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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Never tell anyone "Go in Peace"!


Daf Yomi Moed Katan 29

Sandra has a difficult life.  Now in her late seventies, she has been a widow for fifteen years.  She still has a disabled adult child living at home and every day she goes faithfully off to work to make ends meet.  She is constantly on the go – everyone knows that if you ever need anything, just call Sandra.  She gives rides to this person, meals to that person and is the lifelong sisterhood president!

How does she do it?  Will things ever get easier for her?

Rabbi Levi ben Hitha taught: One bidding farewell to the dead should not say ‘Go to peace’, but ‘Go in peace’; one bidding farewell to the living should not say to him ‘Go in peace’. But ‘Go to peace’. One bidding farewell to the dead should not say to him, ‘Go to peace’, as G-d said to Abraham, “For you shall go to your fathers in peace, you shall be buried.”  One bidding farewell to the living should not say to him, ‘Go in peace’, but ‘Go to peace’, for David said to Absalom, “Go in peace,” and he went and was hanged; whereas, Jethro said to Moses, “Go to peace,” and he went and succeeded.  

Rabbi Levi taught: One who leaves the synagogue and goes to the Study Hall (Beis Medrash) or from the Study Hall to the synagogue shall gain the privilege of being admitted into the Divine Presence (Shechinah), as it is said, “They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before G-d in Zion.”   
Rabbi Chiya bar Ashi quoted Rav, who taught: Torah scholars have no rest even in the World to Come, as it is said, “They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before G-d in Zion.”

What is the difference between ‘Go in peace’ and ‘Go to peace’?   The former connotes that one has finally reached peace and is akin to the expression ‘Rest in peace’.  Once you are ‘in peace,’ there’s nothing left to do and that’s why we offer the blessing to the deceased.

‘Go to peace,’ however, suggests that you are not there yet.  You are still working towards that final destination.  And that’s the proper departing blessing to a living friend.  As long as G-d has still kept you on this planet, you’ve got work to do – you haven’t finished your mission and you are still going towards peace, but not there yet. 

The worst thing you can tell someone is that their job is done and they have no more purpose.  If I have no purpose in this world, you might as well shoot me now.   The greatest blessing is to wish someone success as they continue on life’s mission. 

But, as Rav, teaches us, once you reach the grave, you’re done… unless you’ve made such spiritual waves during your lifetime that the results of your impact continue after your  passing from this world.  When that happens, you continue to climb “from strength to strength” – from one level of Heaven to another – for all eternity!


Keep moving!  Keep achieving!  You’re still here, because you still have so much to achieve!  And if you play your cards right while you’re here, you’ll never rest, even in the World to Come!