Monday, January 31, 2011

Punishment after death for pleasure which is not for a mitzva or for the sake of heaven

Gra (Even Shleima 2:12): All the pleasures that a man enjoys in this world will become bitter in the grave. The lusting flesh will be punished in the travails of the grave. There in the grave, judgment will be exacted from every limb of his body which enjoyed material pleasure in this world that was not part of a mitzva. In fact the pleasure he experiences in this world will turn into the fiery venom of a snake. And even though the tzadikim will suffer the travails of the grave, but not for partaking in gratuitous pleasure in this world - since their intent was always for the sake of heaven. In fact for the tzadikim all the pleasure they have is considered as a mitzva since it is done for the sake of heaven and their eating is considered as a sacrificial offering.


  1. Funny, I grew up on the idea in the Yerushalmi, that for each pleasure we deny ourselves, we will have to give account for in the Heavenly court.

  2. Not sure,
    But i think this process is called "Kaf Hakela".
    The science behind it is something like this:
    The more you enjoy yourself in this world and are attached to worldly pleasures,which you experience for the sake of pleasure,and not to help with Misswoth or for God's sake,the harder,and the more torturous is your souls seperation
    from the body after death.

  3. @Eddie in UK:

    Chapter 13 of Mesillas Yesharim asks the same question. He notes the contradiction between the Yerushalmi you refer to and other divrei Chazal that seem to say the exact opposite, pointing to the spiritual value of abstaining from actions/things that are technically mutar. He uses that question as a springboard into a lengthy discussion of prishus (abstinence) and it's role in spiritual growth.

  4. Aha, Rambam writes something similar in his Guide to the Perplexed.

    Nevertheless, this is not supported by the Torah, and is also quite illogical.

    A) You can claim that everything you do is L'Shem Shamayim.

    b) Rambam is not consistent in his writings, eg he criticises physical pleasures, but in his medical works, he even writes about how to make an aphrodisiac!

    c) the question of whether this is relevant today. This is the kind of stuff that destroys self esteem.

    d) Many people who take on such self torture end up torturing others. That is straight our of psychoanalytical theory, and it explains why there are so many deviant priests, rabbis etc.

  5. Thank you Tzura for that - interesting.

    My point is that the Torah does not require us to live as ascetics - Rambam writes this in Deot, that we should not live at either extreme, of ostentation, or of self deprivation. So do the Gaon's words apply to our lives, eg can we enjoy any luxuries in this world? Is the get out clause to simply say it is all for Heaven's sake?
    I bring proof from the Torah, from Parshat Ekev:

    Dev. 8: 7; Hashem bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills;
    ח אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂעֹרָה, וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן; אֶרֶץ-זֵית שֶׁמֶן, וּדְבָשׁ. 8 a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey;
    ט אֶרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְמִסְכֵּנֻת תֹּאכַל-בָּהּ לֶחֶם--לֹא-תֶחְסַר כֹּל, בָּהּ; אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲבָנֶיהָ בַרְזֶל, וּמֵהֲרָרֶיהָ תַּחְצֹב נְחֹשֶׁת. 9 a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass

    The only restriction is the following:

    17 and thou say in thy heart: 'My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth.'

    As long as we do not become egotistical and deny G-d, there is no problem in accepting all His blessings. In fact, to shun them is to reject G-d.

  6. The Bray of Fundie said"khibut hakever. NOT kaf Hakela".
    Thanks for the correction,as i wrote above,i was not sure if that was the correct term.

    Here is my humble opinion on the Yerushalmi and the other Divrei Chazal.
    There are to different reasons for taking/using pleasure in this world.
    one:for yourself.
    two:for God.
    I don't remember which Talmid Chakham this story is about,but it happened the last couple of decades,I think it was some Rosh Yeshiva or other.
    While being driven past the Alps in Europe he requested that the car stop,he got out and looked at the alps,when asked why he said"when i die and go up,God is going to ask me"Nu insert name here what did you think of my Alps, did you enjoy them?" and I will have nothing to say.Therefore I want to look at them and enjoy them now."
    That is pleasure for the Sake of God(Mind you it does not have to be on that level,this is just an example that i like).
    On the other hand the 2 Oreo Cookies i just ate,I'm sorry to say were purely for pleasure.
    So there's the difference.
    Both are pleasure,but they are not the same.

  7. most of RISHONIM,absolutely disagree with this,this is much closer to christian theology than judaism.

  8. I believe the Chofetz Chaim in the hakdomo to mishna brurah says something pretty similar (I haven't seen it for years but I'm pretty sure that's where it is). He talks about how any eiver that did an aveira will be "injured" in the oilam ho'emes. So someone who did an aveira with his legs (like ritzas raglayim lehora) will need crutches to walk le'achar meah ve'esrim. He says this will be a big boosha because in life a person can be perceived as a big tzaddik but later it will be evident to everyone what aveiros he did during his life.

  9. The idea that any hana'as haguf, even one that does not involve any issurim, is inherently negative when pursued for its own sake made absolutely no sense to me when I first came across it as a teenager reading Mesilas Yesharim for the first time (at the time, I couldn't bear to continue reading the sefer after the first few chapters). Now, many years later, it is one of the aspects of yiddishkeit I find most meaningful.

  10. @loveAnd...

    Assuming there is no treif ingredients in the oreos, and u make the right brochos, does that make u a sinner?

    and what about having chopped herring or some whiskey at a kiddush? Oh, so the Kidddush makes it all fine.

    It is a weak argument really - and btw, Hovot halevavot goes even further, says you should consider every permitted pleasure (eg kosher food) to be as bad as chazir etc.

    It is interesting, that Haredi Orthodoxy has only shrink, who is rav Twersky, and he has written a million books on the same subject (and he said this himself, that all the books have the same theme- self esteem).

  11. @ Eddie in the UK

    1)I did not say anything about sinning.
    Please don't put words in my mouth.

    2)Read Chizki's comment,the one right before yours.
    I think he sums it up pretty well.

    3)The Chovot HaLevavot's words are not meant for everyone.
    Although it seems that according to what the the Gra is saying they would, there is the correct time and place for everything,
    Again read Chizki's comment.

    4)About R Dr Twerski,
    You are right,
    If you have self esteem you don't let what you read in the Chovot HaLevavot bother you until/if you're ready,until then you know that according to Halakha it is OK,
    and what the Chovot HaLevavot says is a Chumra which may help when and if you are ready.
    until then you are supposed to mainly ignore it,but think about it occasionally to see if you have gotten any closer to that level,if not,that's OK,not everyone will.

    R Twerski's books also deal
    with self esteem issues in secular society,there are plenty of reasons for people to have low self esteem,that is why it is such ia widespread issue.
    In the Yeshivish society,R Eidenson already posted something on that,do a search,i think it involved R Reuven Feinstein saying that Yeshivas breed low self esteem.

    Shabath Shalom


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