The World that is Coming, Never Ceasing

by tillerofthesoil

“It has been taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: Man enters the world with clenched hands saying, ‘The whole world is mine; I shall inherit it!’ But when man leaves the world his hands are open, saying, ‘I have not taken anything from [this] world’” (Qohelet Rabbah 5:14).

“A fox came to a vineyard that was fenced in on all sides. He tried to get in through a hole in the fence, but it was too small. So what did he do? He fasted for three days until he became thin and weak and could fit through the hole. He entered the vineyard and ate until he was full and fat. He then tried to get out, but could not fit through the hole. He fasted for another three days until he was thin and svelte again, and could finally get out.

When he was on the outside, he went back to the vineyard, looked at it and said, ‘O vineyard! How good you are and how good are your fruits! Everything you have is good and praiseworthy. Nevertheless, what is the benefit we can reap from you? As one enters, so shall one leave’” (Qohelet Rabbah 5:20).

“A favourite saying of Rav was: not as this world is the world that is coming—the world that is coming: there is no eating nor drinking nor fruitfulness nor business nor jealousy nor hatred nor competition, but the righteous sit with their diadems on their heads feasting on the radiance of the Shekhinah, as is written, And they beheld אֶת-הָאֱלֹהִים (et Ha-Elohim), God, and ate and drank (Exodus 24:11).

… May you see your world in your lifetime, and may your latter end be for the world that is coming and your hope for many generations; may your heart utter discernment, your mouth speak wisdom and your tongue be astir with glad songs [cf. Psalms 45:2; Proverbs 11:10]; may your gaze be straight before you [cf. Proverbs 4:25], may your eyes be enlightened by the light of Torah and your face shine like the radiance of the firmament (Daniel 12:3) [cf. Ecclesiastes 8:1: a man’s wisdom lights up his face]; may your lips utter knowledge [cf. Job 33:3], your inward parts [lit., kidneys—the seat of conscience] exult… uprightness (Proverbs 23:16), and your steps run to hear the words of the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13)” (BT Berakhot 17a).

“The wise call it הַעוֹלָם הַבּא (ha-Olam Haba), the World to Come, not because it does not exist now, but for us today in this world it is still to come” (Tanḥuma, Vayiqra 8).

“Rabbi Berakhiyah sat and expounded: Each day we speak of הַעוֹלָם הַבּא (ha-Olam ha-Ba). Do we then understand what we are saying? The Targum renders this as עָלְמָא דְאָתֵי (Alma de-atei), the World to Come. But what is it? We learned that before the world was created, it arose in thought to create a great shining light. A light so bright was created no creature could control it. When the blessed Holy One saw that no one could bear it, He took one-seventh and gave it to them in its place. The rest He hid away for the righteous in the לְעָתִיד לָבוֹא (le-atid lavo), time to come, saying, ‘If they prove worthy of this seventh and guard it, I will give them the rest in לְעוֹלָם אַחֲרוֹן (le-olam aḥaron), in the final world.’ It is therefore called the הַעוֹלָם הַבּא (Olam ha-Ba), World that is Coming, since it already came [into existence] from the six days of Creation. Regarding this it is written, How great Your goodness that You hid for those who fear You (Psalms 31:20)” (Bahir §160, cf. Tanḥuma, Shemini, 9).

“All of Israel have a share in the world that is coming, as is said: Your people, all of them righteous, will inherit the land לְעוֹלָם (le-olam), forever—sprout of My planting, work of My hands, that I may be glorified (Psalms 37:29)” (M Sanhedrin 10:1).

“What does לְעוֹלָם (le-olam), forever, mean? [It means, Binah] As we have established in our Mishnah” (Zohar 1:93a).

“The world that is coming, constantly coming, never ceasing” (Zohar 3:290b, Idra Zuta).

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