I recently had The Week, which fellow members of clergy might recognize.

Counseling for mourning, sickness and other challenges is generally part of our job, and some might say the most important calling for those who enter community service.

Sometimes, however, you deal with an overload of such demands in a very short space of time. It can get very intense. It forces you to uncover strength and inner wisdom that, gratefully, never needed to be accessed until that point.

So there I was at the fourth death in my community in one week. I was standing at a deathbed in silence together with the family as their patriarch slowly moved on to a better place. He was sedated and seemed at peace.

It suddenly struck me: death, often, can be almost graceful. Not all deaths are; many aren't. But a majority of deaths that come of old age or natural causes can be peaceful, even calm.

And yet, the aftermath is so sad.

The strange thing is that when it comes to the beginning of one's journey on this planet—birth—then it's the complete opposite! Pure chaos. Yes, there are exceptions, but the majority of natural births come after hours, if not days, of total pandemonium.

Then the baby gives a scream and it's all “Mazal Tov! Woohoo!”

Fascinating Formula: Death—grace followed by grief. Birth—chaos followed by celebration.

When the thought hit me, it left me puzzled. Why is it that the entrance into the world—a time of joy—is bedlam, whereas the exit from this world is peaceful?

I'm sure there are many reasons. First and foremost, there is the biblical story of Eve: Originally she gave birth without pain, and only once she ate from the Tree of Knowledge was she punished with the pain of childbirth. But this episode itself begs deeper thought: What is the meaning of making birth so chaotic? Why this consequence?

One of the big ideas of Judaism is how each and every one of us is on a mission in this world. We are shluchim, “agents,” of the Almighty to better ourselves, to uplift each other and to purify this world.

Where does one accomplish this divine mission? In this unpredictable and chaotic world, where we do the best we can to live a life of goodness, faith and personal growth.

Chaos is the stage upon which we play out our purpose.

For the 120 years, we are sent to live on this planet, we are confronted with a world unlike the one we came from and to which we are destined to return.

The spiritual worlds are pure predictability. Over there, things run like clockwork with rhyme, reason and simplicity.

The World of Souls is one of grace. No challenges, no tests of character, nothing to prove, nothing to overcome. Simple, soulful serenity. The world post-death and pre-birth is peaceful and dignified. “Rest in peace” is what we say.

In between death and birth, however, we live in a very different reality. From the moment we enter the world screaming, we are on this crazy and beautiful adventure called life.

Life is the place where the soul marries its body, and with that gets introduced to a world unlike anything it could've imagined. This is where the soul and body will need to find a healthy balance to their natural tension of heaven versus earth. The pure soul is introduced to base and animalistic bodily needs. It must discover a new form of dignity, where the very physical body plays a part as well.

This is the locale where only G‑d knows what will happen and why it's happening. We just hold on and keep on fulfilling our mission in the world. Life is a beautiful and endless roller-coaster.

Death, the end of one's journey, symbolizes the end of the game. The chaos is over. Time to rest in peace. Nothing left to prove. And we cry for the end of a journey and the gaping hole in our hearts.

Birth, on the other hand, is the beginning of this magnificent thing called life, and it starts with a bang! The baby’s cry is telling the world: "Hineni! I'm here and ready to fight! I’m here to ride the waves, to elevate and overcome. I'm ready to make some noise!"

This might explain why our sages teach us that righteous people are alive even after their death. If life means vitality and impact, then what greater life can there be than one whose legacy and vision continues to touch the hearts and minds of those alive in this world.

As long as there is a heart beating with the love of the one who passed away, as long as there is a mind electrified by the wisdom of the teacher whose body is at rest, and as long as acts of kindness are being done in the memory of the righteous, then these great men and women are alive and well. Their heart beats in the hearts of those who fight valiantly to keep the fire alive, and thus, they live.