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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Will you mature in the grave?

Daf Yomi Kesubos 38


Rav Frand tells the story of the opening of the Slabodka Yeshiva in Lithuania.   A Yiddish reporter noticed a little old lady going up to the bimah and handing over a few kopeks to take part in the establishment of the institute.  Continues Rav Frand: Following the destruction of European Jewish life, the Slabodka Yeshiva found a new home in Lakewood, New Jersey.  Today, thousands of men devote themselves to full-time Torah study in Lakewood.  And so that little old lady’s impact of being part of the establishment of the yeshiva continues on for generations!

Abaye taught: If a man violated a woman and she subsequently died prior to the court’s judgment against him, he is exempt from paying the fine, for the Torah states, “He shall give to the father of the girl fifty silver coins,” which means not to the father of a corpse.

This matter that was clear to Abaye was problematic to Rava, for Rava asked, ‘Is there maturity in the grave or is there no maturity in the grave?’ 
Rashi explains: If a girl was violated while still a youth but reached the age of adulthood prior to judgment in court, the fine payment goes to her, not to her father.  In the case of her death, do we account for her continued aging in the grave or not? 
The Gemara clarifies the consequences of Rava’s query: If there is maturity in the grave, the fine payment would belong to her son, but if there is no maturity in the grave, it would belong to the father.

Our souls were placed into physical bodies in this world to do mitzvos.  Generally, once the soul has passed on into the Next World, it is game over.  It can no longer attain any spiritual accomplishments.  Whatever it achieved during its sojourn on earth determines its place in Heaven.  The more good it achieved, the higher the eternal resting place.

That conclusion, however, is based merely on one’s own achievements.  It does not take into account the continued impact of one’s deeds.  Every person you impact and influence during your lifetime continues to have an effect on your soul’s journey after your life on earth.  And so with those few kopeks, that little old lady bought a share in the Torah study of the Lakewood yeshiva.  Every word of Torah studied today, her soul is elevated a little bit higher. 

Thus, the question we must constantly ask ourselves during our lifetimes is: Is there maturity in the grave or is there no maturity in the grave?  In other words, when you die, will it be game over, or will your soul continue to mature and grow, due to the continued impact of the influence you had on others during your lifetime?

When you encourage someone to do a mitzvah with a long-term impact that has the potential to reverberate for generations.  Let’s say you teach them how to light Shabbos candles and make Kiddush and they then decide to initiate those rituals into their family – their kids who see that may very well choose to incorporate the practice into their homes as they grow up.  And so on and so forth, the impact will G-d willing continue for eternity!  And so your soul will continue to mature for eternity.

Will you experience maturity in the grave?  Do you seek opportunities to influence those around you for generations to come?  May you merit creating abundant impact throughout your life and having eternal maturity in the grave!