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According to the beginning of the Mesilas Yesharim, the entire purpose of creation is for man to merit Olam Haba (the bliss of the next world).

If so, why is there no mention nor description of Olam Haba in the Torah, except in vague shrouded terms?

(excerpt from Mesilas Yesharim chapter 1: Our Sages of blessed memory have taught us that man was created for the sole purpose of rejoicing in God and deriving pleasure from the splendor of His Presence; for this is true joy and the greatest pleasure that can be found. The place where this joy may truly be derived is the World to Come, which was expressly created to provide for it; but the path to the object of our desires is this world, as our Sages of blessed memory have said (Avorh 4:21), "This world is like a corridor to the World to Come." )

Furthermore, the Mesilas Yesharim starts off saying the foundation of religious service is to clarify for oneself what is his duty in this world and to what one should put his aspirations toward. This aspiration he says is to merit closeness to God in the Olam Haba. So it seems knowledge of Olam Haba is the foundation of the entire religious service in this world.

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You could improve this question by including a quotation backing up the first sentence. I would appreciate it if you'd take a little more care to use standard English capitalization and punctuation lechatchila. –  Isaac Moses Mar 12 '13 at 15:23
related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/45280/… –  Menachem Oct 5 '14 at 23:06

5 Answers 5

Since Olam Habah is beyond the Torah, as there are no Mitzvos or Aveiros there, and the Torah is only for those that are living on this world therefore there is no mention of Olam Habah in the Torah.


עולם הבא הוא בעצם עולם שמעבר לתורה. שמה לא מקיימים מצוות ואין אפשרות לחטוא בעברות, כמו שחכמים אומרים לא ניתנה תורה למלאכי השרת. והתורה בעצמה מתייחסת לכך שהתורה מיועדת לעולם הזה בפסוק השמים לה` והארץ נתן לבני אדם. ולכן כשהייתה מחלוקת בין החכמים בגמרא ויצא קול מהשמיים כפי דעה אחת החכמים לא ייחסו לזה משקל כי התורה נקבעת ליפי מי שקיים בארץ, כלומר שיש לו קשר לחומר ולא לפי מי שהוא נטו רוחניות. לכן עולם הבא לא נכתב בתנ``ך

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Who is the author/owner of that website? –  Double AA Mar 12 '13 at 16:30
הרב זמיר כהן - יו"ר הידברות Rabbi Zamir Cohen - Chairman כתובת משרד: אריה שנקר 20 קרית אריה פתח-תקווה טל: 03-6166614 פקס: 03-6166615 –  Gershon Gold Mar 12 '13 at 16:33
fine but since the entire purpose of the torah and mitzvos is for olam haba dont you think there should have been mention of it? otherwise we dont even know the purpose of the mitzvos we are meant to be doing in this world! –  ray Mar 12 '13 at 18:09

This is a rather famous issue, so much so that Rabbeinu Bachya (1100's) already lists five answers to this question. Later, Abarbanel lists 7 (in his book Tzedek Olamim), and the Kli Yakar (to Vayikra 26:12) collects 9 answers. There are even more floating around Jewish literature (especially in kabbalah and chassidus), but I think that these will suffice for this forum (though some of them sound like observations instead of answers). I should also point out that all of these are only distillations from what I understood of the Kli Yakar (and sometimes primary source), but there's more to each one and some of them I must admit that I think I'm misrepresenting slightly for brevity.

  1. The Torah speaks only of this world and it would thus be inappropriate to discuss 'the next world'. Alternatively, the 'world to come' is a reward (even according to the Ramchal, in a sense) and the Torah is meant to tell us what to do, not what we get if we follow it (See Rambam Hil. Teshuvah ch. 9)

  2. Most people cannot grasp what the 'world to come' really means, and the Torah was meant to be understood (Ibn Ezra to Devarim 32:39)

  3. The Torah only needs to tell us unnatural occurrences out of reward, such as a plentiful harvest as a result of good deeds (instead of a result of good agricultural practices). Reward in the afterlife, however, is natural (Ramban Vayikra)

  4. The Torah wanted to refer only to a reward which people naturally want, i.e. physical goods. The spiritual pleasures of Olam Haba aren't natural incentives (Kuzari 1:104-106)

  5. The Torah was given to a nation of idol worshipers who practiced idolatry because it was a way for them to feel secure about their health, crop yield, etc. so the Torah only had to assure them that serving God instead would at least provide that much.

  6. We can derive it from a kal vachomer: if the Torah promises spiritual reward even in the physical realm (והתהלכתי בתוככם - Vayikra 26:12) then there will certainly be reward in the spiritual world. (Kuzari and Drashos Haran 7)

  7. The Torah is speaking to the entire nation, so it will only list nationalistic rewards such as peace and plenty, not afterlife, which is personal (Ramban Devarim 11:13)

  8. The Shelah writes (Toldos Adam, Bayis Achron 156) that, in actuality, when the Torah describes the physical rewards it is actually referring to spiritual rewards, but the words that it uses are words that we use to refer to the physical counterparts to those spiritual elements. (Don't ask me to explain further but it sounds cool)

  9. The Ramchal himself writes (Derech Hashem 3:6) that the true spiritual reward couldn't be written in the Torah because עין לא ראתה אלקים זולתך - it's merely to exalted for the human mind to even imagine it (so there's no term or description that the Torah could have given it)

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The premise of your question is that the Torah should explicitly tell us the purpose of our existence, and since it does not explicitly describe Olam Haba, this raises a difficulty with the claim that Olam Haba is the purpose of our existence.

I don't know what basis there is for your assumption that the Torah should explicitly state the purpose of our existence. Moreover, I am not aware of any place in the Torah where the Torah ever explains God's reason for creation.

The Torah is fundamentally a book of practical teachings, explaining to us what we must do and how we must live in this world. Strictly speaking, we do not need to know God's reasons for anything, including Creation.

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see my addition to the question. on the contrary according to the MY knowledge of Olam Haba is the foundation of foundations of service here –  ray Mar 13 '13 at 10:57
@R.Sebag I think you are confusing God's reason for our creation with our purpose of existence. The two are deeply connected, of course, but not identical. The Ramchal begins his discussion by explaining why God created us (to bestow goodness upon us in Olam Haba), and concludes that therefore we know that our purpose in this world is to obey the mitzvos and serve God, and ultimately, to achieve closeness (deveikus) with God: נמצינו למדים כי עיקר מציאות האדם בעולם הזה הוא רק לקים מצות ולעבד ולעמוד בנסיון וכו' שביאתו לעולם אינה אלא לתכלית הזה, דהינו להשיג את הקרבה הזאת וכו –  LazerA Mar 13 '13 at 12:17
לשבת יצרה is the closest I can think of. –  Double AA Mar 13 '13 at 16:23
@lazera "THE FOUNDATION OF SAINTLINESS and the root of perfection in the service of God lies in a man's coming to see clearly and to recognize as a truth the nature of his duty in the world and the end towards which he should direct his vision and his aspiration in all of his labors all the days of his life. " - the aspiration he is refering to is olam haba. he repeats this in zehirus –  ray Mar 13 '13 at 21:50
@R.Sebag Those are motivational ideas, not actual purposes. Moreover, if olam haba was supposed to be our actual goal, then it would be the highest level of motivation, and the Ramchal says it isn't. –  LazerA Mar 17 '13 at 1:19

Well The Ramban writes that the Torah doesn't tell you rewards which are natural. He says naturally the soul goes to gan eden after death so the torah didn't need to write it since it wouldn't be an insight. That's why the Torah says by karies that your soul will be cut off since that is a miracle/unnatural.

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thnx do you remember where in the rambam? –  ray Apr 26 '14 at 18:42
@ray ill look it up but its where the torah talks about kareis for the first time. –  user4784 Apr 27 '14 at 1:26

Rabbeinu Bachaye says because the reward in the world to come can not be explained to people.

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Where does he say that? I'd like to see it inside! –  Shokhet Oct 5 '14 at 23:01

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