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Life After Death
 “Suspended animation” is an elegant term for planned, temporary clinical death induced in the operating room to perform very sensitive brain surgery that can cause fatal cerebral hemorrhage. First the patient’s body and blood is slowly cooled down until the heart stops. At this stage, which can be deemed clinical death, blood flow to the entire body stops, including the brain, and the body’s oxygen demand decreases dramatically. Now surgeons can operate on the brain with no risk of fatal hemorrhage or lack of oxygen that can damage brain cells.

After the operation is completed, the patient is slowly rewarmed and brought back to life in its fullest sense—a beating heart, warm skin, oxygen exchange and release of wastes.

**

To induce death in order to heal, to stop the heart in order to heal the brain, is actually an ancient recipe. As we say in our daily prayers, G-d is a King Who “puts to death and grants life.” He lowers us to the depths of purgatory only to bring us back up. All the terrible experiences we go through in life and even beyond have only one purpose: to heal and repair. We need a long-range perspective that extends through all of time to understand that every “blow” we receive in life is part of a process of repairing and perfecting, that will ultimately lead to the era of Redemption.

A time traveler from 500 years ago would enter a modern operating room and be greeted by a scene of absolute horror: A team of masked people standing over a motionless body and mercilessly cutting into his flesh and removing body parts. It would not occur to him that these are actually highly trained, compassionate people working with great precision to save the patient’s life. Similarly, we often have trouble digesting the fact that the difficulties we go through in life are actually a gift from G-d.

When Moshiach comes, the prophet Isaiah says, we will turn to G-d and say, “Thank you, G-d, for You have been angry with me.” When Moshiach comes we will finally understand how all the suffering and persecution we withstood during exile were all intended for our benefit.

Then we will experience the Resurrection of the Dead and we will realize that death was only temporary. It was like a spiritual “induced coma” intended to heal and strengthen us.

We who are alive today do not need even this temporary process. The Lubavitcher Rebbe has said that whatever spiritual purpose is served by “returning to dust” can be fulfilled by our absolute rejection of ego and arrogance – “May my soul be like dust before all” – and thus we will pass directly into a state of eternal life, with no interruption.

 
 

 


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