“The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold.”
I find it fascinating when the Talmud mentions the world-to-come. And if there was ever a time to believe in a better world, it is now. We leave the world of blood and roasting lambs and impurity for a brief moment in today’s Daf Yomi and are provided with a glimpse into another world. We are told that the day will come when the righteous will resurrect the dead and “old men and old women shall yet again dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.”
I learned in Hebrew School many years ago that the idea of another world and resurrection was the domain of another great religion and Judaism was about the here and now. And of course, we can transform the here and now world by how we live and as we are reminded often in the Talmud, by full-bodied Torah study.
Today’s reading is full of miracles about what can exist beyond the here and now. We are told that in addition to bringing the aged back to the streets of Jerusalem, the prophet Elisha brought back to life the son of the Shunamite woman with a magical staff that was administered by his servant Gehazi. (There is a backstory there worth looking up.) The earth itself will glow brighter than ever before in the days leading up to the appearance of the Messiah, with the moon beaming as bright as the sun and the sun’s light increasing seven-fold.
There is an even greater miracle in the world-to-come where the light from the Divine Presence is much greater than any light emitted from the moon or the sun. We are told that in this place, “the moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His elders will be His glory.”
The phrase “I put to death and I make live” is stated as evidence that there is resurrection in the Jewish tradition. We are told that the verse serves as “refutation to those who say that there is no Torah source for the resurrection of the dead.” However, those who are brought back to life are not free from the wounds and injuries they had before they died so that we know they are in fact themselves. But subsequently, they will be healed and able to live renewed lives.
At the essence of the concept of resurrection is renewal. The resurrected will include the aged who will dance in the streets and the wounded who will be healed from the pain of their past. There is a generation of elderly people that have been sheltering in place since last March. Many are isolated, living alone, and losing precious time to the pandemic. I am hoping that their lives can be restored by a glass vial containing the most precious currency in circulation right now –a vaccine.
I have been pondering what it will be like when the coronavirus is “over” – whatever that means – and we are free to move about the world again. I suspect that some of us will be a bit hesitant to re-enter the world fully at first, and like the sensory deprived, the sounds and smells of the here and now may be disorienting. I wonder if it will be like a switch has been turned on in a dark room and our eyes will need time to adjust. And I am hopeful that we will be able to dance together as a community under a bright sky illuminated by the sun and the moon.