Friday, February 22, 2008

Four People are Considered as Dead

The braisa (Nedarim 64b) states: Four people are as if they are dead. These are a poor person, a leper, a blind person, and someone who does not have children. A poor person is as if he is dead, as derived from the passuk above, ““Because all of those (who have sought to kill you) have died.” A leper is considered like he is dead, as the passuk states, “let her not be as if she is dead.” A blind person is considered dead, as the passuk states, “In the darkness he placed me like the dead of the world.” Someone who does not have sons is considered dead, as the passuk states, ““give me children, and if not I am dead.”

Reb Chaim Shmulevitz explains that the common denominator among these four is that they do not feel someone else’s pain and that they cannot provide benefit for others.

A poor person is considered as dead not because he is lacking himself, but rather, it is because he cannot give to others.

A blind person cannot see others and therefore, he is unable to perceive their pain or suffering. He cannot join in his tribulation.

A metzora is banished from the camp and therefore, he is unable to offer assistance to others.

One who does not have children to nurture is lacking the ability to provide benefit to those that are dear and close to him. It is a natural instinct for a person to desire to give whatever he has to his children.

Only a life where one can share with others is worth living.