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.

  • 3
    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
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 15:23
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/45280/…
    – Menachem
    Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 23:06
  • Samuel I ch.28 where Saul conjures up the soul of Samuel is pretty explicit
    – ray
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 18:34
  • There is! It's just not in the written Torah Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 2:12

9 Answers 9


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)


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

  • 1
    Who is the author/owner of that website?
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 16:30
  • 1
    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 Commented Mar 12, 2013 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
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 18:09

The Maharal at the beginning of the first hakdama to Gevuros Hashem answers as follows:

A prophet recieves information from outside himself. Therefore he is called a "seer" (חוזה (Shmuel 2 24:11) and רואה (Shmuel 1 9:9, for example), and even though a prophet does not receive prophecy through physical faculties, it still has the similarity to "senses" in that there must be a connection between that which is being transmitted and the recipient. (This is as opposed to a Chochom, who knows from his intellect and not from outside transmission - he can grasp things which are in essence beyond his understanding.) Olam Haba is completely removed from this world and from anything man can relate to in this world, and therefore prophecy cannot apply to it. The written Torah, which is entirely prophetic, cannot, therefore, be a medium for communicating Olam Haba.


Although not explicit on this point, it would seem that according to Rashi the Torah DOES describe the World to Come at the beginning of Parashat Bechukotai. When Hashem says in Vayikra והתהלכתי בתוככם 26:12 - "I will walk in your midst" as part of the reward for keeping the mitzvot, Rashi comments that Hashem is saying: 'I will stroll with you in Gan Eden'. Since the description is one of the physical world, it would seem that Rashi understands that the land of Israel will become the new Gan Eden.

Is Gan Eden the same as Olam HaBa?

According to the Ramchal, as well as numerous Rishonim, Olam HaBa is not the Olam HaNeshamot (World of Souls) that the Rambam assumes it to be, but rather Olam HaTechiyah - the physical world after the resurrection of the dead. According to Ramchal in Derech Hashem, Hashem will reconstruct the world to make the physical and spiritual realms merge completely with each other. Rashi seems to be alluding to such an idea when he speaks of our world becoming Gan Eden.

  • walk in your midst is only a vague hint. anyone not familiar with Rashi will not grasp that
    – ray
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 5:18
  • It's not just the "I will walk in your midst". The whole description of physical and spiritual prosperity in all the pesukim there is what Olam HaBa is, according to this approach.
    – Danny
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 13:43

According to Shadal:

That the Israelites at the time of Moses believed in the immortality of the soul can be perceived beyond doubt from the law that forbids consultation with the dead. Moses implicitly teaches of a blessedness beyond this life when he narrates that Abel’s sacrifice was pleasing to God, and that Abel was murdered soon after, as well as when he says that Enoch was faithful to God and was taken by God before he reached even half the usual lifespan of his times.

However, for purposes of sanction in his laws, Moses announced rewards that were earthly, natural, verifiable in this life, and such a sanction was much more effective than one that would have been drawn from heavenly rewards, supported by faith alone.(1)

Alternatively, Rabbi Moshe Shamah suggests that focusing on otherworldly reward could:

Serve as a distraction and disincentive to man in his mission to strive towards bettering his conditions and that of his children and society.(2)

In a related vein, Rabbi Solomon D. Sassoon suggests that the Torah's focus on rewarding future generations, rather than reward after death, leads Man to loftier ideals, which actually increase his chances of achieving the unmentioned reward. A focus on the hereafter, however, would lead to negative motivations, and be counterproductive:

For a self by acting so as to have enjoyment in paradise in after-life is actually distancing itself from the non-ego level which alone bestows immortality. On the other hand, the Pentateuch by stressing blessings to future generations is stimulating motives which are future directed and therefore less ego-centered — a form of motivation which taken to its limits actually succeeds in hitching the will on to the non-ego and thus securing immortality.(3)

(1) Translated by Daniel Klein in Ḥakirah (vol. 10 p. 235).

(2) Recalling the Covenant, pp. 644-5.

(3) Cited there p. 645.

  • 1
    The proof from the laws against necromancy wouldn't work accd to the opinions that it was all a charade.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 21:26
  • @DoubleAA i am not so sure; presumably for the trickery to be effective, the generation of the giving of the Torah must have believed in the afterlife.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 22:54
  • The fools certainly did! The whole point is that fools would be tempted to believe these irrational things.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 23:02
  • @DoubleAA in spite of the fact that I think that Shadal may interpret these pehnomena as real, I nevertheless think that his point is that the generation believed in it. Your point that they were /may have been fools, mitigates the proof, but does not wholly eliminate his point; whether it was the intent of the Torah or not, we see that it was already a part of the Jewish consciousness.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 23:37

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.

  • 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
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 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
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 12:17
  • לשבת יצרה is the closest I can think of.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 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
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 21:50
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Mar 17, 2013 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.

  • thnx do you remember where in the rambam?
    – ray
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 18:42
  • @ray ill look it up but its where the torah talks about kareis for the first time.
    – Shlomy
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 1:26

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

  • 4
    Where does he say that? I'd like to see it inside!
    – MTL
    Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 23:01

Well, according to many Rishonim (e.g. Ramban, Yad Rama) and Acharonim (Ramchal), Olam HaBa is not Olam HaNeshamot, but rather is the world after Techiyat HaMeitim, when the physical and spiritual worlds will coincide harmoniously with each other, to become a new Gan Eden. Thus, it would appear that the reward for keeping the Torah in Parashat Bechukotai can be understood to be a description of Olam HaBa (without specifically mentioning Techiyat HaMeitim). As Rashi comments on והתהלכתי בתוככם 26:12 - that Hashem will stroll amongst us as in Gan Eden, describing the closeness with Hashem that Ramchal is referring to. (Although, Ramchal, in Derech Hashem, says that Techiyat HaMeitim and Olam HaBa only happen after the physical world first expires and is then rebuilt, which isn't apparent in the pshat of the psukim there.)

The beauty of this approach is that this way the world begins with an earthly Gan Eden and culminates with an earthly Gan Eden, giving an additional rationale as to why the Torah began with the story of Gan Eden. Furthermore, it answers our question by saying that the Torah DOES in fact mention Gan Eden.

  • Wellcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for sharing this wealth of information. Personally I fail to grasp how this answers the question. Although the Torah mentions Gan Eden as a historical place, it doesnt tell us that this is the ultimate destination of the deserving. Consider learning more about the site with the following short tour.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 6:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .