The World to Come

As to the World to Come, according to classical sources, little can be said about it as it’s wholly other-worldly — a phenomenon that “since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has (any) eye seen, O God, beside You” (Isaiah 64:3). Nonetheless we’re told that three things offer a “sample” of it: the Shabbat, sexual intercourse, and a sunny day (though the sages were unsure whether sexual intercourse should be included. since it weakens the body) (Berachot 57b).

There are, though, some things we know about it (though it might be said that the incomprehensible implications of what’s offered detracts from the advantage of having it). We’re told that “In the World to Come there’s no eating, drinking, procreation, commerce, jealousy, antagonism, or rivalry’ which constitute the whole of life, “instead, the righteous sit with crowns on their head and enjoy the radiance of the Shechina there” (Berachot 17a), which is inexplicable.

Nevertheless, “all Israel have a portion in the World to Come” (other than those who “maintain that the resurrection of the dead isn’t a biblical doctrine, that the Torah wasn’t divinely revealed, and heretics”) (Mishna Sanhedrin 10:1); and righteous gentiles also have a place in the World to Come (Tosefta, Sanhedrin 13:2).

(c) 2012 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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4 responses to “The World to Come

  1. … and the 13 Articles of Faith are listed by the Rambam as his definition of “heresy” WRT this mishnah. Codified as heretics WRT other halakhos (such as who may handle my wine) in Teshuvah ch. 3. So one wonders, aside from the self-referentiality, why disbelief in the afterlife is singled out.

    You might wish to add the Ramchal’s own comments about the World to Come from the beginning of Mesilas Yesharim.

  2. Thanks. As to your suggestion about including M.Y. as insight into Ramchal’s shitta on O.H. — I’m not sure I’m going to go at it from a mussar perspective so much as from a depiction, function, meaning of, one.

  3. I was thinking of the corridor vs banquet hall metaphor (quoting R’ Yitzvchaq) or the seashore and the sea, which show how small of a sample these things are. Also, the notion that the joy of the World to Come is the “enjoyment of the sweetness of the Shechinah.”

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