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There is a common misperception that the Resurrection of the Dead means the return of the soul to the body as we recognize it externally.  The popular image of cemeteries filled with revived corpses climbing out of coffins dressed in their burial shrouds, dusting off the dirt of the grave is based on a simplified reading of the words of our sages; but after having merited the revelations of Chassidus, our conception of “rising from the dust” must reflect a deeper understanding.

To begin with, although we think that those buried in the cemetery are the ones dwelling in the dust, the deeper meaning of the concept is that it actually applies to us—we who are alive in this world right now.  To explain:  the soul’s work is accomplished over numerous lifetimes, called gilgulim.  The soul is reincarnated into different bodies over different lifetimes in order to complete the task of refining sparks.  This world, including the body of man in this world, was created from the dust.  As the verse states: “you are from the dust and to the dust you shall return”.  “Arise and sing those who dwell in the dust.”

Thus it is that we, who are presently in a state of gilgul (from the root gilul, meaning “dung”), are the ones who are in the dust, meaning a body that was created from the dust of this world.  “Returning to the dust” really refers to the cycle of reincarnation: “the verse ‘to the dust you shall return’ is the secret of gilgul, that a soul will reincarnate from dust to dust meaning from body to body and he will die and return and die.”

Based on this, we can understand the meaning of the Zohar: “This is why tzaddikim that maintain the Covenant do not return to their dust, which is the skin of the snake which was created from dust.”

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