A Jew living in Poland was suffering from a lung ailment, from which his doctors informed him he would not survive. They said that he’d better just relax and settle his affairs, while awaiting his inevitable, imminent death.
But the man refused to cede to such harsh judgment, and began making his rounds among famous, holy rabbis, seeking their blessing for a recovery.
One rabbi he met said: “I cannot assure you recovery. But, I have a colleague living in Selish, in Hungary’s Carpathian Mountains,1 named Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke. He and I studied together under the famed Choze (“Seer”) of Lublin. He can help you.
“Do not leave him without receiving an assurance that you will recover. Even if it means sticking around there for a few months, do so, and participate in the classes he gives to the yeshivah students.”
The Jew did as he was told, and traveled to Hungary to seek the great rabbi’s blessing. The rabbi questioned why he had come. “I cannot give you any better assurances,” he said.
The Jew remembered what the first rabbi had told him, and he found himself accommodations for an extended stay. As instructed, he attended the rabbi’s classes at the yeshivah.
One day, the rabbi delivered a Talmud class about the exact lung ailment that this man was experiencing, and quoted the opinion of the foremost commentator on the Talmud, Rashi, who mentions that this ailment is considered fatal. Then the rabbi said, “One moment, there is also the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam (Rashi’s grandson), who says seemingly in passing that even though this ailment is considered fatal in an animal, it is not considered fatal in a human. This is because a person possesses a mazal (a personal, heavenly, supportive power”).
After saying this, the rabbi turned to the Jew and said: “Do you hear? Rabbeinu Tam assures you that you will have a long life. Go home. You will be well.”
The man went home and lived a long and happy life.
Today we know that mental stress is incredibly destructive to the human body; we also know that faith is incredibly healing for the human body. It’s actually one of the reasons that spirituality is considered an important health component when assessing chronic illnesses.
Spirituality comes in many forms, and we can see one of the more common popular ones in the world today through the above story, and since I don’t know the name of it, we’ll call it “Sentient Spirituality” to help facilitate a conversation around it.
For the purposes of this discussion “Sentient Spirituality” is when a person believes in a Sentient Being that can control their fate. It may be a God, a Goddess, the Fae, an ancestor or some other form of “higher being” that watches after them. The world over, humanity argues over who that higher being needs to be, but in truth every culture around the world became reliant upon their own higher being for support and it worked. This has caused a belief to arise that perhaps they are all the work of the same singular being under different names- but I think that robs every culture of their unique experiences. So to explain, let me turn to the Force.
In the early Jedi Community, we divided the Force into 3 different groupings. There is the Personal Force- the energy you control within yourself and sustains you; the Living Force- the energy which connects you to all the personal forces around you and sustains your personal force; and the Unifying Force- the energy that contains it all and sustains it all. A person could learn to use personal force to heal themselves or the personal force of another to heal that person. They could also learn to use the Living Force to heal another or themselves. It was generally frowned upon to use their own personal force to heal another person- think of it like different blood types during a transfusion. Energies don’t necessarily mix and it could be a disaster if your energy wasn’t a right match for them. The Unifying Force was less meant to help heal, and more meant to be tapped into in order to learn how to heal.
Of course, this is dividing the Force in such a way were the Force is controlled by a sentience- the individual. But it is not unheard of for people to equate the Unifying Force with a divine being (oftentimes the Abrahamic God by Christian Jedi). Still that’s kind of the point of this discussion.
Jediism does not claim that the Force is a divine being, we instead leave that up to the interpretation of the individual Jedi to decide. We also don’t really teach the division of the Force into 3 parts. But there is something to be said about the value of having this division to explain personal health and a need for a belief in something higher.
So let’s take a look at our Personal Force in a health model. We may not be separated from the Living Force, but our personal force is contained. It’s where we reside. It is the scope of our mind, body and soul- and it contains everything we allow to continue to impact us.
In the case of the Jew, his personal force contained his lung ailment, his three beliefs that the doctors he encountered were right about his lung ailment, that he could receive healing if God gave it to him, and that he couldn’t trust himself to know whether he was accessing God’s true blessing without someone else imparting to him God’s decision. These varying beliefs prevented him from accessing either the Living or the Unifying Force to accept healing.
It was through the Living Force, however, that he was able to accept the Unifying Force. This was opened up to him by the first Rabbi we are told about in the story. This Rabbi could not assure him that he would be healed, but because of his own faith in the Jewish Community (which is accessing the Living Force in our 3 teir model), he was able to pick up on the fact that a Rabbi in the Carpathian Mountains would be able to give the Jew the assurances he needed if only he stayed until an answer was given him.
Of course, the second Rabbi wasn’t confident himself that he could deliver such a message to the Polish Jew. It was the Jew’s trust in the Living Force that allowed the second Rabbi an opportunity for the Unifying Force to speak through him and ultimately give the Jew permission to believe that God had granted him healing. That belief, is also what allowed him access to the healing.
As Jedi, we have our own relationship with the Force. But if we do not have a Sentient Spirituality assigned to it on some level, then the questions we have to ask are: What faith can we rest in to allow ourselves healing from the Unifying Force when we need it? How can we release our stresses and embrace what is available to us?
These aren’t questions intended to shame people who do not have “Sentient Spirituality”. But rather to pull your focus towards what your spirituality focused on the Force looks like, or how you want it to look. Because there is real wisdom in what our Ancestors had to say about building spirituality- it’s not just about life and death, it’s also about our health.