Death / Life ©

Parshas Chayei Sarah
Bereishis 23:1 - 25:18

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

This study is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Sakash Belk, my mother, may she rest in peace.

Ha Torah's usage of the word 'DEATH' {Vah Taw Mawt}, meaning ''and death,'' is an interesting choice because Vah Taw Mawt is not the common word for death. Moot is the common word for death. Hashem chooses special words to emphasize special meanings. Here Hashem helps us to understand what happens when our soul is released from our body at death. We discuss this more in the Parsha 400 series, in the lesson entitled The Life of the Soul, a study of Parshas Chayei Sarah.

Both Taw Mawt and Moot are found together in Hashem's warning, But from the Tree of Knowledge of what is good and evil, you shall not eat from it, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die. Bereishis 2:17 The exact translation is you will die death. This means your soul will be separated from G-d. When man ceased to observe Hashem's commands he was immediately uprooted from his place of perfection! This is what happened when man sinned. Man's soul suffered separation from G-d.

How do we know this? Neither Adam nor Chava {Eve} physically died as we thought they would based upon Hashem's instruction, you will certainly die! So what actually happened? What died? Their minds as individual computer terminals were separated from G-d, the Master Computer, if you will. They could no longer access G-d as in the past. Their access was denied!

Holy reader, each of us from birth only experiences our computer terminal being separated from G-d! We have no concept of what it may have been like being connected to access the Creator's knowledge bank. We have only experienced separation. That being the situation one must ask, What can restore our access to G-d as Adam experienced before his sin?

Our lifetime goal is to restore access through observing Hashem's Commandments as stated in Ha Torah... When we die in the physical we should be approaching a life of PERFECTION. The Gematria Mispar Katan of Vah Taw Mawt = 18 which represents Chai, meaning life. So in the same word Vah Taw Mawt we have both death and we have life.

When man is born he begins with the Aleph and through life, G-d Willing, climbs to the greatest height, to the letter Tav which is the last letter in the Aleph Bet. The Tav is 22 steps from the beginning. The letter Tav, representing observance and PERFECTION, is the letter {"sign"} that restores access to G-d! In Heaven, Hashem Begins with the Tav and reaches down to the first letter, the Aleph, where man is. So in the word Taw Mawt we see the ending letter Tav representing Hashem Reaching out to man from Heaven on the one side. On the other side we observe man at life's conclusion arriving at the Tav which represents MAN'S PERFECTION at death.

We see this being accomplished by 'Shema Yisroel':

Hear, O Israel: Hashem our G-d Hashem is One! And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart. Vih Shee Nahn Tawm {And you shall teach them completely} to your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as tefillin between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and on your gates. Devarim 6:4-9

Observance of Vih Shee Nahn Tawm restores access. How? Through the purity of loving G-d! Loving G-d is not complicated. Loving G-d is simple, honest and pure!! The Gematria of Vih Shee Nahn Tawm is 846. Vih Shee Nahn Tawm reverses the effects of separation.

We see this being accomplished by fulfilling Hashem's commandments. 'You shall keep {guard} the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command you today, {Lah Ah Soh Tawm} to do them purely.' Lah Ah Soh Tawm reinforces the importance of observance! The Gematria of Lah Ah Soh Tawm is 846. Lah Ah Soh Tawm reverses the effects of separation.

The beginning Tav represents PERFECTION and the ending Tav represents PERFECTION. At Sarah's death they witnessed that her life was {Tav} perfect - {Mem} from - {Tav} perfect. In other words, Sarah's life was perfect from beginning to end because she followed Hashem's Perfect Commands. Our sages state, 'When Sarah was 100 she was like 20 years old, regarding sin... At 20 Sarah was considered NOT to have sinned because she had not been punished for any sin.’ So in Sarah's life and death we see perfection... we see eternal life... So the focus on the title of this parsha is on life as opposed to death.

So, dear reader, how does this affect us, seeing as a more common form for the Hebrew word death is used {Moot} as opposed to Vih Taw Mawt? Is eternal life as certain for us as for our matriarch Sarah? Moot does not begin with the Hebrew letter Tav. For most of us, our beginning was considerably different than Sarah's... Yet Moot begins with the mystical letter of Mem which is the center letter of Emet, meaning truth. Also note that our final letter is a Tav which is the last letter for Emet. The middle letter is a Vav which connects the Mem {the center letter of truth} and the Tav {the final letter of truth}. {See Tav on the JewishPath Gematria page.} This indicates that our conclusion is determined by the 'Truth', by Ha Torah of Truth! The Tav was used by Hashem in Ezekiel 9 to differentiate the righteous ones destined for life in the World to Come from the wicked ones who were doomed to perish in This World and in the next. Our final destination is a Tav but our question is... Which Tav, the Tav of life or the Tav of death? In the end it depends upon our observance...

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Written in 5761
Updated in 5765

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