The Materialistic Blessing found in a Mezuza, is it a Reward?

The Ramba”n, in Parshat Emor informs us that the korban of Shavuot, the Shtai Halechem, is an expression of Olam Haba.  His Kabbalistic explanation is beyond the scope of this Dvar Torah, but it is important to keep this in mind as we begin to prepare for the upcoming Chag, which marks the day when upper worlds fully revealed themselves in Olam Hazeh.

We find in Parshat Bechukotia the first extensive promise of blessing to Am Yisrael when we uphold Torah and Mitzvot.  It is important to emphasize that this section, at the opening of the parsha, as well as other sections (“V’haya Im Shamoa” in a Mezuza) are “blessings” and not rewards.  As Chaza”l teach us, there are no rewards in this world.  By blessing, we mean good physical terms and conditions in order to keep Torah and mitzvoth, which will in turn bring us the greatest ultimate reward – Olam Haba. (Ramba”m)

The promise of reward in the next world is not found here in Bechukotia and not found anywhere in the Torah.  This brings us to ask, why was Olam Haba excluded from the Torah?  Why mention the secondary issue of terms and conditions when the central remuneration is absent?  If reward in the next world is as central as Chaza”l and the great Rabbis of all generations make it out to be, why didn’t Hakadosh Baruchu include it explicitly in the Torah?

The Kli Yakar, addressing this question, brings seven different views found in the Rishonim as to why Olam Haba was left out of the Torah.  We will mention a few of them.

1) Reward and punishment in the next world, claims the Ramba”m, were excluded in order that we serve Hashem L’shma, for its sake and not for anterior motives.  Had Olm Haba been mentioned in the Torah, we would not be able to fulfill the will of God with proper intentions.  The purity of doing a mitzvah solely because The Master of the World commanded us would have been lost and our conscious would focus entirely on the “thereafter”.

2) The Ibn Ezra, in Parshat Haazinu, posits that Olam Haba could not be comprehended by even one out of a thousand.  The “picture of Olam Haba”, something so deep and so spiritual in nature, is impossible to paint for corporal beings.  Even our prophets, spiritual giants of the highest caliber, could not fathom the essence of Olam Haba and their prophetic teachings are limited mostly to the coming of Mashiach and worldly matters.

3) The Ramba”n and Rabbenu Bachaye explain that it is the most natural thing for the soul to return to the place from where it emanated before entering into this world.  What is less obvious and therefore needs to be stated explicitly is the notion that if the soul is greatly tarnished by being inside of a physical body and transgresses commandments punishable by karet, that it will lose Olam Haba.  For this reason karet can readily be found in the Torah, teaching us that reward in Olam Haba, which is left out entirely, is so obviously clear it does not even need to be mentioned.

4) One final reason of the Sefer Ikarim is that the Torah addresses Klal Yisrael as a nation.  The blessings, rain, fruitfulness, peace and prosperity, mentioned in Parshat Bechukotia and other places occur on a national level and not to individuals.  However, personal reward in Olam Haba is so completely individualized it has no place to be mentioned in the Torah, teachings directed to the Klal.

May our contemplation in these exalted matters give us added understanding and a proper state of mind to receive Torah and appreciate the significance of Revelation of God in this world.

Chag Samaach!


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