4 Elul 5778
[How appropriate that we should arrive at this subject in the month of Elul.]
Or Hara'ayon, Chapter Eleven: "Life and Death," pp. 231 - 232...
Life was not meant for tranquility, rest or relaxation. Our sages said of Jacob (Bereishit Rabbah 84:3):
When the righteous dwell in tranquility and seek to continue doing so here on earth, Satan comes and accuses them: "Is it not enough for them that their future reward is assured, but they seek tranquility here on earth as well?" Be aware that this really occurs. Because Jacob sought tranquility, he was punished with Joseph's disappearance. It says, "Jacob dwelled" (Gen. 37:1), and "I was not at ease, neither was I quiet, neither had I rest, but trouble came" (Job 3:26). "I was not at ease" because of Esau. "Neither was I quiet" because of Laban. "Neither had I rest" because of Dinah. "But trouble came": Joseph befell me.
Life was meant not for tranquility or for our own pleasure, but for difficult and even dangerous missions through which man can ascend spiritually and suppress his evil impulse and ego. He can accept upon himself the heavy yoke of G-d and mitzvot and emulate his Creator until he ascends just short of the angels, and in fact, surpasses them because he conquers his evil impulse. Life on this earth is short and limited. It is a narrow vestibule leading to a heavenly banquet hall. "The days of our years are seventy, or even by reason of strength, eighty, yet their pride is but trouble and wretchedness. It is soon cut off and we fly away" (Ps. 90:10).
A Jew's duty, during this short period, is to live, and there is no life but that of Torah. As we recite each evening in Ma'ariv, "[Torah] is our life and the length of our days."
The day of death is the end of life, the end of man's time to do mitzvot, serve G-d and praise Him. On that day, he ceases his role, and the opportunity to be spiritually elevated, to serve G-d and praise Him comes to an end....