In a testament or last will, you leave your material possessions, detailing what is to happen to your property upon your passing.
But this dry legal document can be so much more, says Moorings Park Grande Lake resident Dave Rutstein. It can be a letter that links past and future generations ... a way to communicate to your heirs what you want them to know.
Dave has recently been presenting the concept of the Forever Letter to intrigued audiences at Moorings Park Communities. The concept derives from tradition of the ethical will.
Dave Rutstein is a resident at Moorings Park Grande Lake. He has been teaching about the Forever Letter for over ten years.
The Ethical Will Origin Story
The origins of the Ethical Will are ancient, arising from Jewish tradition. The first known example is found in Genesis 49:1-33, where a dying Jacob wrote his sons a letter.
The first time Dave heard about the concept of the “Ethical Will”, he found it intriguing.
“I then found a course that I could take in Baltimore,” he explained. “That made me more interested in it and the values that can be transmitted to future generations with this kind of “-'will'-”."
He ended up teaching this concept for more than ten years. And for the past two years he has been teaching it at Moorings Park Communities after he became a resident at Grande Lake.
The Change From “Ethical Will” To “Forever Letter”
For centuries this kind of document has been called an “Ethical Will.” So why change it? When Dave took the course in Baltimore, he stayed in touch with the woman who taught it: Elana Zaiman. She wrote a book about this exact concept and called it “The Forever Letter.” Both concepts are one and the same. The only difference is that the name “Ethical Will” caused a lot of confusion. Many see the word “will” and think about a legal document. Dave Rutstein adopted Elana Zaiman’s name to resolve the confusion and kept it for his future lectures.
What Do You Want Your Heirs To Know
Dave believes the defining concept underlying the Forever Letter is “value.”
“I use the word ‘value’ in two respects,” he explains. “There is value telling your descendant what was really important in your life. And the values of this will. But it is not your biography or testament, it is about who you are and what you achieved.”
A Forever Letter links past and future generations, communicating your values to your loved ones.
Having taught about the Forever Letter for ten years, Dave experienced some special moments when he heard about how he impacted people.
“The story I am about to tell you is not unique,” he says, noting that this happened more than once to him. He went on to explain that he had taught a course on a Tuesday and he got a call from one of his students the subsequent Saturday. On the phone the woman said that she hardly slept since the course.
“This course has a tremendous impact on me and now on my family. Because I used it as a vehicle to open up discussions that I was never able to have with my children,” the woman had said to Dave. “It gave me the opportunity to talk about my life in a way I have never done before, and my children never heard before.” She continued to say that she wrote a valuable letter to pass on but now it also created a new level of dialogue in her family.
The Doorway To Connect The Past and Future
Even if it may bring hard reflections and discussions on talking about the topic after someone passes, this letter can bring many positive effects. It helps people to reflect on their life and see how many people were there for them. It elicits memories of wonderful moments. The Forever Letter gives your thoughts and values to your future generations in a way that a testament or last will, does not.
Dave will teach this course several more times at the three Moorings Park Communities. He encourages you to join him and listen to his lecture, where he will happily tell you all about the concept and show you how you can write your own Forever Letter.