12TH CYCLE SHABBOS 152 - Dedicated in honor of Dovid Avrohom Katz, ha'Kohen, born on 15 Elul 5765. May he grow up to be a Talmid Chacham and a credit and source of Nachas to all of Klal Yisrael!
1) AGADAH: ONLY HASH-M OPENS GRAVES
The Gemara records a conversation between Rav Nachman and Rav Achai bar Yoshiyah, which occurred after Rav Achai bar Yoshiyah died and was buried. When Rav Nachman reached into the grave and felt the body of Rav Achai and saw that his body had not deteriorated, he suggested that Rav Achai leave the grave and go home, since he was able to talk and move. Rav Achai responded that only Hash-m can open graves, as the verse says, "You will know that I am Hash-m when I open your graves" (Yechezkel 37:13).
The commentators explain a cryptic conversation that we find in Sefer Melachim based on this Gemara. In Melachim II (4:18-23), the Navi relates the story of the Shunamite woman whose son died and was revived by the prophet Elisha. When her husband returned from the fields, the woman did not tell him what had happened to their son. Rather, she said that she was going to the prophet. When her husband asked her why she was going to visit the prophet, all she said was, "Shalom." Why was she so secretive about the boy's death? Why did she refrain from telling her husband about it?
The answer may be that if she would have told him, then the father would have become an Onen and would have been obligated to bury his son. Once the son was buried, the prophet would not have been able to revive him -- only Hash-m can open graves, as the Gemara here says. She did not tell her husband that their son had died, so that the father would not be obligated to bury him and the prophet would be able to revive him!
2) WHAT THE DEAD KNOW
QUESTION: The Gemara records a conversation between Rav Nachman and Rav Achai bar Yoshiyah, which occurred after Rav Achai bar Yoshiyah died and was buried (see previous Insight). How was Rav Achai able to answer the questions of Rav Nachman? The Gemara in Berachos (18b) says that dead people are not aware of anything in this world once they are dead. Even the Avos do not know anything about this world.
Similarly, the Gemara in Bava Basra (58a) describes the conversation that Rebbi Bena'a had with Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, when he entered the burial chamber of Avraham Avinu. Rebbi Bena'a asked Eliezer what Avraham was doing at that time. How could he have a conversation with Eliezer, who was dead, if the dead do not know what is happening?
ANSWER: The Gemara in Berachos (18b) says that although the dead are not aware of what is happening in this world, they are aware of matters that pertain to themselves. When they are questioned about their own matters, they hear the question and can reply to it.