1) ONE WHO DENIES "TECHIYAS HA'MESIM"
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that one of the people who have no share in Olam ha'Ba is one who says that "there is no Techiyas ha'Mesim Min ha'Torah." Why does the Mishnah emphasize that the person says "Ein Techiyas ha'Mesim Min ha'Torah"? It would suffice to say that any person who denies Techiyas ha'Mesim does not have a share in Olam ha'Ba.
(a) RASHI (DH Hachi Garsinan) explains that if a person denies all of the sources in the Torah that the Gemara cites for Techiyas ha'Mesim, then even if he admits that he believes that the dead will come to life, he is still considered a heretic. The fact that he denies that there is a source in the Torah for Techiyas ha'Mesim shows that he really does not know that there will be a Techiyas ha'Mesim. It does not help to say that he believes in it, because if he rejects the sources for it, then of what value is his belief?
Rashi seems to learn from the words "Min ha'Torah" that it is not enough for a person to believe in Techiyas ha'Mesim; he must also believe that Techiyas ha'Mesim has a source in the verses that the Gemara quotes.
The TESHUVOS MAHARIL (#194) clearly understands Rashi's words this way. He adds that even though a person believes in Techiyas ha'Mesim based on Mesorah, tradition, he is still considered a heretic if he denies the Derashos that the Gemara brings as proof for Techiyas ha'Mesim.
What does Rashi mean when he says that if one does not believe that there are sources for Techiyas ha'Mesim in the verses, he has no basis on which to accept Techiyas ha'Mesim? Why does the tradition alone not serve as a valid basis for his belief?
An answer to this question may be derived from the words of the TESHUVOS HA'RASHBA (#8), who explains that the Mesorah itself states that these verses are the source for Techiyas ha'Mesim. Therefore, if a person does not believe that these verses refer to Techiyas ha'Mesim, he shows that he does not accept the tradition that has been passed down, and he shows that he is making up his own "tradition" with no basis to it.
The YAD RAMAH quotes the words of Rashi as they appear in our text of the Gemara. However, RASHI on the Rif phrases this idea somewhat differently. Rashi there writes that if a person does not believe that Techiyas ha'Mesim is hinted to in these verses, he is a heretic since he denies the Derashos of the Chachamim.
(b) The BE'ER SHEVA strongly argues with this interpretation of the Mishnah. He asserts that a person's failure to believe in these Derashos does not make him a heretic. (He goes so far as to say that the words in Rashi must have been an addendum of a mistaken student of Rashi, and they are not the words of Rashi himself.) He proves this from the Gemara that says that if a person denies Techiyas ha'Mesim, he will not merit to be revived at the time of Techiyas ha'Mesim, measure for measure, Midah k'Neged Midah, since he did not believe in it. If he accepts it mi'Pi Kabalah, based on tradition, since he does believe that there will be Techiyas ha'Mesim he should not be punished. The Be'er Sheva also quotes the SEFER HA'IKARIM (4:35) who writes that Techiyas ha'Mesim is known only through tradition and not through a verse. (According to the explanations given for Rashi above, these two proofs are not challenges to Rashi's explanation.)
The Be'er Sheva, therefore, asserts that the words "Min ha'Torah" do not mean that the person must believe that Techiyas ha'Mesim is written in a verse in the Torah, but rather that any part of the Torah -- the Written Law or the Oral Law -- contains a source for Techiyas ha'Mesim. It seems that the Mishnah means to exclude with these words a person who believes in Techiyas ha'Mesim based on philosophical arguments rather than on the tradition.
The Be'er Sheva adds that the words "Min ha'Torah" do not appear in the Tosefta (13:1) that corresponds to the Mishnah. The Tosefta refers to such a person merely as "Kofer b'Techiyas ha'Mesim." The YAD RAMAH cites such a Girsa. This is also the Girsa of the Yerushalmi here, the Tanchuma (Parshas Va'era), and Sifri (Parshas Shelach), and it is the way the RAMBAM (Hilchos Teshuvah 3:14) records this statement.
(c) The SHEV SHEMAITSA (Hakdamah) suggests that the words "Min ha'Torah" might allude to the Gemara in Kesuvos (111b) that says that anyone who does not study Torah will not come to life at Techiyas ha'Mesim, because the "light of Torah" is what brings a person to life at Techiyas ha'Mesim. The Mishnah, therefore, means that a person must believe not only that there will be Techiyas ha'Mesim, but that Techiyas ha'Mesim will come about through the study of Torah.
2) BIL'AM HAS NO SHARE IN "OLAM HA'BA"
QUESTION: The Mishnah lists Bil'am among the four Hedyotos, the non-royal figures, who do not have a share in Olam ha'Ba.
It is clear from the Torah that Bil'am was not Jewish. Why, then, does the Mishnah need to list him as an exception to the rule that all Jews have a share in Olam ha'Ba? This promise was made only to Yisrael; presumably there are many Nochrim who do not have a share in Olam ha'Ba. Why must the Mishnah single out Bil'am as a Nochri who does not have a share in Olam ha'Ba?
(a) The ME'IRI says that since Bil'am was a prophet, one might have thought that he is treated like a member of the Jewish nation because of his closeness to Hash-m. This is why the Mishnah must teach that he still does not have a share in Olam ha'Ba.
(b) The BE'ER SHEVA explains that Bil'am had prayed, "Tamos Nafshi Mos Yesharim, u'Sehi Acharisi Kamohu" -- "May my soul die the death of the upright, and may my end be like his" (Bamidbar 23:11). He prayed that he would die like a Jew and merit the afterlife like a Jew. The Mishnah is pointing out that although he prayed that he should die like a Jew, he did not die like a Jew and did not merit the afterlife.
3) WHAT IS "OLAM HA'BA"
OPINIONS: The Mishnah teaches that a person who denies Techiyas ha'Mesim has no share in Olam ha'Ba. The Gemara explains that the logic behind the Mishnah's teaching is based on the principle of Midah k'Neged Midah, measure for measure: because a person denies that the dead will come to life at Techiyas ha'Mesim, he will not return to life.
The Gemara cites a number of verses as sources for Techiyas ha'Mesim. One of the sources is the verse that discusses giving Terumah to Aharon ha'Kohen after Techiyas ha'Mesim.
There are a number of points in this Gemara that need clarification.
1. The Mishnah says that a person who denies Techiyas ha'Mesim has no share in Olam ha'Ba, the World to Come. According to the Gemara's logic of Midah k'Neged Midah, however, the Mishnah should say instead that he will have no share in Techiyas ha'Mesim. How does the logic of Midah k'Neged Midah provide an explanation for why he does not receive a share in Olam ha'Ba as a punishment for denying Techiyas ha'Mesim?
If one suggests that the period of Techiyas ha'Mesim is synonymous with Olam ha'Ba, then how does he understand the verse that says that Terumah will be given to Aharon at the time of Techiyas ha'Mesim? The Gemara in Berachos (17a) says that in Olam ha'Ba there will be no eating and no drinking, and only the Tzadikim will subsist on the "Ziv ha'Shechinah." Accordingly, how will Terumah be given to Aharon in Olam ha'Ba? What will he do with the Terumah which he cannot eat?
2. The Gemara (Bava Basra 75a) describes the Se'udah of the Livyasan which the Tzadikim will enjoy in Olam ha'Ba. How can there be a Se'udah in Olam ha'Ba?
In order to understand these points (and many others), it is necessary to define the different stages at the time of the final redemption, as well as the different rewards and punishments that a person will receive after his death.
The three different stages of the final redemption are "Yemos ha'Mashi'ach," "Techiyas ha'Mesim," and "Olam ha'Ba." Besides these stages, the Chachamim refer to "Gan Eden" and "Gehinom" as places of reward and punishment. The following is a summary of the major opinions of the Rishonim regarding what each of these stages involve, and whether these stages apply to the soul alone or to the body together with the soul.
(a) RAV SA'ADYAH GA'ON in EMUNOS V'DE'OS (7:9) explains that after Techiyas ha'Mesim, a significant amount of time will pass. During this time (which will come after the arrival of Mashi'ach), the Tzadikim who will be brought back to life will live at the same time that everyone else, who happen to be alive at the time that Techiyas ha'Mesim occurs, lives. During this time, there will be universal peace, people will live long lives, and they will live the same way they live today, with eating and drinking. Presumably, it is during this period that Terumah will be given to Aharon and that the Se'udah of the Livyasan will take place. Rav Sa'adyah Ga'on mentions that the Tzadikim who come to life will not die again, as the Gemara says (end of 92b). However, he writes that those who are alive at the time of Techiyas ha'Mesim will die.
At a certain point, Hash-m will make a new world called "Olam ha'Ba" (or "Gan Eden"). The Tzadikim who are worthy will be transported to that world together with their bodies. The wicked of all the generations will be sent at that time to Gehinom, with their bodies. The point at which Olam ha'Ba starts is the "Yom ha'Din ha'Gadol," the Day of Final Judgment, mentioned at the end of the book of Zecharyah.
The BE'ER SHEVA (end of DH Kol Yisrael) gives a similar description of the sequence of events in the World to Come. He explains that according to this sequence, when the Mishnah says that a person who denies Techiyas ha'Mesim is punished with the loss of Olam ha'Ba, the words "Olam ha'Ba" refer not to the final reward after the Yom ha'Din ha'Gadol, but rather to the period that immediately follows Techiyas ha'Mesim, during which the Terumah will be given to Aharon, and during which people have the same physical lives as they have in the present world.
(b) The YAD RAMAH (at the beginning of this chapter) and the CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN answer the question about Techiyas ha'Mesim by saying that when the dead return to life, that life is Olam ha'Ba. Accordingly, Techiyas ha'Mesim and Olam ha'Ba refer to the same period. When will the Terumah be given to Aharon, and when will the Se'udah of the Livyasan occur, in which the Tzadikim will partake, if there is no eating in Olam ha'Ba? The Yad Ramah answers that there will be two different sets of Techiyas ha'Mesim. The first Techiyas ha'Mesim will occur at the beginning of the period of Yemos ha'Mashi'ach (see Sotah 48b, "until the dead come to life and Mashi'ach comes," implying that Techiyas ha'Mesim occurs in the times of Mashi'ach); this is similar to the Techiyas ha'Mesim described by Rav Sa'adyah Ga'on. However, the Yad Ramah adds that not all of the dead come to life at the same time during the era of Mashi'ach, but rather each one comes to life according to what he deserves. During that period, some of the wicked will be brought back to life in order to be punished. At this stage, people will still eat and drink as they do in the present stage of the world.
The second Techiyas ha'Mesim will occur later, at the time of the Yom ha'Din ha'Gadol, at which point all of the Tzadikim and Resha'im will come back to life at once in order to receive their just rewards or punishments. They will receive their rewards or punishments while in the bodies that they occupy in the present world, but there will be no eating or drinking, but only reward and punishment.
(Other Rishonim also mention the concept of two sets of Techiyas ha'Mesim. See RITVA to Ta'anis 30b, and the RADVAZ 2:639 and 3:1069.)
(Apparently, the reward and punishment of the Yom ha'Din ha'Gadol is what the Chachamim refer to as "Gan Eden" and Gehinom.")
(c) The RAMBAN in SHA'AR HA'GEMUL has perhaps the most extensive and comprehensive discussion of the different stages of reward and punishment. The Ramban does not mention the second Techiyas ha'Mesim that the Yad Ramah discusses. However, the Ramban agrees with the Yad Ramah that Olam ha'Ba immediately follows Techiyas ha'Mesim at the time of the Yom ha'Din ha'Gadol.
When according to the Ramban, does the Se'udah of the Livyasan take place? The Ramban explains that immediately after they come back to life, people will still eat and drink, and the Se'udah of the Livyasan will take place at that moment. Immediately afterwards, they will be elevated to the level of Olam ha'Ba, at which time there will be no eating and drinking (Sha'ar ha'Gemul, sections 89 and 106, Sofer edition, 1998, Jerusalem; this edition is divided into 122 short sections). The RASHBA also gives this explanation in PERUSH HA'AGADOS to Bava Basra (74b). Olam ha'Ba will still involve the body in both the person's reward and punishment. However, the body will be elevated in such a manner that it will not need food or drink to survive.
The Ramban adds that in addition to the reward and punishment of Olam ha'Ba, another set of reward and punishment occurs immediately after death. This is what the Chachamim refer to as "Gan Eden" and "Gehinom." The Ramban proves (section 62) from a number of sources that the wicked are punished immediately after death. The Mishnah in Eduyos (2:10) teaches that a Rasha suffers only twelve months in Gehinom. The Gemara in Kidushin (31b) says that for this reason, twelve months after the death of his father one does not have to say "Hareini Kaparas Mishkavo" (see Insights to Sukah 20:2), because if his father deserved punishment, his punishment happens immediately and ends within twelve months. It is clear from the Gemara there that the punishment begins right away, immediately after death. Furthermore, the Gemara in Ta'anis (11a) says that at the time a person passes from this world, Hash-m shows him all of his actions. The Gemara concludes that the person acknowledges that he has been judged fairly. Finally, many Agados in the Gemara discuss revelations to living people about how people of previous generations are being punished (see Bava Basra 74a, with regard to the punishment of the congregation of Korach, and Chagigah 15b, with regard the punishment of Elisha ben Avuyah). Other Midrashim describe how the angels announce that the souls of the wicked are given rest each week on Shabbos and are momentarily taken out of Gehinom. The same applies with regard to the reward of a Tzadik; immediately after a Tzadik dies, his Neshamah goes to Gan Eden to receive reward even before the Yom ha'Din ha'Gadol.
The Ramban (section 117) writes that it is obvious that since this stage occurs before Techiyas ha'Mesim, the reward and punishment of Gan Eden and Gehinom involve the Neshamah alone and not the body. After Techiyas ha'Mesim, a Tzadik receives a different type of reward together with his body, in accordance with the analogy that the Gemara presents (91a-b) with regard to the lame man and the blind man (i.e. that the body also deserves reward).
The punishment of the Rasha at that time is either that he will not experience Olam ha'Ba at all, or that he will be brought back to life and face the disgrace of not being together with the Tzadikim, or that he will receive further punishment.
This also seems to be the intention of the BARTENURA here, and of TOSFOS in Rosh Hashanah (16b, DH l'Yom ha'Din), who also mention an earlier stage of Olam ha'Ba which affects only the Neshamah, and a later Yom ha'Din in which the body and soul are rewarded together.
Even according to the Ramban, the words "Olam ha'Ba" are sometimes used to refer to Yemos ha'Mashi'ach, as in the Agadah at the end of Kesuvos, where the Gemara discusses the large size of fruits in "Olam ha'Ba" (BE'ER SHEVA).
(d) The RAMBAM (in Perush ha'Mishnayos here) and in his letter about Techiyas ha'Mesim (and partially in Hilchos Teshuvah) does not acknowledge that there is a future Yom ha'Din ha'Gadol at which point reward and punishment will be administered. Rather, it is administered immediately upon death. Furthermore, he does not acknowledge that there is reward and punishment for the body. Rather, "Olam ha'Ba" and "Gehinom" refer to the reward or punishment that a person's soul receives immediately after death and thereafter. It is not related to Yemos ha'Mashi'ach or to Techiyas ha'Mesim in any way.
What role does Techiyas ha'Mesim play? The Rambam explains that Techiyas ha'Mesim is a miracle like any other miracle promised by the Navi. During Techiyas ha'Mesim, certain Tzadikim will be brought back to life (during Yemos ha'Mashi'ach) in order to give them the opportunity to perform more Mitzvos.
The Yad Ramah questions the Rambam's interpretation from the Mishnah in Avos (4:22). The Mishnah there says that "all who live will die, all who die will be brought back to life, and all who are brought back to life will be judged." The Mishnah clearly implies that there will be a final judgment which will take place when the dead return to life. Moreover, the Yad Ramah questions the Rambam's interpretation from the Mishnah here, which says that a person who denies Techiyas ha'Mesim is not granted a share in Olam ha'Ba, and the Gemara says that this is Midah k'Neged Midah, measure for measure.
The SEFER HA'IKARIM (4:31) answers that according to the Rambam, the words "Techiyas ha'Mesim" may be used to refer to the judgment of the Neshamah after it leaves the body; since the Neshamah was in the person who died, it is now "coming back to life," so to speak, in order to be judged. This explains why the Mishnah here and the Mishnah in Avos refer to Olam ha'Ba as "Techiyas ha'Mesim," coming back to life.
The Be'er Sheva challenges this answer based on the Gemara here that says that after Techiyas ha'Mesim, Aharon ha'Kohen will eat Terumah. This obviously cannot apply to the world of the Neshamos after death, in which there is no body.
Perhaps the Rambam will answer the question from the Mishnah here in the following manner. When a person denies Techiyas ha'Mesim, it is because he believes that nothing remains after a person dies, since man is an entirely physical being. After the body disintegrates nothing remains of it, and thus even if the body would come back to life it would be a new body altogether and not the original body. A person who subscribes to such a school of thought obviously denies the existence of the world of the Neshamos as well, since he does not accept that a Neshamah governs the body. That is why he is punished with both the loss of Olam ha'Ba and Techiyas ha'Mesim, measure for measure.
The Rambam bases his explanation of the afterlife on logical grounds. What point is there, he writes, for Hash-m to bring the body back to life if the body will serve no purpose in the World to Come, since it will not need any of its physical functions? Hash-m certainly would not create something that has no use.
The Rishonim offer a number of answers to this question.
1. The RAMBAN (Sha'ar ha'Gemul, section 106) explains that immediately after the person comes back to life, the bodily organs will be used (see (c) above, regarding the Se'udah of the Livyasan). Therefore, their creation is not useless. (This certainly is true according to Rav Sa'adyah, who writes that a long period of time passes between the time of Techiyas ha'Mesim and the time of Olam ha'Ba, during which period the physical bodies will be used the same way they are used in the present world.)
2. The Ramban adds that the body is not simply a collection of physical functions and processes. There are many things in this world that involve physical objects and that, at the same time, represent spiritual entities in a higher realm. Accordingly, the body will have a role even if it does not use its physical processes, because it will have corresponding spiritual entities. This is a theme discussed extensively by the Ramban (in Bereishis 3:22), the RASHBA (in Perush ha'Agados to Berachos 34b and Bava Basra 74b), and RABEINU BACHYE (in Kad ha'Kemach, in his discussion of "Ner Chanukah").
3. The YAD RAMAH gives the answer that Rebbi gave to Antoninus (91a): since the body and soul sinned together, they deserve to be punished together. (The Rambam may have learned that Rebbi answered Antoninus according to Antoninus' line of reasoning, but not in accordance with his own view.)
The Yad Ramah asks a question on this Gemara. Why should the body be any different from a sword or an arrow? If the soul is the part of the person that decides to sin and it uses the body to accomplish its goals, then it should be the same as a sword or arrow that a person uses to sin. What point is there in punishing the sword or arrow?
The Yad Ramah answers that the comparison of the body to an inanimate instrument is an inaccurate comparison for a number of reasons. Apparently, his intention is to differentiate based on the fact that a body is self-conscious and is aware of what it is doing, while a sword has no awareness of what it is doing. Moreover, the sword will not feel the punishment, whereas the body will feel it.
It seems that the argument between the Yad Ramah and the Rambam is that the Yad Ramah defines the Neshamah as only the decision-making process of thought and cognition. However, the vitality that a person shares with animals, which enables a person to be aware of what his body is doing and to feel with his senses, is part of the body. The Rambam, in contrast, defines the body as only the material that comprises the physical body itself.
(See also MICHTAV ME'ELIYAHU, vol. 4, pp. 153-156, who discusses in depth what role the body will have in the World to Come.)