Pirkei Avot: Vilna Gaon – Because You Will Die Against Your Will

The Mishna in Pirkei Avot (4:22) says that a person is created against his will, he is born against his will, he lives against his will, and he will die against his will. The Vilna Gaon asks, if a person’s entire existence is against his will, how can he be held accountable. It is like hiring a person to do your bookkeeping who says he doesn’t know anything about bookkeeping. At the end of the year when the books are a mess, can he blame the bookkeeper? Similarly if we never accepted the challenge of life this world willfully, can we be held accountable?

The Vilna Gaon’s answer is explained with a Mashal from the Dubno Magid. There was a ranting women who was not able to find someone willing to marry. She was also blind. They finally found her the perfect shidduch, a deaf man who never got married because he was deformed beyond belief. They got married and lived in perfect harmony. He couldn’t hear her curses and rantings and she couldn’t see how ugly he was.

One day a famous doctor came to town who had a special potion to restore vision and hearing. The couple excitedly went to the doctor who charged them a fortune of money and gave each one special drops. Miraculously they were both cured, but what tzorus it caused! He couldn’t believe the cursing coming from his sweet wife and she couldn’t stand the site of her deformed husband.

They took the Doctor to Din Torah demanding their money back and then some, for the trouble he caused and the marriage he ruined. The Rov asked the Doctor if he’d like to defend himself. He said there was no need to. He has special drops that can return them to their original state, and he will give it to them for free. At this point they started to scream, no! no! If so said the Doctor, they were satisfied with his treatment and he deserved his pay.

It’s true that we we were put on earth against our will. However when it is time to leave the world none of us are happy to go and we fight death with all our might. If so we are happy here and must pay the price of the damage we caused while we are here. The Mishna tells us that we were born against our will but we also are dragged to our grave against our will and that is what does us in.

Pirkei Avot: Vilna Gaon – Because You Will Die Against Your Will

The Mishna in Pirkei Avot (4:22) says that a person is created against his will, he is born against his will, he lives against his will, and he will die against his will. The Vilna Gaon asks, if a person’s entire existence is against his will, how can he be held accountable. It is like hiring a person to do your bookkeeping who says he doesn’t know anything about bookkeeping. At the end of the year when the books are a mess, can he blame the bookkeeper? Similarly if we never accepted the challenge of life this world willfully, can we be held accountable?

The Vilna Gaon’s answer is explained with a Mashal from the Dubno Magid. There was a ranting women who was not able to find someone willing to marry. She was also blind. They finally found her the perfect shidduch, a deaf man who never got married because he was deformed beyond belief. They got married and lived in perfect harmony. He couldn’t hear her curses and rantings and she couldn’t see how ugly he was.

One day a famous doctor came to town who had a special potion to restore vision and hearing. The couple excitedly went to the doctor who charged them a fortune of money and gave each one special drops. Miraculously they were both cured, but what tzorus it caused! He couldn’t believe the cursing coming from his sweet wife and she couldn’t stand the site of her deformed husband.

They took the Doctor to Din Torah demanding their money back and then some, for the trouble he caused and the marriage he ruined. The Rov asked the Doctor if he’d like to defend himself. He said there was no need to. He has special drops that can return them to their original state, and he will give it to them for free. At this point they started to scream, no! no! If so said the Doctor, they were satisfied with his treatment and he deserved his pay.

It’s true that we we were put on earth against our will. However when it is time to leave the world none of us are happy to go and we fight death with all our might. If so we are happy here and must pay the price of the damage we caused while we are here. The Mishna tells us that we were born against our will but we also are dragged to our grave against our will and that is what does us in.