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Thought for the Day: Why the Torah Does Not Mention Olam HaBa

The Written Torah does not once mention eternal reward, life in a coming world, enjoying the radiance of HaShem's presence for ever.  Nothing, nada, not a single time.  Hints here and there; but try debating with your standard non-believer with with compelling arguments like:
Look!  The verse clearly says "then Moshe and the children of Israel will sing" (Song at the Sea, Shmos 15:1)!  Future tense!!!  Clear proof that the idea of resurrection of the dead is straight from the Torah and not, chas v'shalom, a later rabbinic infusion of foreign philosophies.
For those of you who think that's all the need be said on the subject, you can stop reading now.  In fact, you can stop doing lots of things since you are more than likely patur from mitzvos.  For the rest of us who need some sanity in our discussions, the Marharal (first introduction to G'vuros HaShem) offers two reasons that the Written Torah has no references to olam haba.  One because of the essential nature of the Written Torah, the other because of the essential function of the Written Torah.

What is the Written Torah?  It is the words of the Living G-d as transmitted by the navi.  N'vu'a (prophecy... those darn apostrophes are a pain) by nature is the spiritual analog of vision.  As such, it is couched in terms of what vision -- which accepts external impressions -- can express.  The navi is bridging two worlds: the spiritual and the physical.  As a bridge, he is connected to both sides.  Whatever comes into the navi from the spiritual side must be translated into something that can be expressed in the concrete terms of the physical world.  Olam haba is completely divorced from this world and so there is not vocabulary for the navi to use that could describe it.

What is the function of the Written Torah?  It is an instruction manual.  This inevitably produces this effect.  Olam haba is not an effect produced by the Torah; olam haba has its own, independent existence.  Of course, the Torah doesn't create olam haze either; but it does create life, satisfaction, enjoyment for those who follow the instructions.  By the same token, the Torah also produces long (ie, eternal) life in olam haba.

This begs the question: so why not make the Torah differently?  I could say, "because G-d wanted it this way", which is true and and some point all lines of questioning must perforce end there.  But perhaps we can go one step further.  No matter how carefully worded the instructions, one needs an instructor.  The most effective instructor is one who has been through the course himself.  That means we need a navi to be a bridge (in spite of the limitations) and we need an essential set of instructions (in spite of the fact that limits their scope).


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