By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
Before I share with you a fabulous powerful metaphor for life and the afterlife, I will begin with the following.
Rabbi Yaakov taught, based on a verse in the bible, the reward for doing good deeds is for the most part given in the afterlife, where the soul continues to live forever, after it leaves the body. Our earthly existence he would say is but an ante chamber where man trains himself for life in the eternal world to come.
The final destination is the world to come and this world is but a gateway a vestibule before the world to come. One must prepare himself and build a firm basis of good deeds in this world so they can enter and enjoy the banquet hall of the palace.
The Midrash says, “The wicked are destined to plead before G-d. “Give us a chance to repent and do more good deeds”, but G-d replies,” you foolish men! The world you inhabited is like the days before the weekend, whereas this world is like the Sabbath itself. Unless a man prepared food the day before, what will he eat on the Sabbath? The world where you lived resembles dry land, whereas this world is like the sea. Unless one prepares food while ashore, what will he eat when at sea? The world you were in is like a lobby, and this world is like the banquet hall, if a man does not qualify in the antechamber, how shall he enter the banquet hall.
The bible says, “Which I commanded you this day, to do them.” Our sages explain,” this day you are able to do them. Tomorrow is set aside for receiving the reward.” In the present world man can seek perfection through good deeds. A man’s delight in the afterlife depends on his performance upon earth. Unless he cares to improve himself in this life he will have no remedy afterlife as it is written, “That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbered (and made important).”
Once, a very long time ago, there was a town with a very strange habit. Two burly muscular men would one day grab a traveler passing by the town in the forest, and seat him on the throne in their palace. They would tell this fellow he was now their king with servants at his discretion and as much money as he desires. The fellow seeing that this was like a dream come through and experiencing all these possibilities at his fingertips would start enjoying his newly discovered power and opportunities.
Just as this fellow was coming to terms with his position and starting to make sense of his responsibilities, as unexpected as he became king, exactly a year later two burly muscular men would snatch a hold of him and place him right back on the trail he was on a year earlier in the forest. No amount of screaming or yelling that he was king etc. would help.
One day they did the same to a new unassuming innocent candidate. This fellow as he was seated on his throne, started to inquire what this practice was all about and discovered the method to the madness.
Throughout the year he kept on secretly but regularly sending money and servants to a far off island to build for himself a beautiful palace. When the surprising but not so surprising day came and the two strongmen came to jerk him out of his dream instead of screaming and yelling he took it all calmly.
This person, went straight to the shore where his servants where waiting for him to whisk him over to what he prepared throughout his fortuitous opportunity.
To read more articles from Rabbi Ezagui visit him at http://koshercaffeine.blogspot.com