Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The World of Peter Pan

    I wonít grow up, no I wonít grow up.

    I will never wear a tie; no Iíll never wear a tie.

    No, I wonít grow up, never grow up, never grow up. Not I. Ė Peter Pan

One of the results of Hashem putting our holy nishamah into a corporeal body is that we are unable to see certain realities. We may be aware of them, but we canít feel them. One of these is our mortality. We have great difficulty seeing ourselves dying. Itís not that we donít want to think about death or that the thought makes us uncomfortable. Itís much more basic ó we just donít intend to die. In our operating mode of thought, itís just not going to happen. Of course, we know that it will occur, but it doesnít enter into our thinking. Intellectually we know it, but emotionally it remains in some far off place, and we certainly donít live life as if it will ever end.

For example: as a rule, mature people are responsible. They put away money for retirement. They buy life insurance ó just in case. They set up annuities for the grandchildren ó who arenít even born yet. Everything in life is all planned for. Everything all arranged. Yet somehow, there is one small detail that gets overlooked: what happens after they die?

If dying were a serious possibility, wouldnít you spend time thinking about it? You planned your career. You carefully picked a neighborhood for your family to live in. You were highly selective in choosing schools for your children. When you were sick, you didnít say, ďWeíll just see what happens.Ē Every part of life was worked out ó no stone was left unturned. Itís only this one little area you forgot to deal with: the purpose of life and what happens to me when itís over.

The reason we donít think about this is that we donít see ourselves ever dying. Of course, on one level we know it. After all, how many people do you know who shook hands with George Washington? How many people can say they met Abraham Lincoln? I may even be able to quote the annual death rate of people in my age bracket by region, but that remains in theory. In the emotional realm, in my real mode of functioning, it will never happen. And we just go on without a care in the world.

Getting Real

This blindness has a real cost. Before a person can think about living with a purpose, he must understand life. And until death becomes real to him, his life remains a never-ending Disney adventure ó the world of Peter Pan, where the current situation will last forever, and nothing bad will ever happen. Most of humanity spend their existence in this fantasy world. And much like Peter Pan, in their heart of hearts, each person feels, ďI wonít grow old. Not I. I will always be young and healthy, and of course, I will never die.Ē And so, like children, they spend their time playing with things. Big toys, little toys, trinkets and playthings, castles and moats, bridges and boats, medals of honor and badges of prestige, and of course money, money and some more money. Oh, so luscious and green and crumply. Oh, how happy it makes me!

And while itís true that in this dream world life is cheap and meaningless, it sure is fun! Live it up! You only get one shot at this thing called life ó you might as well enjoy it now. Letís party! And the carnival goes on and on and on. Until, they get sick, or old, or infirm or bored, and everything comes to a crashing halt. The party ends. And then the questions begin. Many questions. Real questions. Of course, in their fantasy lives, they were too busy to ask questions. But now, the questions appear. Questions on God. Questions on suffering. Questions that need answers. Questions that have no answers because they are based on a world of make-believe that misconstrues the very reason behind existence.

Amazingly, up until that point, not only werenít there questions, there wasnít even the realization that the celebration would one day end.

Understanding the Master Plan

This phenomenon isnít simply a quirk in human behavior. It is critical to the master plan of Creation. If I could think about my death in a real manner, it would radically change my life. I would be forced to deal with those issues that I currently ignore: Why did Hashem create me? What is it that I am supposed to accomplish with my life? These questions would loom so large in front of me that I would have to seek out answers. Those answers would compel me to change.

I wouldnít be able to live in the slumber that I do now. I could no longer spend my time on frivolous pursuits. My nishamah would scream out, ďDo something! Accomplish! How can you waste your life like that?Ē

Even the bodyís appetites and desires wouldnít be able to pull me, as I would recognize that following them damages me. I would view temptations as I do any physical danger. Just as itís obvious that no matter how thirsty I am, I wouldnít drink bleach, so, too, no amount of passion could seduce me to do things that I recognize as self-destructive. And I would ignore the bodyís foolish demands.

In short, I would live a focused, directed existence, and I would function on a lofty level and achieve great things. But it wouldnít be by choice. I would be forced into it. And that isnít free will. To allow for practical free will, both sides have to be equally viable. Living a life of purpose has to be as easy as losing oneís way. Thinking has to be effortless as going to ďsleepĒ ó getting so caught up in the process of living that I never deal with the most basic of all issues.

Because of this, no matter how obvious it is to others, his end will be hidden from him. Whether he has an IQ of 180 or the intelligence of a gnat, it will be difficult for him to see his death. And that is the critical distinction: difficult but not impossible. Man isnít forced to succeed, but success is within his reach. He can go either way. It is in his capacity to just float, never giving more than a passing thought to why he exists, or he can live with meaning and intention and craft a significant life.

Text Copyright © 2011 by Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier and

This is an excerpt from the new Shmuz on Life book: Stop Surviving, Start Living. It is powerful, thought provoking, and life changing. The book is available for purchase at Judaica stores, and



View Complete List

Chanukah Oil: A Real No-Know
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Defining Victory / Diverse Motivations
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5776

How Free Is Your Will?
Shlomo Katz - 5762


Animal House
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

Chanukah, Chutzpah, and Coming Close to G-d
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Chanukah Vs. Purim
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Growing Forever
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

The Triumph of Quality Over Quantity
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

Chanukah: Lights, Camera, Action!
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5768

> Big Returns
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5756

The Significance of the Name Succos
Rabbi Frand - 5768

Know With Whom You Are Dealing
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Meaning of Miracles
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

The Last Straw
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

Not Just Trappings
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

To Charm and Disarm
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information