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Shabbat Parashat Naso| 5770

Hemdat HaDaf Hayomi: Olam Haba and Yemot Hamashiach (99a)

Rav Ofer Livnat

Sivan 3-9, Sanhedrin 93-99

 

This week in the Daf Hayomi, we continue learning Chapter Chelek of Sanhedrin, which is composed mostly of Aggada, rather than Halacha. One of the issues the Gemara deals with is the relation between Olam Haba (the world to come) and Yemot Hamashiach (the Messianic times). The Gemara (99a) states that there is a dispute amongst the Sages regarding this.

Rabbi Yochanan says that all the prophets spoke of Yemot Hamashiah, but only Hashem knows the great reward that one will receive in Olam Haba. The Gemara says that this statement is in contrast to Shmuel's statement that there is no difference between this world and Yemot Hamashiach, except that in Yemot Hamashiach we will no longer be subjugated to other empires.

At first glance, it appears that the Gemara understood that, according to Rabbi Yochanan, there will be many differences between this world and Yemot Hamashiach, and this is what the prophets spoke of, while according to Shmuel, the prophets spoke of Olam Haba.

However, the Rambam in Hilchot Teshuva quotes both the statement of Rabbi Yochanan and the statement of Shmuel. In chapter 8 (Halacha 7) the Rambam writes that the world to come, since it will be only a spiritual existence without a physical body, cannot be comprehended by humans, and therefore the prophets did not speak of it and spoke only of Yemot Hamashiach, and he quotes Rabbi Yochanan's statement as proof to this. But, in chapter 9, the Rambam explains in length that there will not be a change in nature in Yemot Hamashiach, and the difference between this world and Yemot Hamashiach will be that Israel will be independent again, and people will be free to worship Hashem. As proof to this, he quotes Shmuel's statement. The commentators found difficulty with the fact that the Rambam quotes both statements, which the Gemara claimed to be contradictory.

My Rebbi, Rav Nachum Rabinovitch, explains in his commentary to the Rambam (Yad Peshuta, introduction to chapter 9 of Hilchot Teshuva) that the dispute regarding Yemot Hamashiach is really a dispute as to when one receives reward for fulfilling the Mitzvoth. According to Shmuel, who claims that there will not be a change in nature in Yemot Hamashiach, the reward will only be in Olam Haba, as the Rambam explains in length in chapter 9 of Hilchot Teshuva. The purpose of Yemot Hamashich, according to this opinion, is to allow people the opportunity to reach higher spiritual levels. However, the opinion that the world will undergo a fundamental change in Yemot Hamashiach, believes that people will also receive their reward for fulfilling the Mitzvoth at that time.

According to this, one can explain that Shmuel also agrees that the prophets only spoke of Yemot Hamashiach. However, he feels that they should be interpreted as not meaning that nature will change, but rather that the conditions which allow one to worship Hashem will be improved. However, when Rabbi Yochanan stated that the prophets spoke of Yemot Hamashiach, he meant that they spoke of the reward one will receive in Yemot Hamashiach, as can be clearly seen from further statements the Gemara quotes from Rabbi Yochanan, and therefore the Gemara stated that he disagrees with Shmuel.

 

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Dedication

This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of

R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
o.b.m 

Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker and
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.

 

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