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Shabbat Parashat Vayeishev | 5770

Ein Ayah: Perceptions of Life after Death for the Righteous and Others; The Legacy of the Righteous that Continues Thorugh Their Children

(based on Berachot 3:5)


Gemara: “For the living know that they will die” (Kohelet 9:5) – this is referring to tzaddikim (righteous people), who, in their death, are called living.


Ein Ayah: For one to picture his own absence is indeed very difficult, for how can one accurately picture his absence, when the picture needs to have in it the existence of the subject of the picture. One can picture the absence of his counterpart or even the absence of something that relates to him, as long as his own existence continues.

Tzaddikim put all of their power with all their feelings and desires into things that are not built specifically on the body and its desires. They apply their spirits to love of Hashem, His Torah, His great ways, His nation, Israel, and in general the love of justice, truth, kindness, and straightness. These feelings are the foundation of their lives and the center of the goals that they desire. Therefore, tzaddikim feel the main part of their existence in regard to eternal things. That which happens to their bodies, which cease to exist after death, they consider as something external, albeit connected to them.

Therefore, tzaddikim can accurately picture their deaths, and it does not scare them too much. It does not confuse their happiness at the prospect of reaching shleimut (completeness) and goodness, and they do not lose the feeling that they still exist when they picture their physical death.

In contrast, the whole center of the lives of resha’im (wicked people) is powered by material desires and is dedicated only to acquiring things that the physical senses pick up on. They view spiritual acquisitions as something secondary and foreign to them. Therefore, they are unable to properly picture their death, for that would force them to picture the negation of their essence and the absence of their existence, and then who is supposed to do the picturing. Therefore, they cannot accurately picture their death, except for the natural sense of being startled, which must come when they picture a situation where all they worked toward ceases and blows away like a cloud. That is why the pasuk says that the dead (referring to resha’im) do not know anything.


The Legacy of the Righteous that Continues Thorugh Their Children

(based on Berachot 3:6)


Gemara: “The son of a living man” [said about Benyahu ben Yehoyada – Shmuel II, 23:20) refers to one who is called alive even when he is dead.


Ein Ayah: The main connection of the tzaddik’s life is to things that are loftier than that which is connected to the body and that which occurs to it, and these lofty things are the mainstay of his life while he is alive. Since these things do not cease with death but add luster, the tzaddik is considered alive even after he has physically died.

This praise of the tzaddik finds the clearest expression in the tzaddik’s child. This is because the truly complete person does not part from his true perceptions, which accompany him to every corner, to the point that the natural connection to the world by means of begetting children becomes the internal goal of justice and goodness, which lasts eternally.  

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R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga 


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