Parshas Emor: Natural Death
The Torah (Leviticus 21:5) prohibits various extreme forms of mourning the death of loved ones. As the laws of nature require every living thing to eventually die, why is human nature to mourn the death of a loved one, sad as it may be, with such intensity when we mentally recognize that it is inevitable?
Nachmanides, in his work Toras HaAdam on the laws and customs of death and mourning, offers a fascinating explanation for this phenomenon. When God originally created the first man, Adam, He intended him to be immortal and created him with a nature reflecting this reality. When Adam sinned by eating from the forbidden fruit, he brought death to mankind and to the entire world.
Nevertheless, this new development, although it would completely change the nature of our life on earth until the Messianic era, had no effect on man's internal makeup, which was designed to reflect the reality that man was intended to live forever. Therefore, although our minds recognize that people ultimately must die and we see and hear about death on a daily basis, our internal makeup remains as it was originally designed, one which expects our loved ones to live forever as they were originally intended to do, and which is therefore plunged into intense mourning when confronted with the reality that this is no longer the case.