By Daniel Keren
Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, internationally renowned Maggid Shiur and Rav of Congregation Bais Yitzchok recently spoke in Brooklyn on the topic of “A Glimpse into Olam Habah, the World to Come.” Rabbi Goldwasser noted that that topic is a discussion today that is other worldly. Everybody in this world (Olam Hazeh) is [or should be] striving to be worthy of entry to Olam Habah.
Long noted for his opposition to the casual use of the internet that can easily and unwittingly entrap a frum Jew into serious moral and spiritual dilemmas, Rabbi Goldwasser noted there is indeed something important one can learn from the internet, in particular with EBay, an internet market where anyone can sell or buy almost any imaginable product that exists.
Attention Generated Around the World on a Jew Offering to Sell His Olam Habah
Hence much attention was generated around the world a couple of years ago when Ari, a supposedly former ultra-Orthodox Jew offered on Ebay his share in Olam Habah (as it says in the introduction to Pirchei Avos – “All Jews have a share in the world to come…”). Bidding started at 99 cents but within a few hours quickly rose to more than $100,000. When Ebay started getting complaints about this offering, they opted to cancel it because they argued that vendors can only sell tangible items of which they claimed a share in Olam Habah was not tangible.
Rabbi Goldwasser remarked on that fact that one who was at one time an “ultra Orthodox Jewish man” advertised that he was willing to sell his share of Olam Habah constituted the ultimate chillul Hashem, desecration of G-d’s holy name, denigrating something that many of us are willing to give over our lives in order to pursue our great goal of obtain the true rewards of the World to Come.
Not Learning Torah Can Cost One a Chelek in the World to Come
Someone who has the opportunity to learn [or support those who learn] Torah and doesn’t is an apikorsis, a heretic. And such a person has lost his chelek or share in Olam Habah. Of course, such a person can at anytime regain that lost chelek by returning to the study of Torah and performances of mitzvahs.
A person can have great zechusim, merits in this world such as promoting achdus, unity among the Jewish nation as we all recently experienced these past few weeks [when we all prayed and recited Tehillim on behalf of the three martyred Israeli teenage yeshiva students and for the Israeli soldiers who fought so bravely in Gaza.]
Striving to Understand the Overwhelming Beauty and Goodness of Olam Habah
When quoting the introduction to Pirchei Avos that declares all Jews have a share in Olam Habah, it is, Rabbi Goldwasser said, important that we should have some idea of what Olam Habah is, even though in this world we are incapable of comprehending the true, overwhelming beauty and goodness of the World to Come that is waiting for us after 120 years.
Too many people think that they already have Olam Habah in their pocket. The story is told of the old man who before he passed away told his wife to withdraw all of his money from the bank and put it into two pillows and place them in the attic directly above his bed so that after his petirah, he could take them with him as he ascended to Olam Habah.
The Loyal Wife Does as Her Husband Requested
Being a loyal wife she did as requested. However a few weeks after her husband’s death, she was in the attic cleaning up and in the course of doing so found the two pillows were still filled with the money she had taken out of the bank. She shook her head and clucked when realizing that her husband hadn’t made it to Olam Habah after all, thinking that perhaps she should have placed it in the basement for him to take when he went to that other place – Gehinnom.
The Ramchal (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato) writes that because a person has bechira, free will, this gives us a certain power and that we are therefore worthy of great reward for doing the right thing.
Today We Are Live Those Who Live in a Dark Cave
Rabbi Goldwasser emphasized that we are now like one living in a dark cave and that masks our interpretation of life [where the spiritual truths are hidden by darkness.] If we left our caves, we might discover the sun, the beautiful trees, the majestic mountains and glorious skies and thus realize that this is Olam Habah and that our Olam Hazeh existence in the cave is not the ultimate goal we should be satisfied with.
We have to realize that with the exception of a few outstanding tzadikkim, we are all cave men and cave women. Our mission is to put down our clubs and strive to improve our chelek in Olam Habah by learning Torah, whether it be even just studying each day two halachos or Chumash or Daf Yomi. Every mitzvah that we do and every piece of Torah that we learn goes to great lengths in improving our spirituality and hence our share in Olam Habah.
The Day that Olam Hazeh and Olam Habah Connect Together
The Shach asks what is that day when the two worlds (Olam Hazeh and Olam Habah) kiss [or connect with] each other? That is the day when we are challenged in this world by our bechirah. Do we do that which the Torah Hakedusha tells us to do? Or do we allow ourselves to be swayed by the prevailing attitude that we are after all living in the Modern World and must act accordingly
When we overcome that great temptation of Olam Habah and act according to what the Torah tells us, that is the day when the two worlds kiss each other and one has strengthened as a result one’s chelek in Olam Habah. And this choice to do the right thing which causes the two worlds to connect with each other, can happen to each and everyone one of us every day in our lives.
The Importance of Cheering Others
Who is a ben Olam Habah? Rabbi Goldwasser quoted from Mesechta Sanhedrin that anyone who is humble and isn’t overconfident. Rav Beroki once asked Eliyahu Hanavi who in the market place that day was a ben Olam Habah [one destined for automatic Olam Habah without any correcting stay in Gehinnom for 11 months]? The famed Navi pointed out two men. When Rav Beroki approached them and asked them what special thing they did, they explained that they were badchanim, jesters who they went out of their way to cheer up others who they saw were depressed. If one of Hashem’s creations is unhappy and therefore unable to perform their Avodas Hashem properly, then those two badchanim were also unhappy, unless they could succeed in cheering up that unhappy person.
Rabbi Goldwasser said that all of us can find someone we can cheer up and encourage to better serve Hashem. And not only will we guide that person to a better chelek of Olam Habah, but our own share of the World to Come will dramatically improve as a result of our performing the mitzvah to love another Jews as one loves oneself.