The midrash tells of various things that will happen to the righteous in olam ha-ba, such as feasting on Leviathan. Who are these? Everybody except those who have no share in olam ha-ba per Pirke Avot, or do some people have a place but are not considered tzaddikim? That is, are there two classes of people in the end, or three?

This question is about who is considered a tzaddik in olam ha-ba, which might be different (more restrictive? more lenient?) than who is considered a tzaddik in this world.

3 Answers 3


According to the statements of Rabbah in the name of Rabbi Yochanan (TB Bava Batra 75a) there are different categories of tzaddikim in the future.

For example:

אמר רבה א"ר יוחנן עתיד הקב"ה לעשות סוכה לצדיקים מעורו של לויתן שנא' התמלא בסוכות עורו זכה עושין לו סוכה לא זכה עושין לו צלצל שנאמר ובצלצל דגים ראשו זכה עושין לו צלצל לא זכה עושין לו ענק שנאמר וענקים לגרגרותיך זכה עושין לו ענק לא זכה עושין לו קמיע שנאמר ותקשרנו לנערותיך והשאר פורסו הקב"ה על חומות ירושלים וזיוו מבהיק מסוף העולם ועד סופו שנאמר והלכו גוים לאורך ומלכים לנוגה זרחך

(Rabbah in the name of R. Johanan further stated: The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come make a tabernacle for the righteous from the skin of Leviathan; for it is said: Canst thou fill tabernacles with his skin. If a man is worthy, a tabernacle is made for him; if he is not worthy [of this] a [mere] covering is made for him, for it is said: And his head with a fish covering. If a man is [sufficiently] worthy a covering is made for him; if he is not worthy [even of this], a necklace is made for him, for it is said: And necklaces about thy neck. If he is worthy [of it] a necklace is made for him; if he is not worthy [even of this] an amulet is made for him; as it is said: And thou wilt bind him for thy maidens. The rest [of Leviathan] will be spread by the Holy One, blessed be He, upon the walls of Jerusalem, and its splendour will shine from one end of the world to the other; as it is said: And nations shall walk at thy light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising.)

or this:

אמר רבה א"ר יוחנן עתיד הקב"ה לעשות שבע חופות לכל צדיק וצדיק שנאמר וברא ה' על כל מכון הר ציון ועל מקראיה ענן יומם ועשן ונוגה אש להבה לילה כי על כל כבוד חופה מלמד שכל אחד ואחד עושה לו הקדוש ברוך הוא חופה לפי כבודו עשן בחופה למה אמר רבי חנינא שכל מי שעיניו צרות בתלמידי חכמים בעולם הזה מתמלאות עיניו עשן לעולם הבא ואש בחופה למה אמר רבי חנינא מלמד שכל אחד ואחד נכוה מחופתו של חבירו אוי לה לאותה בושה אוי לה לאותה כלימה

(Rabbah in the name of R. Johanan further stated: The Holy One, blessed be He, will make seven canopies for every righteous man; for it is said: And the Lord will create over the whole habitation of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory shall be a canopy. This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, will make for everyone a canopy corresponding to his rank. Why is smoke required in a canopy? — R. Hanina said: Because whosoever is niggardly towards the scholars in this world will have his eyes filled with smoke in the world to come. Why is fire required in a canopy? — R. Hanina said: This teaches that each one will be burned by reason of [his envy of the superior] canopy of his friend. Alas, for such shame! Alas, for such reproach! )

Full translation of this page (with footnotes) is available at halakhah.com. The translations here are taken from there.


The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that there are three different levels:

  1. "Olam Haboh" as in where a person goes after passing away. To be worthy of this level one must fulfill certain conditions (Mi yaaleh bhar Hashem, Nki Kapaim ubar Levav).
  2. "Mashiach's times" which all Jews will merit, but there will be differences in levels.
  3. "the world of resurrection" which all Jews will merit on an equal footing.

The difference between the three is:

  1. The reward one gets after passing away is for Torah learning. This specifically refers to the spiritual levels one attains in life through Torah learning. If someone didn't accomplish making himself spiritual in his life, he would not be able to get a reward in the world to come.
  2. The reward one will get when Mashiach comes is a higher one. This reward comes from doing commandments. However, considering that all Jews are filled with mitzvos like a pomegranate is filled with seeds, all Jews will merit this reward. However, there will still be progression from level to level.
  3. The ultimate reward, the level of resurrection will be given to all Jews, irrelevant of level of observance, as the resurrection is connected to G-d's essence.

So the explanation for the Mishna (in Sanhedrin) is:

All of Israel has a portion in the world to come - based on the latter section we see that it must mean "resurrection" (it says that he loses it as a mida kneged mida, if you don't believe it, you won't get it)

As it says: "Your people are all righteous - we get rewarded because all Jews are filled with mitzvos like a pomegranate is filled with seeds, that means we get rewarded because of our deeds. (As in level 2)

the handiwork of my hand that I am proud of" - that we get rewarded because we have an intrinsic connection to Hashem. (as in level 3).


Maybe others can find sources, but...

Who is a tzaddik (in the context of this question) is a large debate. Various groups believe different things. For example, in the Tanya, a tzadik is anyone who never has a sinful thought and never does a sinful did. A beinoni is a person who never does a sinful deed but does have sinful thoughts, and a rasha is anyone who has ever done a sinful deed.

According to the Rambam, a tzadik is a person who has a near perfect conception of Gd.

According to some views of the Gemorah, a Tzadik is anyone who does perfect teshuvah.

Now, how these things relate to olam habah also varies.

The Gemorah relates that Olam Habah is like a yeshiva class room. Those who are greater sit in the front row, and those who are not as great sit in the back row. How many rows close to the front counts as a tzadik to eat the Leviathon, is not so clear.

According to the Tanya, (I believe) each sin a person does creates a black thread in their clothing, and a black brick in their store hourse. Each mitzvah, creates a white thread and a white brick. So the Tzadikim would be all of those who have only white clothes and white store houses. (The store houses contain the rewards for their mitzvot, while the clothes provide social reward)

Now, according to the Rambam, none of the above applies.

According to all opinions, I believe, you have at least 2 classes of people in Olam haba, those who are great and those who are less great. (Based on the vision of a Tanna that went to Heaven and saw that olam habah was all mixed up. Those who were well respected in this world were nothing in the world to come, and those who were ignored in this world were giants in the world to come.) It seems, also that there might be 'beinoni' castes within Olam habah based on this view.

Lastly, also according to all opinions you have 4 classes of people. 1. Those who never make it to Olam Habah. 2. Those who make it to olam habah as part of the Jewish people. 3. Those who make it to Olam habah based on their merits. 4. Those who would not make it to olam habah on their own, but do make it to olam habah based on the merits of their descendants.

Those who eat of the leviathan, would be the greatest of those who make it to Olam habah. Though some also say (don't remember who) that everyone who makes it to Olam habah gets to partake of the feast in the days of Moshiach and techayet matim.

  • You write: "According to the Rambam, a tzadik is a person who has a near perfect conception of Gd." Do you have a source for this? It seems to directly contradict the start of chapter 3 of his laws of t'shuva.
    – msh210
    Sep 4, 2011 at 2:43
  • When I write, maybe others can find sources, its because I don't have sources. However, looking up Rambam and the afterlife on google. I found this first paragraph. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Laws of teshuva are not laws of afterlife.
    – avi
    Sep 4, 2011 at 6:24
  • I don't know who downvoted this or why, but to @msh210 the question is asking about Tzadikim in the afterlife, not about tazdikim in this life.
    – avi
    Sep 4, 2011 at 9:24
  • 1
    I don't know about the rest, but in the moreh nevuchim, the Rambam definitely says knowledge of Hashem is what brings you closer to him.
    – zaq
    Sep 6, 2011 at 1:42
  • The opinions of the Tanya that you brought are a little over-simplified. In Tanya, the distinguishing factor between a tzaddik and a beinoni is that while the beinoni fights his yetzer hara, the tzaddik doesn't have one (ch 32) also, this refers only to a tzaddik in life. However, after death, a person would be judged on the majority of his deeds, and named a tzaddik if his good deeds outweigh the not good (ch 1 citing Rambam and Rashi) the Tanya says that this tzaddik is really a borrowed name and not the actual definition of a tzaddik as brought in Berachos ch 9
    – HodofHod
    Sep 15, 2011 at 13:58

You must log in to answer this question.

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