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Or Yesharim: Shema

The 13th of Shevat is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Mordechai of Lechovitz, founder of  Kobrin and Slonim dynasties (1810). He always told his chassidim that he first learned Torah from Rav Aharon of Karlin, who taught him Torah from the heart. He was succeeded by his son Rav Noach, after whom my great-grandfather was named, and then my uncle Rav Noach zt”l.

“Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your Mitzvot, and unify our hearts to love and be in awe of Your Name, so that we may not feel inner shame nor be humiliated, nor stumble for all eternity.” (From Ahavah Rabbah – the blessing immediately before the morning Shema.)

It is interesting that we speak of “all eternity,” as if we are not focusing only on this world or the World to Come, but on both. How could we possibly stumble in the World to Come?

When a soul arrives in the Upper Worlds, two groups of angels gather on either side of the soul. A group of holy angels that advocate for the soul, stands on the right, speaking to the soul of all the holiness and spiritual heights it achieved on this world. A second group, that of accusing angels, stands on the left. They speak to the soul of all the physical pleasures it experienced on this world, attempting to have the soul focus only on the physical.

At that point, the soul must choose on which part of its life it will focus as it stands in judgment. If a soul was able to master and control its physical drives while in a body, it will be able to withstand the angels to the left. It will stand in judgment as a spiritual being and will be judged as such.

However, if the soul did not achieve Torah, attachment, love and awe, and defined itself as a physical being, then it will submit to the angels of the left and, even in asking for Eternal Life, will be focused on limited pleasures.

We therefore ask God to help us now so that we will stand in judgment for eternal life focused on our spiritual essence. (Or Yesharim – Mari Dachya, Page 19)

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