He Used To Say: "One Hour Of Repentance And Good Deeds In This World Is Better Than All The Life Of The World To Come. And One Hour Of Bliss In The World To Come Is Better Than All The Life Of This World."
According to the ordinary conception, the function of teshuvah
is to compensate for past faults. Were this its only function, the order of the mishnah
should have been reversed, with "good deeds" preceding "teshuvah."
This would imply that a person's life work is the performance of good deeds, with teshuvah operating only when there is a need to compensate for error. By placing teshuvah first, the mishnah indicates that the service of G-d through teshuvah takes precedence. For teshuvah means "return," the connection of the soul to its G-dly core. This aspect of teshuvah is of universal relevance, applying even to those who have not sinned.
It is teshuvah of this nature that makes our deeds "good" and grants them luminance; i.e., it endows them with a higher level of good than they possessed in their own right. For the intense yearning for a connection with G-d which characterizes the drive to teshuvah invigorates and elevates every aspect of our observance of the Torah.
(Sefer HaSichos 5749, Vol. II, p. 653)
G-d's essence cannot be grasped or comprehended. Nevertheless, through repentance and the performance of good deeds in one's daily life, a person can establish a connection with this essence. This is the peak of all experience, the ultimate purpose for the creation of the world.
(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 244ff)
The connection to G-d's essence generated by the performance of mitzvos
in this world is not openly revealed. In the World to Come, by contrast, we will consciously appreciate the bond we share with G-d.
When seen in this context, the World to Come highlights the pleasure experienced by man, while the present era is characterized by the pleasure generated for G-d, as our Sages commented: "It is pleasing before Me, that I decreed and My will was done." This is problematic; for the World to Come, the final stage of existence, should be completely satisfying, not only to man, but also to G-d.
Nevertheless, this is only a limited perspective. The Era of the Redemption and the Era of the Resurrection of the Dead are, to quote Tanya, "the ultimate perfection of the creation of this world... and the intent for which it was brought into being." It is in that era that it will be openly revealed that our world is G-d's dwelling, the place where His essence is manifest.
To explain: In contrast to all the other entities in the physical and spiritual realms, the concepts of revelation or hiddenness do not apply with regard to G-d's essence. Even when His presence is not revealed, He is there. Indeed, all revelation is by nature limited, and therefore fails to fully express His essence. Therefore, it is in a realm where He is absolutely concealed, our material world, that His essence is manifest.
Nevertheless, just as G-d's essence can remain concealed, it also can be revealed. Although the ordinary channels of revelation are not mediums for its expression, it is not compelled to remain hidden. In coming into expression, it remakes and redefines these channels of revelation.
It is a revelation of this nature that will characterize the World to Come. And thus the World to Come reflects a positive advantage for G-d Himself, as it were, for it is in this era that His essence will be truly revealed in our material world.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Torah, Matos 82a.
- (Back to text) See the essay entitled "Teshuvah - Return, not Repentance," Timeless Patterns in Time, Vol. I, p. 33ff (Kehot, N.Y., 1993).
- (Back to text) Rashi, Vayikra 1:9.
- (Back to text) Ch. 36.