Mountain or Mound – What One Sees in the Afterlife & How to Prepare

Mount Fuji Covered with Snow in DecemberOur sages say when a person arrives to the next world – after they pass away – they will see a mountain or a mound.

Overcoming Challenges

If the person was righteous – they will see all of the challenges and difficulties they overcame in life – much like a mountain. It was a great challenge, yet he or she was able to overcome them. They will said to themselves “Look at that great mountain of challenges that I was able to overcome.”

If he or she did not live a righteous life – they will see a mound. These are the challenges that they could have overcome and Torah commandments they could have properly observed but did not. There they will say to themselves – “It was so simple, I should have made more of an effort to observe Torah.”

A Great part of overcoming challenges is to believe in oneself. In one’s strengths, in one’s talents, in one’s G-d given abilities – to believe you can do it. You can if you want.

It all starts with one step.

Temporal vs. Eternal Existence

The length of this world is max 120 years of life. The length of life in the world to come is eternity. It makes sense for a person to prepare here in order to inherit a pleasurable life in eternity.

Why People Don’t Observe

There are many reasons why a person can give why they do not adopt a Torah Lifestyle. Some try what they can. That is good.

Some think it too challenging.

Some choose not to follow the Torah because they do not want to give up their lifestyle. They enjoy themselves enough, that change is unnecessary for them. People in general do not like to change. It is easier to remain the the same.

Some, it doesn’t enter their mind to learn more about Judaism.

Putting Money in the Bank

In any case, a simple suggestion is to learn a little every day. One does not usually amass a fortune by making a windfall. One takes a few dollars here and another few dollars there and places them in a savings bank. Each Mitzvah is like a gold coin. Each one provides savings for the final retirement.

Happiness in Observing Judaism

Orthodox Jews — have a relatively happy life. Through enjoying the pleasures of life through Torah they enjoy physical and spiritual pleasures and are rewarded for such – for it is all in the confines of the Torah.

The spiritual dimension of pleasure adds an added dimension of pleasure.

Physical pleasures in Torah are not only permitted but encouraged to become closer to Hashem. These pleasures include all pleasures of the world. The difference – between someone who observes and someone who does not – in terms of pleasure – it the one who observes has a deeper sense of pleasure due to them enjoying the physical and spiritual dimension of pleasure.

Time and Place for Everything

Torah pleasures differ in the sense that these pleasures are relegated to specific times or places or the way. Let’s take eating. A person is allowed to eat almost anything that they want, provided that it is Kosher at almost any time that you.

There are periods in which a person is expected to fast. But in general, a person can eat when they want according to the Torah. A person is limited to what he can or cannot eat by following the Torah. He must eat Kosher food. The variety of Kosher food available today is vast. There is a Kosher version of almost any non-Kosher food.

Even though it’s not the same matter, they will have the same taste for instance there is a fish that has the same taste as shrimp. There are foods that are Kosher – like Kosher Beef Fry – that taste like bacon. So every food will have a substitute a Kosher version. So giving up on the side of food is not such a great sacrifice. Because most of the foods have Kosher alternatives. So the change from eating non-kosher to kosher will be minimum.

Enjoyment for Purpose

Other pleasures like sports are allowed. Playing sports one fulfills the commandment of keeping oneself healthy. Each pleasure can be linked to a commandment. So two things are accomplished in one – enjoying the pleasure and fulfilling the commandment. Listening to certain music can bring a person closer to G-d. The Leviim used to play music outside the Holy Temple / Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem to help a person lighten their mood. (Some say Jewish Moroccan Music is based upon the music they used to play.)

Restrictions for Better Living

Restrictions in Torah do exist regarding a person guarding one’s tongue from speaking badly about others, guarding their eyes, restricting their relations with the opposite gender, etc.. All of these restrictions, although at first one might find to be difficult, in the end – one becomes used to it or even enjoys refraining from certain things.

The restrictions serve for a better life as well. Like one who refrains from smoking, feels healthier. One who refrains from transgression feels spiritually uplifted. Also it helps him to live a more purposeful life and to avoid transgression. Like avoiding speaking excessively with the opposite gender who is not one’s spouse, avoids adultery and breaking of families.

As one of the ideas behind the Shabbat. A person refrains from doing all kinds of creative work and thus he can focus on being himself being with us family and rising closer to Hashem.

Concern from the Imagination

There are three possibilities of how they see themselves following in the path of the Torah. They could see themselves as happier following that train of living. They could imagine themselves living with the same amount of happiness. Or they could see themselves living with less happiness.

Apparently, the reasoning that some make is “If I observe, I will have to give up many things I am used to. I do not want to give up these things. If I do – it may lead to me living a less happy life. Thus I choose to remain with my current lifestyle rather than to follow the Torah path.”

This is one reason why many people choose not to follow. Eventually a person will have to come to terms — either in this world or the next world — of why they did or did not follow the path that Hashem wanted from them. In the next world they will ask them how come they had the opportunity to follow the Torah and they did not.

This is the world where one has the ability to do Mitzvot – the next world one receives the reward they obtained by observing the Torah commandments.

How Will a Person Be Judged

G-d is very merciful. He understands people’s challenges and particular situations. But He expects at least a proper effort to be made.

Like it says in Pirkei Avot:

Achievement vs. Effort

He used to say “It is not your obligation to complete all the work, but you are not free to desist from it. However, if you learned much Torah they [Heaven] will give much reward. Trustworthy is the master of your labor that He will pay you the compensation of your labor. And know that the giving of the reward for the righteous is [reserved] for the future world. (Pirkei Avot 2:16)

Destiny & Choice
Everything is foreseen. Yet freedom of choice is given, and with goodness is the world judged and everything goes according to the majority of one’s deeds. (Pirkei Avot 3:15)

In the end they will be judged based upon their adherence to Torah laws. If they followed the Torah, they will be rewarded. If they did not follow it – there will punishment. Some say part of the punishment is the guilt itself that they had an opportunity to observe but did not.

The Jews will be judged if they load the 613 Commandments that are listed in the Torah, the Talmud, and the Shulchan Aruch (the Jewish code of law). This is the de facto code that a person will be judged by in the next world. Gentiles will be Judged based upon their following of the 7 Noahide Laws of the Torah.

Overcoming Transgression through Torah Study

Torah Study and Toil to Forget Sin
Rabban Gamliel son of Rabbi son of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi says – “Great is the study of Torah with Derech Eretz [lit. “the way of the world” either – with livelihood or with proper conduct] – for with the toil in both [temptation to] sin is forgotten. And all Torah that is without Derech Eretz – in the end it will be nullified and causes sin. And whoever toils with the community, let them toil with them for the sake of Heaven – for the merit of their fathers helps them – and their righteousness will stand forever. And you [who toil with the community] I will consider it as if you yourself achieved it. (Pirkei Avot 2:2)

One of the Best Advice I ever received in my life was to set a time to learn Torah daily. It doesn’t have to be much but it should be regular. Like 10 minutes a day in the morning and night. This helped me alot in my quest for spirituality.

Prepare Yourself in This World for the Next World

Thus it makes sense for a person to prepare themselves and this world. So they will be judged favorably in the next world.

Entrance Hall to Heaven
Rabbi Yaakov says this world is like an entrance hall before the next world prepare yourself in the entrance hall so that you can enter into the Palace. (Pirkei Avot 4:15)

Dealing with Change

Still we must deal with our reluctance to change. Change can be made in a gradual process with steps that a person is comfortable with. In marketing they change products based upon the least noticeable difference. They learned that from Torah. One can pick up a book in English – like Pirkei Avot from a Jewish Bookstore from Feldheim or Artscroll. One can start attending a Torah lecture or start attending services at an Orthodox Synagogue. One can take small steps to change.

The True Source of Spirituality

The 10 Commandments are written in order of importance. The first Commandments is the belief in God, the second not to commit idolatry. The third not to bless him the fourth to observe the Shabbat in the fifth to honor the parents. Parallel to these five are five to deal with relations between man and his fellow which include and — not to kill. Not to steal not to commit adultery. Not to covet. Each one helps a person reach closeness to G-d – this is the source of spirituality.

It took me many years to figure this out.

The Two Steps for Peace in Both Worlds

In Tehillim it says “Sur MeRah VeAseh Tov Bakesh Shalom veRodfehu.” (34:15) Remove Yourself from bad and do Good – ask for Peace and Pursue it.

There are two steps to self-improvement through Torah. One is to remove oneself from bad – the transgressions and to do good. It is a gradual process. Some start by eating Kosher. Some start by Making Blessings on Food. Some start by saying the morning prayers. The main point is to start. And to continue gradually.

The path to Happiness starts with one step.

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