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Today Is A Good Day To Die

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Kol Nidre Sermon 2017 / 5778 Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz, Agudas Achim Congregation
Today Is A Good Day to Die
“Today is a good day to die.”
Today is a good day to die. This aphorism is often, inaccurately, ascribed to the 19th century Native American warrior Crazy Horse from the Oglala Lakota tribe. Victorious in the battle of Little Big Horn, Crazy Horse proved not only a brave and gifted military commander but was also known for his ethical conduct and his kindness towards the poor and vulnerable. Whether Crazy Horse spoke those words or not is almost irrelevant: these words gain an aura of credibility because they match the deeds of a great man.
What does it mean to say ‘today is a good day to die’? Who of us would dare utter this, fearing that the consequences might play out in our actual lives. Few of us are ready to die at all; when confronted with our own mortality, we cling to life tenaciously. This is the natural order of things.
In fact, the Torah and Talmud mandate this; we are a…