by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
One apparently angry (or perhaps frightened) reader wrote that my brief article that discusses what happens in the Next World was trying to instill fear in readers’ heads, in order to force them to comply with the Commandments.
Surely, the Baal Shem Tov was right when he wrote that whenever we judge something, we are really seeing what is inside ourselves.
The information in the article does not threaten. It provides us with a tool to help us make the most of our lives, both in this world and in the next. Knowing that everything we do will come back to us, and everything that we do not do will not come to us, is not a new idea at all. Nor is it a threatening one.
When we see something good come to us, we say, “Ah, I am going to do more of what brought that goodness to me.” When we see something unwelcome come to us, we say, “Oy, I am not going to do what I did that brought that unwelcome result to me.” Repercussions are wonderful signs that show us what we are doing, and where we are going.
Does anyone really believe that when we die, everything stops? That we do not go on? If so, then read, From The Old City,[i] where I wrote what happened when I died.
Certainly, we continue on after this lower world, and certainly the Torah teaches this. The Torah tells us about the resurrection of the dead, and about reincarnation, too. For instance, the Jewish Law book, the Mishnah Beruah, has an interesting teaching for Yom Kippur afternoon, which discusses what happens to a man who refuses to turn from his evil ways. It says that he will have to come back to this world again and again, until he repents. This is reincarnation. Reincarnation is also mentioned in the prayer that we say right before we retire: “I hereby forgive anyone who has sinned against me… in this incarnation or in any other.”
These teachings do not sow fear. They come as a blessing. They show that our future is in our hands. What happens to us depends on what we do. We are on a long and amazing journey. It is a wondrous opportunity, and it does not stop at the grave.
When you go on a journey, you plan ahead. You pack your bags. The unique thing about this journey is that not a single one of our physical possessions will fit into the bag that we will take with us when we go. Only our deeds are going to go with us. Both our good deeds and our not-so-good deeds are going to follow us into that world. To think otherwise is simply being naive.
Certainly, we see cause and effect throughout our lives. This is a major, constant teaching in the Torah. It is called mida kenegid mida (measure for measure). Is there any reason to entertain the belief that repercussions cease when we leave this world?
We are given free will while we are here. We are free to choose whatever behavior we want. But we are not free to choose the consequences that will come from that behavior. Of course, the Torah allows for repentance when we choose, and repentance from love turns all of our past into a positive act.
“Fear mongering!” Explaining the principle that consequences continue after this world removes fear from anyone who wants to direct his life. When we see that we have missed the mark, we can always turn. Always, that is, as long as we are still here.
If you want to remove “fear mongering,” then you had better scratch out the line from the book of Daniel that says, “… and many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”[ii]
These words come as a kindness. They put a wonderful tool in our hands. Knowing that there are direct repercussions for our deeds allows us to direct our destiny. To think otherwise is to believe in a random future that we can do nothing about--other than duck, squeeze our eyes shut, and pray.
[i] Parsha Vayechi, available from thereisone.com
[ii] Daniel 12:2
Thursday, November 12, 2009
// 11/12/2009 //