Trumah: Chapter 40

"And, behold, it was very good"


Rabbi Yitzchak here explains why the Angel of Death is very good, because fear of the angel and the mystery of death causes people to repent. Then, he tells us, Rabbi Shimon taught him that the Angel of Death is more important than the Angel of Life. The Elohim, we learn, created Adam, who afterwards sinned and was banished from the Garden of Eden. "And the Creator, Elohim, planted a Garden eastward in Eden" similar to the supernal Garden of Eden above.

There follows a glorious description of the Garden of Eden, which is the abode of the holy spirits, both those who have already come to this world and those that have not yet come to this world. All these spirits, we are told, are clothed in garments and have bodies and faces similar to the ones we have in this world. When the time comes to leave this world the Angel of Death strips the spirit of these garments so that he can return to the Garden of Eden and rejoin his other body. There, he can rejoice and observe the secrets he was unable to see when he was in this body. The wicked of the world who do not repent, however, are not given this other body, but are judged in Gehenom of the Earth - hell. A few who contemplated repentance in their hearts but died before they could repent rise from that fire. We learn finally there is no good intention that is lost before God, but that those who did not think of repentance descend into Sheol, never to reappear.


Fear of death is a potent thing that affects people deeply. The Angel of Death is portrayed in black with a sickle, and the sight of this dark entity can cause an awakening of our desire to correct our sins and pursue the path of spirituality. Here we achieve repentance through the purifying forces that light up this passage. This act of repentance is shared with all mankind, ending the reign of the Angel of Death and ensuring a sweet and merciful Final Redemption in our lifetime.