"Let him kiss me..."
Judeo-Christian Research
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July 15, 2000

 

(Num 20:23-28) And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying, {24} Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah. {25} Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor: {26} And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there. {27} And Moses did as the LORD commanded: and they went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. {28} And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount.

In the Stone Edition of the Chumash (Torah), there is a small commentary to the above verses relating to Aaron's death that, when I read it, immediately brought to mind the phenomenon of "ghosts." Now, I don't know what ghosts are or if they even exist. I've never actually seen one myself nor do I hope to (I'm not sure my feet could run fast enough, though I am sure they would be giving it their best shot). We've all heard stories of old houses being haunted. Usually these hauntings involve the tragic death or murder of someone that was associated with the dwellings. Or how about the stories of kings and queens who roam the many rooms of their beloved castles, apparently unwilling to leave behind their treasures and past glory. One theory into the mystery of ghosts is that they are disembodied spirits that are not able "to cross over" to the other side for whatever reason. Could there be some truth to this?

The Chumash commentary explains that in the case of Aaron, his death came "by a kiss of God." It was the belief of the Sages that there were 903 "species of death" and that death by "a kiss of God" was the easiest:

"Similarly it has been taught: Nine hundred and three species of death were created in this world...The worst of them is the croup, and the easiest of them is the kiss. Croup is like a thorn in a ball of wool pulled out backwards. Some people say: It is like [pulling] a rope through the loop-holes [of a ship]. [Death by a] kiss is like drawing a hair out of milk." (Soncino Talmud, Mas. Berachoth 8a)

The comparison of an easy death to that of "drawing a hair out of milk" reflects the opinion that the soul leaves the body and goes to the Divine Presence without resistance. Such were the deaths of Moses and Aaron who were of such stature that their "souls remained as pure as when they first arrived on earth, there is no effort, no regret, and no pain when the soul is reunited with its Godly source."

This exalted form of death is in contrast to the death of person who, as R' Gedaliah Schorr explains, has sinned in life to such an extent that a bond is established between the soul and the pleasures of this world that it "becomes difficult for them to part from physical life." Such a death is likened to "pulling embedded thistles from sheep's wool." (The Chumash, Stone Edition, Parashas Chukas, p. 847)

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(Song 1:2) Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 124b: "R. Isaac quoted in this connection the words: 'Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth' [Song 1:2], and said: 'It is the Community of Israel who says this (to God). Why does she say 'Let Him kiss me' instead of 'Let Him love me'? Because, as we have been taught, kissing expresses the cleaving of spirit to spirit; therefore the mouth is the medium of kissing, for it is the organ of the spirit (breath). Hence he who dies by the kiss of God is so united with another Spirit, with a Spirit which never separates from him. Therefore the Community of Israel prays: 'Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth', that His Spirit may be united with mine and never separate from it."

 

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