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Jacob Did Not Die

Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:December 24, 2015

There is a discussion in the portion Vayechi which speaks about the death of Jacob. But the Zohar says pay attention to the exact words in the Torah. It doesn't say that Jacob dies. It says words that can be misconstrued as death, but the word “death” is never said regarding Jacob.

Therefore, the Zohar says very clearly, Yaakov lo met, “Jacob did not die.” The Talmud also says this. Yaakov lo met, Jacob didn't die. Yet, if you read the story in the Torah, it says they embalmed Jacob and put him in a casket; not usually the things you do to somebody who does not die. So, the Talmud asks, did they embalm him for no reason? Did they put him in a casket for no reason? Clearly everybody thought that he had died. So, what does it mean when we say he was put in the casket after being embalmed?

As I was reading and trying to understand in a new and deeper way what it means that Jacob didn't die, when all the indications of the story - they embalmed him, they put him in the casket – point to that he did. And what is obviously being revealed to us, therefore, is the secret of going above death. So, how can we attach ourselves to that level? How can we attach ourselves to that reality?

There is a unique element of consciousness I’d like to share that the kabbalists speak about which can hopefully give all of us a taste of the reality of Yaakov lo met. Jacob didn't die. It is pretty straightforward. If you look at the explanations in the writings of kabbalists and the commentators on the Torah, everybody tries to find a logical way out of this conundrum. On one hand, the Zohar and Talmud tell us he didn't die, while on the other hand, all indications of the story are that he did die and that he was buried; literally, they take his casket up to Israel, there's a whole procession and mourning, and he's buried in Machpelah.

So, as I was reading this, and again I spent quite a few hours in different commentaries and understandings, I realized that the truth is simple. But it's simple in a way that probably none of us can truly understand. We all learn when we begin our studies of Kabbalah that this world is an illusion, that everything that we see and experience is an illusion. So we hear it, maybe, but none of us really truly lives it. If any of us really thought that this world was an illusion, so much of what worries us, bothers us, and upsets us couldn’t exist. The only reason we get angry or disappointed is because we live, and completely accept, the illusion of this world.

There's no logical way to explain that Jacob is embalmed, put in a casket, carried in a procession of mourning up to Israel, and buried in the Machpelah. There's no logical explanation, except if you're able to even on some level know that absolutely everything we see, think, and experience - and again we hear this but none of us really even begins to think of this is a possibility - is not true. This is very important because while we are still under the control of this world, we will not be able to taste the immortality of Jacob. We will not be able to manifest the End of the Correction in our world. We simply can't.

With the eyes that we currently have, we can never experience Immortality. We can never experience the removal of pain suffering and death.

So, we can do all the work that we think and desire will bring enough Light into this world to end pain suffering and death. But if you can see it, it doesn't exist. You have to work on this knowledge that nothing you see, and therefore nothing that you experience based on what you see with your eyes, is true.

How many of the sons of Jacob and how many of the people in that generation saw Jacob walking around while they saw something else being put in a casket? I don't know; but certainly not the majority. Because the majority existed in the world where we exist, where they saw a dead body even though Jacob did not die. They saw a body being embalmed, they saw a body put in a casket, and they saw a body being buried in Machpelah, because the amount of people in any generation that have true vision is very small. But in our generation, it's critical. Because while we see with these eyes that view and experience only illusion, we can’t see Immortality, we can’t see the end of pain, suffering, and death. As long as we experience the illusion of this world, we can’t see anything beyond it.

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