Counting Our Blessings

For the week ending 19 December 2020 / 4 Tevet 5781

Coming Back to Life Every Day - Part 3

by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer
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“My G-d, the soul You placed within me is pure. You created it, You fashioned it, You breathed it into me, You safeguard it within me, and eventually You will take it from me, and restore it to me in Time to Come. As long as the soul is within me, I gratefully thank You, Hashem, my G-d and the G-d of my forefathers, Master of all works, L-rd of all souls. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who restores souls to dead bodies.”

If our existence is defined only by our physical surroundings, then the thought of passing away can be truly terrifying. But the continuation of the blessing adds a whole new dimension to our understanding, as well as an intriguing glimpse into one of the most esoteric dimensions of our existence: In the future, G-d will return our souls to our bodies. This is what is known as Techiat HaMeitim — the Resurrection of the Dead. There will be a moment when G-d, after having first returned the decomposed body back to its former state, will reintroduce the soul into a renewed and purified body. Although this concept is not one that is easily understood, it is, nevertheless, very uplifting. It teaches us that we need not fear passing from this world. However, this is true only if we remain aware of the fact that there is a new existence awaiting us after our time in this world.

The text of our current blessing informs us that there is an entirely new reality that awaits us once we have lived out our physical lives in this world. It is a spiritual existence that is fashioned from our actions here in the physical realms. Paradoxically, it is our physical and intellectual accomplishments that will serve as the “building blocks” in the spiritual spheres. And it is those achievements that we should be focusing on as we work our way through life in this physical world. As Rabbi Aryeh Leib HaKohen Heller (1745-1812) writes in the introduction to his brilliantly any erudite work Shev Shematata, the World to Come can be achieved only through one thing — Torah. Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz (1902-1979), the revered head of the illustrious Mir Yeshiva, would point out that a truly spiritual person recognizes that their real place is in the World to Come, and that is why our Sages describe such a person as being a “Ben Olam Haba” — “a person of the World to Come.” This phrase is an exact description of who they are.

Towards its end, the blessing teaches us yet another facet of Jewish belief. As the blessing so eloquently states, it is only the fact that our souls reside within us that gives us the wherewithal to be able to acknowledge and appreciate everything that G-d does for us.

And that is truly a cause for celebration! On each new day there is a “Divine deposit.” Our exquisite and flawless soul is returned to us in all its pristine glory. Being grateful and aware of this fact, we celebrate our ability to discern the myriad of spiritual opportunities that lay before us. These are opportunities that will allow us to turn the mundane into something absolutely brilliant, glowing with otherworldly luster, creating the most sublime reality of all — the World to Come.

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