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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Teshuvah - Chapter Seven, Teshuvah - Chapter Eight, Teshuvah - Chapter Nine

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Teshuvah - Chapter Seven

1

Since free choice is granted to all men as explained, a person should always strive to do Teshuvah and to confess verbally for his sins, striving to cleanse his hands from sin in order that he may die as a Baal-Teshuvah and merit the life of the world to come.

א

הוֹאִיל וּרְשׁוּת כָּל אָדָם נְתוּנָה לוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ יִשְׁתַּדֵּל אָדָם לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה וּלְהִתְוַדּוֹת בְּפִיו מֵחֲטָאָיו וְלִנְעֹר כַּפָּיו מֵחֲטָאָיו כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּמוּת וְהוּא בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה וְיִזְכֶּה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:

2

A person should always view himself as leaning towards death, with the possibility that he might die at any time. Thus, he may be found as a sinner.

Therefore, one should always repent from his sins immediately and should not say: "When I grow older, I will repent," for perhaps he will die before he grows older. This was implied by the wise counsel given by Solomon [Ecclesiastes 9:8]: "At all times, your clothes should be white."

ב

לְעוֹלָם יִרְאֶה אָדָם עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא נוֹטֶה לָמוּת וְשֶׁמָּא יָמוּת בִּשְׁעָתוֹ וְנִמְצָא עוֹמֵד בְּחֶטְאוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ יָשׁוּב מֵחֲטָאָיו מִיָּד וְלֹא יֵאָמֵר כְּשֶׁאַזְקִין אָשׁוּב שֶׁמָּא יָמוּת טֶרֶם שֶׁיַּזְקִין. הוּא שֶׁשְּׁלֹמֹה אָמַר בְּחָכְמָתוֹ (קהלת ט ח) "בְּכָל עֵת יִהְיוּ בְגָדֶיךָ לְבָנִים":

3

A person should not think that repentance is only necessary for those sins that involve deed such as promiscuity, robbery, or theft. Rather, just as a person is obligated to repent from these, similarly, he must search after the evil character traits he has. He must repent from anger, hatred, envy, frivolity, the pursuit of money and honor, the pursuit of gluttony, and the like. He must repent for all [of the above].

These sins are more difficult than those that involve deed. If a person is attached to these, it is more difficult for him to separate himself. In this context, [Isaiah 55:7] exhorts: "May the wicked abandon his path and the crooked man, his designs."

ג

אַל תֹּאמַר שֶׁאֵין תְּשׁוּבָה אֶלָּא מַעֲבִירוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן מַעֲשֶׂה כְּגוֹן זְנוּת וְגֵזֶל וּגְנֵבָה. אֶלָּא כְּשֵׁם שֶׁצָּרִיךְ אָדָם לָשׁוּב מֵאֵלּוּ כָּךְ הוּא צָרִיךְ לְחַפֵּשׂ בְּדֵעוֹת רָעוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ וְלָשׁוּב מִן הַכַּעַס וּמִן הָאֵיבָה וּמִן הַקִּנְאָה וּמִן הַהִתּוּל וּמֵרְדִיפַת הַמָּמוֹן וְהַכָּבוֹד וּמֵרְדִיפַת הַמַּאֲכָלוֹת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מִן הַכּל צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר בִּתְשׁוּבָה. וְאֵלּוּ הָעֲוֹנוֹת קָשִׁים מֵאוֹתָן שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן מַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁבִּזְמַן שֶׁאָדָם נִשְׁקָע בְּאֵלּוּ קָשֶׁה הוּא לִפְרשׁ מֵהֶם. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (ישעיה נה ז) "יַעֲזֹב רָשָׁע" וְגוֹ':

4

A Baal-Teshuvah should not consider himself distant from the level of the righteous because of the sins and transgressions that he committed. This is not true. He is beloved and desirable before the Creator as if he never sinned.

Furthermore, he has a great reward for he has tasted sin and yet, separated himself from it, conquering his [evil] inclination. Our Sages declared: "In the place where Baalei Teshuvah stand, even the completely righteous are not able to stand." The level of Baalei Teshuvah transcends the level of those who never sinned at all, for they overcome their [evil] inclination more.

ד

וְאַל יְדַמֶּה אָדָם בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁהוּא מְרֻחָק מִמַּעֲלַת הַצַּדִּיקִים מִפְּנֵי הָעֲוֹנוֹת וְהַחֲטָאוֹת שֶׁעָשָׂה. אֵין הַדָּבָר כֵּן אֶלָּא אָהוּב וְנֶחְמָד הוּא לִפְנֵי הַבּוֹרֵא כְּאִלּוּ לֹא חָטָא מֵעוֹלָם. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁשְּׂכָרוֹ הַרְבֵּה שֶׁהֲרֵי טָעַם טַעַם הַחֵטְא וּפֵרַשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ וְכָבַשׁ יִצְרוֹ. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים מָקוֹם שֶׁבַּעֲלֵי תְּשׁוּבָה עוֹמְדִין אֵין צַדִּיקִים גְּמוּרִין יְכוֹלִין לַעֲמֹד בּוֹ. כְּלוֹמַר מַעֲלָתָן גְּדוֹלָה מִמַּעֲלַת אֵלּוּ שֶׁלֹּא חָטְאוּ מֵעוֹלָם מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן כּוֹבְשִׁים יִצְרָם יוֹתֵר מֵהֶם:

5

All the prophets commanded [the people] to repent. Israel will only be redeemed through Teshuvah.

The Torah has already promised that, ultimately, Israel will repent towards the end of her exile and, immediately, she will be redeemed as [Deuteronomy 30:1-3] states: ”There shall come a time when [you will experience] all these things... and you will return to God, your Lord.... God, your Lord, will bring back your [captivity].”

ה

כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים כֻּלָּן צִוּוּ עַל הַתְּשׁוּבָה וְאֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נִגְאָלִין אֶלָּא בִּתְשׁוּבָה. וּכְבָר הִבְטִיחָה תּוֹרָה שֶׁסּוֹף יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה בְּסוֹף גָּלוּתָן וּמִיָּד הֵן נִגְאָלִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ל א) "וְהָיָה כִי יָבֹאוּ עָלֶיךָ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים" וְגוֹ' (דברים ל ב) "וְשַׁבְתָּ עַד ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ" (דברים ל ג) "וְשָׁב ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ" וְגוֹ':

6

Teshuvah is great for it draws a man close to the Shechinah as [Hoshea 14:2] states: "Return, O Israel, to God, your Lord;" [Amos 4:6] states: "`You have not returned to Me,' declares God;" and [Jeremiah 4:1] states: "`If, you will return, 0 Israel,' declares God, `You will return to Me.'" Implied is that if you will return in Teshuvah, you will cling to Me.

Teshuvah brings near those who were far removed. Previously, this person was hated by God, disgusting, far removed, and abominable. Now, he is beloved and desirable, close, and dear.

Similarly, we find God employs the same expression with which He separates [Himself] from the sinners to draw close those who repent. [Hoshea 2:1] states: "Instead of saying to you: `You are not My nation,' He will tell you: `You are the children of the living God.'”

[Also, Jeremiah] speaks of Yecheniah while he was wicked [with the expression (22:30)]: "Write down this man as childless, a man who shall never prosper in his days," and [22:24]: "Would Cheniah, the son of Yehoyakim, king of Judah, be the signet ring on My right hand, I would tear him off." However, after he repented when in exile, [Chaggai 2:23] said concerning Zerubavel, his son: "'On that day,' declares the God of Hosts, `I will take you, Zerubavel, the son of Shaltiel, My servant,' declares God, `and I will place you as a signet ring.'"

ו

גְּדוֹלָה תְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁמְּקָרֶבֶת אֶת הָאָדָם לַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (הושע יד ב) "שׁוּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל עַד ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ". וְנֶאֱמַר (עמוס ד ו) "וְלֹא שַׁבְתֶּם עָדַי נְאֻם ה'. "וְנֶאֱמַר (ירמיה ד א) "אִם תָּשׁוּב יִשְׂרָאֵל נְאֻם ה' אֵלַי תָּשׁוּב". כְּלוֹמַר אִם תַּחֲזֹר בִּתְשׁוּבָה בִּי תִּדְבַּק. הַתְּשׁוּבָה מְקָרֶבֶת אֶת הָרְחוֹקִים. אֶמֶשׁ הָיָה זֶה שָׂנאוּי לִפְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם מְשֻׁקָּץ וּמְרֻחָק וְתוֹעֵבָה. וְהַיּוֹם הוּא אָהוּב וְנֶחְמָד קָרוֹב וְיָדִיד. וְכֵן אַתָּה מוֹצֵא שֶׁבְּלָשׁוֹן שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַרְחִיק הַחוֹטְאִים בָּהּ מְקָרֵב אֶת הַשָּׁבִים בֵּין יָחִיד בֵּין רַבִּים. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (הושע ב א) "וְהָיָה בִּמְקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יֵאָמֵר לָהֶם לֹא עַמִּי אַתֶּם יֵאָמֵר לָהֶם בְּנֵי אֵל חָי". וְנֶאֱמַר בִּיכָנְיָהוּ בְּרִשְׁעָתוֹ (כְּתֹב) [כִּתְבוּ] (ירמיה כב ל) "אֶת הָאִישׁ הַזֶּה עֲרִירִי גֶּבֶר לֹא יִצְלַח בְּיָמָיו", (ירמיה כב כד) "אִם יִהְיֶה כָּנְיָהוּ בֶּן יְהוֹיָקִים מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה חוֹתָם עַל יַד יְמִינִי" וְגוֹ'. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁשָּׁב בְּגָלוּתוֹ נֶאֱמַר בִּזְרֻבָּבֶל בְּנוֹ (חגי ב כג) "בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא נְאֻם ה' צְבָאוֹת אֶקָּחֲךָ זְרֻבָּבֶל בֶּן שְׁאַלְתִּיאֵל עַבְדִּי נְאֻם ה' וְשַׂמְתִּיךָ כַּחוֹתָם":

7

How exalted is the level of Teshuvah! Previously, the [transgressor] was separate from God, the Lord of Israel, as [Isaiah 59:2] states: "Your sins separate between you and your God." He would call out [to God] without being answered as [Isaiah 1:15] states: "Even if you pray many times, I will not hear."

He would fulfill mitzvot, only to have them crushed before him as [Isaiah 1:12] states: "Who asked this from you, to trample in My courts," and [Malachi 1:10] states: "`O were there one among you who would shut the doors that you might not kindle fire on My altar for no reason! I have no pleasure in you,' says the God of Hosts, `nor will I accept an offering from your hand.'”

Now, he is clinging to the Shechinah as [Deuteronomy 4:4] states: "And you who cling to God, your Lord." He calls out [to God] and is answered immediately as [Isaiah 65:24] states: "Before, you will call out, I will answer." He fulfills mitzvot and they are accepted with pleasure and joy as [Ecclesiastes 9:7] states, "God has already accepted your works," moreover, [G‑d] desires them, as [Malachi 3:4] states: "Then, shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasing to God as in days of old and as in the former years."

ז

כַּמָּה מְעֻלָּה מַעֲלַת הַתְּשׁוּבָה. אֶמֶשׁ הָיָה זֶה מֻבְדָּל מֵה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נט ב) "עֲוֹנוֹתֵיכֶם הָיוּ מַבְדִּלִים בֵּינֵכֶם לְבֵין אֱלֹהֵיכֶם". צוֹעֵק וְאֵינוֹ נַעֲנֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה א טו) "כִּי תַרְבּוּ תְפִלָּה" וְגוֹ'. וְעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוֹת וְטוֹרְפִין אוֹתָן בְּפָנָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה א יב) "מִי בִקֵּשׁ זֹאת מִיֶּדְכֶם רְמֹס חֲצֵרָי", (מלאכי א י) "מִי גַם בָּכֶם וְיִסְגֹּר דְּלָתַיִם" וְגוֹ'. וְהַיּוֹם הוּא מֻדְבָּק בַּשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ד ד) "וְאַתֶּם הַדְּבֵקִים בַּה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם". צוֹעֵק וְנַעֲנֶה מִיָּד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה סה כד) "וְהָיָה טֶרֶם יִקְרָאוּ וַאֲנִי אֶעֱנֶה". וְעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוֹת וּמְקַבְּלִין אוֹתָן בְּנַחַת וְשִׂמְחָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת ט ז) "כִּי כְבָר רָצָה הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת מַעֲשֶׂיךָ". וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁמִּתְאַוִּים לָהֶם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלאכי ג ד) "וְעָרְבָה לַה' מִנְחַת יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלםִ כִּימֵי עוֹלָם וּכְשָׁנִים קַדְמֹנִיּוֹת":

8

The manner of Baalei Teshuvah is to be very humble and modest.

If fools shame them because of their previous deeds, saying to them: "Yesterday, you would commit such and such [sins]. Yesterday, you would commit these and these [transgressions]," they will pay no attention to them. On the contrary, they will hear [this abuse] and rejoice, knowing that it is a merit for them.

Whenever they are embarrassed for the deeds they committed and shamed because of them, their merit increases and their level is raised.

It is a utter sin to tell a Baal Teshuvah, "Remember your previous deeds," or to recall them in his presence to embarrass him or to mention the surrounding circumstances or other similar matters so that he will recall what he did. This is all forbidden. We are warned against it within the general category of verbal abuse which Torah has warned us against as [Leviticus 25:17] states: "A man should not mistreat his colleague."

ח

בַּעֲלֵי תְּשׁוּבָה דַּרְכָּן לִהְיוֹת שְׁפָלִים וַעֲנָוִים בְּיוֹתֵר. אִם חֵרְפוּ אוֹתָן הַכְּסִילִים בְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶם הָרִאשׁוֹנִים וְאָמְרוּ לָהֶן אֶמֶשׁ הָיִיתָ עוֹשֶׂה כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְאֶמֶשׁ הָיִיתָ אוֹמֵר כָּךְ וְכָךְ. אַל יַרְגִּישׁוּ לָהֶן אֶלָּא שׁוֹמְעִין וּשְׂמֵחִים וְיוֹדְעִין שֶׁזּוֹ זְכוּת לָהֶם. שֶׁכָּל זְמַן שֶׁהֵם בּוֹשִׁים מִמַּעֲשֵׂיהֶם שֶׁעָבְרוּ וְנִכְלָמִים מֵהֶן זְכוּתָם מְרֻבָּה וּמַעֲלָתָם מִתְגַּדֶּלֶת. וְחֵטְא גָּמוּר הוּא לוֹמַר לְבַעַל תְּשׁוּבָה זְכֹר מַעֲשֶׂיךָ הָרִאשׁוֹנִים אוֹ לְהַזְכִּירָן לְפָנָיו כְּדֵי לְבַיְּשׁוֹ. אוֹ לְהַזְכִּיר דְּבָרִים וְעִנְיָנִים הַדּוֹמִין לָהֶם כְּדֵי לְהַזְכִּירוֹ מֶה עָשָׂה. הַכּל אָסוּר וּמֻזְהָר עָלָיו בִּכְלַל הוֹנָיַת דְּבָרִים שֶׁהִזְהִירָה תּוֹרָה עָלֶיהָ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה יז) "וְלֹא תוֹנוּ אִישׁ אֶת עֲמִיתוֹ":

Teshuvah - Chapter Eight

1

The good that is hidden for the righteous is the life of the world to come. This will be life which is not accompanied by death and good which is not accompanied by evil. The Torah alludes to this in [the promise, Deuteronomy 22:7]: "So that good will be granted you and you will live long."

The oral tradition explains: "So that good will be granted you" - in the world that is entirely good; "and you will live long" - in the world which is endlessly long, the world to come.

The reward of the righteous is that they will merit this pleasure and take part in this good. The retribution of the wicked is that they will not merit this life. Rather, they will be cut off and die.

Whoever does not merit this life is [truly] dead and will not live forever. Rather, he will be cut off in his wickedness and perish as a beast. This is the intent of the meaning of the term karet in the Torah as [Numbers 15:31] states: "That soul shall surely be cut off."

[Based on the repetition of the verb,] the oral tradition explains: hikaret means to be cut off in this world and tikaret, to be cut off in the world to come. After these souls become separated from bodies in this world, they will not merit the life of the world to come. Rather, even in the world to come, they will be cut off.

א

הַטוֹבָה הַצְּפוּנָה לַצַּדִּיקִים הִיא חַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא וְהִיא הַחַיִּים שֶׁאֵין מָוֶת עִמָּהֶן וְהַטּוֹבָה שֶׁאֵין עִמָּהּ רָעָה. הוּא שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים כב ז) "לְמַעַן יִיטַב לָךְ וְהַאֲרַכְתָּ יָמִים". מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ לְמַעַן יִיטַב לָךְ לְעוֹלָם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ טוֹב וְהַאֲרַכְתָּ יָמִים לְעוֹלָם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ אָרֹךְ. וְזֶה הוּא הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. שְׂכַר הַצַּדִּיקִים הוּא שֶׁיִּזְכּוּ לְנֹעַם זֶה וְיִהְיוּ בְּטוֹבָה זוֹ. וּפִרְעוֹן הָרְשָׁעִים הוּא שֶׁלֹּא יִזְכּוּ לְחַיִּים אֵלּוּ אֶלָּא יִכָּרְתוּ וְיָמוּתוּ. וְכָל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה לְחַיִּים אֵלּוּ הוּא הַמֵּת שֶׁאֵינוֹ חַי לָעוֹלָם אֶלָּא נִכְרַת בְּרִשְׁעוֹ וְאָבֵד כִּבְהֵמָה. וְזֶהוּ כָּרֵת הַכְּתוּבָה בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר טו לא) "הִכָּרֵת תִּכָּרֵת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִיא". מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ הִכָּרֵת בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה תִּכָּרֵת לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁאוֹתָהּ הַנֶּפֶשׁ שֶׁפֵּרְשָׁה מִן הַגּוּף בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה אֵינָהּ זוֹכָה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֶלָּא גַּם מִן הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא נִכְרֶתֶת:

2

In the world to come, there is no body or physical form, only the souls of the righteous alone, without a body, like the ministering

angels. Since there is no physical form, there is neither eating, drinking, nor any of the other bodily functions of this world like sitting, standing, sleeping, death, sadness, laughter, and the like.

Thus, the Sages of the previous ages declared: "In the world to come, there is neither eating, drinking, nor sexual relations. Rather, the righteous will sit with their crowns on their heads and delight in the radiance of the Divine Presence."

From that statement, it is clear that there is no body, for there is no eating or drinking. [Consequently,] the statement, "the righteous sit," must be interpreted metaphorically, i.e., the righteous exist there without work or labor.

Similarly, the phrase, "their crowns on their heads," [is also a metaphor, implying] that they will possess the knowledge that they grasped which allowed them to merit the life of the world to come. This will be their crown. A similar [usage of this metaphor was employed by] Solomon [Song of Songs 3:11]: "The crown with which his mother crowned him."

[Support for the concept that this does not refer to a physical crown can be brought from the prophecy, Isaiah 51:11]: "Eternal joy will be upon their heads." Joy is not a physical entity which can rest on a head. Similarly, the expression "crown" used by the Sages [refers to a spiritual concept], knowledge.

What is meant by the expression, "delight in the radiance of the Divine Presence"? That they will comprehend the truth of Godliness which they cannot grasp while in a dark and humble body.

ב

הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֵין בּוֹ גּוּף וּגְוִיָּה אֶלָּא נַפְשׁוֹת הַצַּדִּיקִים בִּלְבַד בְּלֹא גּוּף כְּמַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת. הוֹאִיל וְאֵין בּוֹ גְּוִיּוֹת אֵין בּוֹ לֹא אֲכִילָה וְלֹא שְׁתִיָּה וְלֹא דָּבָר מִכָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁגּוּפוֹת בְּנֵי אָדָם צְרִיכִין לָהֶן בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. וְלֹא יֶאֱרַע דָּבָר בּוֹ מִן הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁמְּאָרְעִין לַגּוּפוֹת בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. כְּגוֹן יְשִׁיבָה וַעֲמִידָה וְשֵׁנָה וּמִיתָה וְעֶצֶב וּשְׂחוֹק וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. כָּךְ אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים (גמרא ברכות יז א) "הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֵין בּוֹ לֹא אֲכִילָה וְלֹא שְׁתִיָּה" וְלֹא תַּשְׁמִישׁ (גמרא ברכות יז א) "אֶלָּא צַדִּיקִים יוֹשְׁבִים וְעַטְרוֹתֵיהֶם בְּרָאשֵׁיהֶן וְנֶהֱנִין מִזִּיו הַשְּׁכִינָה". הֲרֵי נִתְבָּרֵר לְךָ שֶׁאֵין שָׁם גּוּף לְפִי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה. וְזֶה שֶׁאָמְרוּ צַדִּיקִים יוֹשְׁבִין דֶּרֶךְ חִידָה אָמְרוּ. כְּלוֹמַר הַצַּדִּיקִים מְצוּיִין שָׁם בְּלֹא עָמָל וּבְלֹא יְגִיעָה. וְכֵן זֶה שֶׁאָמְרוּ עַטְרוֹתֵיהֶן בְּרָאשֵׁיהֶן כְּלוֹמַר דַּעַת שֶׁיָּדְעוּ שֶׁבִּגְלָלָהּ זָכוּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא מְצוּיָה עִמָּהֶן וְהִיא הָעֲטָרָה שֶׁלָּהֶן כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁאָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה (שיר השירים ג יא) "בָּעֲטָרָה שֶׁעִטְּרָה לּוֹ אִמּוֹ". וַהֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר (ישעיה לה י) "וְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם עַל רֹאשָׁם" וְאֵין הַשִּׂמְחָה גּוּף כְּדֵי שֶׁתָּנוּחַ עַל הָרֹאשׁ. כָּךְ עֲטָרָה שֶׁאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים כָּאן הִיא הַיְדִיעָה. וּמַהוּ זֶה שֶׁאָמְרוּ נֶהֱנִין מִזִּיו הַשְּׁכִינָה. שֶׁיּוֹדְעִים וּמַשִּׂיגִין מֵאֲמִתַּת הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַה שֶּׁאֵינָם יוֹדְעִים וְהֵם בַּגּוּף הָאָפֵל הַשָּׁפָל:

3

The term "soul" when used in this context does not refer to the soul which needs the body, but rather to "the form of the soul," the knowledge which it comprehends according to its power. Similarly, it comprehends abstract concepts and other matters. This is "the form" whose nature we described in the fourth chapter of Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah. This is the soul referred to in this context.

Since this life is not accompanied by death - for death is an event associated with the body alone and, in that realm, there is no body - it is called "the bond of life," as [I Samuel 25:29] states: "And the soul of my master will be bound up in the bond of life." This is the reward above which there is no higher reward and the good beyond which there can be [other] good. This was [the good] desired by all the prophets.

ג

כָּל נֶפֶשׁ הָאֲמוּרָה בְּעִנְיָן זֶה אֵינָהּ הַנְּשָׁמָה הַצְּרִיכָה לַגּוּף אֶלָּא צוּרַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ שֶׁהִיא הַדֵּעָה שֶׁהִשִּׂיגָה מֵהַבּוֹרֵא כְּפִי כֹּחָהּ וְהֶשֵּׂגָהּ הַדֵּעוֹת הַנִּפְרָדוֹת וּשְׁאָר הַמַּעֲשִׂים וְהִיא הַצּוּרָה שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ עִנְיָנָהּ בְּפֶרֶק רְבִיעִי מֵהִלְכוֹת יְסוֹדֵי הַתּוֹרָה הִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת נֶפֶשׁ בְּעִנְיָן זֶה. חַיִּים אֵלּוּ לְפִי שֶׁאֵין עִמָּהֶם מָוֶת שֶׁאֵין הַמָּוֶת אֶלָּא מִמְּאֹרְעוֹת הַגּוּף וְאֵין שָׁם גּוּף נִקְרְאוּ צְרוֹר הַחַיִּים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א כה כט) "וְהָיְתָה נֶפֶשׁ אֲדֹנִי צְרוּרָה בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים". וְזֶהוּ הַשָּׂכָר שֶׁאֵין שָׂכָר לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנּוּ וְהַטּוֹבָה שֶׁאֵין אַחֲרֶיהָ טוֹבָה וְהִיא שֶׁהִתְאַוּוּ לָהּ כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים:

4

How many metaphoric terms have been used to refer to [the world to come]! "The mountain of God" [Psalms 24:3], "His holy place" [ibid.], "the holy path" [Isaiah 35:8], "the courtyards of God” [Psalms 65:5, 92:14], "the pleasantness of God" [ibid. 27:4], "the tent of God" [ibid. 15:1], "the palace of God" [ibid. 5:8], "the house of God" [ibid. 27:4], "the gate of God" [ibid. 118:20].

The Sages referred to this good which is prepared for the righteous with the metaphor: "the feast." Generally, it is referred to with the term "the world to come."

ד

וְכַמָּה שֵׁמוֹת נִקְרְאוּ לָהּ דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל. הַר ה'. וּמְקוֹם קָדְשׁוֹ. וְדֶרֶךְ הַקֹּדֶשׁ. וְחַצְרוֹת ה'. וְנֹעַם ה'. וְאֹהֶל ה'. וְהֵיכַל ה'. וּבֵית ה'. וְשַׁעַר ה'. וַחֲכָמִים קָרְאוּ לָהּ דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל לְטוֹבָה זוֹ הַמְזֻמֶּנֶת לַצַּדִּיקִים סְעֻדָּה. וְקוֹרִין לָהּ בְּכָל מָקוֹם הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:

5

The retribution beyond which there is no greater retribution is that the soul will be cut off and not merit this life as [Numbers 15:31] states: "This soul shall surely be cut off. His sin shall remain upon him."

This refers to the obliteration of the soul which was referred to by the prophets with the following metaphoric terms: "the pit of destruction" [Psalms 55:24], "obliteration" [ibid. 88:12], "the bonfire" [Isaiah 30:33], "the leech" [Proverbs 30:15]. All the synonyms for nullification and destruction are used to refer to it for it is the [ultimate] nullification after which there is no renewal and the [ultimate] loss which can never be recovered.

ה

הַנְּקָמָה שֶׁאֵין נְקָמָה גְּדוֹלָה מִמֶּנָּה שֶׁתִּכָּרֵת הַנֶּפֶשׁ וְלֹא תִּזְכֶּה לְאוֹתָן הַחַיִּים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר טו לא) "הִכָּרֵת תִּכָּרֵת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִיא עֲוֹנָהּ בָּהּ". וְזֶה הָאֲבַדּוֹן הוּא שֶׁקּוֹרִין אוֹתוֹ הַנְּבִיאִים דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל בְּאֵר שַׁחַת וַאֲבַדּוֹן וְתָפְתֶּה וַעֲלוּקָה וְכָל לְשׁוֹן כְּלָיָה וְהַשְׁחָתָה קוֹרְאִין לוֹ לְפִי שֶׁהִיא הַכְּלָיָה שֶׁאֵין אַחֲרֶיהָ תְּקוּמָה וְהַהֶפְסֵד שֶׁאֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר לְעוֹלָם:

6

Lest you think lightly of this good, [the world to come], imagining that the reward for the mitzvot and for a person [following] completely the paths of truth is for him to eat and drink good foods, have intercourse with beautiful forms, wear garments of linen and lace, dwell in ivory palaces, use utensils of gold and silver, or other similar ideas, as conceived by the foolish, decadent Arabs, who are flooded with lewdness.

In contrast, the sages and men of knowledge know that all these matters are vain and empty things, without any purpose. They are only considered of great benefit to us in this world because we possess a body and a physical form. All these matters are the needs of the body. The soul only desires them and lusts for them because of the needs of the body, so that its desires will be fulfilled and its health maintained. In a situation, where there is no body, all of these matters will be nullified.

There is no way in this world to grasp and comprehend the ultimate good which the soul will experience in the world to come.

We only know bodily good and that is what we desire. However, that [ultimate] good is overwhelmingly great and cannot be compared to the good of this world except in a metaphoric sense.

In truth, there is no way to compare the good of the soul in the world to come to the bodily goods of this world. Rather, that good is infinitely great, with no comparison or likeness. This is alluded to by David's statement [Psalms 31:20]: "How great is the good that You have hidden for those who fear You."

ו

שֶׁמָּא תֵּקַל בְּעֵינֶיךָ טוֹבָה זוֹ וּתְדַמֶּה שֶׁאֵין שְׂכַר הַמִּצְוֹת וֶהֱיוֹת הָאָדָם שָׁלֵם בְּדַרְכֵי הָאֱמֶת אֶלָּא לִהְיוֹתוֹ אוֹכֵל וְשׁוֹתֶה מַאֲכָלוֹת טוֹבוֹת וּבוֹעֵל צוּרוֹת נָאוֹת וְלוֹבֵשׁ בִּגְדֵי שֵׁשׁ וְרִקְמָה וְשׁוֹכֵן בְּאָהֳלֵי שֵׁן וּמִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בִּכְלֵי כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב וּדְבָרִים הַדּוֹמִים לְאֵלּוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁמְּדַמִּין אֵלּוּ הָעַרְבִיִּים הַטִּפְּשִׁים הָאֱוִילִים הַשְּׁטוּפִים בְּזִמָּה. אֲבָל הַחֲכָמִים וּבַעֲלֵי דֵּעָה יֵדְעוּ שֶׁכָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ דִּבְרֵי הֲבַאי וְהֶבֶל הֵם וְאֵין בָּהֶם תּוֹעֶלֶת וְאֵינָהּ טוֹבָה גְּדוֹלָה אֶצְלֵנוּ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאָנוּ בַּעֲלֵי גּוּף וּגְוִיָּה, וְכָל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ צָרְכֵי הַגּוּף הֵם וְאֵין הַנֶּפֶשׁ מִתְאַוָּה לָהֶם וּמְחַמְּדָתָן אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי צֹרֶךְ הַגּוּף, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּמְצָא חֶפְצוֹ וְיַעֲמֹד עַל בֻּרְיוֹ. וּבִזְמַן שֶׁאֵין שָׁם גּוּף נִמְצְאוּ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ בְּטֵלִים. הַטּוֹבָה הַגְּדוֹלָה שֶׁתִּהְיֶה בָּהּ הַנֶּפֶשׁ בָּעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֵין שׁוּם דֶּרֶךְ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה לְהַשִּׂיגָהּ וְלֵידַע אוֹתָהּ. שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִים בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה אֶלָּא טוֹבַת הַגּוּף וְלָהּ אָנוּ מִתְאַוִּין. אֲבָל אוֹתָהּ הַטּוֹבָה גְּדוֹלָה עַד מְאֹד וְאֵין לָהּ עֵרֶךְ בְּטוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה אֶלָּא דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל. אֲבָל בְּדֶרֶךְ הָאֱמֶת שֶׁנַּעֲרֹךְ טוֹבַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ בָּעוֹלָם הַבָּא בְּטוֹבוֹת הַגּוּף בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה בְּמַאֲכָל וּבְמִשְׁתֶּה אֵינוֹ כֵן. אֶלָּא אוֹתָהּ הַטּוֹבָה גְּדוֹלָה עַד אֵין חֵקֶר וְאֵין לָהּ עֵרֶךְ וְדִמְיוֹן. הוּא שֶׁאָמַר דָּוִד (תהילים לא כ) "מָה רַב טוּבְךָ אֲשֶׁר צָפַנְתָּ לִּירֵאֶיךָ" וְגוֹ':

7

How very much did David desire the life of the world to come as implied by [Psalms 27:13]: "Had I not believed that I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living!"

The Sages of the previous generations have already informed us that man does not have the potential to appreciate the good of the world to come in a full sense nor can anyone know its greatness, beauty, and power except God, alone.

All the beneficence which the prophets promised Israel in their visions are only physical concerns which Israel will appreciate in the Messianic age when dominion [over the world] will return to Israel. However, the good of the life of the world to come has no comparison or likeness, nor was it described by the prophets, lest with such a description, they diminish it.

This [was implied] by [Isaiah's (64:3)] statement: "No eye has ever seen, 0 God, except for You, what You will do for those who wait for You;" i.e. the good which was not perceived by the vision of a prophet and is perceived by God alone, this was created by God for those who wait for Him.

The Sages declared: "All the prophets only prophesied about the Messianic Age. However, regarding the world to come - `No eye has ever seen, 0 God, except for You.'

ז

וְכַמָּה כָּמַהּ דָּוִד וְהִתְאַוָּה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים כז יג) "לוּלֵא הֶאֱמַנְתִּי לִרְאוֹת בְּטוּב ה' בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים". כְּבָר הוֹדִיעוּנוּ הַחֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים שֶׁטּוֹבַת הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֵין כֹּחַ בָּאָדָם לְהַשִּׂיגָהּ עַל בֻּרְיָהּ וְאֵין יוֹדֵעַ גָּדְלָהּ וְיָפְיָהּ וְעַצְמָהּ אֶלָּא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְבַדּוֹ. וְשֶׁכָּל הַטּוֹבוֹת שֶׁמִּתְנַבְּאִים בָּהֶם הַנְּבִיאִים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֵינָן אֶלָּא לִדְבָרִים שֶׁבַּגּוּף שֶּׁנֶּהֱנִין בָּהֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל לִימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ בִּזְמַן שֶׁתָּשׁוּב הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. אֲבָל טוֹבַת חַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֵין לָהּ עֵרֶךְ וְדִמְיוֹן וְלֹא דִּמּוּהָ הַנְּבִיאִים כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִפְחֲתוּ אוֹתָהּ בַּדִּמְיוֹן. הוּא שֶׁיְּשַׁעְיָהוּ אָמַר (ישעיה סד ג) "עַיִן לֹא רָאָתָה אֱלֹהִים זוּלָתְךָ יַעֲשֶׂה לִמְחַכֵּה לוֹ". כְּלוֹמַר הַטּוֹבָה שֶׁלֹּא רָאֲתָה אוֹתָהּ עֵין נָבִיא וְלֹא רָאָה אוֹתָהּ אֶלָּא אֱלֹהִים, עָשָׂה אוֹתָהּ הָאֱלֹהִים לָאָדָם שֶׁמְּחַכֶּה לוֹ. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים כֻּלָּן לֹא נִבְּאוּ אֶלָּא לִימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ אֲבָל הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא עַיִן לֹא רָאָתָה אֱלֹהִים זוּלָתְךָ:

8

The Sages did not use the expression "the world to come" with the intention of implying that [this realm] does not exist at present or that the present realm will be destroyed and then, that realm will come into being.

The matter is not so. Rather, [the world to come] exists and is present as implied by [Psalms 31:20: "How great is the good] that You have hidden... which You have made...." It is only called the world to come because that life comes to a man after life in this world in which we exist, as souls [enclothed] in bodies. This [realm of existence] is presented to all men at first.

ח

זֶה שֶׁקָּרְאוּ אוֹתוֹ חֲכָמִים הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא לֹא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מָצוּי עַתָּה וְזֶה הָעוֹלָם אוֹבֵד וְאַחַר כָּךְ יָבוֹא אוֹתוֹ הָעוֹלָם. אֵין הַדָּבָר כֵּן. אֶלָּא הֲרֵי הוּא מָצוּי וְעוֹמֵד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים לא כ) "אֲשֶׁר צָפַנְתָּ לִּירֵאֶיךָ פָּעַלְתָּ" וְגוֹ'. וְלֹא קְרָאוּהוּ עוֹלָם הַבָּא אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאוֹתָן הַחַיִּים בָּאִין לוֹ לָאָדָם אַחַר חַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה שֶׁאָנוּ קַיָּמִים בּוֹ בְּגוּף וְנֶפֶשׁ וְזֶהוּ הַנִּמְצָא לְכָל אָדָם בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה:

Teshuvah - Chapter Nine

1

[A question arises:] As explained, the reward for the mitzvot and the good which we will merit if we observe the path of God as prescribed by the Torah is the world to come as [Deuteronomy 2:7] states: "So that good will be granted you and you will live long.”

[Also,] the retribution which is exacted from the wicked who abandon the paths of righteous prescribed by the Torah is karet as [Numbers 15:31] states: "This soul shall surely be cut off. His sin shall remain upon him."

[If so,] what is the meaning of the [statements] made throughout the entire Torah: "If you observe [the Torah's laws], you will acquire such and such;" "If you do not observe [the Torah's laws], such and such will happen to you?" All [of the benefits and difficulties that are promised] are matters of this [material] world, for example, plenty and famine, war and peace, sovereignty [over other nations] or a humble [national standing], the settlement of the land or exile, success in one's deeds or loss and all the other points mentioned in the covenant.

[In resolution, it must be stated that] all those statements are true. They have been realized in the past and will be realized in the future. When we fulfill all the mitzvot in the Torah, we will acquire all the benefits of this world. [Conversely,] when we transgress them, the evils written [in the Torah] will occur.

Nevertheless, those benefits are not the ultimate reward for the mitzvot, nor are those evils the ultimate retribution to be exacted from someone who transgresses all the mitzvot.

Rather, the resolution of the matter is as follows: God gave us this Torah which is a tree of life. Whoever fulfills what is written within it and comprehends it with complete and proper knowledge will merit the life of the world to come. A person merits [a portion of the world to come] according to the magnitude of his deeds and the extent of his knowledge.

[In addition,] we are promised by the Torah that if we fulfill it with joy and good spirit and meditate on its wisdom at all times, [God] will remove all the' obstacles which prevent us from fulfilling it, for example, sickness, war, famine, and the like.

Similarly, He will grant us all the good which will reinforce our performance of the Torah, such as plenty, peace, an abundance of silver and gold in order that we not be involved throughout all our days in matters required by the body, but rather, will sit unburdened and [thus, have the opportunity to] study wisdom and perform mitzvot in order that we will merit the life of the world to come.

This [principle is expressed] by the Torah. After [Deuteronomy 6:11-12] promises us all the benefits of this world, it concludes [ibid.:25]: "And charity will remain for us if we take care to perform [all these commandments]."

Similarly, the Torah has informed us that if we consciously abandon the Torah and involve ourselves in the vanities of the time in a manner similar to that stated [by Deuteronomy 32:15]: "Jeshurun became fat and rebelled," then, the True Judge will remove from all the benefits of this world which reinforce their rebellion those who abandoned [the Torah].

He will bring upon them all the evils which prevent them from acquiring [a portion in] the world to come so that they will be destroyed in their wickedness. This was implied by the Torah's statement [Deuteronomy 28:47-48]: "Because you did not serve God, [your Lord, with happiness,]... you will serve your enemies whom God sends against you."

Thus, these blessings and curses can be interpreted as follows: If you serve God with happiness and observe His way, He will grant you these blessings and remove these curses from you in order that you may be free to gain wisdom from the Torah and involve yourselves in it so that you will merit the life of the world to come. "Good will be granted you" - in the world that is entirely good; "and you will live long" - in the world which is endlessly long, [the world to come].

Thus, you will merit two worlds, a good life in this world, which, in turn, will bring you to the life of the world to come. For if a person will not acquire wisdom in this world and he does not possess good deeds, with what will he merit [a portion in the world to come]? [Thus, Ecclesiastes 9:10] states: "There is no work, no accounting, no knowledge, and no wisdom in the grave."

[Conversely,] if you have abandoned God and become obsessed with food, drink, lewdness, and the like, He will bring all these curses upon you and remove all blessing until you will conclude all your days in confusion and fear. You will not have a free heart or a complete body to fulfill the mitzvot in order that you forfeit the life of the world to come.

Thus, you will forfeit two worlds for when a person is occupied in this world with sickness, war, and hunger, he cannot involve himself with either wisdom or mitzvot which allow him to merit the life of the world to come.

א

מֵאַחַר שֶׁנּוֹדַע שֶׁמַּתַּן שְׂכָרָן שֶׁל מִצְוֹת וְהַטּוֹבָה שֶׁנִּזְכֶּה לָהּ אִם שָׁמַרְנוּ דֶּרֶךְ ה' הַכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה הִיא חַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב ז) "לְמַעַן יִיטַב לָךְ וְהַאֲרַכְתָּ יָמִים". וְהַנְּקָמָה שֶׁנּוֹקְמִים מִן הָרְשָׁעִים שֶׁעָזְבוּ אָרְחוֹת הַצֶּדֶק הַכְּתוּבוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה הִיא הַכָּרֵת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר טו לא) "הִכָּרֵת תִּכָּרֵת הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִיא עֲוֹנָהּ בָּהּ". מַהוּ זֶה שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּכָל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ אִם תִּשְׁמְעוּ יַגִּיעַ לָכֶם כָּךְ (ויקרא כו יד) "וְאִם לֹא תִּשְׁמְעוּ" יִקְרֶה אֶתְכֶם כָּךְ. וְכָל אוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. כְּגוֹן שֹׂבַע וְרָעָב וּמִלְחָמָה וְשָׁלוֹם וּמַלְכוּת וְשִׁפְלוּת וִישִׁיבַת הָאָרֶץ וְגָלוּת וְהַצְלָחַת מַעֲשֶׂה וְהֶפְסֵדוֹ וּשְׁאָר כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַבְּרִית. כָּל אוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים אֱמֶת הָיוּ וְיִהְיוּ וּבִזְמַן שֶׁאָנוּ עוֹשִׂים כָּל מִצְוֹת הַתּוֹרָה יַגִּיעוּ אֵלֵינוּ טוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה כֻּלָּן. וּבִזְמַן שֶׁאָנוּ עוֹבְרִין עֲלֵיהֶן תִּקְרֶאנָה אוֹתָנוּ הָרָעוֹת הַכְּתוּבוֹת. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין אוֹתָן הַטּוֹבוֹת הֵם סוֹף מַתַּן שְׂכָרָן שֶׁל מִצְוֹת וְלֹא אוֹתָן הָרָעוֹת הֵם סוֹף הַנְּקָמָה שֶׁנּוֹקְמִין מֵעוֹבֵר עַל כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת. אֶלָּא כָּךְ הוּא הֶכְרֵעַ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים. הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נָתַן לָנוּ תּוֹרָה זוֹ עֵץ חַיִּים הִיא. וְכָל הָעוֹשֶׂה כָּל הַכָּתוּב בָּהּ וְיוֹדְעוֹ דֵּעָה גְּמוּרָה נְכוֹנָה זוֹכֶה בָּהּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וּלְפִי גֹּדֶל מַעֲשָׂיו וְרֹב חָכְמָתוֹ הוּא זוֹכֶה. וְהִבְטִיחָנוּ בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁאִם נַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוֹבַת נֶפֶשׁ וְנֶהְגֶּה בְּחָכְמָתָהּ תָּמִיד שֶׁיָּסִיר מִמֶּנּוּ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הַמּוֹנְעִים אוֹתָנוּ מִלַּעֲשׂוֹתָהּ כְּגוֹן חלִי וּמִלְחָמָה וְרָעָב וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. וְיַשְׁפִּיעַ לָנוּ כָּל הַטּוֹבוֹת הַמַּחֲזִיקוֹת אֶת יָדֵינוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת הַתּוֹרָה כְּגוֹן שֹׂבַע וְשָׁלוֹם וְרִבּוּי כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב. כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא נַעֲסֹק כָּל יָמֵינוּ בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁהַגּוּף צָרִיךְ לָהֶן אֶלָּא נֵשֵׁב פְּנוּיִים לִלְמֹד בַּחָכְמָה וְלַעֲשׂוֹת הַמִּצְוָה כְּדֵי שֶׁנִּזְכֶּה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר בַּתּוֹרָה אַחַר שֶׁהִבְטִיחַ בְּטוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה (דברים ו כה) "וּצְדָקָה תִּהְיֶה לָּנוּ" וְגוֹ'. וְכֵן הוֹדִיעָנוּ בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁאִם נַעֲזֹב הַתּוֹרָה מִדַּעַת וְנַעֲסֹק בְּהַבְלֵי הַזְּמַן כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לב טו) "וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט", שֶׁדַּיַן הָאֱמֶת יָסִיר מִן הַעוֹזְבִים כָּל טוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה שֶׁהֵן חִזְּקוּ יְדֵיהֶם לִבְעֹט וּמֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם כָּל הָרָעוֹת הַמּוֹנְעִים אוֹתָן מִלִּקְנוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁיֹּאבְדוּ בְּרִשְׁעָם. הוּא שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים כח מז) "תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר לֹא עָבַדְתָּ אֶת ה'" וְגוֹ', (דברים כח מח) "וְעָבַדְתָּ אֶת אֹיְבֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ ה' בָּךְ". נִמְצָא פֵּרוּשׁ כָּל אוֹתָן הַבְּרָכוֹת וְהַקְּלָלוֹת עַל דֶּרֶךְ זוֹ, כְּלוֹמַר אִם עֲבַדְתֶּם אֶת ה' בְּשִׂמְחָה וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם דַּרְכּוֹ מַשְׁפִּיעַ לָכֶם הַבְּרָכוֹת הָאֵלּוּ וּמַרְחִיק הַקְּלָלוֹת מִכֶּם עַד שֶׁתִּהְיוּ פְּנוּיִים לְהִתְחַכֵּם בַּתּוֹרָה וְלַעֲסֹק בָּהּ כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּזְכּוּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא וְיִיטַב לְךָ לְעוֹלָם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ טוֹב וְתַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים לְעוֹלָם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ אָרֹךְ וְנִמְצֵאתֶם זוֹכִין לִשְׁנֵי הָעוֹלָמוֹת, לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַמְּבִיאִים לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. שֶׁאִם לֹא יִקְנֶה פֹּה חָכְמָה וּמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים אֵין לוֹ בְּמָה יִזְכֶּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת ט י) "כִּי אֵין מַעֲשֶׂה וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן וְדַעַת וְחָכְמָה בִּשְׁאוֹל". וְאִם עֲזַבְתֶּם אֶת ה' וּשְׁגִיתֶם בְּמַאֲכָל וּבְמִשְׁתֶּה וּזְנוּת וְדוֹמֶה לָהֶם מֵבִיא עֲלֵיכֶם כָּל הַקְּלָלוֹת הָאֵלּוּ וּמֵסִיר כָּל הַבְּרָכוֹת עַד שֶׁיִּכְלוּ יְמֵיכֶם בְּבֶהָלָה וָפַחַד וְלֹא יִהְיֶה לָכֶם לֵב פָּנוּי וְלֹא גּוּף שָׁלֵם לַעֲשׂוֹת הַמִּצְוֹת כְּדֵי שֶׁתֹּאבְדוּ מֵחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא וְנִמְצָא שֶׁאִבַּדְתֶּם שְׁנֵי עוֹלָמוֹת. שֶׁבִּזְמַן שֶׁאָדָם טָרוּד בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה בְּחלִי וּבְמִלְחָמָה וּרְעָבוֹן אֵינוֹ מִתְעַסֵּק לֹא בַּחָכְמָה וְלֹא בַּמִצְוֹת שֶׁבָּהֶן זוֹכִין לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:

2

For these reasons, all Israel, [in particular,] their prophets and their Sages, have yearned for the Messianic age so they can rest from the [oppression of] the gentile kingdoms who do not allow them to occupy themselves with Torah and mitzvot properly. They will find rest and increase their knowledge in order to merit the world to come.

In that era, knowledge, wisdom, and truth will become abundant. [Isaiah 11:9] states, "The earth will be full of the knowledge of God." [Jeremiah 31:33] states: "One man will no longer teach his brother, nor a man his colleague... [for all will know Me]." And [Ezekiel 36:26] states: "I will take away the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

[These changes will come about] because the king who will arise from David's descendants will be a greater master of knowledge than Solomon and a great prophet, close to the level of Moses, our teacher. Therefore, he will teach the entire nation and instruct them in the path of God.

All the gentile nations will come to hear him as [Isaiah 2:2] states: "And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of God's house shall be established at the peak of the mountains... [and all the nations shall flow to it]."

[Nevertheless,] the ultimate of all reward and the final good which will have no end or decrease is the life of the world to come. In contrast, the Messianic age will be [life within the context of] this world, with the world following its natural pattern except that sovereignty will return to Israel.

The Sages of the previous generations have already declared: "There is no difference between the present age and the Messianic era except [the emancipation] from our subjugation to the [gentile] kingdoms."

ב

וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה נִתְאַוּוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל נְבִיאֵיהֶם וְחַכְמֵיהֶם לִימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּנוּחוּ מִמַּלְכֻיּוֹת שֶׁאֵינָן מְנִיחוֹת לָהֶן לַעֲסֹק בַּתּוֹרָה וּבַמִּצְוֹת כַּהֹגֶן. וְיִמְצְאוּ לָהֶם מַרְגּוֹעַ וְיִרְבּוּ בְּחָכְמָה כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּזְכּוּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. לְפִי שֶׁבְּאוֹתָן הַיָּמִים תִּרְבֶּה הַדֵּעָה וְהַחָכְמָה וְהָאֱמֶת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה יא ט) "כִּי מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת ה'". וְנֶאֱמַר (ירמיה לא לג) "וְלֹא יְלַמְּדוּ אִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו וְאִישׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ". וְנֶאֱמַר (יחזקאל לו כו) "וַהֲסִרֹתִי אֶת לֵב הָאֶבֶן מִבְּשַׂרְכֶם". מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאוֹתוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ שֶׁיַּעֲמֹד מִזֶּרַע דָּוִד בַּעַל חָכְמָה יִהְיֶה יֶתֶר מִשְּׁלֹמֹה. וְנָבִיא גָּדוֹל הוּא קָרוֹב לְמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. וּלְפִיכָךְ יְלַמֵּד כָּל הָעָם וְיוֹרֶה אוֹתָם דֶּרֶךְ ה'. וְיָבוֹאוּ כָּל הַגּוֹיִם לְשָׁמְעוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה ב ב) "וְהָיָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים נָכוֹן יִהְיֶה הַר בֵּית ה' בְּרֹאשׁ הֶהָרִים". וְסוֹף כָּל הַשָּׂכָר כֻּלּוֹ וְהַטּוֹבָה הָאַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁאֵין לָהּ הֶפְסֵק וְגֵרָעוֹן הוּא חַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. אֲבָל יְמוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ הוּא הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְעוֹלָם כְּמִנְהָגוֹ הוֹלֵךְ אֶלָּא שֶׁהַמַּלְכוּת תַּחֲזֹר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. וּכְבָר אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים אֵין בֵּין הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה לִימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ אֶלָּא שִׁעְבּוּד מַלְכֻיּוֹת בִּלְבַד:

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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