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In other words, what precise reasons would motivate a gentile to convert rather than be a Noahide? I have heard that a Jew's olam haba is “better” but in what sense? What exactly is the difference?

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  • Do you think that the righteous gentile who only had 7 commandments to concern himself with, should be entitled to the same reward as the Jew who concernedly and meticulously kept the entire Torah? It's only fair that the extremely more effort of the Jew, over his lifetime, should be rewarded accordingly. Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 21:59
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    @IsraelReader one could argue that the non-Jew has much more to overcome in order to keep his 7 as he doesn't have a Torah, or a minhag, or Torah keeping neighbours... nothing. Also one might be looking at it backwards. The number of Mitzvot Jews have is a privilege, not a burden, as such so simply counting Mitzvot isn't necessarily relevant (although it actually is in quite a few different ways, I admit)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 19:47
  • Clearly no one knows.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 1:08
  • My question does not refer to their entitlement to a equal, greater or worse reward but rather what is the reward itself.
    – jewishboy
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 4:04
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    @jewishboy Does anyone know what the essence of Olam Haba actually is, so that we can then attempt to contrast the Olam Haba of the Jew vs. that of the non-Jew? Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 18:00

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I think that the question is likely one that couldn't be understood properly because even if you would ask what is it like to have a Jewish Olam Haba everything would be in parables and not capture the essence.

At the end of the day, Rav Dessler (See חלק א׳ שכר מצוה) points out that there is more joy from the "smell" of Olam Haba then there exists in the world from beginning to end (ie: if it was all "added" together). So nothing can capture or comprehend this.

My basic understanding is that there is a nuanced difference in that of proximity to Hashem. So for example a Jewish person may be closer in connection/proximity to Hashem. My guess is that this all depends on how great you are in your role, demands, and abilities.

For example I find it hard to accept that I have earned a closer place then Noach, Eve or Adam etc... There are likely many non-Jews who earned to be closer than me who are alive today.

I do think that obviously someone who wants to be closer will do more, but at the same time there is a balance between taking on too much and not willing to do those commandments he already has or break new requirements that he took upon himself.

So the motivation is being able to serve Hashem in more Mitzvos, to perfect oneself more, and be closer to Hashem. For example a non-Jew cannot keep the Sabbath. Torah is prohibited to be taught to a non-Jew (seek a Rabbi to know what can be taught to a non-Jew).

I think deciding to join the religion because you will "gain" more, although a normal human thought, should not be the approach. I don't blame the question though because it is a natural factor and thought. In fact in this world, Jewish people are routinely hounded and hated so in this world you might lose quite a bit which begs your question of the next world. Nevertheless, the approach should be to serve Hashem out of a desire to serve him and not a desire for reward.

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  • I think that the question is likely one that couldn't be understood properly because even if you would ask what is it like to have a Jewish Olam Haba everything would be in parables and not capture the essence. Exactly what bothered me about the question. What makes Olam Haba "good" in the first place? What makes anyone's portion than another? The issue of how it applies to a Noahide is missing the forest for the trees.
    – shmosel
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 20:11
  • @shmosel schar mitzva mitzva. The reward of Olam Haba is the discovery of how much the Mitzvot we did meant to Hashem (what other reward would we accept? We accepted Hashem as our God b'mesirat nefesh). This is something we can't know until He tells us (if He hasn't already, which He seemingly mostly hasn't, it's all a big secret)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 19:49
  • @shmosel I agree; however, there is some truth to the question as we are told that we will be "burned" with the agony of what we could have accomplished when we see what others accomplished. (Messilat Yesharim discusses this). So there is truth to the question, but... it's ironically somewhat self defeating to do things for reward. So it's a component but not really the goal I suppose. I definitely think an interesting question though.
    – msj121
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 3:04
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To answer what the difference is between a Jews and a Gentiles olam haba we must understand the differences between a Gentiles soul vs a Jews soul:

I got this idea from: https://www.etzion.org.il/en/philosophy/issues-jewish-thought/issues-mussar-and-faith/jews-and-gentiles and just took the part needed for the answer:

“The Alter Rebbe in Tanya (Tanya), chapters. 1–2) explains that a Jew has two souls – a G-dly soul, which partakes in some fashion in the actual substance of God Himself, and an animalistic soul, which descends from klipat noga, the evil that contains within it an admixture of divine light. Therefore, he explains, any good character trait found in a Jew reflects the essential goodness found in his soul. The soul of a gentile, however, according to the Tanya, is purely animalistic and not Godly. It descends from the evil forces that have no potential for goodness in them whatsoever. Therefore, any good deeds performed by gentiles are done for ulterior motives and cannot possibly reflect essential goodness. According to this philosophy, a gentile is not merely a lower form of life, but is essentially and irredeemably evil; his substance derives from the sitra achra, the evil forces that threaten all goodness and purity in the world (Zohar, introduction, p. 13a).”

Look here: https://hakirah.org/Vol%2016%20Balk.pdf for more approaches on the difference between a Jewish soul and Gentile soul.

Based off this we can understand that a Jewish soul has its source higher spiritually and as we will see now gets more reward than a Gentile:

  1. As explained the Jewish soul is more pure and spiritual (as we said above)
  2. A Jewish soul is commanded 613 mitzvot vs 7. So for following more commandments from G-d Jews get much closer to G-d by developing a relationship in everything physical they do.
  3. Based on number 2, the idea of גדול המצווה ועושה (brought down in many places in Shas e,g Bava Kamma 87a), that even if Gentiles were to do things they were not commanded (and also not forbidden to keep e.g Shabbat, learning Torah) they would get less reward then Jews who are commanded to do so.

Therefore the one difference in reward in Olam Haba based off the above is the Gemera in Brachot 17a (there could be more I’m not aware of) which says:

מַרְגְּלָא בְּפוּמֵּיהּ דְּרַב: לֹא כָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֵין בּוֹ לֹא אֲכִילָה וְלֹא שְׁתִיָּהּ וְלֹא פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה וְלֹא מַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן וְלֹא קִנְאָה וְלֹא שִׂנְאָה וְלֹא תַּחֲרוּת, אֶלָּא צַדִּיקִים יוֹשְׁבִין וְעַטְרוֹתֵיהֶם בְּרָאשֵׁיהֶם וְנֶהֱנִים מִזִּיו הַשְּׁכִינָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיֶּחֱזוּ אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתּוּ״.

“Rav was wont to say: The World-to-Come is not like this world. In the World-to-Come there is no eating, no drinking, no procreation, no business negotiations, no jealousy, no hatred, and no competition. Rather, the righteous sit with their crowns upon their heads, enjoying the splendor of the Divine Presence, as it is stated: “And they beheld God, and they ate and drank” (Exodus 24:11), meaning that beholding God’s countenance is tantamount to eating and drinking.

The Ben Ish Chai (in the commentary Ben Yehoyada) explains this Gemera in following way:

….That the עטרות are placed upon those who learn Torah, because from the lights of the mitzvah one is gramented in expensive garments, and from the lights of Divrei Torah one is made crowns, etc.

Based on this Ben Ish Chai we can explain that this cannot be referring to Gentiles since they are chaiv mitah (death penalty) if they learn Torah (Sanhedrin 59a). Hope this helps!

Look at these links for more information:

https://www.etzion.org.il/en/philosophy/issues-jewish-thought/issues-mussar-and-faith/jews-and-gentiles https://www.torahmusings.com/2015/10/do-non-jews-get-reward-for-mitzvot/ https://hakirah.org/Vol%2016%20Balk.pdf

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    Sorry, my friend, but I have to differ on your understanding of Tanya. Firstly, don't translate "ra" as evil (the klipat nogah is also an admixture of ra!). It just means absence of Godliness. Secondly, I can't agree with "irredeemable", and I don't see anywhere in Tanya where it says that. Chabad philosophy indeed overall wouldn't support the above, answer, as they assert non-Jews are Hashem's children too, and are made in the Divine Image and therefore not a "lower form of life" ch'v. Why they have been placed in a lower starting place is another discussion, see Shaar HaGilgulim 12:2
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 19:58
  • Thanks for your comment, these are not my words but from the website I quoted above (probably should have put them in my own words), I agree with the idea that ra isnt evil and the word irredeemable is also not the right word. The basic answer I was trying to say was that the Jewish soul is more pure, refined, and spirtual vs a gentile, and we can see that therefore a Jew will get a better olam haba based off the Gemera in Brachot 17a and the Ben Ish Chai that I brought which is actually the main answer. Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 1:18
  • @AvishaiTebeka I presume that Noachides have their own Torah and Mitzvot, so even with the Ben Ish Chai it is interesting to mix the Gemara Sanhendrin especially, since Rabbi Meir says a non-Jew who learns his Noachide Torah is like the Kohen Gadol, implying they are rewarded (and maybe even vested with garments)? I am not saying this is true, but your answer seems to be quite intense....
    – msj121
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 3:18
  • @msj121 thanks for your comment as well, I know that my answer is quite intense and many may disagree with it (here are other opinions as well: hakirah.org/Vol%2016%20Balk.pdf) however I believe the concept makes sense. With regarding to Rebbi Meir in Avodah Zara 3a Tosfoat in Senhedrin 59a says Rebbi Meir was referring to the seven Noahide laws and not the entire Torah (see Meiri who argues). Therefore from the Gemera in Brachot 17a combined with Sanhedrin 59a and the Ben Ish Chai we can understand that Jews have a greater Olam Haba. Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 12:56
  • And even the fact that Rebbi Meir says its like wearing Kohen Gadol garments for only 7 mitzvot, how much greater are the garments of Bnei Yisrael who keep 613 mitzvot! Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 12:58
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To give another answer opposite Avishai:

Although a non-Jew can only learn Torah that are his necessary areas other areas are prohibited (with the seriousness of death), with that:

See Sanhedrin 59.

Rabbi Meir would say: From where is it derived that even a gentile who engages in Torah study is considered like a High Priest? It is derived from that which is stated: “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My ordinances, which if a man does he shall live by them” (Leviticus 18:5). The phrase: Which if priests, Levites, and Israelites do they shall live by them, is not stated, but rather: “A man,” which indicates mankind in general. You have therefore learned that even a gentile who engages in Torah study is considered like a High Priest.

We can see that the High Priest is an extremely high level and connection with Hashem, in fact he goes into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur where angels are not allowed. This is the connection a non-Jew can have.

However, if this is the connection and value a non-Jew can have with only some of the Torah imagine what facets and connection are being missed with all the additional Torah available. See Avishai's answer showing Torah learning and World to Come are connected.

As per any mitzvah bringing Olam Haba:

Rambam Mishna Macot 3:16 מעיקרי האמונה בתורה, כי כשיקיים אדם מצווה מתרי״ג מצות כראוי וכהוגן ולא ישתף עמה כוונה מכוונת העולם בשום פנים, אלא שיעשה אותה לשמה מאהבה כמו שבארתי לך, הנה זכה בה לחיי העולם הבא.

Rambam, in his commentary to that Mishnah, explains that if one does a mitzvah properly he earns the world to come. I see no reason why the 7 laws would be different.

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  • Although I can see how a gentile who learns Torah is like a Kohen Gadol who can get to such lofty level as you mentioned, we are speaking about Olam Haba (in the question asked), how do you know that a gentile can get a good/rewarding olam haba just by being "considered a kohen gadol?" Also, I don't see how this answer addresses the question of, how we know that Jew's olam haba is better? In other words, its not so clear from the Gemera you brought Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 16:11
  • Any mitzvah brings one to Olam Haba... I have included a source to satisfy you. My answer implies that a Jew's Olam Haba is greater due to greater amounts of Torah.
    – msj121
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 16:26
  • Now its more clear to me what you were saying, thanks Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 16:35

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