Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Conversation With Chabakuk Elisha - Death As An Illusion

A Simple Jew asks:

I noticed that Degel Machaneh Ephraim contains an idea that is remarkably similar to the story you shared from the Beis Yisroel of Ger. In Parshas Tzav, the Degel wrote that in the future there will no longer be any death and that a higher consciousness will allow us to see that the dead are really living.

Do you think the Degel is actually saying that death is only an illusion?

He wrote:

כי יהיה הכל בהתגלות מוחין עילאין אשר הם חיים

Chabakuk Elisha answers:

It's a longer conversation (not for one foot), but it depends on the definition of the word illusion…

A Simple Jew responds:

Perhaps it means that there are different definitions of death. To us, it means that the person is no longer "here". The Baal Shem Tov, however, once said,

"Death is nothing but the passage from one corner of the universe to another."

Using this analogy, when a person walks from one room into another he is no longer "there" in the first room. And, at the time a person dies he goes from one world to the next. He doesn't die, meaning that he ceases to exist, he is just no longer present in his previous location.

Chabakuk Elisha answers:

Definitely true, but that's not all there is to the mashul.

Use of a dream as a mashul needs to be properly understood. If we translate a dream as "something that seemed to, but didn't actually, take place" we would destroy the entire concept of Torah and mitzvos. For this reason I think (I could be wrong though) that the mashul of the dream should be understood as follows:

Dreams are a real experience - dreams can be felt deeply and we truly experience them. Everything that happens in dream is palpable in that "dream realm" -- where the emotions of pain, joy, fear, frustration or hilarity exists in a real way, and may very well have impact on our existence when we are awake. What changes when we wake up is that we find out that it's not the only reality, and the course that was set in that dream is reversible, or need not be continued, etc. The significance being that dreams are not final in relation to our awake state.

So, of course you are right in quoting the Baal Shem Tov's remarks that point to out continued existence after leaving this world, and in addition, I think, the dream mashul of the Beis Yisroel & the remarks of the Degel illustrate our relationship with reality.


At March 19, 2008 at 11:28:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

the concept of a dream, i think i heard from Rav Steinsaltz, is that it allows for contradictory things to coexist.

Similarly our existence is like a dream in that for example, we have a neshamah and a body, two things which couldn't be more opposite that manage to coexist.

This world is actually a whole bunch of opposites forced to interact, truth and lies, etc.

When the truth is revealed, this world will seem like a dream, in that the 'normal' rules of 'nature' were warped in incomprehensible ways.

At March 19, 2008 at 2:51:00 PM EDT, Blogger Gandalin said...

I'd like to learn more about these concepts with reference to Olam Hadimyon (mentioned in Dixie's post here - Thank you!

At March 20, 2008 at 3:34:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just today, 03.19.08, discussing this topic of death and what comes after with a friend. Here is a synopsis of what we said:

The Nefesh which animates the body dies with the body and the Ruach which communicates the Neshama to the Nefesh, it goes dormant since their is no longer any need for it (to communicate to the Nefesh from the Neshama). The Neshama continues on (to Upper Worlds) and receives the 310 worlds - its reward in the Olam Haba. Each person, together with the 310 worlds of its mate, they together receive 620 worlds to enjoy. Everything that we enjoy in this world with our mate - our life is elevated in joy in being paired with our mate - is an enhanced enjoyment, similar to that from the 620 worlds. As we grow in consciousness, we actually begin to enjoy those 620 worlds (Olam Haba) in this world (Olam Hazeh). Death (and old age) become irrelevant.

At March 21, 2008 at 10:14:00 AM EDT, Blogger skorn said...

R Yizhak Isaac Safrin of Komarno was able to have visions and dreams while awake. The Komarno Rebbe's seemed to have been exisitng in that future place palce as well as the here and now.


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