Parshas Chayei Sarah
A Heart Homeward Bound
By Rabbi Label Lam
Avraham expired and died in a good old age, old and satisfied, and he was
gathered to his people. (Breishis 25:8)
Here we discover a fascinating set of facts that are not nearly as morbid as
one might think at first glance. There three ways or better yet three stages
to what we call dying. Imagine a car driving on the highway. The car breaks
down. Then the driver gets out of the car. Then he gets a hitch a ride home.
These are the three steps mentioned explicitly in the verse. “Avraham
expired”, that is his body ceased functioning. He “died” means that his body
and soul separated. The word, “vayamas” (he died) may have its etymological
roots in the word “yamoosh” which menas “removed”. The soul is effectively
removed from its identification with the body. Then “he was gathered up to
his people” which tells us that he entered into Olam Haba-the world to come!
The big question that the Chovos HaLevavos struggles with is, “Why does the
Torah not tell us more about Olam Haba?” Wouldn’t that be a fascinating
topic!? Amongst the many answers offered in the Gate of Trust is that Olam
Haba is not an absolute guarantee based upon the specific performance of a
certain number of Mitzvos! It’s not a business deal- a quid pro quo! No,
it’s a relationship! How is the relationship measured?
A relatively newly married man struggling with Shalom Bais (peace in the
home) approached his Rabbi for some advice. The Rabbi asked him if he had
ever gotten his wife a bouquet of flowers on Erev Shabbos! He looked at the
Rabbi curiously and admitted that he had not.
Then the Rabbi uncorked the first new big idea. “Make sure to get your wife
fresh flowers every Erev Shabbos!” “That’s it!” queried the newly wed. “No!”
the Rabbi insisted. “You must write personal note and or tell her something
nice and flattering!” The poor young man looked at the Rabbi with
bewilderment. “I have no idea what to say or recite!” The Rabbi then offered
some nice not entirely cliché phrases that just might reach the desired
mark. “Why am I the luckiest man on the face of the earth!?” “You are
Dutifully the student scouted out and selected an elegant bouquet prior to
Shabbos and he chose a choice phrase that pays to recite at the appropriate
moment. The moment arrived when he approached his wife on the eve of the
Holy Shabbos and he presented the flowers. Her heart practically melted with
joy and then she looked at as if right on cue and waited for him to say
something, just as the Rabbi had predicted. He looked squarely in her
direction and told her the following, “The Rabbi said I should say you are
Her smile collapsed into a sudden frown and he was almost back in the
doghouse as before, but he did merit with the flowers a nice Shabbos dinner.
Thinking about the words we pray momentarily before we say them may just add
jet fuel of intentionality. Instead of saying, “The Men of the Great
Assembly said I should say…”
The Chovos HaLevavos explains that Olam Haba is based on heart. The
intoxicating flavor of this world is gifted for the external aspects of the
Mitzvos but Olam Haba is hinging very much on the longing of a heart
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.