Touching the World of Angels

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How My Daughter’s Short Life Changed Mine

By Seth Clyman

126 pp.

(Reviewed by Yonina Hall)

They say that good things come in small packages. A hundred-page book – you could read it in one sitting. An account of seven days – a drop in a lifetime. Yet within this small span of pages, and within this short stretch of time, lie a wealth of anecdotes and insights that can help one experience life to the fullest.

Seth Clyman spent those seven days – the seven days of shivah – exploring a world he never knew existed, yet which, once encountered, changed his life for the better. Ostensibly, the reason he sat shivah was a painful one – the sudden death of his two-month-old baby – and the first days were emotional, disorienting and uncomprehending. But as one day followed the next, and more people came to console him and share with him, Clyman found his confusion dissipating. By the end of the week, the traditional roles of mourner and visitor seemed to have reversed. Now he was the one comforting others, a little wiser to the profound truths he discovered on his deeply personal but universal journey.

Touching the World of Angels is not a book about death, but about life – the precious, oh-so-elusive vision we all seek, consciously or subconsciously, to make sense of our existence. With an exceptionally engaging, easy-reading style, the author probes the meaning of life, love and loss to reveal the world behind this world – the realm of souls that surround and inspire us at every turn. He calls it being “glitter-conscious” – being aware that there is more to life than what appears on the surface. When you put down this book, you will be more “glitter-conscious” too.

What makes this work especially appealing are the short vignettes sprinkled throughout the narrative, each adding a unique angle to the overall theme. They include real-life stories, anecdotes from the author’s own past, intriguing parables, and dramatized teachings of the Zohar and other Jewish sources which view life not as a one-way journey from birth to death, but as an uplifting trek from birth to birth – from birth in this world to birth in the World to Come.

With haskamas (approbations) from Rabbi Zev Leff and Rebbetzin Feige Twerski, Touching the World of Angels is a book that should be read by everyone. Obviously, those who have experienced loss of any kind will be able to use it to channel their pain constructively. (In fact, the author encourages readers to contact him in Jerusalem to share their thoughts.) Rabbis, counselors, teachers and laymen will find it an invaluable resource for helping others deal with loss in a life-affirming way. But above all, it is an inspirational read for everyone, opening what the author calls a “window of opportunity” to think more deeply about this great gift called life, and to use it to rise ever higher.

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