The Circle of Life

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(יז) צָר֖וֹר אֶת־הַמִּדְיָנִ֑ים וְהִכִּיתֶ֖ם אוֹתָֽם׃ (יח) כִּ֣י צֹרְרִ֥ים הֵם֙ לָכֶ֔ם בְּנִכְלֵיהֶ֛ם אֲשֶׁר־נִכְּל֥וּ לָכֶ֖ם עַל־דְּבַר־פְּע֑וֹר וְעַל־דְּבַ֞ר כׇּזְבִּ֨י בַת־נְשִׂ֤יא מִדְיָן֙ אֲחֹתָ֔ם הַמֻּכָּ֥ה בְיוֹם־הַמַּגֵּפָ֖ה עַל־דְּבַר־פְּעֽוֹר׃

(17)Assail the Midianites and defeat them— (18) for they assailed you by the trickery they practiced against you—because of the affair of Peor and because of the affair of their kinswoman Cozbi, daughter of the Midianite chieftain, who was killed at the time of the plague on account of Peor.”

צרור. כְּמוֹ זָכוֹר, שָׁמוֹר, לְשׁוֹן הוֹוֶה — עֲלֵיכֶם לְאַיֵּב אוֹתָם:

צרור — This grammatical form is similar to זכור and שמור: it expresses the idea of continuous present action — You must [constantly] show enmity toward them.

צרור. שם הפועל כמו זכור את יום השבת:

HARASS. Tzaror (harass) is an infinitive. (It is vocalized with a kamatz. An imperative is vocalized with a sheva.) It is like the word zakhor (remember) (Which is also vocalized with a kamatz rather than with a sheva.) in Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

צרור כמו זכור שמור לשון הווה עליכ' לאייב אותם. דעת רש"י ז"ל בזה משונה מדעו' המדקדקי' שכולם חושבים שהוא מקור במקום צווי חסר תצרור ודעת רש"י ז"ל היא שאין זה לא צווי ולא מקור רק הווה עתיד שפירושו עליכ' לצרור אותם תמיד וכן זכור ושמור עליכם לזכור ולשמור את יום השבת תמיד

  1. to bind, be narrow, be in distress, make narrow, cause distress, besiege, be straitened, be bound

    1. (Qal)

      1. to bind, tie up, shut up

      2. to be scant, be cramped, be in straits

    2. (Pual) to be bound, be tied up

    3. (Hiphil)

      1. to make narrow for, cause distress to, press hard upon

      2. to suffer distress

  2. to show hostility toward, vex

    1. (Qal)

      1. to show hostility toward, treat with enmity, vex, harass

      2. vexer, harasser (participle)

צָרַר tsârar, tsaw-rar'; a primitive root; to cramp, literally or figuratively, transitive or intransitive:—adversary, (be in) afflict(-ion), beseige, bind (up), (be in, bring) distress, enemy, narrower, oppress, pangs, shut up, be in a strait (trouble), vex.

Lexicon :: Strong's H6887 - ṣārar

כִּ֣י אִם־שָׁמ֤וֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע֙ בְּקֹל֔וֹ וְעָשִׂ֕יתָ כֹּ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲדַבֵּ֑ר וְאָֽיַבְתִּי֙ אֶת־אֹ֣יְבֶ֔יךָ וְצַרְתִּ֖י אֶת־צֹרְרֶֽיךָ׃

but if you obey him and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.

וְאִשָּׁ֥ה אֶל־אֲחֹתָ֖הּ לֹ֣א תִקָּ֑ח לִצְרֹ֗ר לְגַלּ֧וֹת עֶרְוָתָ֛הּ עָלֶ֖יהָ בְּחַיֶּֽיהָ׃

Do not take [into your household as a wife] a woman as a rival to her sister and uncover her nakedness in the other’s lifetime.

וְכִֽי־תָבֹ֨אוּ מִלְחָמָ֜ה בְּאַרְצְכֶ֗ם עַל־הַצַּר֙ הַצֹּרֵ֣ר אֶתְכֶ֔ם וַהֲרֵעֹתֶ֖ם בַּחֲצֹצְרֹ֑ת וְנִזְכַּרְתֶּ֗ם לִפְנֵי֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וְנוֹשַׁעְתֶּ֖ם מֵאֹיְבֵיכֶֽם׃

When you are at war in your land against an aggressor who attacks you, you shall sound short blasts on the trumpets, that you may be remembered before your God יהוה and be delivered from your enemies.

(לד) וַיִּשָּׂ֥א הָעָ֛ם אֶת־בְּצֵק֖וֹ טֶ֣רֶם יֶחְמָ֑ץ מִשְׁאֲרֹתָ֛ם צְרֻרֹ֥ת בְּשִׂמְלֹתָ֖ם עַל־שִׁכְמָֽם׃

(34) So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls wrapped in their cloaks upon their shoulders.

וַיָּ֤קׇם אָדָם֙ לִרְדׇפְךָ֔ וּלְבַקֵּ֖שׁ אֶת־נַפְשֶׁ֑ךָ וְֽהָיְתָה֩ נֶ֨פֶשׁ אֲדֹנִ֜י צְרוּרָ֣ה ׀ בִּצְר֣וֹר הַחַיִּ֗ים אֵ֚ת יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ וְאֵ֨ת נֶ֤פֶשׁ אֹיְבֶ֙יךָ֙ יְקַלְּעֶ֔נָּה בְּת֖וֹךְ כַּ֥ף הַקָּֽלַע׃

And if anyone sets out to pursue you and seek your life, the life of my lord will be bound up in the bundle of life in the care of the LORD; but He will fling away the lives of your enemies as from the hollow of a sling.

תַּנְצְבָ״ה MH initials of the words תְּהִי נִשְׁמָתוֹ צֽרוּרָה בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים (inscription on tombstones meaning ‘May his soul be bound up in the bond of life’), based on the sentence וְהָיְתָה נֶפֶשׁ אֲדוֹנִי צְרוּרָה בִּצֽרוֹר הַחַיִּים (= ‘May the soul of my lord be bound up in the bond of life’, Sam. I 25:29).

אף על פי שמנהג של הזכרת נשמות בתפילה מוזכר כבר אצל הגאונים, תפילה הנקראת "אל מלא רחמים" אינה נמצאת אצל הראשונים. הראשון להזכיר תפילה בשם "אל מלא רחמים" הוא בספר מעבר יבוק שיצא לאור בשנת 1626[5]

אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים, הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה עַל כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וּטְהוֹרִים כְּזוֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים אֶת נִשְׁמַת פלוני בן פלוני שֶׁהָלַךְ לְעוֹלָמוֹ, בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁנָדְבוּ צְדָקָה בְּעַד הַזְכָּרַת נִשְׁמָתוֹ, לָכֵן בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים יַסְתִּירֵהוּ בְּסֵתֶר כְּנָפָיו לְעוֹלָמִים, וְיִצְרֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמָתוֹ, ה' הוּא נַחֲלָתוֹ, וְיָנוּחַ בְּשָׁלוֹם עַל מִשְׁכָּבוֹ, וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן:

O G‑d, full of compassion, Who dwells on high, grant true rest upon the wings of the Shechinah (Divine Presence), in the exalted spheres of the holy and pure, who shine as the resplendence of the firmament, to the soul of

(mention his Hebrew name and that of his father)

who has gone to his [supernal] world, for charity has been donated in remembrance of his soul; may his place of rest be in Gan Eden. Therefore, may the All-Merciful One shelter him with the cover of His wings forever, and bind his soul in the bond of life. The Lord is his heritage; may he rest in his resting-place in peace; and let us say: Amen.

יִזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים נִשְׁמַת אָבִי מוֹרִי (שם האב בן שם אביו) שֶׁהָלַךְ לְעוֹלָמוֹ, בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁאֶתֵּן בְּלִי נֶדֶר צְדָקָה בַּעֲדוֹ. בִּשְׂכַר זֶה תְּהֵא נַפְשׁוֹ צְרוּרָה בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים עִם נִשְׁמַת אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב, שָׂרָה רִבְקָה רָחֵל וְלֵאָה, וְעִם שְׁאָר צַדִּיקִים וְצִדְקָנִיּוֹת שֶׁבְּגַן עֵדֶן. וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן.

Remember, God, the soul of my father, my teacher (the name of the father, son of the name of his father), who went to his world, because I will - without making a vow - give charity for him. In recompense for this, let his soul be bound with the Binding of life (God), with the soul of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov, Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah, and with the other righteous men and women in the Garden of Eden. And let us say, Amen.

(סג) אֵ֚לֶּה פְּקוּדֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֔ה וְאֶלְעָזָ֖ר הַכֹּהֵ֑ן אֲשֶׁ֨ר פָּֽקְד֜וּ אֶת־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ בְּעַֽרְבֹ֣ת מוֹאָ֔ב עַ֖ל יַרְדֵּ֥ן יְרֵחֽוֹ׃ (סד) וּבְאֵ֙לֶּה֙ לֹא־הָ֣יָה אִ֔ישׁ מִפְּקוּדֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֔ה וְאַהֲרֹ֖ן הַכֹּהֵ֑ן אֲשֶׁ֥ר פָּקְד֛וּ אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בְּמִדְבַּ֥ר סִינָֽי׃ (סה) כִּֽי־אָמַ֤ר יְהֹוָה֙ לָהֶ֔ם מ֥וֹת יָמֻ֖תוּ בַּמִּדְבָּ֑ר וְלֹא־נוֹתַ֤ר מֵהֶם֙ אִ֔ישׁ כִּ֚י אִם־כָּלֵ֣ב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּ֔ה וִיהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ בִּן־נֽוּן׃ {ס}

(63) These are the males enrolled by Moses and Eleazar the priest who registered the Israelites on the steppes of Moab, at the Jordan near Jericho. (64) Among these there was not one of those enrolled by Moses and Aaron the priest when they recorded the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai. (65) For יהוה had said of them, “They shall die in the wilderness.” Not one of them survived, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

(יב) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה עֲלֵ֛ה אֶל־הַ֥ר הָעֲבָרִ֖ים הַזֶּ֑ה וּרְאֵה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תִּי לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (יג) וְרָאִ֣יתָה אֹתָ֔הּ וְנֶאֱסַפְתָּ֥ אֶל־עַמֶּ֖יךָ גַּם־אָ֑תָּה כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר נֶאֱסַ֖ף אַהֲרֹ֥ן אָחִֽיךָ׃ (יד) כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ מְרִיתֶ֨ם פִּ֜י בְּמִדְבַּר־צִ֗ן בִּמְרִיבַת֙ הָֽעֵדָ֔ה לְהַקְדִּישֵׁ֥נִי בַמַּ֖יִם לְעֵינֵיהֶ֑ם הֵ֛ם מֵֽי־מְרִיבַ֥ת קָדֵ֖שׁ מִדְבַּר־צִֽן׃ {ס}

(12) יהוה said to Moses, “Ascend these heights of Abarim and view the land that I have given to the Israelite people. (13) When you have seen it, you too shall be gathered to your kin, just as your brother Aaron was. (14) For, in the wilderness of Zin, when the community was contentious, you disobeyed My command to uphold My sanctity in their sight by means of the water.” Those are the Waters of Meribath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin.

(ג) עֵ֤ת לַהֲרוֹג֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִרְפּ֔וֹא עֵ֥ת לִפְר֖וֹץ וְעֵ֥ת לִבְנֽוֹת׃ (ד) עֵ֤ת לִבְכּוֹת֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִשְׂח֔וֹק עֵ֥ת סְפ֖וֹד וְעֵ֥ת רְקֽוֹד׃ (ה) עֵ֚ת לְהַשְׁלִ֣יךְ אֲבָנִ֔ים וְעֵ֖ת כְּנ֣וֹס אֲבָנִ֑ים עֵ֣ת לַחֲב֔וֹק וְעֵ֖ת לִרְחֹ֥ק מֵחַבֵּֽק׃ (ו) עֵ֤ת לְבַקֵּשׁ֙ וְעֵ֣ת לְאַבֵּ֔ד עֵ֥ת לִשְׁמ֖וֹר וְעֵ֥ת לְהַשְׁלִֽיךְ׃

(3) A time for slaying and a time for healing,-c
A time for tearing down and a time for building up;
(4) A time for weeping and a time for laughing,
A time for wailing and a time for dancing;
(5) A time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
A time for embracing and a time for shunning embraces;
(6) A time for seeking and a time for losing,
A time for keeping and a time for discarding;

עֵת לְהַשְׁלִיךְ אֲבָנִים. בַּחוּרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֻשְׁלָכִים בְּחֻרְבַּן הַבַּיִת, "תִּשְׁתַּפֵּכְנָה אַבְנֵי־קֹדֶשׁ:"

A time to cast away stones. The youths of Yisroel scattered during the destruction of the Beis [Hamikdosh], as it is stated, “sacred gems are scattered.”

וְעֵת כְּנוֹס אוֹתָם מִן הַגּוֹלָה, "וְהוֹשִׁיעָם ה' אֱלֹהֵיהֶם בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא כְּצֹאן עַמּוֹ כִּי אַבְנֵי־נֵזֶר מִתְנוֹסְסוֹת עַל־אַדְמָתוֹ:

And a time to gather them from the exile, as it is stated, “And Adonoy their God will save His people like sheep on that day, for the stones of the crown will be exalted over His land.”

A beautiful answer takes it cue from the inscription on many gravestones. The Hebrew abbreviation taf, nun, tsadi, bet, hey stands for “teheye nishmato tsrurah b’tsror ha- chayyim,” a phrase usually trans­lated “May his soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life.”

Yet tsror in Hebrew means a pebble. In ancient times, shepherds needed a system to keep track of their flocks. On some days, they would go out to pasture with a flock of 30; on others, a flock of 10. Memory was an unreliable way of keeping tabs on the number of the flock. As a result, the shepherd would carry a sling over his shoulder, and in it he would keep the number of pebbles that cor­responded to the number in his flock. That way he could at all times have an accurate daily count.

When we place stones on the grave and inscribe the motto above on the stone, we are asking God to keep the departed’s soul in His sling. Among all the souls whom God has to watch over, we wish to add the name — the “pebble” — of the soul of our departed.

Why Jews Put Stones on Graves, BY RABBI DAVID WOLPE

באותה שעה בקש משה למות כמיתת אהרן מפני שראה מטתו מוצעת בכבוד גדול וכתות כתות של מלאכי השרת סופדות אותו וכי בינו לבין אדם שאל והלא בינו לבין עצמו שאל ושמע הקב״ה לחישתו שנא׳ (דברים לב) ומות בהר אשר אתה עולה שמה והאסף אל עמיך כאשר מת אהרן אחיך בהר ההר הא למדת שבקש למות כמיתתו של אהרן. באותה שעה א״ל למלאך המות לך הבא לי נשמתו של משה. הלך מלאך המות ועמד לפניו א״ל משה תן לי נשמתך גער בו [א״ל במקום שאני יושב אין נותנין לך רשות לעמוד ואתה אמרת תן לי נשמתך גער בו] והוציאו בנזיפה. עד שא״ל הקב״ה למשה משה דייך העולם הזה שהרי העולם הבא שמור לך מששת ימי בראשית שנאמר (שמות לג) ויאמר ה׳ הנה מקום אתי ונצבת על הצור. נטלה הקב״ה נשמתו של משה וגנזה תחת כסא הכבוד (שנאמר (ש״א כה) והיתה נפש אדוני צרורה בצרור החיים). כשנטלה לא נטלה אלא בנשיקה שנאמר (דברים לד) על פי ה׳. לא נשמתו של משה בלבד גנוזה תחת כסא הכבוד אלא נשמתן של צדיקים גנוזות תחת כסא הכבוד שנאמר והיתה נפש אדוני צרורה בצרור החיים. יכול אף של רשעים כן ת״ל (ש״א כה) ואת נפש אויביך יקלענה בתוך כף הקלע [(משל למה״ד) לאחד שנטל את האבן ונתנו בתוך הקלע] אע״פ שזורק ממקום למקום אינו יודע על מה שתסמוך אף כן נשמתן של רשעים זוממות והולכות ושוטפות בעולם ואינן יודעות על מה שיסמכו. שוב א״ל הקב״ה למלאך המות לך והבא לי נשמתו של משה הלך למקומו בקשו ולא מצאו הלך אצל הים הגדול א״ל משה בא לכאן א״ל מיום שעברו ישראל בתוכי שוב לא ראיתיו הלך אצל הרים וגבעות וא״ל משה בא לכאן [אמרו לו מיום שקבלו ישראל את התורה בהר סיני שוב לא ראינוהו הלך אצל שאול ואבדון אמר להם משה בא לכאן אמרו לו שמו שמענו ואותו לא ראינו הלך אצל מלאכי השרת א״ל משה בא לכאן] א״ל אלהים הבין דרכו והוא ידע את מקומו אלהים גנזו לחיי העולם הבא ואין כל בריה יודעת שנאמר (איוב כח) והחכמה מאין תמצא ואי זה מקום בינה לא ידע אנוש ערכה ולא תמצא בארץ החיים תהום אמר לא בי היא וים אמר אין עמדי אבדון ומות אמרו באזנינו שמענו שמעה. אף יהושע היה יושב ומצטער על משה [שלא ידע היכן הוא] עד שאמר לו הקב״ה יהושע למה אתה מצטער על משה משה עבדי מת:

At that time, Moses asked to die as Aaron had died, because he saw the great honor Aaron was given at the funeral procession, with rows and rows of angels eulogizing him. But did he actually say this to someone? No, he just said it to himself. Yet the Holy Blessed One heard his whisper, as it says (Deuteronomy 32:51), “And you will die on the mountain that you go up on, and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor.” From this you learn that he asked to die as Aaron had died.
At that time, [God] said to the Angel of Death: Go, bring me the soul of Moses. The Angel of Death went and stood before him, and said: Moses, give me your soul. But he scowled at him [and said: The place I sit, you have no right to even stand – and you ask me to give you my soul? So he scowled at him] and chased him away with a rebuke.
The Holy Blessed One said again to the Angel of Death: Go, bring me the soul of Moses.
Finally, the Holy Blessed One said to Moses: Moses! You’ve had enough of this world. The World to Come has been prepared for you since the six days of creation. As it says (Exodus 33:22), “God said, here is a place near Me; stand on that rock.” The Holy Blessed One took Moses’ soul and stored it under the Throne of Glory. (As it says [I Samuel 25:29], “And the soul of my master will be bound up in the bond of life.”) And when He took it, He did it with a kiss. As it says (Deuteronomy 34:5), “[Moses died…] by the mouth of God.” And not only Moses’ soul is stored under the Throne of Glory, but also the souls of all the righteous are stored there! As it says (I Samuel 25:29), “[If anyone sets out to pursue you and seek your life], the soul of my master will be bound up in the bond of life.” Could it be that the souls of the wicked are there, too? The verse continues: “but He will fling away the lives of your enemies like a slingshot.” [(To what can this be compared?) It can be compared to someone who takes a stone and places it in a sling;] even though he flings it from place to place, he does not know where it will land. So it is for the souls of the wicked, which cast about and go wandering the world, and have no place to rest.
The Holy Blessed One said again to the Angel of Death: Go, bring me the soul of Moses. He went back to the place, and looked for Moses, but could not find him. He went to the Great Sea and said to it: Did Moses come here? And it said: I have not seen him since the day that Israel passed through me. He went to the mountains and hills and asked them: Did Moses come here? [They said to him: We have not seen him since the day that Israel received the Torah on Mount Sinai. He went down to the Underworld and to Oblivion said to them: Did Moses come here? They said: We have heard his name, but we have never seen him. He went and asked the angels: Did Moses come here?] They said to him: God knows his path and his place. God stored him away for the World to Come, and no living creature knows where. As it says (Job 28:12–14, 22), “Where will wisdom be found, and where is the place of understanding? No human knows its measure, and it cannot be found in the land of the living. The Deep says, it is not in me, and the sea says it is not by me…. Oblivion and Death say: in our ears we heard a rumor.” Even Joshua was sitting in despair over Moses [for he did not know where he was], until the Holy Blessed One said to him: Joshua, why are you in despair over Moses? For “Moses My servant is dead.” (Joshua 1:2).

'נפש' - שם משותף. הוא שם הנפש החיה הכוללת לכל מרגיש "אשר בו נפש חיה". והוא גם כן שם הדם "ולא תאכל הנפש עם הבשר". והוא גם כן שם הנפש המדברת - כלומר צורת האדם "חי יי אשר עשה לנו את הנפש הזאת". והוא שם הדבר הנשאר מן האדם אחר המות "והיתה נפש אדוני צרורה בצרור החיים".

THE Hebrew nefesh (soul) is a homonymous noun, signifying the vitality which is common to all living, sentient beings. E.g. "wherein there is a living soul" (nefesh) (Gen. 1:30). It denotes also blood," as in "Thou shalt not eat the blood (nefesh) with the meat" (Deut. 12:23). Another signification of the term is "reason," that is, the distinguishing characteristic of man, as in "As the Lord liveth that made us this soul" (Jer. 38:16). It denotes also the part of man that remains after his death (nefesh, soul) comp. "But the soul (nefesh) of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life (1 Sam. 25:29).

כָּל נֶפֶשׁ הָאֲמוּרָה בְּעִנְיָן זֶה אֵינָהּ הַנְּשָׁמָה הַצְּרִיכָה לַגּוּף אֶלָּא צוּרַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ שֶׁהִיא הַדֵּעָה שֶׁהִשִּׂיגָה מֵהַבּוֹרֵא כְּפִי כֹּחָהּ וְהֶשֵּׂגָהּ הַדֵּעוֹת הַנִּפְרָדוֹת וּשְׁאָר הַמַּעֲשִׂים וְהִיא הַצּוּרָה שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ עִנְיָנָהּ בְּפֶרֶק רְבִיעִי מֵהִלְכוֹת יְסוֹדֵי הַתּוֹרָה הִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת נֶפֶשׁ בְּעִנְיָן זֶה. חַיִּים אֵלּוּ לְפִי שֶׁאֵין עִמָּהֶם מָוֶת שֶׁאֵין הַמָּוֶת אֶלָּא מִמְּאֹרְעוֹת הַגּוּף וְאֵין שָׁם גּוּף נִקְרְאוּ צְרוֹר הַחַיִּים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א כה כט) "וְהָיְתָה נֶפֶשׁ אֲדֹנִי צְרוּרָה בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים". וְזֶהוּ הַשָּׂכָר שֶׁאֵין שָׂכָר לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנּוּ וְהַטּוֹבָה שֶׁאֵין אַחֲרֶיהָ טוֹבָה וְהִיא שֶׁהִתְאַוּוּ לָהּ כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים:

The term soul employed on this subject refers not to the breath of life necessary for the body, but the form of the soul which is the intelligence by which it attained knowledge of the Creator's Being according to its intellectual power, and by which it attained knowledge of the non-concrete intelligences and other works of God, even it is the form which we have explained in the fourth chapter of the treatise concerning Fundamentals of the Torah, and it is called soul for the purpose of this subject. The life herein spoken of, because there is no death connected with it, seeing that death is only incidental to the happenings which befall a body, and as there exists no body, is called a collection of life, even as it is said: "Yet the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life" (I. Sam. 25.29). And, this reward is such that there is no reward higher than it, and the kind of good after which no other good exists, and it is for it that all of the prophets craved.

The Talmudic word niphtar, 'to decease', literally 'to be dis-charged', is of interest. It could be-though quite likely it is not- a rendering of apolyesthai (released). (The fact that in the LXX patar is never apolyo means little. For one thing, the word is rare in the Bible).

See for this and the following quotes: Death as a Release in the Bible, David Daube, Novum Testamentum, Vol. 5, Fasc. 2/3 (Jul., 1962), pp. 82-104

(א) וְשַׁ֣בְתִּֽי אֲנִ֗י וָאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־כׇּל־הָ֣עֲשֻׁקִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר נַעֲשִׂ֖ים תַּ֣חַת הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ וְהִנֵּ֣ה ׀ דִּמְעַ֣ת הָעֲשֻׁקִ֗ים וְאֵ֤ין לָהֶם֙ מְנַחֵ֔ם וּמִיַּ֤ד עֹֽשְׁקֵיהֶם֙ כֹּ֔חַ וְאֵ֥ין לָהֶ֖ם מְנַחֵֽם׃ (ב) וְשַׁבֵּ֧חַ אֲנִ֛י אֶת־הַמֵּתִ֖ים שֶׁכְּבָ֣ר מֵ֑תוּ מִן־הַ֣חַיִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֛ר הֵ֥מָּה חַיִּ֖ים עֲדֶֽנָה׃ (ג) וְטוֹב֙ מִשְּׁנֵיהֶ֔ם אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־עֲדֶ֖ן לֹ֣א הָיָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־רָאָה֙ אֶת־הַמַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה הָרָ֔ע אֲשֶׁ֥ר נַעֲשָׂ֖ה תַּ֥חַת הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃
(1) I further observed all the oppression that goes on under the sun: the tears of the oppressed, with none to comfort them; and the power of their oppressors—with none to comfort them. (2) Then I accounted those who died long since more fortunate than those who are still living; (3) and happier than either are those who have not yet come into being and have never witnessed the miseries that go on under the sun.
(ג) אִם־יוֹלִ֣יד אִ֣ישׁ מֵאָ֡ה וְשָׁנִים֩ רַבּ֨וֹת יִֽחְיֶ֜ה וְרַ֣ב ׀ שֶׁיִּהְי֣וּ יְמֵֽי־שָׁנָ֗יו וְנַפְשׁוֹ֙ לֹא־תִשְׂבַּ֣ע מִן־הַטּוֹבָ֔ה וְגַם־קְבוּרָ֖ה לֹא־הָ֣יְתָה לּ֑וֹ אָמַ֕רְתִּי ט֥וֹב מִמֶּ֖נּוּ הַנָּֽפֶל׃
(3) Even if a man should beget a hundred children and live many years—no matter how many the days of his years may come to, if his gullet is not sated through his wealth, I say: The stillbirth, though it was not even accorded a burial, is more fortunate than he.
(א) ט֥וֹב שֵׁ֖ם מִשֶּׁ֣מֶן ט֑וֹב וְי֣וֹם הַמָּ֔וֶת מִיּ֖וֹם הִוָּלְדֽוֹ׃
(1) A good name is better than fragrant oil, and the day of death than the day of birth.
(ח) ט֛וֹב אַחֲרִ֥ית דָּבָ֖ר מֵֽרֵאשִׁית֑וֹ ט֥וֹב אֶֽרֶךְ־ר֖וּחַ מִגְּבַהּ־רֽוּחַ׃
(8) The end of a matter is better than the beginning of it.
Better a patient spirit than a haughty spirit.

the actual realities with the eye of the soul alone. And then, as our argument shows, when we are dead we are likely to possess the wisdom which we desire and claim to be enamored of, but not while we live. For, if pure knowledge is impossible while the body is with us, one of two thing must follow, either it cannot be acquired at all or only when we are dead; for then the soul will be by itself apart from the body, but not before. And while we live, we shall, I think, be nearest to knowledge when we avoid, so far as possible, intercourse and communion with the body, except what is absolutely necessary, and are not filled with its nature, but keep ourselves pure from it until God himself sets us free. And in this way, freeing ourselves from the foolishness of the body and being pure, we shall, I think, be with the pure and shall know of ourselves all that is pure,—

Phaedo 67A, Plato

“Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh.”


― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

upon the supposition that the Romans once reduce us under their power while we are alive. We were the very first that revolted from them; and we are the last that fight against them. And I cannot but esteem it as a favour that God hath granted us, that ’tis still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom. Which hath not been the case of others, who were conquered unexpectedly. ’Tis very plain that we shall be taken within a days time: but ’tis still an eligible thing to die, after a glorious manner, together with our dearest friends. This is what our enemies themselves cannot by any means hinder: although they be very desirous to take us alive. Nor can we propose to our selves any more to fight them, and beat them. It had been proper indeed for us to have conjectured at the purpose of God much sooner; and at the very first; when we were so desirous of defending our liberty; and when we received such sore treatment from one another, and worse treatment from our enemies: and to have been sensible that the same God, who had of old took the Jewish nation into his favour, had now condemned them to destruction. For had he either continued favourable, or been but in a lesser degree displeased with us, he had not overlooked the destruction of so many men, or delivered his most holy city to be burnt; and demolished by our enemies. To be sure we weakly hoped to have preserved our selves, and our selves alone still in a state of freedom; as if we had been guilty of no sins our selves against God; nor been partners with those of others. We also taught other men to preserve their liberty. Wherefore consider how God hath convinced us, that our hopes were in vain, by bringing such distress upon us, in the desperate state we are now in, and which is beyond all our expectations. For the nature of this fortress, which was in it self unconquerable, hath not proved a means of our deliverance. And even while we have still great abundance of food, and a great quantity of arms, and other necessaries, more than we want, we are openly deprived by God himself of all hope of deliverance. For that fire which was driven upon our enemies, did not, of its own accord, turn back upon the wall which we had built. This was the effect of God’s anger against us, for our manifold sins, which we have been guilty of in a most insolent and extravagant manner, with regard to our own countrymen. The punishments of which let us not receive from the Romans, but from God himself, as executed by our own hands. For these will be more moderate than the other. Let our wives die before they are abused; and our children before they have tasted of slavery. And after we have slain them, let us bestow that glorious benefit upon one another mutually; and preserve our selves in freedom, as an excellent funeral monument for us. But first let us destroy our money, and the fortress by fire. For I am well assured that this will be a great grief to the Romans; that they shall not be able to seize upon our bodies, and shall fall of our wealth also. And let us spare nothing but our provisions. For they will be a testimonial, when we are dead, that we were not subdued for want of necessaries: but that, according to our original resolution, we have preferred death before slavery.”

Josephus Flavious, The Jewish Wars Chapter 7 :8

(ב) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אַבְרָ֗ם אֲדֹנָ֤י יֱהֹוִה֙ מַה־תִּתֶּן־לִ֔י וְאָנֹכִ֖י הוֹלֵ֣ךְ עֲרִירִ֑י וּבֶן־מֶ֣שֶׁק בֵּיתִ֔י ה֖וּא דַּמֶּ֥שֶׂק אֱלִיעֶֽזֶר׃

(2) But Abram said, “O lord יהוה, what can You give me, seeing that I shall die childless, and the one in charge of my household is Dammesek Eliezer!”

(מו) וַתֹּ֤אמֶר רִבְקָה֙ אֶל־יִצְחָ֔ק קַ֣צְתִּי בְחַיַּ֔י מִפְּנֵ֖י בְּנ֣וֹת חֵ֑ת אִם־לֹקֵ֣חַ יַ֠עֲקֹ֠ב אִשָּׁ֨ה מִבְּנֽוֹת־חֵ֤ת כָּאֵ֙לֶּה֙ מִבְּנ֣וֹת הָאָ֔רֶץ לָ֥מָּה לִּ֖י חַיִּֽים׃

(46) Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am disgusted with my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries a Hittite woman like these, from among the native women, what good will life be to me?

(א) וַתֵּ֣רֶא רָחֵ֗ל כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יָֽלְדָה֙ לְיַעֲקֹ֔ב וַתְּקַנֵּ֥א רָחֵ֖ל בַּאֲחֹתָ֑הּ וַתֹּ֤אמֶר אֶֽל־יַעֲקֹב֙ הָֽבָה־לִּ֣י בָנִ֔ים וְאִם־אַ֖יִן מֵתָ֥ה אָנֹֽכִי׃

(1) When Rachel saw that she had borne Jacob no children, she became envious of her sister; and Rachel said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die.

(יד) לֹֽא־אוּכַ֤ל אָנֹכִי֙ לְבַדִּ֔י לָשֵׂ֖את אֶת־כׇּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֥י כָבֵ֖ד מִמֶּֽנִּי׃
(14) I cannot carry all this people by myself, for it is too much for me.

(יד) לֹֽא־אוּכַ֤ל אָנֹכִי֙ לְבַדִּ֔י לָשֵׂ֖את אֶת־כׇּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֥י כָבֵ֖ד מִמֶּֽנִּי׃ (טו) וְאִם־כָּ֣כָה ׀ אַתְּ־עֹ֣שֶׂה לִּ֗י הׇרְגֵ֤נִי נָא֙ הָרֹ֔ג אִם־מָצָ֥אתִי חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֶ֑יךָ וְאַל־אֶרְאֶ֖ה בְּרָעָתִֽי׃ {פ}

(14) I cannot carry all this people by myself, for it is too much for me. (15) If You would deal thus with me, kill me rather, I beg You, and let me see no more of my wretchedness!”