14 August 2007

Resurrection of the Dead - Part I

To understand the concept of the Resurrection of the Dead, we need to examine the statement in the Mishna that all Jews have a share in the World to Come. This refers to the World to Come implying the World of the Resurrection. It further states that those that do not believe in the Resurrection as it is indicated in the Torah, forfeit their share in the World to Come. This is based on the principle of measure for measure so that those denying the Resurrection will not experience it. The Paradise (Gan Eden) is sometimes referred to also as the World to Come (and it exists currently) and this is experienced by man following departure from this world based on man’s service in it.

It’s written “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord, and who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart..” this indicates that there are certain conditions to merit Gan Eden in contradistinction to the World of Resurrection (which is the essence of the term “World to Come”) about which it is written that all Jews have a share in the World to Come.

It’s known that the level of revelation of G-dliness in the World of Resurrection will be far greater than that of Gan Eden. Additionally, Gad Eden exists even now whereas the revelation of the World of Resurrection will occur in the future. Also, this revelation will continue even after the Messianic Age but it will be even greater then.

The reward enjoyed in Gan Eden results from one’s efforts in this world in learning Torah while the reward of the World to Come is based on the performance of the commandments. Also, Gan Eden is populated by disembodied souls whereas the Resurrection is characterized by souls within bodies once again; this is because the effort in learning the Torah is tied specifically to the soul while the performance of commandments has a connection to the bodies. And since all Jews perform commandments, it follows that all of them will merit the World of Resurrection.

Furthermore, when the Mishna refers to Jews as “all of your people are righteous and they will inherit the land” it emphasizes that fulfilling commandments elicits the appellation “righteous”. Thus in the future they will inherit the Land, the Land of the Living which is a reference to the World to Come. Not only that, the fact that Jews are referred to as "Then all your people [will be] righteous; They will possess the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands..” implies that the Jewish people possess a tremendous intrinsic value and for that alone they may be deemed worthy of the World to Come.

Nevertheless, the level of revelation at that time is dependent on the service of today. This in turn will lead to a much higher revelation of the advantages possessed by the Jewish People at the time of the Resurrection. This revelation will depend on the service of today and will already be evident in the Messianic Age even before the Resurrection and will continue to be revealed on a higher level at the time of the Resurrection when the essence of the Jewish People will be revealed as anchored in G-d’s own Essence.

Furthermore, it states that the reward enjoyed in the World to Come results from the Torah and commandments studied and practiced in this world and the reward in Gad Eden reflects the learning accomplished in this world. The Torah is G-d’s Wisdom – the Immanent Light and in the World to Come, that revelation will be totally limitless. This revelation will be the result of fulfilling the commandments which are G-d’s Will (and higher than His Wisdom) – the Encompassing Light. Nevertheless, all that is to bring out the essential advantages intrinsic to the Jewish people.

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