Should Man Have Been Created?
For two-and-a-half years the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel were locked in a basic dispute: Is it better that man was created or would he have been better off never having been created?
One side argued that man would have been better off never having been created since he suffers so much, while the other group declared that even so, man is better off having been created. Finally, they agreed upon the following proposition:
It would have been better for man had he not been born, but since he was created, let his life be devoted to searching his deeds and returning to G-d.
This is the goal of man on this world. But just how does the great process of creating a human being, of taking a soul and placing it on the earth, come about? Let us see.
A Child Is Born
Before the formation of the child in the mother's womb, the Almighty is approached by the angel who is in charge of birth, with a drop in his hand:
"Oh, Sovereign of the Universe," he says, "the soul which will be placed here - what is it to be?"
And the Almighty thereupon decrees whether this future child will be male or female, weak or strong, wealthy or poverty-stricken, tall or short, beautiful or
ugly, thin or fat. He decrees all that will happen to the child - where it will live, who it will marry, etc, and all that will transpire.
One thing, however, he does not decide. He does not decide whether the future child, the future human being, will be good or evil, for this is in the hands of the person himself; he alone has the choice of good or evil.
`Bring Me The Soul'
Following this, the Almighty calls to the angel who is appointed over the various souls that are assembled in the Heavens.
"Bring Me such and such a soul which can be found in Gan Eden."
When the soul is brought before the Almighty it bows before Him, and the Almighty says:
“I desire that you enter this drop so that you will leave this world and enter the world of humanity."
Immediately, the soul begins to protest and says: "Oh, L-rd of the Universe, I am more than happy with the world in which I find myself today.
"Behold, today I am holy and pure and formed in the .image of the Almighty. Why do You desire that I enter this drop and become part of a physical and mor-tal body?"
The Soul Learns...
Immediately, the soul is placed within the drop and placed in the mother's womb. There, two angels guard him from harm, and he is able to see all that transpires throughout the world.
The angel tells him to look around, and he suddenly beholds Gan Eden where he sees the righteous sitting with their heads covered, enjoying the magnificence of the Glory of G-d.
"Do you know who these are?" the angel asks the soul.
"These that you see here were once just as you. They were placed in the world and observed the Torah and the commandments carefully. Because of this they were given the great privilege of being placed forever in Gan Eden.
Know, little soul, that if you observe the Laws of G-d, you too will merit this great reward."
... And Learns
The following night the angel shows the soul the terrors of Gehinom and asks him:
"Do you know who these are?" "No, I do not."
"These are also souls who were once just as you They, however, entered the world and sinned and violated the Commandments of G-d. Because of this, they have been plunged into this terrible shame.
"Know little soul, that the choice is yours. It is within your hands to either observe the law and receive the reward of Gan Eden or violate it and suffer the punisments of Gehinom."
Thus the angel teaches the little soul. He walks with him and shows him the place where he is destined to die and the place where he is destined to be buried. He shows him all the righteous and the wicked living on earth – indeed he shows him everything.
Ready To Be Born
Having seen all this and impressed by all that he has been taught, the soul rests within his mother for nine months, eating and drinking all that she eats and drinks. Towards the end of this period, the angel comes to the soul and says:
"Your time has come to go out to the air of the outside world."
"Why must I go?" the soul begins to wail.
"You must listen to me, my little soul. Despite yourself you were created, and in spite of yourself, you will die, and in spite of yourself are you destined to give an account of your deeds before the Almighty."
Crying in protest, the soul refuses to leave until the angel strikes him and forcibly drags him to the world outside. This is why the child cries when he comes into the outside, for he has lost the comfort that he had for so long and is forced to go out to the hostile and dangerous world. Immediately upon leaving and going into the world, however, the soul forgets all that transpired before.
At The Final Moments
In the final moments of a man's life, the same angel who taught him when he was yet unborn, comes to him once again and asks:
"Do you recognize me?"
"Yes, I do," replies the man. "But tell me, why do you come to me on this day of all days?"
"I come today," replies the angel, "because it is time for you to leave this world. It is the hour of your passing."
Immediately, the man begins to cry out: "I do not wish to die,"
"Behold," says the man to the angel, "You have already taken me out of two worlds and placed me in this world. Let me now stay where I am."
But the angel shakes his head sadly and says:
"Do you not remember that I told you when you were still so young: 'In spite of yourself are you created and in spite of yourself you must die?' Now is the time for the final thing that I said, that in spite of yourself you must now give an accounting of your deeds in this world before the Almighty."
And so man is born and lives and dies. At birth he knows what he must do and in his lifetime he knows what he must accomplish. The rest is up to him.
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Page last updated - 08/07/2009