Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Upside Down World

Art by Xetoby

Written by Rabbi Yisroel Ciner

The Talmud [Bava Basra 10:] tells of what we now call a near death encounter. Rav Yosef the son of Rav Yehoshua was ‘dead’ for a short period of time and then was resuscitated. To his father's question of what did he see, he responded: “I saw an olam hafuch [an upside down world]. The elyonim [‘high’ people] were low and the tachtonim [‘low’ people] were high.” '

“You saw an olam barur [a clear world]!”, was his father’s response.

Rashi there explains what he saw in the following manner. The people who were ‘high’ in this world due to their wealth were in a lowly position in the next world. The poor who were treated lowly in this world were the important ones in the next. His father responded that there he saw with clarity each person’s true state.

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l asked how could Rav Yosef have called what he saw in the next world ‘upside down’? Isn’t it obvious that here in this world, with our physical eyes, we are very easily misled by the revealed actions of a person. We see the outer shell. We don’t see with clarity. Why did he call it an upside down world?

He explains the Talmud differently. The true elyonim [‘high’ people] of this world were considered to be the elyonim of the next and the tachtonim [‘lowly’ people] of this world were considered to be the tachtonim of the next. Yet, these elyonim were lower than the tachtonim! It truly was an olam hafuch [upside down world]! He couldn’t understand why Hashem had arranged the world of truth in such a fashion.

His father explained that what he had seen was an olam barur [a clear world]. Hashem only demands from a person that which is within that individual person’s ability. Those with lesser abilities and more modest potential are not expected to ‘accomplish’ as much as others. If they maximize their potentials to fulfill the purpose for which they were sent to this world, even if they’ll actually ‘accomplish’ less - performing less ma’asim tovim [good acts], studying less Torah - they will truly be the elyonim in the world of clarity. Those ‘high’ people who might have ‘accomplished’ more but where blessed with tremendous abilities which weren’t used to their fullest, those elyonim will be the tachtonim in the next world.

Source: Neveh.org

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope someone will answer my dumb question. After reading this I wonder: Is this Justice since people who do more and can do more have obviously given more?