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Why Do Some of the Best Die Young?

Why Do Some of the Best Die Young?

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Question of the Week:

I don't understand. Why do the good die young? I have lost a friend who was the best person I know. And I can think of plenty of not-so-good people who are living it up. Where is the justice? Can you make any sense of this upside down world?

Answer:

Let me tell you a story.

Where is the justice?A great debate once raged in heaven. It was over a most beautiful and precious new soul that G‑d had created. The angels debated what should be done with this soul. One group of angels demanded that this soul remain in heaven. "She is too pure, too holy to face the ugliness of the lowly world," they said. "Who knows what will happen to her in a world of temptation and evil. This soul must stay with us here."

But the other group of angels said the exact opposite: "Indeed this soul glows with a unique divine glow. But for that very reason she must go down to earth. For imagine the beauty and goodness this soul can bring to a dark world. What good is there in keeping such a soul in heaven? Let her descend to earth and shine her light there."

And so they argued back and forth, each side unshakable in their view. Until it became clear that they could not resolve the issue themselves, they needed a Higher Authority. The case was brought before G‑d Almighty. The angels stated their arguments before the heavenly court. G‑d listened to the two opinions -the first group of angels arguing that this unspoiled soul is too holy to be plunged into the lowly world, the second countering that the world needs such souls more than anything.

And this was G‑d's response:

"Indeed, it is sad to send such an immaculate soul into such a dark world. But this is My will. I only created darkness so souls like this one can transform darkness into light. The whole purpose of creation was that the lowly world be refined by the good deeds of mortal human beings. This cannot be achieved by souls in heaven. It can only be achieved through souls in bodies. And so even this most perfect and pure soul must descend to earth."

The first group of angels, who requested for the soul to remain in heaven, were disappointed. They couldn't fathom how such a spiritual being could be expected to survive such a physical world. G‑d turned to them and said, "As for your request to keep this soul up here, I will grant it partially. Though she must leave us and go down to earth, it will not be long before she will return to us. Her sojourn on earth will be brief. Such a brilliant soul will not need long to fulfil her mission. Soon she will be free to come back to heaven."

Every day that she is on earth is a blessingG‑d then turned to the second group and asked, "Are you satisfied with that? Do you accept that this soul can only be on earth for a limited time?"

The angels replied, "Yes we do. Every day that she is on earth is a blessing."


When a loved one passes away, we feel we have lost something precious. We are left with a gaping hole in our heart, and we often wonder why they were taken away from us. But at the same time we can be grateful for the very fact that they were given to us in the first place. We are blessed to have such beautiful souls in our lives. The world is privileged to have such heavenly guests come down on earth. And even if it can only be for a short while, we will take whatever we can get.

In time all souls will be reunited. In the meantime, let us be thankful for the gift of every day

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (65)
February 26, 2014
Made me cry
This answer made me cry...we have lost so many relatives even youngest at 2 years old
Anonymous
October 9, 2013
A prescription
is generally given by a doctor to ameliorate a physical or emotional problem. The word is also used in other ways as: here is my prescription for success...

Since my life is astoundingly synchronous in every way I will say we are in a vast cosmic story that feels totally pre scripted by a Master Storyteller, G-D. For this story to resolve in love and mercy, it must not be over when those we love depart. It is a journey of soul difficult to comprehend that does involve All Creation. G-d does not play dice with the Universe. And we must laugh. A smile is the universal language and Hope the standard bearer.
ruth housman
marshfield hills, MA
October 9, 2013
LOST AT THIS TIME
I am feeling so lost and without faith. So many questions, Why?, What if?, How could this have happened??. On 09/07/2013, both my children were involved in an automobile accident along with three of their friends. Everybody survived except my 16 year old son. He was such a good person, always helping others, very respectful, kind hearted and loved to make everyone laugh. It has been so hard to understand why this would happen to such a good person yet the streets are full of bad, hateful people. His funeral services made me realize that he was loved by many. Seeing how many lives he touched in only 16 years was unbelievable. I have no doubt that he is most definitely in heaven.
Rest in Peace Son
Arnold Casas Jr. "AJ" 11/13/96- 09/07/13
Paula F. Casas
September 22, 2013
Losing a sibling
Coping with a death of a sibling is devastating, a good person a loving son, brother, husband, father of a 1 year old baby.... Why would a baby go through life without his/her father. Sometimes life is not fair, there are dead beat dads that hate their children and live long lives; then there are dads who are so devoted to their young babies, but they don't live long enough to enjoy being a devoted dad. Just don't understand WHY, Why are dads who love their kids die, not being there for their first day of school, first baseball game, first day of school, first holidays. Don't get it, please give your comments...
Samar Hattar
New York
July 26, 2013
Great Expectations
I used to have the expectation that a deep question, like this, when answered by a rabbi or psychiatrist, would satisfy, but what happens is that no one has ultimate answers. We're all here to reach as best we can, towards meaning, and sometimes, what is meaningless, as in terrible brutality, feels like it has no answers. So G_d brought somebody down to be murdered viciously? To die in agony from cancer? To experience agonizing losses?

I find I cannot even attempt to answer for what appears unconscionable but certainly there are answers about why we are here, how we teach each other love, how we learn about love, about the endless availability of problems to solve, for Tikkun Olam. I cannot go to these darkest of places with reason. Reason fails me, and yes, surely, as in Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, it was the little acts of kindness, in the camps, in which meaning resided. It's curious the word "mean" because it has a double meaning, being about cruel and ethical values.
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
July 20, 2013
Our point of view
I think i can relate to that story explicitly; and it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one that see's it that way. Especially the "divine glow" it's a trip really. I, somewhat recently, had a peer die in a car accident (quick and painless.) All I can say really is the odd coincidences surrounding the two of us. The first was an incident in 9th grade we both experienced separately but within days of each other.

The path I took led me exactly where I didn't want to go and did to me exactly what I didn't want it to do. It changed me. And to make it worse, everything around me followed suit almost as if sealing my fate. My childhood dog dies, then my grandmother (a major influence on me), then followed by a violent death of my only dear close friend (gunshot wound.) Then the finale, my peer, whom I hadn't seen or spoken of in two years whom I mentioned as "a good kid", hours before his death.....God?
Charlie
December 29, 2012
:'(
Thank you
Jacob
November 5, 2012
RE: Bible Verse
The verse that comes to my mind is, "Precious in the sight of the L-rd is the death of His pious ones (Psalms 116:15)."
Menachem Posner
November 3, 2012
Bible Verse
Is there a Bible Verse to go with this story? Or one that I can share in the tragedy of a death?
Scott A. Ryan
Old Forge
September 21, 2012
a beautiful story!
like all stories, has its codicils. Since they are such pure souls, why did they have to die in such painful, often agonizing ways?

we question these things, and we continue to question, and yet, for me, it is unquestionably true that G_d controls every single story, and knows us all, deeply, and so there is a paradox between determinism and free will, that runs right through all of this, and those who allow themselves to see it, face a conundrum, that is visible but difficult to face up to.

Are we apologists for G_d or is G_d also apologizing to us, and will the finale, the grand finale, be something we cannot even imagine, as in, we all come back as souls, and hold hands around the world, never being truly deserted but all having gone through the desert, and all having suffered?

I think about this every single time I hear the Lionel Ritchie song that goes All night long... and involves dancing in the streets, and my heart skips and I feel happy. I feel that joy as if, in the NOW.
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
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