Aurelius - Meditations 4:21: The Afterlife and the Leech's Greedy Daughters


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4:21 – You ask how, if souls continue to exist, the atmosphere has room for them from time eternal. But how does the ground have room for the bodies of those who for so long an age are buried in it? The answer is that, as on earth change and dissolution after a continuance for so long make room for other dead bodies, so in the atmosphere souls pass on and continue for so long, and then change and are poured out and are kindled being assumed into the generative principle of Universal Nature, and so provide room for those which succeed to their place. This would be the answer presuming that souls do continue. But we must consider not only the multitude of bodies that are thus buried, but also the number of animals eaten every day by ourselves and the rest of the animal creation. How large a number are devoured and, in a manner of speaking, “buried” in the bodies of those who feed upon them; and yet there is room to contain them because they are turned into blood, because they are changed into forms of air and heat. How shall we investigate the truth of this? By division into that which is material and that which is the cause of form, the formal.
Mishlei 30:15
“The leech has two daughters that say, ‘Give me!’ ‘Give me!’”
Metzudas David – Mishlei 30:15
the leech has – He likened the pit of the grave to a leech because it greedily sucks all people into it, just like the leech sucks blood.
two daughters – they are Gan Eden and Gehinnom. Gan Eden says, “Give me tzadikim!” and Gehinnom says, “Give me reshaim!” This is an allegory, as if to say: the Tzadik shouldn’t think that there isn’t enough room in Gan Eden, nor should the rasha think that Gehinom is already filled to the brim and there is no room for him. This is not so, for each one of them desires more people, and has ample space, and each one will end up in his place.

If you have questions, comments, or feedback, I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact me at rabbischneeweiss at gmail.
Stoicism Resources:
Farquharson translation of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Gummere translation of Letters from a Stoic Master (Seneca)
Long translation of The Discourses of Epictetus
Carter translation of The Enchiridion (Handbook) of Epictetus
YouTube Channel:
"The Mishlei Podcast":
"The Stoic Jew" Podcast:
"Rambam Bekius" Podcast:

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