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Could somebody explain to me briefly what the Rambam's opinion is about the sequence of events with Olam HaBa, the Mashiach and Techiyat haMeitim?

It seems that he's saying that when a person dies they go straight to Olam HaBa, the ultimate reward, but if so I don't understand how Techiyat haMeitim fits into this.

(I've been reading the Ramchal (Derech Hashem, Ma'amar haIkarim, and Da'at Tevunot), and he follows the Ramban's opinion, and I'm very happy to continue my progress reading the Ramchal, but I'm afraid I'm going to embarrass myself in conversation if I'm totally ignorant the Rambam's opinion.)

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The ramchal was a kabbalist so he does not follow the Rambam on some issues. –  Ariel K Aug 7 '11 at 14:59
    
@Ariel: I understand that. I just don't want to learn one opinion while remaining completely ignorant of the other. –  Chanoch Aug 7 '11 at 15:08
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Olam Habba can refer to both the reward a person has after he passes away and the ultimate reward the whole world has when Moshiach comes.

According to the Rambam, the order is as follows:

  • The person passes away and his soul goes to Olam Habba

  • Moshiach comes and then the soul is resurrected by Techiat HaMeitim.

  • Eventually, the body will die again and the soul will spend the rest of eternity in Olam Haba.

Read more about it, and the Ramban's take on the issue here.

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The Rambam does not believe that Mashiach will come with techiyas hamesim. He holds like Shmuel that the messianic era will not have unnatural events. –  Ariel K Aug 7 '11 at 14:58
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@Ariel: The Rambam's 13th principal of faith is the belief in the resurrection of the dead: ou.org/torah/rambam.htm . The Shelah says that according to Shmuel there are two stages, one where the world acts normally, and one where the miracles happen. See footnote 66: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14950&pgnum=213 . The Lubavitcher Rebbe uses this same idea to reconcile the Rambam's belief in Techiat HaMeitim and the idea that the world will not change it's nature. See here for an english synopsis: sichosinenglish.org/books/i-await-his-coming-every-day/05.htm –  Menachem Aug 7 '11 at 15:56
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Obviously the Rambam didn't deny techiyas hamesim, just he didn't say it would happen with mashiach, but at a later stage. But your answer (before your comment) implies its all one event. –  Ariel K Aug 7 '11 at 18:01
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There are many different stages according to the Rambam. There is a world where (righteous) people go after they die (some call this 'olam haneshamos'). In this world, there is a time when Mashiach comes, bringing world peace and the rebuilding of the Beis haMikdash, but the world continues running its natural course. At some point, techiyas hamesim will happen, and those who merit it will be brought back to life to reach a higher perfection. They will live for a long time before dying again. Then the physical world will end and there will be the eternal Olam haBa for the righteous.

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The Rambam holds, I think, as said before, Olam Haba is after one dies. At some point Moshiach comes to this world, and then there is Techiyas Hamaisim. However, your question then was well if thats the case, what is the purpose of Techiyas Hamaisim? Which is a great question regardless of the order... One answer I heard is that one of the disadvantages of linear time is that we are limited to the teachers we have at the time we live in, but imagine if Moshe and David and the Rambam and Rashi could give class today, or just to be in the room with all of them, or thebenfit each of them would receive from each other... that would be a tremendous benefit to the furtherence of limud Torah and recognition of Hashem.

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