Da’at Tevunot -- The Knowing Heart
Section 2, Chapter 3
By Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Frankly, though, the question can be asked, "That's all well and good for
the body, but how does it benefit the soul?" How is it to the soul's
advantage to purify the body? The quick answer lies in the fact
that at bottom the soul's primary function in this life is just that: to
purify the body (by means of the mitzvah system) . And though it
certainly has other functions once it leaves this world , the soul
would obviously be rewarded for having carried out its vital mission here.
The point remains, though, that the soul also blooms on its own in the
here and now in very subtle but vital ways beyond our ken; but it doesn’t
yet live up to its full potential .
But there's even more to it than that, though, which touches upon the whys
and wherefores of the resurrection of the dead -- which is of course the
subject at hand. So let's get back to that, and then return to what the
soul gains from having purified the body.
Everyone has to have asked at one point or another why we must die -- why
G-d couldn't have created a world in which mankind lives forever. After
all, Adam and Eve would have been immortal had they not sinned, so the
implication is that immortality was originally the rule. (Indeed, the very
for immortality is often said to be rooted in the dream to return to the
Garden of Eden and undo all the harm done by our having been cast out of
In any event, Adam and Eve's having eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge
of Good and Evil did indeed bring death into the world . Had they not
done that, the soul would have purified the body right there and then, and
our mission would have been accomplished from the first .
Thus, among the very many consequences of their sin was the fact that the
soul was forced to carry out its primary task of purifying the body in the
new context of mortality and slow progression – that’s to say, in the
world as we now know it.
For not only was immortality and purity undone with Adam and Eve’s sin:
instantaneousness was, too. For while the world was created in a linear
mode (in seven days, with one thing leading successively to another), that
system was to have been undone had Adam and Eve not sinned. Thus
everything -- the soul included -- is now forced to succumb to time and to
the slow, plodding ways of life ... and of death … due to Adam and Eve’s
Understand, though, that our "death sentence" has nothing to do with our
own individual sins. After all, some utterly righteous and pure
individuals who deserved immortality still and all die
d because of that first sin . The point nonetheless is that death is a
consequence of events and serves a purpose; and that G-d could certainly
have created an immortal world but He did not for the above reason.
But let's get back to the resurrection of the dead (one of the points of
which is the fact that though death is purposeful for now it will be
Though a lot of the impurity that infests the body starts to become undone
with the desiccation that begins when the flesh returns to its elements,
the process of purification is only completed when body and soul are
reunited in the course of the resurrection . And that’s the greatest
role of the resurrection.
For that's when "the soul will re-enter the body with all the strength of
its good deeds, and with the gleam of Celestial Light it had acquired ...
in the Afterlife,"  as Ramchal puts it here. As it's then, after the
resurrection, that "the soul will emit a great Light which will utterly
purify the body" and make it possible for it to be "healed of all the harm
originally done to it" by its sins .
And then finally after the resurrection, in the World to Come, the soul
will be rewarded in full for its efforts back here, on
That also tells us, by the way, that there are actually two periods of
reward and punishment: the Afterlife and the World to Come. So while20
the resurrection will indeed be staggering, tumultuous, and utterly
otherworldly, it will still and all not be the great and cosmic "be all
and end all" … the World to Come will.
In a way, then, the resurrection will serve the same function in relation
to the World to Come as this world does in relation to the Afterlife. In
that both the resurrection and this world are byways and ports-of-call in
which one is readied for his eventual destination. Our sages abridged the
whole process by saying that "this world (and thus the period of the
resurrection of the dead) is like a vestibule to the World to Come"
(Pirkei Avot 4:16).
 This is consistent with Luzzatto's remarks in The Path of the Just
that "Our sages ... taught us that we were created to delight in G-d and
to enjoy the radiance of His Divine presence ... in the World to Come ....
And (that) the means to bring you to this goal are the mitzvot" (Ch. 1),
suggesting that the mitzvot act as a kind of "steam” for the locomotion
toward the ultimate end.
Ramchal cites Zohar 1 p. 115a (Midrash Ne’elam) here and later on as a
depiction of this, which ties in the idea that since the soul would have
glorified G-d in its deeds here it would itself be glorified in the end.
 This refers to the soul's functions in the
0ASee our work on Derech Hashem (“The Way of G-d” 1:3:12) where we cited
Luzzatto's statement that "while in the body, the soul was associated with
rank physicality and evil in the natural course of things, and couldn't
shake them off. It suffered as a consequence, and experienced dimming and
darkening.... And any degree of perfection it attained in the performance
of mitzvot in this world was suppressed and made to sit dormant in the
soul's inner-core. The soul becomes frustrated, if you will, as a
consequence, since it can't radiate the way it's capable of doing.... But
the soul's sense of frustration and suppression is alleviated in the Soul
World (i.e., in the Afterlife). For there, the soul can radiate freely and
to the degree appropriate to it, in light of the mitzvot it performed in
life. The soul thus regains in the Soul World what it lost in life, and it
also thus better prepares itself for what it will ultimately do and was
created to do -- purify the body after the resurrection, when the two will
 In his note (46*) R’ Shriki cites Ramchal’s statement in Tikkunim
Chaddashim (28) to the effect that Torah study is especially beneficial to
the soul’s status while in this world -- but the type of study that
focuses on the soul’s “comprehending its Source and delighting in It”.
That’s to say that when the soul is allowed to dwell on its Source, as it
will in the Afterlife and in the World to Come, it’s allowed a touch of
that in the here and now.
 They were told, "You may eat freely from any tree of the Garden but
the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil ...; for on the day you do eat
from it, you (and all of mankind) will surely die (as a consequence)"
 See Derech Hashem 1:3.
 See the statement that certain "individuals (who were so righteous and
sinless that they wouldn't have been expected to die, nonetheless) died as
a consequence of the advice the serpent (gave Eve that lead to her sin)"
(Baba Battra 17a).
 See note 5 to chapter 2:1 above about the idea of the "remarriage"
and "reuniting" of body and soul.
 In order to shed light on the chronology, here’s the process laid out:
the soul experiences the Afterlife after death, it then returns to the
body at the resurrection, and the two then join together in the World to
 Recall that when Ramchal speaks of the soul re-entering the body with
all the strength of "its" good deeds he's of course referring to all the
good deeds that the individual who "inhabited" that body had done. See
note 5 to the previous chapter.
See Derech Hashem 1:3 for more on this (aside from the citations in
notes 2 and 5 above).
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason
Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various
locations on the Web.