Chapter 23, Mishna 6
Sages weigh in on death and aging. The old lose many abilities, but gain much perspective. And even the loss of abilities can be a blessing because they’re excused when they don’t want to go somewhere! Rav Dimi: youth is a crown of roses, old age a crown of thorns. R’ Yehoshua ben Korcha puts an insulting and apostate eunuch in his place. R’ Yitzhak shows that there are many levels of dwelling in the World to Come; and the soul feels pain for the body as it decomposes. The soul mourns for the body, and for the life it led. I find this comforting, because the soul is magnificently expansive yet connected and compassionate. Rav Yehuda teaches that if one died without people to mourn him, we create a mourning community for him. Taking care of our bodies while alive is likened to caring for garments entrusted to us by a king. The righteous and the middling earn rest in the World of Souls, the wicked do not have peace. Rav Nachman gets a lecture from a righteous sage, R’ Achai ben Yoshiya, whose body did not decompose because he never wallowed in envy.