We believe whatever we do in This World will be heard in the World to Come
“…Everything Hashem says, we will do and we will hear!” (Shemos 24:7)
The Kuzari explains that for most measurements of time, there’s a corresponding celestial indicator. During the course of a month, the moon dances across the sky. A year is measured by the sun’s rays. The Islamic world abides by a lunar calendar. The Christian world adheres to the solar calendar. The Jewish calendar is based on both solar and lunar cycles; Pesach must be be anchored to the spring season as the Torah prescribes.
With such variations, what is it that keeps all of humanity bound to a seven-day week? The Kuzari posits that it’s part of humanity’s historical memory of the Seven Days of Creation. (Rabbi Label Lam, Torah.org)
My filling broke, which meant I needed a visit to my dentist. For most people, a dentist visit is to be dreaded — but most people don’t have my dentist. Besides being exceptionally gentle, caring, and dedicated to his patients, Dr. Les Glassman is also a person of many interests and a fascinating conversationalist. How many dentists do you know who can carry on a fascinating monologue that makes the time fly by while you make unidentifiable noises in response? South African by birth, Dr. Glassman’s soft-spoken melodious accent is also very relaxing when you’re anticipating a jab to a nerve.
The understanding of time plays a part in the underlying essence of these two faiths as well. Eisav came into the world complete, done. His name implies action — “asu, a doer.” Eisav’s descendants, Edom, who represent Christianity, are credited in the Talmud with developing This World materially. Eisav also represents the word “zeh — this.” He’s occupied with Olam Hazeh, the tangible and concrete stuff of This world.
The source of Yishmael’s name is the word “shema — hear.” His name shouts: Hashem will hear! Yishmael’s fervor for the Next World at any cost has become famous, if not infamous. He believes that whatever pain and suffering visited on humanity in the here and now is worth it for the reward of the Next World. It’s interesting to add that Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote that near the end of history, Yishmael would afflict much pain on Am Yisrael, which will cause Bnei Yisrael’s prayers to be heard.
Both these faiths are focused on a certain element of time: Eisav the here and now, Yishmael the future.
Dr. Glassman’s official hobby is rare stamp collecting, and, as the commissioner of the Israel Philatelic Federation, he proudly represents Israel around the world. But his interests stretch far and wide.
On one visit, he kept me and my husband riveted as he discussed Sempo Sugihara’s salvation of the Mir Yeshivah and the rare documents he’d recently accessed that shed new light on this history.
So, despite my aching tooth, I was looking forward to hearing what new vistas Dr. Glassman was conquering.
Klal Yisrael has a different perspective on time. Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah in unanimous agreement. “We shall do and (then) we will hear.” We will first do, in This World, and then in the Next World, we will hear and fully understand the real result of our brief sojourn here. The two worlds are not separate from one another. The literal translation of Olam Haba is not the Next World, but the World to Come, the world that “comes” next. It’s an extension of this world of action. We believe whatever we do in This World will be heard in the World to Come.
I wasn’t disappointed. After the usual pleasantries and greetings, Dr. Glassman took a look at my tooth as he began telling me about his latest hobby — a series of personal interviews with Holocaust survivors, which he uploads for public viewing.
“I’ve spent many hours with them,” he said, probing my broken tooth gently. “It’s incredible what memories they have and what a fount of inspiration each one is. Each interview leaves me invigorated, full of chizuk from their incredible emunah.”
In a gap in the treatment, I wondered how he found time for this new pursuit.
“Time? But of course, there’s time for this. I make time. I must do this! The world must remember. Each person I speak to has a message that’s essential for each one of us to hear. The number of survivors is dwindling and the next generation won’t know their story. We must record it for those young people.”
I left his office with my tooth intact, inspired at the messages of the past that Dr. Glassman was determined would remain intact for our future.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 778)
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