Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Resurrection of the Dead- Rav Moshe Shapiro

 Rav Moshe Shapiro - Exile and Exodus

Rashi explains that the refutation of Geviha ben Pesisa demonstrates how the guidance of the world is the greatest revelation of the ultimate Resurrection, for we see how those who never existed before are born and live, certainly those who once existed will return and live-if life develops from nothing, surely life should develop from the fullness of life.

Clearly, the debate was not whether the dead will come back to life. The debate was how to read the constant guidance of the world. The apostate claimed that the Creator reveals in His guidance one direction, and Geviha ben Pesisa tells him to contemplate and reflect, and he will see how the Creator pointedly reveals the fact of the ultimate Resurrection.

Further in the same section, the Talmud states (Sanhedrin 92a): "Rabbi Tevi said in the name of Rabbi Yoshiyah, "What is the meaning of that which is written (Mishlei 30:16), "Sheol and the womb ... ?"'' Sheol is the place to which man proceeds, as the Mishnah states (Avos ,1:22), "Let not your inclination promise you that sheol is your escape." To sheol, man is brought in fulfillment of the decree, "For you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Bereshis 3:19)." Yet the verse juxtaposes this with the womb from which man emerges, implying a shared quality to both.
Of this, the Talmud asks, "What connection is there between sheol and the womb? Rather, to tell you, just as the in, womb takes in and brings out, so too sheol takes in and brings out." In other words, the commonality of sheol and the womb is that both take in something and bring out life- what the womb takes in is a seed that forms life, and what sheol takes in is a seed that forms life. In the words of Rashi, "The womb takes in the seed and brings out the newborn; also sheol takes in and brings out for the Resurrection of the Dead." The Talmud continues: "Surely, the matter is a fortiori, the womb, which takes in silently, brings forth amidst great noise, certainly sheol, which takes in amidst great noise brings forth amidst great noise." The underlying implication of this inference is that the womb takes in something utterly meaningless, yet brings forth something most meaningful. Indeed, the Hebrew word for "meaning" is mashma'us, the root of which is shemiah, indicating audibility; in contrast, the Talmud refers to that which the womb takes in as a thing of silence-it does not have substance and it does not speak anything, undeserving of the designation davar, a thing that speaks (cf. Shabbos 58b). Yet what this nothingness brings forth is a complete human being who declares his existence with a greal voice, as is well known: when a newborn emerges into the world, it does so amidst a great cry, announcing, "Here I am."

Conversely, sheol takes in what it takes in amidst great noise. It takes in something respectable and significant, an entity of mashma'us, of meaning, truly deserving of the designation davar, a thing that speaks. Indeed, there is no greater davar than man (cf. Bereshis 2:7 and Targum), especially a great man, such as Rabbi Akiva, the foundation of the Oral Torah (cf. Menachos 29b), who was also brought to burial. Yet, in relation lo the ultimate human being that will eventually arise at the Resurrection of the Dead, this great noise this entire man brought to burial is like the seed in relation to the complete human being that emerges from the womb.

In conclusion, the Talmud states, "From here is a refutation to those who say that the Resurrection of the Dead does not derive from the Torah." When the Torah writes sheol and the womb in juxtaposition, it writes the Resurrection; their shared attribute teaches that sheol is also a womb, just as in Talmudic terms the womb bears the designation kever, grave (Oholos 7:4). 

 Course of the World 

The verse that juxtaposes sheol and the womb is from the wisdom of King Solomon, and Geviha hen Pesisa expresses the same concept when he says, "The nonexistent come to life, even more so those who once lived." If we observe in the world the materialization of' a complete creation from a drop of nothing, how could we not perceive the eventual emergence of a much greater creation from this complete creation? Moreover, the contrast between what is placed in the womb and the human being that emerges is the contrast between what is placed in the ground and the ultimate human being that will eventually arise by the Resurrection of the Dead. And as mentioned earlier, the discussion is not only of ordinary people. The greatest people were brought to burial-the Fathers, the Mothers, and all the great ones. All of them will arise when the dead come to life, and everything that had been brought to burial will be revealed as merely the seminal drop from which their ultimate form emerged.

From this, we learn that the Resurrection of the Dead needs to be evident from within the natural course of the world. Anyone who believes the Resurrection to be a new existence in the opposite direction of the world's guidance, some type of phenomenon that falls out of the sky and not an event from within the order of creation, is a complete denier, as Rashi states. Surely, the Creator is omnipotent-He can create something from nothing and He can revert all that exists into nothing. But anyone who believes this to be the only foundation of the Resurrection-it exists in creation only be cause of the Creator's ability to do anything and not because· the course of the world compels it, of such a believer Rashi states, "What do we have to do with his belief?" 1n other words, he believes, but his belief does not relate to us because we cannot see it in the world we both live in. As for his tradition, we did not receive it, and we do not know of it. Faith in the Resurrection requires us to see it as emanating from within our world.

This explains why the Mishnah, according to Rashi and others who read this in the Mishnah, ascribes apostasy to one who says that the Resurrection of the Dead does not derive from the Torah. As we have seen, to have faith in the Resurrection is to have faith in a world order that declares the Resurrection; the very structure of our lives needs to point to it and show that the direction of the world is from death to life. This is having faith that the Resurrection derives from the Torah, for the 'Torah is the architecture of creation (Zohar 2:16la), and all that is explicit in the Torah is explicit in creation; anyone who contemplates sees it.
Succinctly, faith is not in something that will be, but in something that is. The fundamental faith of the Resurection is not whether an event will transpire; this was never a question nor was this the subject of the debate. Certainly, whatever the Creator wants will occur. "Everything that God desires, He makes in the heavens and upon the earth, in the seas and in all the depths (Tehillim 135:6)." This is how it is in the depths of sheol and this is how it is on the face of the earth. But this is the general principle of faith. Faith in the Resurrection is the perception that the existing course of the world compels it. This faith demands that we live now within an existence that declares, "Woe to you wicked ones, for you say that the dead will not live-if the nonexistent come to life, even more so those who once lived."

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