BAM 19 – Life after death

The Gemara hides an incredibly deep concept in some seemingly simple words that we could easily gloss over and understand simply at the surface level. The Gemara states that a healthy person who wishes to give someone else a gift that should take effect after his death must say that it is transferred ‘from today until after my death.’ Only with this declaration is it considered similar to the regular statement of a deathly ill person. Such a sickly individual need only state that something should be given to another party and the gift takes effect fully after his death.

Hidden here is a great depth. The reason the deathly ill person need only make a simple statement, and it is transferred post mortem, is because there is intense power in his words. Why is there such power in his command? The answer lies in what the healthy person must say in order for his statement to take effect in a similar way. He must say, ‘from today until after my death.’ There is a recognition that is automatic for a deathly ill person that takes greater effort for the healthy individual. That is, that what I do now has an affect after my death! This is a natural understanding for someone who is deathly ill. This understanding is what gives power to his statement to take effect.

This is a tremendous lesson – the effect of our actions and words is increased manifold by our recognition of its effects on the world, at every level of reality – from the spiritual to the physical. Many times we do not realize the power of our words until it is too late. After 120, Hashem reveals it to us, as the Nefesh Hachaim explains the passuk מגיד לאדם מה שיחו – that Hashem reveals to a person the true effects of his speech; after his death.

For the deathly ill person, he sees it more and more clearly as he nears that final revelation. That is why his words have such power. A healthy person can also tap into that power if he recognizes the effect of his words – ‘מהיום ולאחר מיתה’ – ‘from today until after my death.’

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