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Thought for the Day: Olam Haba Hashkafa

I was overweight/husky/fat growing up.  In my 20s I finally got onto a diet and lost a lot of pounds.  More or less those pounds have stayed off, but there have been ups and downs.  Its hard to stay on a diet; it requires changes to eating habits and self-imposed restrictions.  In the end, though, I felt much better once I lost the weight.  I am now 35 pounds lighter then when I got married and feel pretty good.

There was another time I lost 35 pounds.  I wasn't overweight; I had cancer.  Chemotherapy was a forced weight loss program.  It wasn't hard -- no will power required at all.  At the end I felt wrung out; to say the least.

R' Dessler notes that there are three rectifications that the process of dying produces.  First, there is the realization that desires for physical things can never be fulfilled.  Once a person has left this world, the longing for physical pleasures -- which no longer exist -- must be eradicated.  The decomposition of the body in the grave accomplishes that for us.  Chazal note that the corpse can feel the worms eating its flesh and it is something like sensations a live person would feel when sharp needles pierce his flesh.  Then there is the realization that any exercise of free choice that was against the Will of the Creator was an act of rebellion that severed one's connection with the Almighty.  The burning regret and loneliness in gehinom takes care of that, as already decribed.  Finally, there is the realization that even permissible things that were selfishly motivated is horribly embarrassing.   (Ever been caught looking at something or doing something simply to satisfy a selfish pleasure?)   The "nahar dinor" (river of fire) takes care of that.  Chazal describe the process of coming through the nahar dinor is something like pulling a thick rope through the eye of a needle.  All in all it is a horribly long, drawn out process.  But it works.

There is another way.  Namely, work on yourself to not long for physical pleasures, exercise your free will in service of the Creator, and use even permitted pleasures as an enhancement to your relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu (k'doshim t'hi'yu) and you avoid all pain and travail of decomposing in the grave, gehinom, and the nahar dinor.  It takes work and self-control, but in the end you are spiritually lean and healthy.  Chazal call this by the catchy expression: kill yourself to avoid dying.

HaShem loves you and want you with Him to experience the wonders of olam haba.  He gave you a choice of how to get there.


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