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Derech HaShem: 1:3;3,4 Two worlds

The Ramchal now explains to us the necessity of two very different stages of our life.  First, olam haze (the here and now), that is very well known to us; or at least we feel that way.  The second, some mysterious after life know as olam haba, that we believe in but somehow does not have the same reality to us.  We will see, though, that in fact the situation is quite the opposite: olam haba is the more "real" of our realities and olam haze is a temporary preparation arena for olam haba.  In fact, it is not unlike the development of the fetus in the womb as preparation for life in this world.

In order to most exquisitely experience the relationship with his Creator, one must be the master of his own perfection as a human being.  That is, he must remove all of his own flaws and also strengthen positive traits; both through his own efforts.  Obviously, that means that man must start off in a state of imperfection.  However that statement bears some contemplation.  For as along as man is in his state of imperfection, the intent of the Highest Wisdom is not fulfilled.  That means that the self same imperfection needed to allow man the opportunity to perfect himself, is also preventing man from actually experiencing the pleasure of having the most perfect possible relationship with his Creator.

To address this problem, the Highest Wisdom divided the existence of a person into to two epochs: one for working to perfect himself, and another to enjoy the reward for his efforts.  Because of the greatness of HaKadosh Baruch Hu's trait of goodness, the epoch for earning one's reward is limited to a finite amount of effort, whereas the epoch for receiving the reward of one's efforts is eternal and without bound.

Just as the function of each epoch of man's existence is different, so to is the environment in which he is situated.  In order to earn his reward, man must be in a situation that presents to him opportunities to wage the war between his intellect and his physical urges.  Moreover, the physical must be given a fair opportunity to win the struggle in order for the ultimate victory of the intellect to be real and not just a "gimmee".  As the Ramchal puts it:
כי אף על פי שמצד אחד היה נראה זה יותר טוב, הנה לפי הכוונה האמיתית והעניין הנרצה באדם, שהוא קניית השלמות השתדלותו, איננו טוב.
 For even though from one aspect it would seem to be good [to allow the spiritual side to overcome and completely dominate the physical side in this world/epoch of earning our reward].  However in accordance with the true/ultimate intent for the desired development of a person -- which is acquisition of one's perfection by his own efforts -- it would not be good [to allow anything but a completely fair balance of spiritual power to elevate both the soul and the body, and physical power to drag down the body and soul with it].
As a trivial example of this principle, consider teaching a child to feed himself.  In order to satisfy the immediate need (getting the nutrients he needs), it is more expedient for the parent to just feed the child.  However, for the long term goal of enabling this child to grow into a self-sufficient and happy adult, obviously the parent must hand the spoon to the child and deal with the mess.  HaShem, our loving parent, gives us the ability to perfect ourselves by choosing to follow the lead of our intellect and has put us in an environment filled with opportunities to exercise that ability.  As any good parent, He allows us to experience discomfort when it necessary for our personal growth.  Of course, as our Creator, his knowledge of us -- our needs and capabilities -- is perfect.  There is never a time or situation when He is not closely monitoring our progress and situation; the suffering is therefore the minimum required to allow us the maximum benefit.

The environment suited for man to receive his reward, on the other hand, is quite the opposite.  In that epoch of our existence, to prevent the intellect from complete control would do nothing but darken the reality and prevent unrestrained attachment/connection (d'veikus) of the soul to its Creator, Blessed Be His Name.  Therefore, physicality will no longer have any attraction except as a vehicle completely subjugated to the soul's direction to experience most exquisitely the Goodness of HaKadosh Baruch Hu; an experience made possible by the perfection that the person has acquired for himself.

From this explanation it is now clear why there are two worlds: this world (olam haze) and the coming world (olam haba).  This world: the environment of natural laws that are best suited to the epoch of a person's existence when he is to perfect himself via his own efforts (hishtadlus).  The coming world: the environment best suited to the epoch of receiving his earned reward.


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