Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaacov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Chukas (Numbers 19-22)
Balak (Numbers 22-25)
23:10 "… May my soul experience the death of the upright and may my end be like (those of the Jewish people) …"
The Rabbeinu Bachya commentary notes that this verse provides a reference to the teaching that while a person's body can and does die, the person himself continues to live, only in another realm.
We call this the Realm of the Neshamos and the first part of this verse speaks to this.
Furthermore, we are taught that life in this realm is a temporary state and that all but the extremely wicked will be re-united with a new version of their body and revived, back again in this world. The second part of this verse speaks to this.
The Talmud (Sanhedrin 91a) provides a parable to explain why we must come back.
A king appointed a lame person and a blind person to guard his orchard.
The lame watchman saw the luscious fruit but was unable to maneuver and it was too high for him to get at it. The blind watchman also wanted some fruit but he could not see where it was.
They realized if the lame watchman got on the blind watchman's shoulders then he could direct him where to go so that they he can pick fruit for them both.
This arrangement worked perfectly they gorged themselves on the king's fruit trees.
The king returned, noticed the missing fruit, and suspected that the watchmen were the culprits.
The lame watchman explained that he could not have eaten the fruit because he was too crippled to get at it.
The blind watchman said that he could not have eaten the fruit because he couldn't see where the trees were.
The king was clever enough to realize what happened.
So he ordered the lame watchman to climb on top of the blind watchman's shoulders and he ordered his staff to whip them both.
Similarly, when a person stands in judgment in the afterlife, the soul can absolve itself of responsibility for misbehavior because only the body can do anything in this world. And the body can absolve itself of responsibility because it was the soul that provided its life force.
So we therefore need to come back in this world for a final judgment, be it for reward or for punishment.
Nothing in this world is permanent, even death.
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