Rabbi Eliezer Hakapar
“Let your yetzer hara (evil inclination) not delude you that the grave is a refuge, for you are formed and born against your will, and you live and die against your will” — Rabbi Eliezer Hakapar (Avot 4:22)
A person often despairs of changing his ways. He therefore resigns himself to behave in a certain pattern and takes the fatalistic attitude that if Heaven should punish him with death, it will all be over and done with. But this is an error. For whatever G-d expects his soul to accomplish will be accomplished, even if, against its will, his soul is returned to earth time and time again in order to fulfill its mission. So why suffer the pangs of death and burial if there is no escape from G-d, even in the grave?
This message is also the gist of the story of the Prophet Yonah’s failure to escape from G-d, which we read in the haftara at Mincha on Yom Kippur.
- Mishna Berura, 622, Sha’ar Hatzion 6