Dreaming of Moshiach

Monday, March 05, 2007

Prescription for Eternal Life

Most people take life casually. A person bumps into an acquaintance whom he hasn’t seen for a long time and asks, “How are you?” Without thinking twice, the other responds, “Alive.” In other words, nothing is new. When no particular joys or sorrows interrupt our routine—when we eat and drink, work and rest, become angry and calm down—we’re “alive.”

Since life just “goes on,” people often don’t give attention to its deeper meaning. Many justify their apathy by saying that life indeed has no meaning.

In the Ethics of the Fathers we read, “Against your will, you are alive...” We were not asked whether we wanted to be born into this world. In fact, the sages tell us, if we had been given the choice, our answer would have been a resounding “No!” However, G-d decreed that we come into this world, even against our will.

The nature of man is to be independent; we resist any form of coercion. Nonetheless, here we are, very much involved in this world of flesh and blood.

Even so, all is not lost. There remains a stratagem by which we can avoid being here against our will, namely, by transforming this life into a meaningful experience. A person who feels his life has meaning and permanent significance will merely resign himself to life in this world, but will choose to live, and achieve the maximum with the days granted to him.

We are also told that “Against your will, you shall die.” Man seeks somehow to connect with eternity. A scientist may strive to invent something that bears his name, while an elderly matron requests that a street or library be named after her. Others find solace in the thought that their children and grandchildren will remember them. The very desire to bear children reflects the will to live forever. Even if they don’t believe in the soul’s immortality, patients who are suffering greatly, nonetheless, refuse to submit to death.

But what is the prescription for eternal life?

Our Sages teach us: “Your will is not to die? Then ‘die,’ so you won’t die.” If a person doesn’t want life to end with bodily death, he should rise above a merely material existence and live on a higher spiritual plane, as does a soul when leaving the body. He who “dies” in this way will live a life that never ends.





והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו