Rav, one of the prominent Talmudic Sages, used to teach:
"[The World to Come will not be like this world.] In the World to Come, there will be no eating nor drinking nor procreation
nor business nor envy nor hatred nor competition; rather, the righteous will sit with their crowns on their heads
and delight in the radiance of the Divine Presence, as in the verse,
'They beheld G-d, and they ate and drank.' " (Rashi understands this last phrase to mean that the Jews at Sinai were just as sated by the radiance of the Divine Presence as if they had eaten and drunk.)
Chapter 3 above has already discussed the difference in conception between Rambam and other thinkers as to the meaning of the "World to Come." According to Rambam, the above description refers to the presently-existing World of [disembodied] Souls, whereas in the future World of the Resurrection there will be eating and drinking and so on. However, most authorities hold that Rav is saying that after the Resurrection, though souls will then be reinvested in bodies, there will be no eating and drinking.
In response to this majority opinion, Rambam argues that it is absurd to consider that G-d would create a body equipped to perform physical functions such as digestion and reproduction in an era in which they will be extinct. One of the fundamental principles of the faith is that G-d does not create anything without a purpose. If there will be no need for physical functions, there will be no purpose for a physical body.
Ramban in Shaar HaGemul refutes this argument at length. Firstly, there would be nothing novel in Rav's teaching if he was simply referring to the World of Souls. Moreover, after the Resurrection the body will attain the status of the soul, and will be sustained by spiritual sources rather than physical ones. This phenomenon is not new: Moshe Rabbeinu experienced it when he spent forty days and nights on Mt. Sinai.
The above view of Ramban is supported in the teachings of chassidic philosophy. The Rebbe explains that in this world body and soul are connected by means of food and drink, whereas in the World to Come, the body itself will derive sustenance from the light of the Shechinah. At the same time, this does not mean that there will be no eating or drinking. Rav's statement, that in the World to Come there will be no eating or drinking, means that eating and drinking will not then be necessary to keep soul and body together. However, there may be eating and drinking, though for a different purpose.
The above explanation also resolves a seeming contradiction in the Talmud. On the one hand it is taught that in the World to Come, G-d will prepare a festive meal for the righteous with the meat of the Leviathan, and most authorities understand this not as a metaphor but as an actual feast. If so, does this not contradict the teaching of Rav with which this chapter opened?
In an attempt to accommodate both positions, some authorities maintain that this meal will take place in the Messianic era that precedes the Resurrection. However, according to those who maintain that it refers to the time of the Resurrection, how can there possibly be physical eating? According to the above explanation, however, although in the World to Come eating will not be needed to fuse body and soul, it will still remain a possibility - though for a different and higher purpose, such as the feast of the Leviathan.
- Ramban answers Yes: on that Day every individual will be judged according to his deeds.
- Abarbanel argues that since everyone is judged after death, there is no reason for any additional judgment after the Resurrection. When the Sages speak of a Day of Judgment in time to come, i.e., after the Resurrection, they mean a day of punishment and revenge - but not of further judgment.
- The AriZal says that once a soul has already won atonement by experiencing Yom Kippur, and suffering, and reincarnation, there is no reason that it should be judged further on a Day of Judgment. Rather, the classical references to the Day of Judgment speak of the judgment of the nations of the world.
After the Resurrection, death will be no more.
Even according to the literal understanding
of the verse,
"for [at that time] the youngest will die a hundred years old," it does not apply to the Jewish people, for whom death will no longer exist. It refers to Noachides,
and even then, not to actual death, but to death as a metaphor signifying a fall in the level of one's spiritual attainment.
There is a well-known teaching of R. Katina,
"The world will exist for 6000 years and for/in one [thousand] will be destroyed, as it is written,
'And G-d will be exalted alone on that day.' "
Some commentators suggest that the destruction is literal: after 7000 years the universe will revert to its original state of nothingness. Others hold that this is a reference to the era of Resurrection: the Evil Inclination will then be destroyed and removed from the world and there will be no more observance of the mitzvos. Still others interpret the "one of destruction" as a reference to one of the six millennia. (If so, this could well be a reference to the millennium of upheaval in which we are living.) There is also a debate as to whether the Halachah confirms the statement of R. Katina or not. Indeed, the Kabbalists speak of 50,000 Jubilee cycles through which the world will proceed in its process of elevation.
- (Back to text) Berachos 17a. See Reshimos, Booklet #10, for further sources and discussion.
- (Back to text) See Sefer HaMaamarim 5679, p. 414; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XII, p. 178. See Reshimos, Booklet #10, p. 12, with reference to mitzvos.
- (Back to text) In Likkutei Torah - Derushim for Shemini Atzeres, p. 89c, the Alter Rebbe writes in the name of Ramaz and R. Chaim Vital that the new souls to be revealed at the time of the Resurrection will serve as crowns for the tzaddikim who already have descended into the world.
- (Back to text) Shmos 24:11.
- (Back to text) See Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 8:2, and the comments of Raavad and Lechem Mishneh there; Sefer Chassidim, sec. 1129; Margaliyos HaYam, sec. 19, on Sanhedrin 90b. See Reshimos, Booklet #10 (Shavuos, 5699; Paris), footnote 1.
- (Back to text) See Rav Saadiah Gaon in Emunos VeDeos, end of sec. 47 and sec. 49; Raavad on Rambam's Hilchos Teshuvah 8:2; Ramban, at the end of Shaar HeGemul; Rabbeinu Meir ben Todros HaLevi in Avodas HaKodesh 2:41; Shelah, in the introduction to Beis David; R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi in Likkutei Torah, Parshas Tzav, in the second of the maamarim beginning Sheishes Yamim, sec. 2 (p. 15c); Likkutei Torah, Biur on Shuvah Yisrael, p. 65d ff.
- (Back to text) See Maseches Kallah Rabbasi, ch. 2.
- (Back to text) Iggeres Techiyas HaMeisim, ch. 4.
- (Back to text) P. 309 (Chavel edition).
- (Back to text) Likkutei Torah, Biur on Shuvah Yisrael, p. 65d ff. See also: Torah Or, p. 20a; Likkutei Torah, Parshas Emor, p. 38c. Numerous sources in Chassidus explain that after the Resurrection the life-force of the body will be derived from a higher source than that of the soul; indeed, the soul itself will derive its sustenance from the body. See: Sefer HaMaamarim 5637 (Hemshech VeKachah), sec. 91; Sefer HaMaamarim 5666, p. 528; Sefer HaMaamarim - Kuntreisim, Vol. II, p. 413b. See also: Sefer HaMaamarim 5711, p. 209; Sefer HaMaamarim 5659, p. 97; Reshimos, Booklet #10, p. 11.
Speaking of the time of the Resurrection, the Tzemach Tzedek teaches that just as a man's hands will then be receptacles to the Sefiros of Chessed and Gevurah, and his head will serve as a receptacle to Chabad of the World of Atzilus, so too will his digestive organs "digest" the spiritual lights that are diffused from above, and will direct their effect to the lower worlds and kingdoms. (See Or HaTorah - Devarim, sec. 154, and Shir HaShirim, sec. 775-6.)
- (Back to text) See Shaarei Geulah, p. 302, footnote 23.
- (Back to text) See Shaarei Geulah, loc. cit.; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, p. 87. See also Shaarei Halachah U'Minhag - Orach Chaim, Vol. I, pp. 303-304, regarding the Third Meal of Shabbos, and ch. 12 below.
- (Back to text) Pesachim 119b.
- (Back to text) Rav Saadiah Gaon, as quoted in Shvilei Emunah 10:2; Rashba on Bava Batra 74b; Ramban on Bereishis 1:21; R. Bachye, loc. cit.; Kad HaKemach, end of sec. 8; Raavan in Sefer Maamar HaSeichel; Ibn Ezra on Daniel 12:2; Raavad on Hilchos Teshuvah 8:4; Avodas HaKodesh 2:41; Maharsha on Bava Basra 74b; Likkutei Torah, Parshas Tzav (loc. cit.). In Hilchos Teshuvah (loc. cit.), Rambam implies that these words of the Sages are metaphorical, though without utterly excluding their simple meaning. And, indeed, Ramban (in his Iggeres Hitznatzlus on Moreh Nevuchim) states that it was heard explicitly from Rambam himself that the Sages are speaking of an actual meal with wine and the meat of the Leviathan. (This answers the objection of Raavad.) See also Zohar I, 135a.
- (Back to text) R. Avraham ben HaRambam in Sefer Milchamos HaShem.
- (Back to text) Some authorities (see Rashba, Rabbeinu Bachye and Ibn Ezra in previous footnotes) maintain that the meal will take place at the very beginning of the period of the Resurrection. (This answers the comment of Kessef Mishnah on the Raavad, Hilchos Teshuvah, loc. cit.). In Likkutei Torah, however, it is implied that the feast will take place at the same time that the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads - and this is the very time of which Rav stated that there will be neither eating nor drinking. This seeming anomaly is resolved in Sefer HaMaamarim 5666, p. 105, which differentiates between two distinct periods within the era of the Resurrection. See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, p. 87.
- (Back to text) In Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, p. 420, the Rebbe explains how the feast of the Leviathan signifies the revelation of the rationale underlying the Torah and the commandments; by contrast, the time in which there will be no eating signifies the future revelation of the Essence of Divinity by virtue of the unquestioning and superrational self-sacrifice of the Jewish people during the present era of exile.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaGemul.
- (Back to text) Maayanei HaYeshuah 8:7.
- (Back to text) Quoted in Nishmas Chaim 1:17; see also Midrash Talpiyos: Anaf Yom HaDin.
- (Back to text) One may ask: What about those who die so close to the time of Resurrection that they are not granted full atonement through reincarnation or suffering? The author of Nishmas Chaim (loc. cit.) writes that the punishment of these souls will be compressed into a short period so that they, too, will be granted entry to the World to Come.
- (Back to text) Sanhedrin 22a; Zohar I, 114a; Derech Mitzvosecha by the Tzemach Tzedek, p. 28. (For Rambam's view, see the beginning of ch. 3 above.)
- (Back to text) R. Chaninah in Bereishis Rabbah 26:2; see also Pesachim 68a and Sanhedrin 91b. In Sefer HaMaamarim 5711, p. 208, the Rebbe applies this verse to the Messianic era.
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 65:20.
- (Back to text) See Sefer HaMaamarim - Melukat, Vol. II, p. 280.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Torah, Parshas Chukas, p. 57a. See also: Zohar III, 135b, quoted in Etz Chaim, Shaar 9, ch. 2; Mevo She'arim, Vol. II, ch. 3.
In a letter published in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, p. 211, the Rebbe applies this concept to the four levels of vitality within every Jew - (1) the divine soul, (2) the intelligent soul, (3) the animal soul, (4) the body - which correspond to the four realms of created matter: (1) the human, (2) the animal, (3) the vegetative, (4) the inanimate.
If the divine soul falls to the point that it no longer yearns for Divinity, it is termed dead, and must be resuscitated by the study of Chassidus.
If a person is young not only in years but also in intelligence, so that his intelligent soul, instead of controlling his animal soul, is drawn after its lively passions, this reverse in roles constitutes a fall in level and it is termed dead. Education (chinuch) restores it to its place.
The animal soul, for its part, should at least live up to the standard of conduct maintained by animals, and not diverge from its appointed lifestyle. If, however, it transgresses the will of its Maker, it is in a state of death (for "the wicked during their lifetimes are called dead"; Berachos 18b). This state, too, is reversible, for when rebuked and inspired to do teshuvah, the animal soul can again return to the observance of mitzvos.
The body serves as a receptacle to the soul. If it dies literally, the chevrah kadisha must then prepare it for eventual Resurrection.
- (Back to text) Sanhedrin 97a. This teaching makes use of the phrase (in Tehillim 90:4) that likens a thousand years in G-d's sight to one passing day in the life of mortals.
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 2:11.
- (Back to text) Raavad and Kesef Mishneh on Hilchos Teshuvah 3:8; Kisvei HaRamban, Vol. I, p. 188; Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachye on Bereishis 2:3; Rama in Toras HaOlah, Vol. II, ch. 25.
- (Back to text) Maggid Meisharim by R. Yosef Caro on Parshas Behar and Vayakhel; Recanati on the Torah, Parshas Behar. In Torah Or, Megillas Esther, p. 96, the Alter Rebbe explains that destruction signifies that elevations have ceased.
- (Back to text) Meiri, Beis HaBechirah, Introduction to Avos.
- (Back to text) Responsa of Rashba, Vol. I, sec. 9. See also Reshimos, Booklet #7, p. 10.
- (Back to text) Moreh Nevuchim, Vol. II, ch. 29; Abarbanel, Mifalos Elokim 7:3. In Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, p. 453, the Rebbe points out that the statement of R. Katina is widely accepted as authoritative. Note also the discussion of the seven Sabbatical cycles (cited in Sefer HaTemunah) that the world is to go through - but see Torah Or, Parshas Shmos, p. 51d. In Shaarei Teshuvah, p. 70b, the Mitteler Rebbe discusses the elevation of the soul in each of the 50,000 Jubilees of which the Sages speak. See also Reshimos, Vol. VII, p. 10.
- (Back to text) Torah Or, Shaarei Teshuvah.