The Torah portion Vaes’chanan concludes with the verse:1 “You shall observe the commandment, the statutes and laws that I command you today to do them.” Rashi comments on the words “today to do them” by remarking: “And tomorrow, in the World to Come, to take their reward.”

Superficially, it would seem that Rashi is stating that reward is only to be obtained in the World To Come because, as some maintain,2 “the reward for a mitzvah is not obtained in this world.”

But it is clear that Rashi , who first and foremost explains the simple meaning of a verse, cannot possibly contend that “the reward for a mitzvah is not obtained in this world.” There are a multitude of verses in the Torah that promise physical rewards for the performance of mitzvos. In fact, immediately after this verse, the Torah goes on to say3 that the performance of mitzvos is rewarded with numerous material blessings.

What then are we to make of Rashi’ s statement: “and tomorrow, in the World to Come, to take their reward”?

Rashi answers this question by stating “to take their reward,” rather than using the more common4 expression “to receive their reward.”

There is a major difference between “taking” a reward and “receiving” it. “Receiving” indicates that the reward is conveyed to the recipient; the giver not only establishes the reward, but presents it as well.

“Taking,” however, implies that the person himself must take the reward; the giver established a reward for the recipient, but in order for it to actually reach him, the receiver must “take” it.

According to Rashi , there are two types of rewards for the performance of Torah and mitzvos — the physical rewards explicitly stated in the Torah, and the spiritual rewards in the World To Come.5

All material rewards fall within the province of “receiving. ” G‑d provides the Jew all manner of goodness in this physical world, without the performer of mitzvos having to expend any additional effort.

The reward of the World To Come, however, is of a higher order: Life in the World To Come does not consist only of being a “recipient,” rather each person must “take” his reward.

In other words, the person finds himself in a world where he has the ability to delight in the radiance of the Divine Presence, but in order to actually receive this reward, he must do something.6

The following also requires elucidation: “Today to do them” seems to imply that the observance of Torah and mitzvos applies only “today,” i.e., in this world. What constitutes the spiritual service of the Jew “tomorrow,” in the World To Come? For spiritual service will exist in the World To Come as well.

Rashi addresses this issue when he states: “And tomorrow, in the World to Come, to take their reward.” By this, he means that in the World To Come, Jews will occupy themselves in taking their reward.

For as the Rambam writes,7 in order for the Jewish people to bask in the radiance of the Divine Presence, it is necessary that they work and toil by using their intellect.

Consequently, the Divine Presence that radiates to the Jewish people in the World To Come is felt by them not only in an encompassing manner as a result of it being given to them from Above, but also in an inward and internal manner, as a direct consequence of their understanding of G‑dliness — their spiritual labor in the World To Come.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIX, pp. 41-46.