Question:

Greetings. How is it possible that the gemara in Rosh Hashana 17b discusses the existence of gehenom when we know from Pirke Avos that Kol Yisroel Yesh Lo Chelek le’Olam Habah? Thank you.

Answer:

Gehinnom and Olam Haba are not a contradiction, as if a person can only get one or the other. What the mishna means that Kol Yisroel yesh lahem chelek l’olam haba, is that every Jew is destined (unless he ruins it for himself) to enter a certain place in the world to come for eternity, that has a special closeness to H-shem and a very high level of pleasure. Let’s compare it to a ballroom to a special banquet with the king. However if the person’s soul comes to the world of truth and it is soiled from all sorts of things that it did, it will need to get “cleaned” and cleansed, before it is befitting to enter the special ballroom. That cleansing process is done in a place called gehinnom  (and yes, getting dry cleaned in the next world is harder than getting cleanedin this world). Therfore the two ideas are not a contradiciton at all.

Best Wishes

4 Responses to “Olam Haba and gehinnom”

  1. Yes, but it sounds in Rosh Hashana 17b as if the gehennom is eternal and the soul is destroyed……that would seem to contradict both the midrash and Pirke Avos……

    • What it says in PIrkei Avos is just a quote from the mishna in the 10th perek of Sanhedrin. The mishna says kol yisroel… v’eilu aein l’hem chelek.. that indeed there are certain aveiros, that if the person did not do teshuva for them that he forfits his portion of olam haba, such as an apikorus etc. Another point, the gemora says there that it is the “guf” that is destroyed, however the neshoma still exists and it’s place in under the feet of the tzadikim. See Maharsha.
      As a side point, the seforim write tht there is a concept called “lb’al idach mimenu nidach”, that H-shem has a plan and a way to rebuild everyone in Klal Yisroel. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy for them, or that they will have a great spot, but there is a plan that no one should be totally lost.

  2. If their souls are burnt, doesn’t that mean they are destroyed completely? Rosh Hashana 17a:

    After twelve months their body is consumed and their soul is burnt and the wind scatters them under the soles of the feet of the righteous as it says, And ye shall tread down the wicked, and they shall be as ashes under the soles of your feet.”

    • See Maharsha’s commentary on that gemora.

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