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Thought for the Day: This World Serves Only One Purpose

Rabbi Yaakov says: olam haze is like an antechamber before olam haba.  Fix yourself in the antechamber before entering the palace.  (Avos 4:16)

This mishna has bothered me for years because it isn't balanced.  Either say "olam haze is an antechamber", or say "olam haze is like an antechamber before a palace".  I would like to propose that this wording means something a little different than usual.  Usually this wording would mean the object being compared have a similar relationship; that is, that olam haze compared to olam haba is like an antechamber before a palace.  In this case, however, it should be read. "olam haze is like an antechamber, but not completely".  But what is incomplete about the comparison?  The Rabbeinu Yona says that the mishna means to say that olam haze is nothing except a vehicle to merit olam haba.  That is, if you take olam haba out of the equation, olam haze has no meaning nor function nor value at all.  An antechamber, on the other hand, still has some value even without the palace.  That makes this world only "like" an antechamber, because this world has absolutely no independent value.

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