(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Bais Medrash (c) Torah.Org

Date: Thu, 5 Jun 1997 00:15:26 -0400
From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel)
Subject: Re: Olam Habah in The Torah

In [BM V1#9] Eliezer Abrahamson makes some erudite comments on my claim
that Olam Habah exists in the Torah explicitly. I believe my responses to
Eliezer's comments will shed tremendous light on the whole issue of what is
Peshat and Derash and how we should be learning.

In BM V1#8 I stated that "Orech Yamim" which occurs about 9 times in the
Torah refers not to quantity--length of life, but quality-- happiness in
life. Since the Torah explicitly states that this "Orech Yamim"--happiness
in life--comes from learning Torah and doing Mitzvoth we have the Ramban's
conception of the afterlife--a person in a body who derives happiness and
pleasure from doing mitzvoth and learning and not from physical things. I
cited some supporting evidence in that "Orech" can be "healing" (a quality)
and not just longevity.(longevity)

Eliezer repsponds by stating:

>  >  What Russell has demonstrated is that it is possible to interpret
>  >  various verses as referring to Olam Haba with out doing violence
>  >  to the Peshat understanding of the Posuk.

>  >  ..(but rather in contrast to Russell's method) we know of Olam
>  >  ..Habah from the Torah Sbeal Peh (M'pi ha'shmu'a)..the
>  >  ..traditional interpretation (of the Torah).

I of course agree wholeheartedly with the emphasis on Torah Sbeal Peh.  But
I would like to posit that when the Rambam uses M'pe ha'shmu'a he in fact
means Peshat and not oral tradition. I furthermore would like to suggest
that the Yeshiva approach  to learning in which we have been brought up is
deficient in this understanding of Peshat. Let me elaborate.

We all appreciate a crisp Rashi, a sharp Tosafoth, a lucid Rambam, or a
challenging Ritvah. But who in the Yeshiva world gets excited by clear
grammatical distinctions in the Raddack? And yet, the Raddack was as much a
Rishon as any other and his chilukim deserve study.

The Radack clearly states that there are 2 forms to the verb ORCH:
* The Transitive--Orech To--GEn 26:8--longevity
* Intransitive----Orech(without to)--Orech Yamim--"real happiness"
In fact the Rambam's proof in Hil Teshuva 8:1 is one of the 9 verses using
the intransitive form of the verb!! Thus the Radack is simply a commentary
to the Rambam, explaining that "mipi hashumah" refers to simple dikduk. In
other words, we cannot explain "ORECH YAMIM" in any other way (like
longevity) but MUST explain it as "real happiness" as in the Ramban's
conception of Olam Habah.

I believe my response raises interesting issues on learning in general and
Peshat and tradition in particular. I would be interested in responses.

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d; ASA; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu