The Rebbe on several occasions stated that our generation is the last generation that will be in exile, and the first generation that will experience the Geulah.  Together with this comes a towering promise: in our generation we will experience the transition to eternal life without any interruption—meaning without experiencing death like the previous generations (who will also receive the reward of eternal life, although following an interruption).

Since the time the Rebbe said those words there have been many funerals, and many Jews old and young, r”l, have passed away.  It would seem at first glance that the Rebbe’s promise is something that will be fulfilled only upon the arrival of the true and complete Geulah (may it be immediately).

However, upon delving into the sources we will see that what appears to our fleshly eyes as real is actually only a temporary covering.  What is real lies hidden on the inside, in the essence of what we see.

Furthermore, the state of the body as it will be when it reaches the purity and refinement of eternal life—the Resurrection of the Dead—is so lofty that it bears little resemblance to the coarse material covering which we perceive.  The body will be like the body of Adam Harishon—Hashem’s own handiwork, placed to dwell in Gan Eden.

We hope to show how eternal life—as a soul in a refined body—is not contradicted by a lack of signs of life in the material garment we wear in this world.  Thus—a funeral does not necessarily contradict eternal life without any interruption.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of the time when death will be swallowed forever and Hashem will wipe the tear from every eye.  May we see that this refers to our generation—as we go from exile towards Geulah.

Resurrection of the Dead While Still in the Dust? 

The Gemara33 states that Tzaddikim will return to their dust one hour before the Resurrection of the Dead.  The Rebbe explains that this can be fulfilled through the spiritual service of “my soul will be as dust to all,” in which case there is no need to actually return to dust.

In the Zohar34 it states in the name of Rabi Yitzchok: “They have taught that in the future the Holy One Blessed Be He will revive the dead and shake them from their dust — that they will not be fabric of dust like they were at the beginning when they were created from actual dust which lacks permanent existence…they will be shaken from that fabric of dust and they will arise in permanent fabric giving them lasting existence.  For it says: Arise! Shake off the dust.”

This expression of being “shaken from the dust” is found in the gemara35 in the name of Rebi Elazar: “Anyone who possesses arrogance [גסות הרוח], his dust will not be shaken“. 

It has been asked36 why do our sages use the term “to be shaken” to refer to the Resurrection of the Dead?  Why didn’t they say “he won’t arise” or “he won’t live” at the Resurrection?  It is possible to answer that this means that even while the arrogant will indeed arise at the Resurrection, he will arise in the original dust of this world, and this original dust is not shaken off from him.  Thus, while he has actually reached the level of eternal life, it remains hidden beneath a layer of “dust” (the “skin of the snake”) and thus he will still undergo the humbling process of passing away in order to “shake off the dust” that comes from arrogance.

This would then explain that our generation is already on the level of the Resurrection of the Dead, since our generation is on the level of Rabbeinu Hakadosh “who completed his avodah, nonetheless he suffered illnesses…only the waste which is at the ends of his garment was still not refined27.  We are only “dwelling in the dust” due to a lack of bittul.  Thus the Rebbe instructs our generation that it is specifically bittul (“My soul will be dust to all”) that nullifies the requirement to “return to the dust”—negating the need to die and return again in another incarnation.

(And see Ben Yehoyada35 that the arrogant will arise in the resurrection like a person who was put to sleep to undergo a painful operation, and when he awakens “he is still sick and feels his body’s weakness”.)
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