With an Eye on Eternity - Chapter 8
With an Eye on Eternity
This Book in One Big Document
The chosen of the human species are the Jewish people, [by dint of having merited this status through their devotion to G-d and refinement of their character] and it is they who are destined to be attached to G-d. It is therefore fitting for them to be adorned with the crowns of unique holiness and that the Spirit of Hashem rest upon them and become attached to them. In this way they can be perfected through this closeness to the degree that they can receive the ultimate true goodness [which is to come].
One should know that, although through deeds true goodness can be acquired by each and every individual qua individual, still the universe as a whole will not achieve perfection until these goals are met; the chosen people is established in its rightful place, attains perfection, has achieved all its purposes, and the shechinah (Holy Spirit) of Hashem is bound up with it. Only after these conditions are met will the world reach a state of perfection. In that kind of world an individual will achieve his optimum perfection, each by virtue of his own accomplishments.
However, this ideal world has, as yet, not been realized in the period which began with creation and continues into the present time. No sooner had man been created than he transgressed. Afterwards, the Patriarchs [Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov] emerged, and their sons followed in their footsteps and nurtured the development of a special, treasured nation (am segulah). However, in spite of this, there was never a time when a state of perfection was attained. A number of transgressions held them back from making complete rectification (tikun hashalem),
Consequently, we have an obligation to ensure that we will one day reach this position where the Jewish nation will attain its state of perfection by fulfilling all of the required conditions. Then the universe as a whole will assume the status of a rectified state. In the rectified state the righteous will experience eternal delights. Each one's enjoyments will be based upon the deeds [of his lifetime].
Six thousand years is the span of time which the Highest Wisdom (chochmah haelyonah) has set as the limit for the period during which man must labor and strive to attain perfection. After this, the world will be renewed in another form, one which is designed to fit its ultimate purpose. This will consist of indulgence in everlasting delights by those who merit it. Before these 6,000 years end,5 it is necessary that the chosen people be firmly entrenched in its state of perfection so that the world can pass through a final transition and enter a state of eternity.
These events, we have been guaranteed, will come to pass no matter what! The medium through which these events will transpire will be the actions of one coming from the seed of David the King. He will have been chosen by the Master of the Universe for this specific purpose. He will help him to succeed and will be called the Messiah King (melech hamoshiach). In his time and through his efforts, the Jewish people will achieve great restoration, and so, too, the whole of the Universe will be uplifted.
At that time goodness will abound on all sides and evil will disappear altogether. These final fates of goodness and evil will be evident both in that which is related to the soul and that which is related to the body. Man's heart of stone will become a heart of flesh, that is, in man the drive to do good will become so powerful that he will no longer be drawn after materialism and the flesh. He will aspire constantly and to ever-increasing degrees of higher service and Torah growth.
As a result, peace and prosperity will abound, and all harm and destruction will cease to be found in the world. This is exactly what the prophets promised. Isaiah, for example stated that "They will do no evil nor destroy on all of my holy mountain..." lo yiru v'lo yashchitu b'col har kodshi... (Isaiah 11:9). No longer will any foolishness be found in the world. All hearts will be filled with wisdom, and Divine inspiration (ruach hakodesh) will be poured upon all flesh in a way which will be easily accessible to all. This is what the prophet meant by, "I will pour my spirit upon all flesh" "eshpoch es ruchi al col basar (Joel 3:1).
At this time men will find happiness and joy in the abundant good of the universe, they will become bound up with the Creator, and they will serve him in a perfect manner. Through this they will elevate themselves, climb from height to height, and eventually reach that level necessary for them to reach in order to transfer successfully to a status of eternity through the renewal of the world.
The nations of the world in existence at that time will be subjected to an awesome process of purification. Those who, according to Highest Divine Judgment, are deserving of annihilation will be destroyed by sword, plague, and other varieties of punishment. Those who are worthy of being spared will remain and recognize the truth. They will abandon their foreign deities and subordinate themselves to the Jewish people. It will be an honor for them to labor for the Jewish people and to serve them. They will realize and know at that time that only through this avenue can they attain what it is possible for them to obtain of the holiness and light of G-d. The whole world will then be drawn towards serving the Creator; no longer will anyone in the world worship strange deities. This is what the prophet intended when he stated, "For then I will convert the nations to a purer language so that they may all call in the name of G-d to serve Him..." "ki az ehafoch el haamim safah brurah l'kro kulam bshem Hashem..." (Zephaniah 3:9). And "...on that day G-d will be one and His name one." "...b'yom hahu yehiye Hashem echod ushmo echod..." (Zecharia 14:9).
All those living at that time must die and return to dust for at least a short interval before the dead are resurrected (techiyas hamaisim). However, only those "worthy" of rising will return to life. That is, in the resurrection both the tzaddikim and the reshoim (the wicked) will rise to life. The reshoim who sinned but did not complete their course of deserved punishment will then receive retribution.
After the resurrection, the Great Day of Judgment (yom hadin hagadol) will occur. On that day the Creator will judge all; He will pass judgment on those worthy of remaining for eternity and on those deserving of eternal annihilation. Those deserving of annihilation will first be meted out the punishment which they justly deserve and afterwards will be completely destroyed.
Those worthy of remaining will be placed at the particular level in this renewed world at which they deserve to be, as decreed by Diving Justice. Initially, Divine Justice will deal with those who are worthy of remaining for eternal existence and will place them in their proper individual levels. Then the world will revert to a state of desolation and void (sohu v'vohu). That is, it will shed its present form and return to "water amidst water" (mayim b'mayim) as it once was in the first stages of creation. During the period in which the restructuring of the world takes place, the righteous (those who have followed the creator's rules), the ones who have been "invited" to enter into eternity, will be sustained by the majesty of the Creator's verbal command (His desire), as are the celestial angels whose existence is not contingent upon an earthly world.
However, the righteous will not attain the true good they deserve until after the world has remained in a state of desolation and void for the full period which Highest Divine Wisdom (chochmah haelyonah) has decreed. The world will then be renewed in another form, one designed to be most appropriate for eternal life. At that time the righteous will return, be established in it forever, and be granted the opportunity to enjoy the ultimate true goodness, each one according to his level.
[It is most interesting to note that the findings of scientific research over the past years tie in directly with the Torah's concept of a limited time span for man's existence upon earth in its present form. As mentioned, the Torah's revelation to us is that the world in which we live was created to serve for no more than 6,000 years.
When we take into account the population explosion and the projections of a continuing geometric increase, statistical calculations lead us to the conclusion that the earth will be incapable of supplying enough food for the world's population before the end of the 22nd century (C.E.). It is projected that many of the world's natural resources, among which are minerals, oil reserves, etc., will run out. This poses a serious problem for the world. However, according to Torah belief, this outcome constitutes a most practical destiny for the world. The world as we know it now is to be renewed and completely restructured. It is to be freshly equipped to serve an entirely different purpose for man, not one of labor, material challenge, and technological advance. Thus, why would the Creator (who know His own plan for the world upon His initial creation of it) place an inexhaustible supply of material resources in a temporary world which has need for such resources only until the year 6000 (corresponding to the common era year of 2240?]
5 We are now in the year 5754 counted from Creation - corresponding to the common-era year of 1994 - very close indeed!
This Book in One Big Document
The Kest-Lebovits Jewish Heritage and Roots Library
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© 1994 Rabbi Yehudah Lebovits
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