I found in one of the works of the great gaon Rav Moshe Greenwald (1853-1910 Chust-Hungary, known famously for his responsa sefer ערוגת הבושם), a sefer written as his 'final will' called- הכנה דרבה (a borrowed Talmudic term used in Shas, but can also mean the "great preparation" for the world to come). In page 31 he suggests a beautiful idea that I would like to present here on this platform. I will translate his holy words to English as not to hinder its veracity.

"How good and how sweet would it be, for every Torah Scholar to set aside one Tractate from Shas of his choice, that he shall be completely fluent in it by heart. Thus fulfilling with this the commandment of 'ושננתם', that our sages say that when someone asks you do not stutter in uncertainty, and you shall learn this Tractate everyday of your life with constant reviewing. I have heard that this was the practice of great scholars of previous generations, and they would call it their עולם הבא מסכתא".. etc.. see here

Is there an early source for this?

  • 2
    Love the idea! I can see a lot of great stuff coming out of it Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 3:38
  • 4
    Interesting idea but this is a Q&A format and the question is either not clear or opinion-based. Not a great format for this site.
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 4:12
  • Glad I saw this before it was closed, thank you, although don't anyone take this as encouragement for opinion based questions :)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 11:32
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    it's upsetting to learn that this question was closed down, but I respect the opinions of the great and dedicated users of this platform. I still hope that this one gets another chance, and people around the world can recognize the beauty of a commitment so powerful such as this, just one like I did. הצלחה Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 13:16
  • The community had a somewhat related initiative: judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5029/15256 Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 14:36

2 Answers 2


@shayachagigah I found something you're going to like!

It is brought down in many sources, and there are many girsas of the story (I will place them at the bottom), but here it is:

מעשה בחסיד אחד שהיה מתייחד במקום אחד והיה לומד בו במסכת חגיגה, והיה מהפך בה ומהדרה כמה פעמים עד שלמד אותה היטב והיתה שגורה בפיו וכו'. "כיון שנפטר מן העולם היה בביתו לבדו ולא היה שום אדם יודע בפטירתו, באתה דמות אשה אחת ועמדה עליו והרימה קולה בבכי ומספד, ותרבה אנחתה וצעקתה עד אשר נתקבצו ההמון. ותאמר להם: 'ספדו לחסיד הזה וקברוהו וכבדו את ארונו ותזכו לחיי העולם הבא, שזה כיבדני כל ימיו ולא הייתי לא עזובה ולא שכוחה'. "מיד נתקבצו כל הנשים וישבו עמה ועשו עליו מספד גדול ועצום, והאנשים התעסקו בתכריכו וכל צרכי קבורתו וקברו אותו בכבוד גדול, ואותה אשה בוכה וצועקת. "אמרו לה: 'מה שמך?' אמרה להם 'חגיגה שמי'. כיון שנקבר אותו חסיד נעלמה אותה אשה מן העין, מיד ידעו שמסכת חגיגה היתה, שנראית בצורת אשה, ובאה בשעת פטירתו לספוד לו ולבכותו ולקברו בכבוד, על שהיה שונה אותה תמיד ושקד ללמוד בה.

Translation taken from here:

“A story is told of a pious man who lived alone in a particular place and who learnt Masechet (Tractate) Chagigah. In fact, he learnt it and reviewed it so many times until he knew it so well that he could recite it by heart. The man did not know any other Massechet from the Talmud, but instead, he continued reviewing this one Massechet throughout his life. When he left this world, he was alone in his home and nobody knew that he had died. At that moment, a figure of a woman appeared, she stood over him, and she raised her voice wailing and lamenting. In fact, she sighed and wailed so profusely that a large crowd gathered to whom she instructed: “Eulogize this pious man and bury him! Give honour to his coffin and you will merit the world to come, for this man honoured me his entire life! Thanks to him, I was not abandoned or forgotten.” Immediately, all the women gathered round and sat with her, and an enormous funeral was held. The men tended to the shrouds and all the other burial requirements, and they buried him with great honour. Meanwhile, the mysterious woman continued to weep and wail. They asked her, “What is your name?”, to which she replied, “My name is Chagigah.” As soon as the pious man was buried, the woman disappeared and the people then realized that it was, indeed, Masechet Chagigah that had appeared in the form of a woman and who had come at the time of his passing to lament and weep over him and to see that he was buried with honour – because he had reviewed this Massechet continually and dedicated himself to its study.”

This may very likely be where Rav Moshe Greenwald got the idea from! Because this was literally this man's olam haba masechta!

What's even crazier, is that your username is @shayachagigah! :)

Sources for the story:

  1. Sefer Menoras Hamoer מנורת המאור, נר ג, כלל ח, חלק ג, פרק ה
  2. Sdei Tzofim
  3. Sefer Torat HaBayit Chapter 6 by the Chafetz Chaim
  4. Kav Hayashar Chapter 14
  5. Magid Meisharim end of Parshat Tazria
  6. מהר״ח אור זרוע דף נז

See here for sources used/more discussion about the story’s source:

  1. Story ID: Woman named Chagigah
  2. https://he.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/מעשה_מסכת_חגיגה
  • Great find. I have it right before me. It is also quoted in the recently published sefer "Building Foundations for Life - Yesod HaBayis" on page. 142-143.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 17:23
  • Thanks Avishai! Fascinating indeed! Chagigah is definitely be good choice for a עולם הבא מסכתא (and its my favorite one!!). Once again great find! ! heard this story as a child, but I didn't know that it had such concrete sources. Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 0:39
  • Just to add, that in my opinion the reason why Maseches Chagigah was a woman and not a man is probably because the Torah is referred to in a לשון נקבה as it says תורת ד' תמימה משיבת נפש, see Kedushin 2b Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 0:42

After giving this much thought, perhaps the source to this is a Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna Maseches Makkos 3:16.

The Mishna states:

רַבִּי חֲנַנְיָא בֶּן עֲקַשְׁיָא אוֹמֵר, רָצָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְזַכּוֹת אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִיכָךְ הִרְבָּה לָהֶם תּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה מב) יְיָ חָפֵץ לְמַעַן צִדְקוֹ יַגְדִּיל תּוֹרָה וְיַאְדִּיר:

Says the Rambam:

מעקרי האמונה בתורה כי כשיקיים אדם מצוה 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 ועל זה אמר רבי חנניא כי המצות בהיותם הרבה אי אפשר שלא יעשה אדם בחייו אחת מהם על מתכונתה ושלמותה ובעשותו אותה המצוה תחיה נפשו באותו מעשה וממה שיורה על העקר הזה מה ששאל ר' חנניא בן תרדיון מה אני לחיי עוה"ב והשיבו המשיב כלום בא מעשה לידך כלומר נזדמן לך לעשות מצוה כהוגן השיבו כי נזדמנה לו מצות צדקה על דרך שלמות ככל מה שאפשר וזכה לחיי העוה"ב. ופירוש הפסוק (ישעיהו מ״ב:כ״א) ה' חפץ למען צדקו לצדק את ישראל למען כי יגדיל תורה ויאדיר

In short the Rambam is saying that the reason why Hashem gave us many Mitzvos is because inevitably there will be at least one Mitzva that he will end up doing it perfectly without any flaws, and that one 'perfect' Mitzva will be his 'lifeline' (תחיה נפשו) and be his guide for his world to come (זכה בה לחיי העולם הבא)...

Perhaps the Rav of Chust was extending this idea to a Masechta of Shas that one should be perfectly fluent and familiar with, thus an עולם הבא מסכתא!!

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