25 July 2007

You only live once (and for all)

Moshe Rabeinu told the people “Atem hadveikim hayom…”—“ you are clinging today to Hashem you G-d, all of you are living today”. The upshot of this is that through clinging to G-d we are able to a reach a different stage in our lives – chaim nitzchiim – an everlasting life where there is no interruption.

This needs to be explained for we can easily observe that fulfilling the mitzvos and learning Torah don’t stop people from eventually dying. Even the complete tzaddikim whose lives are completely dedicated to and centered on the Torah also pass on. So what is the meaning of “all of you are living today”?

We can view life from two perspectives. On the one hand, life begins at some point, continues, and terminates. One the other hand, life continues but at some point there is a separation between the body and the life process. In other words, life continues but temporarily there is a separation between it and the body.

There is an expression in the Talmud that states that a covering/sheath prevails over men. Although very powerful, this is not the true essence of a person and when the covering is removed (process of passing on) the real “you” is revealed.

And this is the proper way to view death. It’s a temporary and an extraneous process of separation of the body from its vivifying source which in no way nullifies the essence of life. An ongoing life is the true reality despite the fact that a temporary process forces the body/life split in this world.

And this is what the Sages mean by saying that tzaddikim while dead are called living. Even though the expression specifically mentions death, nevertheless, tzaddikim are still considered living which indicates eternal life. All this is a result of the external dimension of temporarily severing the link between the body and the soul.

This is thus the chidush in “Atem hadveikim hayom be Hashem Elokim Chaim…” you are clinging today to your G-d, a living G-d”. Every Jew is connected to Hashem. Due to that, every Jew has the merit to lead an interrupted life. Even though we live in a physical world where the decree “Al ofar toshuv” – “To dust shall you return” is temporarily operational “mixed in” which is a result of living in a physical reality, the true essence of a Jew’s life is eternal.

In other words, the life of a Jew is not limited or measured in any way, it’s a life that is not susceptible to interruptions and the phenomenon of dying is entirely a side issue.

Therefore when this decree is repealed, Jews will return to life in this physical world. This is of course the era of the Resurrection of the Dead and the eternality of life at that time will be derived from the advantage of living in this physical world.

Based on Toras Menachem vol. 31, p. 190

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