Evolutionists have a very difficult time explaining the origin of the instinct called “the will to live”. Even if they claim that there is a DNA that was passed on from one organism to another, they cannot account for the origin of that first DNA. In contrast Am Yisrael not only has the answer to this query but this “will to live” is a major avodah and concern within itself. We say in the ShemonehEsrai of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah זכרנו לחיים מלך חפץ בחיים Remember us for life, King who desires life. Hashem created life into existence from nothingness and sustains it 24/7. He is therefore a King who wants life. It is also written (Yechezkail 33,11) חי אני נאום אדני ה’ אם אחפץ במות הרשע כי אם בשוב רשע מדרכו וחיה. I swear to you that I do not desire the death of the wicked but rather that he should do teshuvah and live.
Since everything in existence is sustained by the רצון and desire of Hashem, everything possesses an instinct for life. This could be yet another interpretation to the passuk פותח את ידך ומשביע לכל חי רצון. Hashem opens up His hand and fills לכל everything with חי רצון a will for living. We as humans who created in the Tzelem Elokim must not only be aware of this instinct but we must also choose to emulate Hashem with the same desire of wanting life’s existence thereby fulfilling the mitzvah of והלכת בדרכיו.
The Chofetz Chaim was quoted saying that this means that we must do things that portray to Hashem our desire to sustain our lives. Rav Shlomo Bloch ztl a talmid of the Choftez Chayim said that there is a segulah for one to have prepared provisions for a short period as a survival kit. By doing so, one shows Hashem that he wants to live which activates Hashem’s desire that He too wants you to live as He is a מלך חפץ בחיים. Rav Shlomo Bloch said he himself is the beneficiary of this segulah. Right before World War one he prepared even a small amount of provisions in case of a war remained alive. Likewise, the Rebbe from Radashitz said to an individual during World War 1 that he should always be thinking of the word חיים and this alone will save you.
With this explanation we can understand the Rabbeinu Yona in Shaarei Teshuvah who writes (3,17) ודע כי המעלות העליונות נמסרו במצות עשה כמו מעלת הבחירה as the passuk says (Devarim 30,19) ובחרת בחיים . Here he states that every mitzvah that one fulfills carries with it also a fulfillment of the mitzvah ובחרת בחיים to choose life. What is the nature of this mitzvah ובחרת בחיים? According to the above we can say that it is coupled with the mitzvah of והלכת בדרכיו. That just like Hashem who’s desire is to want life, choosing the life that Hashem desires, is the foundation of all the mitzvos.
This is what the Torah is also saying in our parsha when it writes ושמרתם את חוקתי ואת משפטי אשר יעשה אותם האדם וחי בהם that by keeping Hashem’s mitzvos we demonstrated that we want and desire life like Hashem. For instance, by being careful in HilchosLashonHarah we show that we want life as the passuk says מי האיש החפץ חיים נצור לשונך מרע. A person who wants life will refrain from speaking LashonHarah. One who fails to do so, is sending the message to Hashem that they don’t really appreciate this incredible gift of life.
Another way to show Hashem that you want life is by keeping the Shabbos. The Ohr Chayim explains on the passuk כי ששת ימים עשה ה’ את השמים ואת הארץ וביום השביעי שבת וינפש That Hashem gave the Six days of creation enough life force for only those six days, after which the universe would automatically expire. In order for the universe to continue for the following six days, וינפש, on Shabbos Hashem gave an infusion of more nefesh. This process ofהתחדשות occurs every Shabbos. Note that the word used in the passuk is וינפש which also means רצון desire as it is written אם יש את נפשכם (Rashi, Bereishis 23,8). Shabbos conveys Hashem’s desire for life to exist on our planet earth and in the entire cosmos. Therefore Shabbos in a grand opportunity to demonstrate one’s appreciation and simcha for the day of Shabbos, not only resulting from a recess of working but rather that Shabbos renews for the existence of another six days in the world. Shabbos thereby demonstrates simultaneously to Hashem one’s personal desire for the gift of life as well. If we are lax in our preserving the sanctity of Shabbos we are telling Hashem I really don’t appreciate me being part of the creation process.
Furthermore when we recite the יהי רצון on the occasion when we announce the new moon, we mention eleven times the word chayim life. We beseech Hashem to grant us all the aspects of a life with good fortune. Eleven times the word חיים with the kollel equaling 69, add up to 759 the same as יום שבת with the kollel. This teaches us that by keeping Shabbos and being in a state of enhanced simcha and עונג, we thereby demonstrate to Hashem that we desire the life that Hashem created.
Working on and fixing one’s middos is another means to show Hashem one’s desire for life. As Shlomo Hamelech writes Mishlei 4,13 החזק במוסר אל תרף נצרה כי היא חייך and the Vilna Gaon writes
כי מה שהאדם חי הוא כדי לשבור המדה שלא שבר עד הנה ולכן צריך תמיד להתחזק כי אם לא יתחזק למה לו חיים
The reason why a person is alive is in order to break the middos that still need fixing. Therefore, one must constantly strengthen his resolve for fulfilling this mission for if he doesn’t, then for what purpose is he alive!
But how are we supposed to show we want life during the days when we are compromised physically, mentally or emotionally? Let me relate to you two stories of how deep in a Yid does the desire for life run. When the Chazon Ish ztl got sick, the doctors prescribed him not to speak for six weeks. He nevertheless hinted to his talmid to write some words down on a paper. He spoke only three words and then stopped for he had no strength for even one word more. For six weeks every day he went through this ritual and spoke three words to his talmid who would write them down. These six weeks of three words a session once a day, later became a paragraph in his sefer on HillchosShabbos. For a moment, let us think this conduct through. All this time, the Chazaon Ish knew he would be physical stronger in six weeks and he wouldn’t have to “mutcher” and pain himself to get three words written every day. So why did he do so? The reason was to show Hashem that even in such a compromised predicament when one would normally “throw in the towel” with the excuse saying what could Hashem expect from me now, one must nevertheless show Hashem even with even a tiny token of appreciation, he deeply values the spirit of life that was gifted to him.
The Klausenberger Rebbe ztl was once taken into custody by the Gestapo. From their office one could hear the screams and groans of pain coming from the merciless beating of the Rebbe. When the anguish cries ceased, one of the Gestapo members came in to the rest of the prisoners and said now you can take your battered Rabbiner back, whatever is left of him. As they carried the bloody Rebbe back to the barracks they noticed that even though his holy tortured body was listless, nevertheless he was wiggling his toes backwards and forwards. Days later when they inquired about the peculiar movement of his toes at that time, he responded, that day that I was picked up by the Gestapo was Simchas Torah. Even though my entire body was broken and in terrible pain, how could I not dance to Hashem in appreciation for giving us the Torah which is our lives.
Did you ever have the scenario of davening the ShemonehEsrai and when you came to the last beracha שים שלום you wake up from your “astronitis” (astronaut) and realize for the last five minutes you have been “spacing out” instead of davening. What should be the reaction to this sudden discovery? One has two choices, either to throw in the towel or to salvage what one can now do properly with correct focus. The individuals who decide to make this last beracha count, are the courageous warriors against their yetzerhara. Even though they have lost 18 battles until now, the 19th battle at the very end defeated the enemy and won for them the war!
This ability for a Yid to do as much as he can during a state of compromise even though he will attain only a mere fraction of the shelimus required by the mitzvah, is what I coin as of this writing, “Wigglelitis” inspired by the example of the Klausenberger Rebbe. Even when a Yid is physically or emotionally not capable of demonstrating his full love to Hashem with the fulfillment of mitzvos, he must do the best he can do to show Hashem that he still has the deep desire to live the life that Hashem wants him to live. Every minute of life is beyond the precious of the precious.
– Rav Brazil