For the Sake of Heaven

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


Introduction

 

In this paper I would like to study the future for Jews, the Ger Toshav (G-d fearers), and the Ger Tzadik (The righteous Gentile who has converted to Judaism). We will see which folks enjoy the Messianic Age and what folks enjoy the Olam HaBa, the World to come.

 

It is interesting to note that the Torah never talks about the reward of the righteous. Why is reward never even mentioned in the Torah? The answer is both intriguing and disconcerting at the same time. If the Torah had commanded us to serve HaShem for the sake of reward, it would be a mitzva to do so. We would literally be earning our reward. HaShem did not want us to have this focus. He wanted us to serve Him because of our love for Him and for no other reason. This would be true love.

 

In the Shema, we echo this theme twice a day:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: HaShem our God, HaShem is one. Love HaShem your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

 

In the Tanach, the so called Old Testament, we see reward only in the vaguest terms:

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 19:9-11 The fear of HaShem is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of HaShem are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

 

In this same vague way, the Nazarean Codicil also views reward. We never see it as something we can work for:

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 5:46 – 6:6 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, So that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 

So, reward is not the focus of the Torah and it should not be our focus. Because the Torah never tells us what our reward will be, we must look elsewhere if we are to understand what the future will hold for us.

 

For those who see heaven as the destination of the righteous, I encourage you to review my study on HEAVEN.

 

Let’s start by defining some terms.

 

What exactly is the Messianic Age?

 

The Messianic Age is the millennium during while Mashiach (Messiah) will resurrect the dead and rule. Some Jewish sources call this the Olam HaBa, the World to Come. For the sake of this paper, we will call it the Messianic Age. The Talmud explains the difference between this world and the Messianic age:

 

Berachot 34b R. Hiyya b. Abba also said in the name of R. Johanan: All the prophets prophesied only for the days of the Mashiach, but as for the world to come, ‘Eye hath not seen, oh God, beside Thee’. These Rabbis differ from Samuel; for Samuel said: There is no difference between this world and the days of the Mashiach except [that in the latter there will be no] bondage of foreign powers, as it says: For the poor shall never cease out of the land.[1]

 

Yevamoth 24b Our Rabbis learnt: No proselytes will be accepted in the days of the Mashiach.[2] In the same manner no proselytes were accepted in the days of David nor in the days of Solomon.[3] Said R. Eleazar: What Scriptural [support is there for this view]?-Behold he shall be a proselyte who is converted for my own sake,’[4] he who lives with you shall be settled among you,[5] he only who ‘lives with you’ in your poverty shall be settled among you; but no other.

 

The world after the Mashiach comes is often referred to in Jewish literature as Olam HaBa. This term can cause some confusion, because it is also used to refer to a spiritual afterlife. In English, we commonly use the term "Messianic age" to refer specifically to the time of the Mashiach. The Talmud sheds some light on this period:

 

Pesachim 68a R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in R. Jonathan's name: The righteous are destined to resurrect the dead, for it is said, There shall yet old men and old women sit in the broad places of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age;[6] and it is written, and lay my staff upon the face of the child.[7]

 

‘Ulla opposed [two verses]. It is written, He will swallow up death for ever;[8] but it is written, For the youngest shall die a hundred years old?[9] There is no difficulty: there the reference is to Israel; here, to heathens. But what business have the heathens there? — Because it is written, And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and aliens shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.[10]

 

R. Hisda opposed [two verses]. It is written, Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed;[11] whereas it is written, Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days?[12] There is no difficulty: the former refers to the world to come;[13] the latter to the days of the Mashiach.[14] But according to Samuel, who maintained, This world differs from the Messianic age only in respect of the servitude to governments,[15] what can be said? — Both refer to the world to come, yet there is no difficulty: one refers to the camp of the righteous; the other, to the camp of the Shechinah.

 

What is the Olam HaBa?

 

The Olam HaBa is the world without time which comes at the end of the Messianic age. Some Jewish sources call this Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden ("the World of Souls").[16]

 

Olam HaBa will be characterized by the peaceful co-existence of all people:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 2:2-4  And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of HaShem’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

 

Shabbath 63a R. ELIEZER SAID: THEY ARE ORNAMENTS FOR HIM. It was taught: Said they [the Sages] to R. Eliezer: Since they are ornaments for him, why should they cease in the days of the Mashiach? Because they will not be required, he answered, as it is said, nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Yet let them exist merely as ornaments? — Said Abaye. It may be compared to a candle at noon.[17]

 

Now this disagrees with Samuel.[18] For Samuel said, This world differs from the Messianic era only in respect to servitude of the exiled, for it is said, For the poor shall never cease out of the land.[19] This supports R. Hiyya b. Abba,[20] who said, All the prophets prophesied only for the Messianic age, but as for the world to come, the eye hath not seen, O Lord, beside thee [what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him].[21] Some there are who state: Said they [the Sages] to R. Eliezer:

 

Since they are Ornaments for him, why should they cease in the days of the Mashiach? In the days of the Mashiach too they shall not cease, he answered. This is Samuel's view, and it disagrees with R. Hiyya b. Abba's.

 

Hatred, intolerance and war will cease to exist. Some authorities suggest that the laws of nature will change, so that predatory beasts will no longer seek prey and agriculture will bring forth supernatural abundance:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 11:6-11:9 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of HaShem, as the waters cover the sea.

 

Others, however, say that these statements are merely an allegory for peace and prosperity.

 

All of the Jewish people will return from their exile among the nations to their home in Israel:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 11:11-12 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

 

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 23:7-8 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith HaShem, that they shall no more say, HaShem liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, HaShem liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

 

The Talmud also talks about this time:

 

Berachot 12b MISHNAH. THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT IS TO BE MENTIONED [IN THE SHEMA’] AT NIGHT-TIME. SAID R. ELEAZAR B. AZARIAH: BEHOLD I AM ABOUT SEVENTY YEARS OLD, AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN WORTHY TO [FIND A REASON] WHY THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT SHOULD BE MENTIONED AT NIGHTTIME UNTIL BEN ZOMA EXPOUNDED IT: FOR IT SAYS: THAT THOU MAYEST REMEMBER THE DAY WHEN THOU CAMEST FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT ALL THE DAYS OF THY LIFE.[22] [HAD THE TEXT SAID,] ‘THE DAYS OF THY LIFE’ IT WOULD HAVE MEANT [ONLY] THE DAYS; BUT ‘ALL THE DAYS OF THY LIFE’ INCLUDES THE NIGHTS AS WELL. THE SAGES, HOWEVER, SAY: ‘THE DAYS OF THY LIFE REFERS TO THIS WORLD; ALL THE DAYS OF THY LIFE’ IS TO ADD THE DAYS OF THE MASHIACH.

 

GEMARA. It has been taught: Ben Zoma said to the Sages: Will the Exodus from Egypt be mentioned in the days of the Mashiach? Was it not long ago said: Therefore behold the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say: As the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, As the Lord liveth that brought up and that led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country and from all the countries whither I had driven them?[23] They replied: This does not mean that the mention of the exodus from Egypt shall be obliterated, but that the [deliverance from] subjection to the other kingdoms shall take the first place and the exodus from Egypt shall become secondary. Similarly you read: Thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name.[24]

 

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 30:3 For, lo, the days come, saith HaShem, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith HaShem: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.

 

Hosea 3:4-5 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and [without] teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek HaShem their God, and David their king; and shall fear HaShem and his goodness in the latter days.

 

The law of the Jubilee will be reinstated in the Olam HaBa. In the Olam HaBa, the whole world will recognize HaShem as the only true G-d, and the Jewish religion as the only true religion:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 2:2-3 And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of HaShem’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem.

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.;

 

Micah 4:2-3 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

 

Zechariah 14:9 And HaShem shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one HaShem, and his name one.

 

There will be no murder, robbery, competition or jealousy. There will be no sin:

 

Zephaniah 3:13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.

 

Sacrifices will continue to be brought in the Temple, but these will be limited to thanksgiving offerings, because there will be no further need for expiatory offerings.

 

The Torah contains several references to "the End of Days" (achareet ha-yameem), which is the time of the Mashiach.

 

The Mashiach is the one who will be anointed as king in the End of Days.

 

Eating and Drinking in the World to Come[25]

 

Our Sages have taught[26]: "In the World to Come (Messianic Age) there will be neither eating nor drinking; rather, the righteous will sit with crowns on their heads, and bask in the radiance of the Divine Presence."

 

In the Messianic Age (Olam HaTechiyah, "the World of Resurrection") there will be physical bodies complete with all their organs, as now.

 

Nevertheless, even though there will then be neither eating nor drinking, the physical body with all its organs will not have been created in vain, G-d forbid; rather, the body will be nourished by the radiance of the Divine Presence.

 

In this it will resemble Moshe Rabeinu during his forty days on Mount Sinai: his physical body remained intact, except that it was nourished by the spirituality of the Divine light.

 

How do we lose our share in the Olam HaBa?

 

"In his Mishneh Torah, Maimonides concludes that both the one who denies the concept of resurrection of the dead or the one who denies the coming of the Mashiach are among those who have forfeited their share in Olam Haba -- the Hereafter[27]."

 

Cooking

 

What the Torah tells us about cooking can also help us to understand the Messianic age and the Olam HaBa. First let’s see what the Torah teaches us about cooking on the Sabbath:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 35:3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.

 

So, the Torah indicates that cooking is NOT allowed on Shabbat.

 

The Mishna gives us the thirty-nine labors forbidden on Shabbat:

 

Shabbath 7:2. THE PRIMARY LABOURS ARE FORTY LESS ONE, [VIZ.:] SOWING, PLOUGHING, REAPING, BINDING SHEAVES, THRESHING, WINNOWING, SELECTING, GRINDING, SIFTING, KNEADING, BAKING, SHEARING WOOL, BLEACHING, HACKLING, DYEING, SPINNING, STRETCHING THE THREADS, THE MAKING OF TWO MESHES, WEAVING TWO THREADS, DIVIDING TWO THREADS, TYING [KNOTTING] AND UNTYING, SEWING TWO STITCHES, TEARING IN ORDER TO SEW TWO STITCHES, CAPTURING A DEER, SLAUGHTERING, OR FLAYING, OR SALTING IT, CURING ITS HIDE, SCRAPING IT [OF ITS HAIR], CUTTING IT UP, WRITING TWO LETTERS, ERASING IN ORDER TO WRITE TWO LETTERS [OVER THE ERASURE], BUILDING, PULLING DOWN, EXTINGUISHING, KINDLING, STRIKING WITH A HAMMER, [AND] CARRYING OUT FROM ONE DOMAIN TO ANOTHER: THESE ARE THE FORTY PRIMARY LABOURS LESS ONE.

 

So the Mishna makes it quite clear that cooking (baking) is forbidden on Shabbat.

 

Now let’s see what the Torah says about cooking on the festivals:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:16 And in the first day [there shall be] an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save [that] which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.

 

The Shulchan Aruch uses this pasuk to indicate that cooking is permitted on the festivals. So, we can cook on the festivals IF we started the fire before the festival started. Now, how does this apply to the Messianic Age and the Olam HaBa?

 

The Messianic Age is like the festivals. It is a time of rest, but we are allowed to cook. The Sages have understood this to mean that any character improvements or mitzvot we have started before the Messianic Age began (we started the fire before the festival began), we will be allowed to continue to completion (cook). But, if we did not start the improvement or Mitzva before the Messianic Age (we did not light the fire before the festival began), we will not be allowed to start them after the Messianic Age begins. In the Messianic Age we will have resurrected bodies – physicality. With this physicality, we will be able to “do” in the world to a limited extent.

 

The Olam HaBa is like Shabbat. It is a time of rest, but we are not allowed to cook. The Sages have understood this to mean that we may no longer perform mitzvot or character improvements (there is no cooking). In fact, the Sages all agree that there is no physicality in the Olam HaBa, only reality. Without physicality, there is no “doing”. Our reality has been built. One way to understand this is to compare us to HaShem. Does HaShem have hands or arms?

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:1-3 Therefore thou shalt love HaShem thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, always. And know ye this day: for [I speak] not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of HaShem your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm, And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land;

 

According to the above pasuk, HaShem does indeed have hands and arms. So what is the difference between His hands and arms, and our hands and arms? Surely you would agree that His are much more powerful. So, what is the difference between His and ours?

 

His are REAL, ours are only physical. His are unlimited, ours are limited. In the Olam HaBa, we will have real arms and real hands. In the Olam HaBa we will experience reality.

 

The Sages say that everything we have as a part of our body is given to help us understand what reality is like. Physicality, which is unreal, teaches us about the real.

 

* * *

 

The order of events

 

  1. The arrival of Mashiach.
  2. The rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash.
  3. The ingathering of the exiles.
  4. Forty years later, the resurrection.

 

Talmudic References

 

Shabbath 113b And dip thy morsel in vinegar.[28] R. Eleazar said: Hence [it may be deduced] that vinegar is beneficial in hot weather. R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: He intimated to her, A son is destined to come forth from thee whose actions shall be as sharp[29] as vinegar; and who was it, Manasseh — And she sat beside the reapers.[30] R — Eleazar observed: At the side of the reapers, but not in the midst of the reapers: he [Boaz] intimated to her[31] that the Kingdom of the House of David was destined to be divided.[32] And he reached her parched corn, and she did eat [and was sufficed, and left thereof]:[33] Said R. Eleazar: ‘She ate’ in the days of David, ‘she was sufficed’ in the days of Solomon, ‘and she left over’ in the days of Hezekiah.[34] Some there are who interpret, ‘She ate’ in the days of David and Solomon, and ‘she was sufficed’ in the days of Hezekiah, ‘and she left over’ in the days of Rabbi.[35] For a Master said, Rabbi's house steward was wealthier than King Shapur.[36] In a Baraitha it was taught: ‘And she ate’, in this world; ‘and she was sufficed’, in the days of the Mashiach: ‘and she left over’, in the future that is to come.[37]

 

* * *

 

This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address:  gkilli@aol.com

Web page:  http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 



[1] Deut. XV, 11. ‘Never’ i.e., not even in the Messianic era.

[2] When Israel will be Prosperous and Prospective proselytes will be attracted by worldly considerations.

[3] During Israel's heyday. V. previous note.

[4] Or who is converted while I am not with you (v. Rashi, a.l.) i.e., while Israel is in exile and forsaken by God.

[5] Isa. LIV, 15, according to the Midrashic interpretation of R. Eleazar. The rt. rud which E.V. renders ‘to gather’ is here interpreted ‘to become a proselyte’, ‘to be converted’.

[6] Zech. VIII, 4.

[7] II Kings IV, 29. The staff was employed to revive the child (ibid. seq.), and the same purpose is assumed for it in the first verse.

[8] Isa. XXV, 8.

[9] Ibid. LXV, 20.

[10] Ibid. LXI, 5.

[11] Ibid. XXIV, 23.

[12] Ibid. XXX, 26.

[13] Then the sun and the moon shall be ashamed — i.e., fade into insignificance because of the light radiating from the righteous (Rashi in Sanh. 91b).

[14] V. Sanh., Sonc. ed., p. 601, n. 3.

[15] I.e., delivery from oppression.

[16] "Gan Eden ('the World of Souls') and Olam HaTechiyah ('the World of Resurrection') are both known as Olam HaBa ('the World to Come') - and this has resulted in many errors." 

[17] Being unnecessary then, it is not beautiful either. Thus, when war will be abolished, the instruments of war will not be adornments. Now, however, that they may be needed, they are also ornamental.

[18] Sc. the view that they will cease to be in the days of the Messiah.

[19] Deut. XV, 11 . This implies that poverty will continue in the Messianic era. Hence the prophets’ tidings of a new state of affairs cannot refer to the Messianic era, which will be the same as the present, save in this matter.

[20] Sc. the Baraitha which states that weapons of war will cease to exist in the Messianic age.

[21] Isa. LXIV, 3. — The conception of the future world is rather vague in the Talmud. In general, it is the opposite of vzv okug, this world. In Ber, I, 5, ‘this world’ is opposed to the days of the Messiah, and this in turn is differentiated here from the future world. The following quotation from G. Moore, ‘Judaism’ (Vol. 2, p. 389) is apposite: ‘Any attempt to systematize the Jewish notions of the hereafter imposes upon them an order and consistency which does not exist in them’.

[22] Deut. XVI, 3.

[23] Jer. XXIII, 7. 8.

[24] Gen. XXXV, 10.

[25] Likkutei Torah, Shabbat Shuvah, p. 65d

[26] Berachos 17a.

[27] Mishneh Torah Hilchot Teshuva 3:6

[28] Ruth II, 14.

[29] Lit., ‘hard’, ‘grievous’.

[30] Ibid.

[31] By seating her thus.

[32] Just as the reapers made a division between her and him.

[33] Ruth II, 14.

[34] This metaphorically indicates the progressive stages of prosperity during the reigns of these three monarchs.

[35] R. Judah the Prince, who was a descendant of the House of David.

[36] Shapur I, King of Persia and a contemporary of Samuel (third century).

[37] Cf. Sanh., Sonc. ed., p. 601, n. 3.