Why There Has to Be Death?
Interview with Journalist Sharon Atia
July 23, 2003
Question: Why do we come into this world? And on the other
hand, if it took so much effort to bring us into this world, then why
do we leave it? Why do we have to die? Can we exist in this world
forever? If a human being is destined to live for 100-120 years,
wouldn't it be better if he lived for 600 years and died, after
finishing all of his incarnations? Why do we have to come back into
this world and revive it again? And the last question: if the soul is
some sort of entity that continues to live after physiological death,
then why do we relate to death as to something that happens to us and
at the same time, not to us? That is, we do exist at the place where
the eternal soul dwells - we die and have no idea what happens next. Is
it a fact that although we perceive only this world, our soul exists
simultaneously in some other dimension which is on another side of the
verge that we call death?
Where did such phenomena as death originate from? Death occurred as a
result of breaking of Adam HaRishon (lit. First Man). The
Creator created the soul, consisting of 613 (Taryag) desires.
We also call them ten Sefirot. The Creator's goal is for this
creation (called the will to receive pleasure) to attain eternity,
perfection, equality with Him - to reach the state called "Good and
This goal can be reached only if creation is one-hundred percent similar
to the Creator, for the Creator's state alone is perfect and eternal.
In order for creation to reach this state, it must realize the lowliness
of its own condition, opposite to that level and also develop an urge to
become similar to the Creator.
We can realize how opposite we are to the Creator, suffer through
sensing this oppositeness and develop a desire to correct only by the
means of prolonged, consistent, systematic implementation of numerous
Each of 613 desires, in turn, is divided into a host of parts. In order
to correct one desire after the other and afterwards connect all desires
to every other desire - literally to each of the 600,000 souls that
divided into billions of souls - one needs to work slowly and
The stages of this work are such that when a person is desperate
because of intolerability of his present state, or has reached certain
correction and even corresponds with the Creator to some degree, or has
undergone some sort of inner, qualitative (not quantitative) development,
all of his foundations turn upside down.
To turn them completely, it is necessary to sever the previous states
and ascend to a higher one. This can be achieved only when one is freed
from the previous perception of reality and slowly, gradually enters
a new attitude towards the world, starting once more from birth and
continuing on. This includes development on the animated level (i.e.,
development of human body), as well as individual, inner development.
Hence, life that seems to us lost in vain has to look exactly like
this. Attaining the entire system of creation, a Kabbalists sees that
it could have not been made different. However, we are unable to justify
what is happening.
If we consent that we are created from matter opposite to the Creator,
and thus have to undergo a series of corrections so as to reach the
peak of creation the ultimate state there is it follows that we
allegedly have to live for a thousand of years, ascending the levels of
development and enriching ourselves with various properties, perceptions
Our life should be different (not the way it is now) than when we sleep
for seven hours a day, look after ourselves and our body for a few
hours, devote a few more hours to children, take care of them or go
around with our business. Even a person who wants to immerse into the
spiritual life completely can dedicate to this end probably 2-3 hours a
day in total.
Why are we able to dedicate to our spiritual needs merely a tenth part
of our day? These needs are, in essence, the basis of our entire life,
its most important and major purpose? Why is our life so irrational?
The answer is pretty simple. There are many systems in the universe
that exist, function, develop and perfect themselves without our
intervention. For example, now I see something and within me all sorts
of processes are taking place, various wisely built systems are at
work. I'm not even aware of them; they are not accessible to my
comprehension; we cannot investigate, trigger them ourselves, control
or govern them. The body lives.
Similarly, there have to be multiple systems outside and inside of a
human being that would function both in human and spiritual aspects.
They have to be inaccessible to a person and he should not deal with
them. He has to work, be a head of a family and take care of various
things. Thanks to this, he also undergoes correction, without knowing
What we are entrusted with is utilizing these two free hours a day for
studying the authentic method of correction which we indeed can (and
are obliged to) realize independently. This method is called Kabbalah
and explains what we should do. It is enough for a person to learn for
two hours a day in order to bring the spirit of Kabbalistic sources
into the rest of everyday life.
From this moment on, advancing spiritually a person starts revealing
the reality as some unified, complex, interconnected system that brings
all still, vegetative, animated, and speaking levels of nature towards
the single goal. He sees that if he gives up all activities that do not
relate to the attainment of the goal, and situates himself inside of
this process correctly, he will succeed in all walks of life, attaining
the peak of perfection.
In the process of coming closer to the world of eternity and perfection,
we always move from imperfect to perfect and therefore are unable to
evaluate our state correctly; we cannot justify it. To us, it seems
unclear, unattainable. For not having another choice, we must progress
each time. This is why the main questions are always left unanswered.
They can be resolved only when one attains a higher level and, turning
back, really sees what happened before. But, directing his sight
forward, he is left with the same questions once again and has no
other choice but to ascend to even higher level. This is because the
process of our development is carried out from imperfect to more
Besides, liberation from beastly life and subsequent existence only in
the form of a soul between incarnations allows one to connect with
other souls. As a result, one acquires a special combination of
properties and continues his life in the next incarnation differently,
correcting the structure that was formed.
In our earthly life we are unable to connect with each other in souls,
because our bodily beastly sheath separates us, hindering this
connection. By liberating ourselves from a body, its ego and existing
only in a form of the souls, we are able to unite and later,
incarnating a new body, resume correction of the collection of
properties acquired while being outside of our body.
By correctly examining the process of interchange of live and death
in numerous reincarnations that the entire humanity goes through, we
will clearly see that in this world one carries out a special
correction of one type, while in "the other world" one carries out
special correction of the other type. Later, one again goes through
a specific correction in this world and undergoes another type of
correction while in the other world.
In other words, there have to be transitions whereby existing in a body,
one independently performs his work, interacting with the other people
through the bodily cover, and relating to them from the position of
their ego. On the other hand, existing in one's soul, in the period
between two earthly lives, one relates to the others in a different
fashion: there the form of connections is more spiritual.
Thus, from incarnation to incarnation, the form of connections becomes
more elevated both in the spiritual and corporeal sense.
We see that in our world the entire Earth is turning into a global
village. We witness unification of various nations, ideas, opinions
The same in the spiritual world - regardless of whether we exist in
the bodies or not - the souls are becoming increasingly closer. At the
end, we will reach the state when remaining in our bodies all people
will connect in their souls. Then the entire humankind, as one man
with one heart, will merge with the Upper force.
Many processes, cause-and-effect relationships are at work here,
although they cannot be explained in a simple form. Here we touch
upon the questions of why each of us is born with our specific
properties, tie our lives with one particular person, becomes a
couple with him or her, why we are born to the specific parents,
in particular circumstances and so on. We will be able to test,
calculate, measure, comprehend this only if we fully see the common
chain of corrections of all the souls and participation of each soul
in the rest of them.
Then it will become clear to us that each person undergoes his or her
own series of incarnations in the most correct, optimal and effective
manner. As a matter of fact, only these two hours a day belong to a p
erson himself and they are given to him in this life to obtain the
method of correction. This is necessary so that we treat the entire
process of correction wisely, consciously and attain it, being an
active part of it ourselves.
Question: Is death a conscious process? Subconsciously, we
Why subconsciously? If we asked a Kabbalist about death, he would
answer that he perceives death as a necessary, integral part of all
transformations that he undergoes in the process of correction from
the beginning till reaching the final goal. Each of us, even those who
now hear me for the first time have an opportunity to complete the
entire process of correction in the course of this lifetime and never
We, in essence, go through all of these incarnations in order to
eventually reach the goal equality of form with the Upper force. It
can be done even in present reincarnation. Once we hear that this is
quite realistic and doable, and learn what we should do, we have to
exert efforts, try each moment so as to never incarnate again.
Question: Souls (i.e., we) come and go from this world by our own
choice with the aim of attaining the final correction?
A Kabbalist, naturally, determines his path and agrees to it. He
lives at the level above life and death of physical body and looks at
the existence in it as to life form at the lower level in relation to
the spiritual. This is why a Kabbalist identifies himself with the
spiritual life and existence, and pays no particular importance to
the life of body.
I remember when I came to my teacher Rav Baruch Ashlag and asked him
one of my first questions: "How does a person who attained the spiritual
relate to life and death? He answered: "I see that today you came to
my lesson in a white, new, nice shirt, and later you will change it.
You know that you have to change your shirt. This is exactly how a
person that exists within his soul, looks at his body, knowing that
the time will come when it will have to be changed. And do not relate
to this in any other way than to decision of the soul."
A Kabbalist identifies with the Upper force, a higher degree so much
that he treats the level of existence in the corporeal body as something
Question: Can certain actions here, in this world help us be
worthy of a better existence after death, in the other world?
I would phrase it differently: in the spiritual world one no longer has
what he attained living in this world, except for insignificant
additional sensation that occurred as a result of freeing oneself from
the bodily problems. If one is not engaged in the spiritual, why would
it appear in him? Why on earth would he acquire the degree that he has
not deserved and has no relation to it whatsoever?
Baal HaSulam, Yehuda Ashlag, who wrote "Commentary to the book of
Zohar" and many other books on Kabbalah, explains that as one
is unable to exist in this world without knowing its nature, so cannot
the soul exist without knowing the nature of the spiritual.
We have to investigate nature in which we exist. Otherwise, we will not
be at peace with this world, will not know how to obtain food, from
what materials to make cloths. We have to study the phenomena of this
world, and I would say, control them. To the extent a person masters the
existing reality he can provide himself with all that he needs. The same
applies in the spiritual world: as my body is unable to exist in this
world without knowledge about it, so is my soul unable to exist in the
spiritual world without knowledge the spiritual world. This knowledge
can be given only by the science of Kabbalah.
Hence, if one wants to attend not only to the period called life in a
body, but also to the future portion of time called the spiritual life,
he has to simultaneously take care of both of them. This is why our
life consists of material and spiritual. Existing in that world,
outside of body, a person who hasn't yet completed his or her correction
also has to look after his soul and the future body. That is, he has
to take care of his future life in this world, into which he will soon
be born to resume the process of correction.
There is a reason why we received the knowledge about what happens
outside of our bodies, when only the souls exist. This knowledge is
transmitted to us by people who attained the spiritual world. They
say that we will not manage to establish ourselves either in this
world or in the world to come, without comprehending the spiritual in
a way we perceive the material.
The book of Zohar explains this literally on every page. All
the Kabbalistic sources are given to us for this purpose. They are most
suited to be applied by a human being. Really, what do we need in this
world? Knowledge about how to adapt to life, how to build houses, how
to provide for ourselves. We need the sacred books for things like
Kabbalistic books are necessary in order to make up for the unknown
about the spiritual world. Ultimately, if we unite complementing each
other, the two parts of our existence, both in the body and in the
soul, we will become worthy of the attainment of the Goal called the
Thought of creation: "to delight the created beings. We can say that
we are connected to the state of "delight the created beings" only at
this highest, final degree. Only this degree is eternal and perfect.
This is why Kabbalists turn to each individual regardless of sex,
nationality or age, explaining in all the languages that there is no
other way not to incarnate again and prevent all blows, misfortunes,
suffering except for comprehending the spiritual world.
Moreover, Kabbalists tell that all events of this world are, in essence,
consequences of the spiritual world, from which all forces and phenomena
descend. Here, in this world, they appear in front of us the way we see
them. Even if we want to change our life in the material body, to this
end we need to ascend to the spiritual level and make changes there, in
As a result, beneficial impulses, signals descend on us from there,
and thanks to this, we will ultimately reach a better state. And on
the contrary: suffering that we go through comes to us in order to
hasten our study of the spiritual laws, knowledge of the spiritual
reality as controlling and governing the entire creation.
Question: Does the soul stay as independent in the future stage
of its existence as it is presently? Does it determine its next
incarnation while without a body?
The soul is the basis of one's inner part, one's "I. A body, in which
it incarnates, is born and exists in this word exclusively for the
purposes of helping the soul to elevate and attain its true state.
A body is so insignificant in comparison to the soul that we can
change its parts and live, G-d forbid, without half of the organs.
This does not matter because the body exists only for the sake of the
soul. This is why, completing its correction, we completely free
ourselves from the need to incarnate the body.
Humankind is familiar with the phenomena of the soul's existence
outside of a body; many religions and belief systems realize and
understand it. However, only the method of Kabbalah gives a person
an opportunity to use it effectively. Kabbalah is a science that
supplies knowledge and a way to change one's destiny. The soul
delights so much that one no longer has to descend into this world,
into the beastly, impure body and to continue his years of suffering.
Rather, one exists in an absolutely different eternal and perfect