Physical life is also very important, and especially that of a human being. Nevertheless, all Jews are princes, and the life of a prince is intrinsically dependent upon his bond with his father, the king. Thus, if he is given life but severed from his father, the king, and cast into a dung heap to live the life of an animal, not only will he not enjoy this life, but he will despise it.
[Along these lines,] there is the known story of the chossid, Reb Yekusiel Liepler (see HaYom Yom of 6 Cheshvan). When the Alter Rebbe wanted to bless him with long life, he responded: “But not with peasant years, who have eyes, but don’t see, and ears, but don’t hear; they don’t see G–dliness, and they don’t hear G–dliness.”
This appears surprising. When one is given a gift, and all the more so when one is given a great gift, how can he refuse to accept it unless the gift is even greater? A long life has great intrinsic value (and especially since the pleasure of living includes all the pleasures of the world), how could Reb Yekusiel have made conditions in the blessing?
The explanation is that Reb Yekusiel’s condition was not that the blessing be increased, but that the long life be true life. He felt with certainty that the entire existence of life was to see and hear G–dliness. Thus, he stipulated, “but not with peasant years,” for he considered days and years in which one does not see and hear G–dliness completely worthless; on the contrary, he despised such days and years.