A Blessing to Recite

One of our daily expressions of praise is,1 “Blessed are You... Who resurrects the dead.” When the time comes, will the resurrected dead recite this blessing?

Let us consider comparable situations. Speaking of the Prophet Yechezkel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones,2 the Talmud3 records varying views as to which song of praise was sung at that time. Speaking of the Binding of Yitzchak,4 the Midrash5 teaches that Yitzchak’s soul flew from his body at the touch of the knife on his neck, and when his soul returned, he declared: “Blessed are You... Who resurrects the dead.” The Zohar6 teaches that at the time of the future Resurrection, the dead when revived will express their praise by singing,7G‑d, Who is like You?” Indeed, even when one sees a good friend after a mere 12-month interval, the Talmud8 requires that one bless Him Who resurrects the dead.

Considering these sources, some halachic authorities hold that this blessing will indeed be recited at the time of the future Resurrection.9

Purification from Ritual Impurity

The men of Alexandria once asked R. Yehoshua ben Chananyah...:10 “Will the resurrected dead need to be sprinkled [with the purifying waters of the Red Heifer11 ] on the third and seventh day, or not?” He replied: “When they are resurrected we shall go into the matter.” Others say [that he replied]: “When Moshe Rabbeinu12 will come with them.”13

The Maharsha paraphrases the above question as follows: Since many people were ritually unclean at the time of death, not having undergone purification when alive, will this state continue when they are resurrected? And he understands the reply of R. Yehoshua ben Chananyah to imply that once the original body has dissolved, no uncleanliness is transferred to the new body; hence no purification is required.

This discussion has wider implications. Anyone wishing to enter the courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash must be ritually clean. How, then, can Mashiach build the Beis HaMikdash and dedicate it if he is a person living today and has presumably come into contact with other people who are ritually unclean?

As one possible solution, one could rely on the principle that if the majority of the community is ritually impure, they are permitted to enter the Beis HaMikdash in order to consecrate it. This was the case with the Hasmoneans in the Chanukah story.14

Alternatively, there is the opinion that Moshe and Aharon will be resurrected with the coming of Mashiach, and Aharon himself will sprinkle the waters of purification. This solution presupposes that a person who was ritually pure and then died and was later resurrected is not defiled by the transient state of death. (This assumption is explained by the above words of the Maharsha, that the resurrected body is not the same as the previous body.) However, what of those tzaddikim whose bodies do not decompose in the grave? Do their bodies not become ritually impure upon death? The Halachah establishes that the righteous upon death do not impart ritual impurity. Indeed, there are halachic authorities15 who therefore allow Kohanim to pray at the graveside of great tzaddikim.

Others hold that the Prophet Eliyahu will sprinkle the cleansing waters, and that this is the meaning of the teaching in the Talmud16 that “Resurrection comes through Eliyahu.”17

The Status of Kohanim

Will those Kohanim who were anointed with olive oil in the times of the First Beis HaMikdash18 require anointing afresh upon their Resurrection? Some sources state19 that only Aharon and his sons will not require anointing. Others hold20 that all Kohanim will have to be re-anointed since the body is new. By way of possible compromise, it has been suggested that the tzaddikim whose bodies did not decompose will not require anointing, whereas all other Kohanim will.

Outstanding Sacrifices

Will a person who in his lifetime did not offer an obligatory sacrifice in expiation of his sin be required to discharge this obligation after Resurrection? The AriZal is evidently of the opinion that the sacrifice must still be offered, but the question remains unresolved.21

Marriage Forever

Will a man and his wife when newly resurrected need to be remarried, or does the original marriage bond continue? Some authorities suggest that a new marriage will have to be contracted.22

A Woman with Two Husbands

A divorcee who remarries will remain married to her second husband upon Resurrection.23 There is a difference of opinion as to the status of a widow who remarries.24

The Honor Due to Parents

Though the body dissolves and upon Resurrection is reconstituted, the obligation to honor one’s parents will continue to apply.25