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Thought for the Day: Living Till Its Time to Go

There is an expression, "I guess it was his/her time to go."  Maybe, maybe not.  First, a halacha: Sh.Ar. O.C 23:3: one is not allowed to wear his tzitzis exposed near a Jewish meis because of "lo'eg l'rash" -- making fun of the downtrodden.  In this case, the meis is in a situation where he cannot perform mitzvos and so seeing the tzitzis is painful to the neshama.  The Mishna Brura (s.k. 5) says this applies even to a koton, HaShem should protect us from ever knowing such a thing, because maybe the neshama was of a gadol.  However, if the meis is a woman, there is no problem because she was not chayiv even while alive.  So, I thought, it looks as though the age of the body at time of death is irrelevant to the intrinsic obligations of the neshama, but the sex is relevant.  I was comfortable (more or less) with that.

Then I learned a ma'asei with the Ari, z"l, that indicated that the sex of the body could also be different in different gilgulim.  Now I really had a problem with understanding this halacha.  I know, I know, kabala and halacha don't (necessarily) mix, but I just wanted to have some sort of approach to why we wouldn't care about the age, but we would care about the sex of the body in a particular gilgul.  One of my younger chavrusos reminded me of a gemara in Chagiga at the bottom of 4b (thanks, Shmuly!).  It seems that the malach ha'maves once sent a messenger to get Miriam the hairdresser and the messenger (presumably new on the job) accidentally brought Miriam the babysitter.  In aramaic a hair dresser is a "m'gadel se'ar nashaya" while a babysitter is "m'gadel dardeki"; so, an honest mistake.  The messenger felt terrible and offered to correct his mistake, but the malach ha'maves told him as long as she was here already she may as well stay (presumably Miriam the hairdresser got picked up also; the gemara doesn't go into the details about whether the malach ha'maves gave the messenger another chance or just figured that if you want a job done right you just have to do it yourself.)

The gemara does wonder, though, how he was able to grab Miram the babysitter if it wasn't her time.  (We are all wondering that, right?)  Apparently she was using a hot iron and not being careful.  So it is apparent that a neshama could very well be decreed to have 80 years of life in a particular gilgul and then lose it in due to carelessness.  That's why we have to be careful with our tzitzis around the meis of a koton... maybe it wasn't his time to go.

Do any of us actually deserve life?  Not me; I live by the Mercy of HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  Mercy doesn't mean you get out of anything, it simply means you get time to correct your actions and improve.  The imperative to do t'shuva every day of your life as if it is the last day of your life is certainly going to be true one day; and that day might be sooner than expected.


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