Why is inheritance so important?
The truth is, says Rav Miller, that even after the person dies and the soul leaves the body for a better world, the soul still maintains an attachment to This World.
The underlying reason why we don't want to die, why we fight & run from death, is because death means we can no longer serve Hashem in a very precious way:
With death, we lose our bechirah. Everything is clear in the Next World, so the choice is always obvious.
Only in This World do we receive the opportunity to choose good.
Why We Don't Want to Die
Because he understood the idea stated in Avot 4:17 — that a moment of teshuvah & good deeds in This World is better than all the eternity of the World to Come.
This is an incredible idea because the pleasure of the Next World is beyond anything we could experience here.
Yet knowing this, we still experience such an attachment to life in This World.
It's because our neshamah yearns to accomplish more & more.
For every good choice we make, even the tiniest good deed, we accumulate unfathomable good for our portion in the Next World.
Why Descendants are Important
Children and their deeds are left behind.
Even though the frum parents are enjoying unimaginable pleasure in the Next World, they are still affected by the inheritance they left in This World.
All the good things their living children do end up bringing tremendous merits by the thousands to the departed parents.
They're connected to Olam Hazeh in a positive way and their children quench their soul's thirst to accomplish (despite the obvious barrier of physical death), which grants them even more pleasure in the Next World.
This is a big part of the reason why it's such a big deal to frum people to see their grand children & even great-grandchildren — it's validation of the pleasure they'll enjoy in the Next World.
Here's the Sign You've been Waiting for...
That’s why I would suggest, if you have good children, go to a sign painter and order for yourself a sign as follows: “This is to certify” – if you want to do it in loshon kodesh you can say [Te'udah zu me'id alai k'meah eidim] – "This is to certify that you, my son and my daughter-in-law, have given me very great nachas.”
And put it in a frame and hang it in on the wall in their house.
You want to go further? You can hang such a sign in the house of your grandchildren.
And if you’ll do it in the house of your great-grandchildren, even better.
What about People without Any Children?
For whatever the reason, it simply never worked out.
Or, like what happened to a friend of mine who lost one child to a car accident, another to a birth defect, and then she needed an emergency hysterectomy, and that was it for her as far as motherhood goes.
Baruch Hashem, she was blessed with tremendous gevurah & chessed, and she used these qualities to provide help to people who could not receive help from anyone else.
And this is what Rav Miller addresses next: Making mitzvot your offspring when you cannot produce biological offspring.
First, Rav Miller presents the mashal of a cow (page 14).
When a cow is alive, it gives milk to sustain people.
When the cow is slaughtered for its meat, the meat goes into the cholent.
But it doesn't stop there.
It's hide is made into tefillin straps & boxes. You can make Torah parchment.
In that way, the cow lives on for a long time.
But for people, it's even better.
It's like when a perfumed person leaves the room. The person is gone, but their scent remains.
And that's what a good name does for a person.
When people do good deeds and treat others well, their name lives on in a good way. On pages 15-16 Rav Miller recalls such people he knew.
We've all known those people who've left an indelible positive impression on our lives.
That's their good name still wafting around This World.
Then Rav Miller quotes the Lubavitcher Rebbe (page 17), who said that when you learn Mishnayot in the street, you change the street.
Good deeds leave their imprint on This World, even if we can't perceive it.
Bad deeds do the opposite.
They create a stench. They change the character of the street for worse.
Ideas for Creating "Offspring"
Saying a good word, an encouraging word, to another person.
- Learning Torah (Gemara for men, mussar for women)
- Helping others
- Donating money to yeshivot & poor talmidei chachamim
- Donating sefarim to a beit medrash
For example, when you donate a Gemara in the name of someone to a study hall, and someone sits down to study it, it's as if the person in whose name you did it is studying it too.
So there's a lot of food for thought here and ideas for what you can do to ensure an enjoyable eternity regardless of your individual situation.
May we always merit to make good choices throughout our lives in This World.