“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” (Anger in the Sky, 1943)
The author assumes that the desire for immortality is rooted in rational thought. This logic is not unfounded. Just as sovereignty to end life, is within the jurisdiction of the suicidal, it stands to reason that the converse i.e. the desire to live perpetually, is likewise within the control of man. This gives rise to the above absurd aphorism – why wish to live if you are bored on a rainy afternoon?
The yearning to be immortal, however, is not the product of a conscious decision. Studies by Boston University, conducted in Ecuador, demonstrated that even young children trust they existed prior to their conception, albeit in a different form. At that juncture, they were unable to eat, see, or have a heartbeat; but they still had feelings, desires and emotions.
The essence of the human soul is a spark apportioned from the Divine – there is G-dliness in every person and thus each individual is truly immortal. A body can be destroyed by natural or physical phenomena, but not the soul. This human spirit is the source of man’s wish for immortality. This desire for deathlessness, erroneously, spreads from the soul to its temporary housing – the body –developing the inspiration to live forever.
Moses descended Mount Sinai carrying two sapphire Tablets. On witnessing the Jews worshiping the Golden Calf, the letters engraved in the stones departed and flew back to Heaven. These letters, written by G-d himself, could not tolerate idolatry, and returned to G-d on high. Moshe, too, was repulsed. He grasped the Tablets and smashed them to smithereens at the mountain base.
“Why did Moshe smash them? Because the script flew away” (Tanchuma Eikev 11)
After much beseeching from Moshe, Hashem agreed not to destroy the nation. He further commanded Moshe: “Hew a second set of tablets and carry them up the mountain”. Hashem promised to inscribe them with what had been written on the first set. Thus, the First Tablets where fashioned and engraved by Hashem, whilst the second set were carved by Moshe and written by Hashem.
There were other differences too. The power vested in the first set, had the ability to permanently subjugate the Angel of Death. He would no longer have any dominion over the Jews. Had the Jews not sinned with the Golden Calf, they would have been spiritually and physically immortal.
“At Mount Sinai the Holy One called the Angel of Death and said: even though I made you executioner of the living, you have no business with this nation for they are my children.” (Vayikra Rabbah 18:4)
The Tablets had two components: the raw sapphire stone and its engraved message. These bear symbolism to the physical human body and the spiritual soul. The mineral stone, which formed the background, represents the human body and provides framework for all activity. The hallowed script documented the Divine message and charged the Tablets with supernatural energy; this corresponds to the human spirit which permeates, characterizes and drives man.
When both the writ and stone were fashioned by Hashem they both had eternal properties. If the Jews would have retained the First Tablets, they would have guaranteed eternity for the corresponding human body and soul. The Angel of Death would be powerless. Alas, they were not worthy and the letters flew to Heaven and the Moshe smashed the stones. A new pair was made, this set however, was hewn by mortal Moshe and written by Hashem; they had a Divine message carved into a human background. In parallel, the body was now mortal once again, but the soul which charged the body, retained its immortality.