ow fortunate is man that he has the ability in This World to cleave to Hashem and beseech Him whenever he wishes. As it says: “Seek Hashem while He may be found” (Yeshayahu 55:6). And it says: “In every place that you mention My name I will come to you and bless you” (Shemos 20:11). These two pesukim are both referring to Hashem’s closeness to us in Olam Hazeh. (Chofetz Chaim al HaTorah)

The breeze was picking up as the sun began dipping toward the horizon. I was sitting with my kids on a grassy field that seemed like a secluded island despite the fact that the park was swarming with what seemed to be most of Klal Yisrael. For me this little corner spelled serenity.

My husband and kids were playing ball a short throw from me and their shrieks of pleasure were my background music. Suddenly my four-year-old ran over and flung himself into my lap. Looking at his gorgeous face I didn’t see the remnants of ketchup or the sticky watermelon juice that had dribbled down his chin. Instead I saw a miracle — a living bouncing amalgamation of all the kindness Hashem had bestowed upon me.

I grabbed him up in a huge embrace. Heaven and earth meshed in that one moment of connection and my heart sent a song of gratitude straight to the Holy realms above. There were no words just deep recognition and gratitude for every facet of my life.

In Olam Haba the distance between man and Hashem is great and many partitions separate them there. It’s impossible for a person to come any closer to Hashem than he was when he was alive. A person only nears Hashem when He’s forced to approach for Heavenly judgment. However then he’s afraid to come near Him. We learn that it’s better for a person to come closer to Hashem in This World of his own free will than to be forced closer in judgment in Olam Haba. (ibid.)

I always thought Olam Haba is the place of ultimate closeness to Hashem. That once there we merit sitting beneath the Kisei Hakavod and basking in the close proximity of the Shechinah. I assumed that the essence of eternity is the extreme emotion of being right next to Hashem.

Yet the Chofetz Chaim explains that in Olam Haba you get what you accomplished. Period. The seats are numbered sections fixed. You can’t budge or wiggle even a fraction of an inch closer than the seat you earned by what you accomplished in This World. And it’s fixed for eternity! The neshamah yearns to approach the Kisei Hakavod but it’s barred. Whatever it earned it receives. Whatever it prepared on Erev Shabbos that’s what it has to eat. Not an iota more.

The Chofetz Chaim in his sefer Chomas HaDas illustrates this concept with a beautiful parable. Someone informed the authorities about a serious offense the local innkeeper had committed. The innkeeper was in great danger and was advised that his only recourse was to approach the king and beg for mercy.

But how to gain an audience with the king?

The king was known to travel incognito through his kingdom to better observe his subjects.

Unbeknownst to the innkeeper the king reached his city and lodged at his inn dressed as a common traveler. He stayed a few days but no one recognized him. After he’d departed the truth swept the town that the king himself had been dwelling in the inn! When the innkeeper heard this he was aghast!

“What an opportunity I missed!” he sobbed. “Had I known the kind king was here I would have begged to be forgiven! Now I’ll never receive an audience because the royal palace is always guarded and secure!” (ibid.)

Here in the lowly world of action the road is clear. I can reach Hashem from a grassy lot can connect with eternity with the smells of summer in the background and the sounds of children’s laughter surrounding me.

With every moment that I seek to do His will I move closer.

A ladle of soup a whispered good night. Ruchniyus in routine is the route to His rooms. Each tiny step a march to meet Him. And with every milestone I reach I inch closer to my destination for eternity.