The Jewish Eye
Vilna Gaon on Yonah: Part 8 - The Day Of Death Arrives
1:5 And the sailors were afraid, and cried out every man unto his god; and they cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it unto them. And Yonah went down into the depths of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
And the sailors were afraid - They are the leaders of the body, which is the brain, heart, and the other powers.
And cried out every man unto his god- They cried out and turned to the gold and silver which they served all their days, which are called the gods of silver and gods of gold, as is written "On that day a man shall cast away his gods of silver, and his gods of gold, which they made for themselves to worship" (Yeshaya 2:20). They will cast them away because "wealth will not help on the day of wrath".
And they cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea - There is to say as the plain meaning, that he throws from the body, the clothes which fall on the bed.
To lighten it unto them - and he leaves even his clothes in this world. Also, and this is what it means "in the sea" to lighten the tough heavenly decree, he gives his clothes to tzedaka.
And Yonah went down into the depths of the ship - The neshama descended to the feet, as is written in the Zohar (Tikun 20) (before death the neshama descends to the feet).
And he lay, and was fast asleep. - He laid on the bed and a deep sleep fell on him, as is known on the day of death. And likewise it says by Avraham, "And the sun went down and a great sleep fell on Avraham (Bereishis 15:12) which is the sunset of the neshama, as written in the talmud (Shabbos 154 on Koheles 12), "Before the sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars, are darkened", which refers to the departure of the neshama...
1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him: 'Why are you sleeping? arise, call upon your Hashem, if so be that Hashem will think upon us, that we perish not.'
So the shipmaster came to him - He is the head leader (of the body) - the heart.
And said unto him: 'Why are you sleeping? - As brought in the Zohar, it is not the time, etc.
Call upon your Hashem - He is speaking to the neshama - "call upon YOUR Hashem" because it was "hewn" from Him (i.e. the neshama comes from Hashem Himself, like a candle lit from a flame)
If so be that Hashem will think upon us, that we perish not. - because the neshama has the possibility of being repaired, unlike the body and everything that is associated with it, the nefesh (lower neshama) and the ruach behemit (higher animal neshama) due to it (the neshama's sins) will be lost forever.
1:7 And they said every one to his fellow: 'Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.' So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Yonah.
And they said every one to his fellow - the powers and limbs/organs say to each other.
'Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.' - They wanted to know through whose sin the heavenly decree went out, whether through a sin of the tongue or some other limb/organ.
So they cast lots - They examined and clarified the matter.
and the lot fell upon Yonah - On the neshama, because when it is good, it transforms the whole body to the good, even though the body is intrinsically base physical (i.e. tends towards wanting to be a lazy good for nothing gorilla), as written in Mishlei. Similarly Chazal said "A good heart" (includes everything), since the heart is the abode of the neshama, and includes everything.
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