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Vilna Gaon on Yonah: Part 7 - The Raging Seas Rock The Boat
1:4 cont'd - And there was a mighty tempest in the sea - The trait of justice was hurled on the sea, it agitates the sea which is this world. (This is why the tense is in masculine form unlike the boat which refers to the body and is in feminine form). At first it comes to the body and makes it sick with a terrible sickness...and afterwards it comes to take the neshama through it. It starts with the body since the enticements started from it, as written in the Zohar. Therefore, the midrash writes that the entire storm was concentrated only on that boat, while all the other boats at sea were at peace. (since only this body/boat is under attack).
So that the ship was thought to become broken - The body senses that it will be broken now, as written in the Zohar, "All of a man's days he thinks that this world is his and he will never die". But now, he sees and begins to realize that he will die against his will. However, for the neshama, even though it will be forced to bear its sins, nevertheless it will not be destroyed forever - it will be repaired through a reincarnation, as is written "two or three times with a man" (Job 33:29). Unlike the body which cannot be repaired through reincarnation, will be broken forever. And it is compared to an earthenware vessel which needs to be broken (to render it pure, Vayikra 6:21).
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