented by her daughter and only living relative. I listen and we do some things together or just sit and talk. My hands are tied in many ways. I pray and remind myself that all things happen for a reason and HaShem loves us. Then the dark shadow swoops down upon my friend and I weep and pray Reply

Amy Fairfield Cty, CT, USA March 18, 2010

Do You Want to Become a Diamond? Beautiful reply. Amazing. I actually SEE and activate the "diamond within me". I have always referred to it as a diamond because that is what this brilliant crystal of shimmering light looks like. It extends it's rays of light into eternity. The highest vibrations of Love are present when I am one with my "diamond".

I have always known intuitively that it is my essence, the eternal light that I am.

Yes.. we have a diamond within us.
Thank you for sharing this.

Blessings, Reply

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