Wednesday, Feb 1, 2023

Moed Koton 27: Proper Preparation

On this daf, we find a discussion about burial shrouds.

Rav Chaim Palagi praises one who procures shrouds for himself: “Fortunate is one who prepares shrouds for himself in his lifetime. In this way, he will have the day of his death firmly imbedded in his consciousness. One who knows that this world is transient is less likely to sin. Most importantly, he should pay for the shrouds with money that is from the toil of his hands and that is unquestionably his. In this manner, he ensures that the very garments that will cover him in death do not arouse accusations against him.”

The Aruch Hashulchan points out that at times, it is forbidden to make shrouds: “When one is healthy it is permitted to make shrouds. One should not do so when he is ill, however, since this opens the mouths of the accusing angels.”

Towards the end of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld’s life, he confided that he never lost sight of his mortality since he had passed the age of forty. When the person with him asked if this did not have a detrimental effect on his mood, he replied, “These thoughts do not affect me adversely.”

Rav Nosson of Breslov points out that if considering end of life brings one to depression, it is counterproductive: “Focusing on how limited our time in this world will be is not meant to make us feel depressed, since that leads to listlessness. On the contrary, thinking about this must be balanced with a healthy recollection that every mitzvah is forever, and should generate a sense of purpose that leads to alacrity and joy. If thinking such thoughts lowers one’s mood, then it means that one is not on the level for them and they should be avoided” (Ruach Chaim; Aruch Hashulchan, Yoreh Deiah, 339:65; Otzar Hayirah).

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