Era of Moshiach



"The Death of Death"


[Excerpt from Sefer HaMa'amarim Melukat II pp 77-78 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
as translated by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger in "Anticipating the Redemption" Vol. II (S.I.E. 1997), pp 280]


""He will swallow up death forever." (Is. 25:8)

Until mankind's task of refinement is completed, good and evil are intermingled with each other. This includes even the era of the Holy Temple, and even the era of King Solomon's reign, when "the disk of the moon was full". Until that time, death will continue to exist, so that the existence of evil will not be perpetuated. On this basis,

This is also the reason why the bodies of the righteous will return to dust an hour before the Resurrection of the Dead (Shabbat 152b; see also Zohar, Vol.II, p.108b). Before this time, no worm will have had dominion over them (1), and their bodies will remain intact for hundreds and even thousands of years. Nevertheless, before the Resurrection of the Dead, even the righteous will return to dust.

The reason for this is that the sin of the Tree of Knowledge brought about a blending of evil with every element of worldly existence. Therefore, even the bodies of the righteous will require refinement (2).

In the Era of the Redemption, after the Resurrection of the Dead, the prophecy "And I will cause the spirit of impurity to depart from the land" will be fulfilled. Then there will be no more death, and the body will live forever.

This applies even according to the opinion (3) which interprets the verse: "And a youth of 100 years will die," (Isaiah 65:20) according to its simple meaning, for the verse applies only to non-Jews. With regard to the Jews, by contrast, the prophecy "He will swallow up death forever" will be fulfilled.

Moreover, even the death which this opinion maintains will occur with regard to non-Jews does not mean actual death, but rather falling [from ones spiritual level], as our Rabbis say "A person who falls from his rung is called 'dead'." (See Zohar, Vol. III, p. 135b.)

The Rebbe Maharash explained this phenomenon of death, i.e., the descent that will take place with regard to the gentiles: as the sparks of holiness contained within them will be refined, they will ascend and the evil within them (the material body which can be termed evil when compared to the sparks of holiness which they contain) will descend. [This is their "death".]

This does not apply with regard to the Jewish people. Their bodies will ascend and derive sustenance from holiness as their souls do. Indeed, in that era, the body will be on a higher rung than the soul, as alluded to in the mystical interpretation of the verse "the female will encompass the male". (Jeremiah 31:21) [The "female" refers to the body which in the present era is a recipient from the soul. In the Era of the Redemption, this will change, and the body will become a source of positive influence.]

All this will actually take place in a revealed matter within the context of our material world, with the coming of the true and ultimate Redemption, led by Mashiach; may this take place in the near future.


(1) See the Midrash Tehillim to Psalms 119:9
(2) This refinement can, however, be brought about by complete self-nullification, as reflected in the prayer [Berachot 17a; included in the daily liturgy]: "Let my soul be as dust to all." When this divine service is completed, there is no need for the tzadik's body to actually return to dust.
(3) The opinion of Rabbi Chanina in Bereishit Rabba 26:2; see also Pesachim 68a; Sanhedrin 91b.



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