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וירא אלקים את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד

And G-d saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. (1:31)

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The Midrash interprets tov, good, meod, very (good), in a novel manner: “And behold it was very good” – tov is a reference to the Malach Ha’Chaim, Angel of life, or life per se. Meod, very (good), is a reference to the Malach Ha’Maves, Angel of death. Clearly, Chazal’s choice of the term “very” good to denote death begs elucidation. How can we understand death as being “very good” when life is only “good”? Horav Eliezer Sorotzkin, zl, posits that herein lies the secret of simchas ha’chaim, joy of life. When a person goes through life acquiescing to whatever Hashem doles out to him with an attitude that it is all tov, good, his life is blessed. He merits a rich, blissful life. If, however, tov is insufficient, if, whatever he receives, he wants more, so that he seeks tov meod very good, then he does not “live.” He is not “alive.” He exists, but lacks the joy to make life vibrant for him. He lives an unproductive, unhappy, wasted life, because whatever he has – he still wants more. The tov meod person courts the Malach Ha’Maves, because he does not appreciate “life.”

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