Acharei: Choose Life

My apologies for not getting this out before Shabbos.  I had dentist appointments for all the kids on Friday morning, and since we knew everything was going to be extra safe there, we took what  appointment we could get, so we wouldn’t have to wait a whole year until we could get another appointment. 


However, I didn’t know that the bus system would be closed nationwide during that period.  So… the kids and I did a 2.2 km hike there and 2.2 km back.  And in Israel, we could honestly say, it was uphill both ways.  Since it was the first time in nearly two months that the kids went more than a few hundred meters from the house, nobody really complained about the trip.


You shall observe My statutes and My ordinances, which a man shall do and live by them. I am the Lord" (Vayikra 18:5). 


We need a little Breslov today.


I saw in the Likutei Halachos (yes, I have a set of Chumashim with Rebbe Nachman) something interesting.  He explains, on the words “and live by them,” that man has the power of freewill and choice.  And through this power of choice, he can actually annul death itself.  Obviously, we are not talking about a physical death, since we all eventually die, but rather a higher-level of death, if you will.  By sanctifying himself through Torah and mitzvos, he will continue to live, even after his body passes away.  Death has no power over his true essence.  That is why tzaddikim are called "alive" even after they are "dead." 


An animal on the other hand, has no freewill or power of choice.  His existence is in this world only.  When his physical existence ends, so does his spiritual.  That is why when an animal dies a natural death, it is forbidden to eat it.  It lived its existence, and death took hold of it.


However, when a Jew slaughters an animal in a kosher manner, the animal’s spiritual life is not ending in a natural, physical way, but rather it’s ending in a spiritual and uplifted manner.  In such a case, death never took hold over the animal's spiritual nature, and therefore is now permissible for consumption.


When we use our time properly in this world, death has no grip on our spiritual essence.  However, if we live our lives like animals do, without thought or reason, only “going through life,” then we are simply letting the physical world overcome our spiritual essence.