He Will be like a Tree Planted by Water
“Ulla Nahota was dying there [in Babylonia]. He began to cry. They said to him, ‘Why are you crying? We will bring you up to the land of Israel [for burial]. He said to them, ‘What benefit [is it] to me, I will lose מַרְגָּלִיתִי (marggaliti), my pearl, in an impure land [cf. Hymn of the Pearl]. Not like he who is delivered into his mother’s bosom is he who is delivered into the bosom of an alien woman [cf. Proverbs 2:16: To save you from a stranger-woman, from a smooth-talking alien woman]” (JT Kilayim 9:3, 32c).
“Rabbi Yirmeyah son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan, ‘Whoever walks four cubits in the land of Israel is assured to be a son of the world to come.’ Now… aren’t the righteous outside the Land going to be revived? Rabbi Il’a said, ‘By גִּלְגּוּל (gilggul), rolling.’ Rabbi Abba Sala the Great objected, ‘Rolling will be painful to the righteous!’ Abbaye replied, ‘Tunnels will be made for them underground” (BT Ketubbot 111a, cf. Zohar 1:113b–114b [MhN], 131a).
“[Addressing the apparent contradiction between revival of the dead and גִּלְגּוּל הַנְשָׁמוֹת (gilggul ha-neshamot), rolling souls] Rabbi Ḥizkiyah said, ‘If you say that all bodies of the world will arise, aroused from the dust, what will become of those bodies sown in a single soul [cf. BT Gittin 58a: ‘two wicks in one flame’]? Rabbi Yose replied, ‘These bodies that have been virtuous and have not flourished are considered as if they never existed. As they were a withered tree in this world, so too at that time. The final body will arise, for once sown, it flourished and took root fittingly. Of this one is written: He will be like a tree planted by water… its leaves will be luxuriant… (Jeremiah 17:8), for it generated fruit, took root and flourished fittingly. Of that previous body is written: He will be like a shrub in the desert, and will not see when good comes… (ibid., 6). When good comes—revival of the dead, and it is written: For you will revere My name, the sun of victory will rise, with healing in its wings (Malachi 3:20). Then good will prevail in the world, and the one called Evil will be eliminated from the world, as we have said. Then those previous bodies will be as though they had never been” (Zohar 1:131a).
“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘If a person obtains a recycled soul and fails to have it rectified within him, it is as though he falsifies the truth of the King; and I apply to him this verse: or if he finds something lost and denies it and swears falsely (Leviticus 5:22). And denies it—better for him if he had never been created [cf. BT Niddah 30b; Zohar 3:13a]!
We have learned: ‘A completely righteous person is not thrust aside; an incompletely righteous person is.’ Who is completely righteous, and who is incompletely righteous? Could it be that one whose deeds are flawed is called righteous? [cf. BT Berakhot 7a–b, Megillah 6b, Bava Metsi’a 71a, Avodah Zarah 4a].’
‘Well, a completely righteous person is clearly recognized, for he has not taken tortuous convolutions; and with his inheritance he builds a structure, erects walls, hews out wells, and plants trees.
An incompletely righteous person is one who builds a structure with another’s inheritance—digging into it, restoring the foundation stones as before, toiling over it; yet he does not know if it will remain his. Furthermore, regarding himself, he is considered good and righteous; but regarding that inheritance, not so.
This may be compared to a person who builds a beautiful and attractive building. But when he examines the foundation, he sees that it is sinking and distorted in all directions. The building is incomplete until he demolishes it and rebuilds it anew. Regarding his building itself, it was fine and beautiful; but regarding the foundation, it was bad and distorted. So it is not called a complete project; it is not called a complete building. Consequently, ‘an incompletely righteous person is thrust aside [at the revival of the dead].’ Thus, while the wicked swallows up the one more righteous than he (Habakuk 1:13) [cf. BT Berakhot 7b, Megillah 6b, Bava Metsi’a 71a]” (Zohar 3:213a–b).