Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On Torah Learning and Olam Habah

There's a popular song sung in shuls on Simchas Torah during Hakafos. The first two lines of the song are:

Olam Habah is a gutta zach
Learning Torah is a besser zach...

(Translation: The World to Come is a good thing, learning Torah is a better thing...)

This song has always struck me as kind of odd. Olam Habah is supposed to represent the ultimate reward that we receive for following God's will. It's the light at the end of the tunnel, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, etc.

And yet, the song seems to state that learning Torah is a better thing. Does this mean that when Talmedi Chachamim die it is a punishment for them since they can no longer learn Torah here on Earth and going to Olam Habah is a "lesser" good?

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

the mishna in avos discusses this; it says how olam haba is greater than any pleasure in this world, but that the opportuntiy to do mitzovs is greater than olam haba

lamedzayin said...

Which of course begs the question of why someone who doesn't like learning should care about olam haba'a anyways... ;-)

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I've often wondered about the meaning of that song--the sociological meaning is clear, of course. But what is it saying theologically? The answer is probably: nothing, since very little theological clarification takes place in the yeshiva world.

Anonymous said...

What is olam habah like for women? Are they spending their time serving the Leviathan to the men who are sitting and learning "Toirah" with Moshe Rabbeinu and Rabbi Akiva and the Avos (oh, and must not forget Hashem! (or is it "Ha-shem"?))?

I think that it's rather silly for ANYONE to profess they they know what olam habah will be like. Even when they rely on the words of chazal.

Anonymous said...

It means do what's important in this world that we can do something about.,and that we know about.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>The ideological sentiments of this song are remarkably similar to the promised reward of 72 virgins waiting in paradise for their Shahid.

Can you expand upon that? If anything, its a negative image, de-emphasizing paradise. And, of course, studying Torah is not sexual excess.