Chayei Sarah: Chapter 1

"So they took up Jonah, and cast him into the sea"


Here Rabbi Yosi explains the hidden meaning of the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale, and the nature of the symbols used in the story. We learn that the soul is judged each night while we sleep, and that this judgment is twofold. People are not judged according to the evil that they are destined to commit, but rather for the good that they have done and will go on to do. The question of whether The Creator takes pleasure in punishing the wicked is then raised. In answer, it is pointed out that all human beings have a predetermined amount of evil they are allowed to commit. Once this limit passed, there is pleasure at their demise.


The universal law of cause and effect is deeply embedded into our reality. For every negative action there is an equal negative reaction. The concept of time, however, creates a separation between cause and effect in our physical world. When man commits a negative deed, time delays the inevitable consequences. Repercussions from wrongful actions appear at a later date, creating the illusion that these repercussions are random events. Our negative inclination then tempts us to point the finger of blame at God because the original cause - our negative action - is forgotten and hidden somewhere in the past. A reading of this section makes us more keenly aware of our actions and the judgments they invariably bring, arousing a stronger intention to ardently walk the path of righteousness.