Having spoken about the punishment of the souls of the evil, we will now discuss the reward for the souls of the righteous. In doing so, we will explain a distinction that the Sages often make, sometimes saying that a certain type of person has a "portion in the world-to-come," or that he is a "ben olam haba" [son of the world-to-come], or he is "ready for life in the world-to-come."

There are three categories with respect to a tzadik gamur...

The reason for the nuances is as follows: There are three categories with respect to a tzadik gamur [completely righteous person] who leaves this world and does not require any punishment. The first is that from the moment he dies he ascends in the secret of 'M"N elayin' [upper awakening] through the yesod of Imma Elai/binah - which is called olam habah. This causes the upper unification, bringing Abba and Imma together. And so this group is called benei olam habah. In other words, he is like Zeir Anpin, who is called ben [a son of] Imma Elai, who ascends in the secret of M"N as high as Abba and Imma, and causes them to unite. Likewise, a righteous person is called a ben olam habah - that is of Imma Elai, since he causes a unification above.

This world of seven directions1 is made in seven days, an expression of the seven sefirot. (Zohar I Breishit) Death transports to a revealed connection to steps above. The first rung is Imma. Yesod is the connecting part of each partzuf. So the soul ascends above through yesod Imma. Alive, one makes unifications in Zu"N. In death they are replaced by Abba/Imma.

The partzufim are the source of the family order. The maternal aspects, Abba and Imma, are aroused by Zu"N their children to unite and provide sustenance. In death, the soul accomplishes the same thing. Inclusion in this ethereal plateau is delightful.

The second group is not as great as the first one. It is composed of righteous people who are not fitting to ascend by themselves and cause a unification between Abba and Imma. Rather, they must combine with a soul more righteous than their own and in this way cause a unification above. It was to this group that the Sages referred when they wrote, "Every Jew has a portion in the world-to-come". (Sanhedrin 91a)

...all Jews, even if they do not become completely righteous, at least have a 'portion'...

In other words, all Jews, even if they do not become completely righteous, at least have a 'portion' and can unite with the rest of the souls to ascend and cause a unification in the upper world-to-come. They are not however, individually benei olam haba, that is like a 'ben-bayit' [son of the house] who can enter his father’s house on his own.

The key to ascent to this level depends upon mesirut nefesh [complete giving of oneself]. And so the Shema prayer, the basic declaration of faith in mesirut nefesh, also causes Abba/Imma pairing. (Shaar HaKavanot Kriyat Shema) Even those that always serve G‑d cannot rise to this height unless they are completely devoted.

The third group is the highest of the three, referred to by the words "ready for life in the world-to-come". This is the level of the world-to-come which does not occur immediately after death, rather in a future time of which it says, "the light of the moon will be like that of the sun" (Isaiah 30:26). At that time, Abba and Imma will rise to Arich Anpin once again, just as they [were stationed] at the time of creation.

G‑d first made each level in its fitting place. Subsequently, He specifically caused each one to fall a notch down in order to create a job for man to do. "Descent is for ascent." (Baal Shem Tov) When everything returns to its source through the deeds of man, it is not just a restoration to the original state. The universe is upgraded and all levels step up rungs.

Any time an ibur is repeated it is in order to renew the mochin [mentality]. Doing so provides the ability to cause the light of the moon to become like that of the sun, the latter being Zeir Anpin and the former Nukva.

The sun and moon are a reflection in the physical of the partzufim Zeir Anpin and Nukva.

The sun and moon are a reflection in the physical of the partzufim Zeir Anpin and Nukva. Just as the sun's light unites with the moon every night to make it shine, so does Zeir Anpin unite with Nukva to make it shine forth the light of G‑d-consciousness and a flow of sustenance to the world.

The Rabbis teach that at first the moon's light was equal to the sun. (Chulin) It was diminished. Scripture tells that it will be restored in time to come to its original status.

It is outside the context of this discussion to explain what this means in terms of the actual physical reality. In the spiritual roots, this means that the manifestation of Divinity in the lower realms, represented by the lunar/receiving aspect, was equal to the manifestation in the upper/giving realms. God purposely diminished the lower aspect in order to set the stage for man's free will. The lunar/nocturnal aspect lacks light, leaving unclear sight. This whole, lower world is as night (Talmud) - the truth is unclear.

But it was never meant to so remain. Each generation has its part in filling the moon's light – revealing Divinity in the world. The sum total of the work of all generations will result in a replenishing of the moon – an equating of the manifestation of G‑dliness below to above.

In this state, super-consciousness will prevail and everyone will know G‑d.2 This is one way of describing the utopian state of the world-to-come.

The mochin are coined 'life of the world-to-come', since they are the source of its existence. They are [also] called 'chayei hamelech' [life of the King]. In the secret of what the Sages say, "All those who wear tefilin live [real life], as it says (Brachot): "G‑d, concerning them [You said], 'They will live'." (Isaiah 38:16) For, they [draw from chochma,] the life source that flows to the world-to-come, which is Imma. (Shaar HaKavanot Tefilin) Therefore, anyone who is fitting to ascend in the secret of M"N to Arich Anpin and cause a unification there for the sake of the mochin of Imma is called 'one who is ready for the world to-come'.3

[Samuel] was afraid of the great day of judgment in the future.

Now you can understand what Samuel the prophet meant when he said, "Why did you disturb me, to raise me up?" (Samuel I 28:15): He was afraid of the great day of judgment in the future. Even though he already knew that he was a ben olam habah, still he was in doubt as to whether he was already on the level of being fit for life in the world-to-come.

There is also a fourth group referred to in Sanhedrin in the chapter Chailek of "those who have no portion in the world-to-come: Three kings and four laymen etc." In other words, even though they were punished, they still don’t manage to make it to the lowest group of those who have a portion in the world-to-come after death - even with the help of other souls. These souls will not be able to ascend at all to the world-to-come to cause M"N through a unification of Abba and Imma. Rather, they will be forced to remain below in the secret of M"N on the level of the malchus/Nukva of Zeir Anpin only.

They, so, miss the boat and remain on the present level of this world.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]