Vayak'hel: Chapter 7

Jonah descended into the ship


In this section Rabbi Aba draws an extended parallel between the story of Jonah who went down into the ship, and the soul of man that descends into this world to dwell in the body of man. The soul is called Jonah (deceived) because after it enters the body it is deceived by the world. Because man in this world is a sinner, God rouses a mighty tempest, that is his prosecution. The soul must use his good inclination and repent of his offenses. The tempest that is the prosecution asks the king to sentence the prisoners; the counselors come forth to defend and accuse, and the prosecution asks for judgment. If the man is not found innocent those who pleaded his cause can not bring him back into this world, and the tempest grows stronger. Then three appointed messengers descend upon him: one to write down his merits and misdeeds, one to do the reckoning of the days, and one who was with him still in his mother's womb. The prosecution does not subside until the man is taken to the cemetery. If he is righteous they proclaim him homage, but if he is wicked they proclaim woe to him. Rabbi Aba says that the grave is the fish that swallowed Jonah. He describes what happens as the body decays and the man is judged and the Nefesh and the body are chastised. When the Nefesh ascends after thirty days the body rots until God rises to resurrect the dead. At that time the angel of death will depart from the world, God will destroy death forever, and there will be no more tears. Some of those in the cemetery will resurrect and some will not. Yisrael will be the first to awaken. Rabbi Aba then lists the seven ordeals that await man when he dies, and says that when King David looked at all these judgments waiting for man he hastened to bless the Holy Name while there was still time.