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After-Death

Friday, 23 April, 2010 - 10:23 pm

 

The first of this week’s two Torah portions is called Acharei Mot, or “after the death,” based on the opening verse, “And G-d spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron's two sons, when they drew near before the Lord, and they died.”

Why do we name a Torah portion in such a fashion? What message is there in this name that the Torah wishes to convey?

Much ink has been spilled on the meaning of death, the effects of tragedy and the Jewish approach to mourning. Certainly there are lessons to be learned from the death of Aaron’s two sons. But the Torah’s emphasis on after death, versus death itself must mean more.

***

This past Sunday was the funeral of Esther’s paternal grandmother, Mrs. Chava Devorah (or Evelyn) Shusterman, of blessed memory. She was just shy of her ninetieth birthday.

As I tried to comfort Esther and her family on their loss, I found myself saying how fortunate I was to know her for the last eight years of her life. She was a short, yet towering woman. A woman of conviction, clarity and inspiration.

What she left behind is a great legacy of hundreds of descendents following in her footsteps. As it is written in Ecclesiastes, “And the living shall take to heart.”

Our parsha is teaching that there is another dimension besides the after-life. The after-life is the eternal journey of the soul in ‘heaven.’ But what influence does the soul have here on earth?

That’s the after-death. Aaron’s two sons taught a great lesson to mankind through their passing.

Esther’s grandmother left a legacy that continues here on earth beyond her bodily years.

Comments on: After-Death
4/25/2010

Annette G. wrote...

Esther and Rabbi Mendel,

I feel empathy for your loss, as losing a beloved family member is never easy for the living ones left behind. However, the gift of "after-death", the inspiration they have left here for us on earth, continues through generations. I know my mother's recent passing has left me with memories of her strength and courage, as well as her eternal love. The amazing character of your grandmother will be her gift to many. Her life made a difference to so many, not only during her years on earth, but "after - death". May you continue to receive and spread her gifts throughout your lives.