Daf Yomi Kesubos 35
Ever wondered why when a baby is born, everyone is so happy, and yet the baby is crying?! On the flipside, when a person dies, everyone is so sad, but that soul itself is happy! Why does a baby cry when it comes into the world? Because it does not want to be here. Until now, it lived a beautiful Heavenly existence and now it has been sent down into this cold, harsh, physical world. And so, upon entry, it cries. Finally, at the end of one’s lifetime, the soul is back in Heaven and smiling once more!
But if the soul doesn’t want to be here and is happy when it finally gets back to Heaven, why does it bother coming down into this world at all?
It was taught in the Academy of Hezekiah: When one smites an animal, there is no difference whether it was accidental or purposeful, whether intentional or unintentional, or whether it was in a way of descent or ascent [with regards to liability for monetary compensation].
Your soul comes into this world in order to be challenged and grow. The Kabbalists call this journey ‘descent for the sake of ascent.’ Before you descended to earth, your soul was on a certain level in Heaven. When you do mitzvos in this physical world, your soul becomes mightier; and upon its return to Heaven, it ascends to a loftier place than it occupied previously.
Inside of you are two opposing forces: your Divine soul and your ‘animal’ soul. The former wants to be constantly involved with mitzvah performance and the service of G-d; the latter is self-serving and wants to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh and this physical world. Your mission is to smite your animal soul and keep it disciplined. The animal soul is not a bad force; it merely wants different things: it wants to eat, drink, work and play. By disciplining it, you keep it in check and ensure that all of these functions are not self-serving, but directed to the service of G-d.
King David prays in Psalms, “May all my bones declare: G-d, who is like You?” Your ultimate mission in this world is to not only keep the beast down and subjugated to the will of G-d, but to transform your animal soul to take pleasure in His service. For example, your animal soul loves to eat. So give Him the finest, most delicious food on Shabbos, which is a mitzvah!
Your soul descended in order to ascend. Challenges in this world are designed to make you grow. May you merit smiting and disciplining your inner animal and ultimately transforming it to take pleasure in the service of the Almighty!