Every creation has a natural lifespan. A cow lives 20 years and an ant, 12 months. We humans also have a natural lifespan, as Chazzal teach us, “Y’mei Shenoseinu, Shivim Shana – The days of our lives are 70 years…etc.” However, this lifespan only reflects our limited time on this Earth. The reality however, is that we continue to live on for eternity in the afterlife. The belief in human afterlife is not a matter of Religion. Indeed, it is a very practical and rational understanding which feeds and nurtures this belief. Practically speaking, there is no reason in the world that with my death, I will simply disappear forever. While my physicality and body may cease to function, my personality and unique spirit – which can be defined as my very essence will live on (in the afterlife) for eternity.
Therefore, our job on this world, is to understand our mortality here, vs. our immortality in Olam Habba. We must always strive to seek the truth and to live a life which is consistent with a proper preparation for the next world which will be forever!
There is a story (allegory) of a man who needed to travel to Israel from N.Y.C. Once in Israel, his plan was to settle there and live there permanently. His itinerary would have him stop over for a few months in Paris, before continuing on to Israel. In preparation for his Journey, the man spent many months learning how to speak French. A friend asked him, “do you speak Hebrew”? He replied that he did not. “In that case, why are you spending so much time learning French, when you should be learning Hebrew, asked his friend?” He responded by saying that “first things come first”. First he will learn French because he is flying to Paris and later on he will bother with Hebrew! This man is obviously a fool! Here, he will be spending 2 months in Paris, whereas he will be spending the rest of his life in Israel!! Of course his first priority should be to learn Hebrew! This story is appropriately applied to those of us who spend so much of our limited time on this Earth in pursuit of all forms of fleeting pleasures and enjoyments, instead of pursuing those accomplishments which will stand us in good stead for the World to come, where we will live on forever and ever – once we depart from this life!
<Heard From Rav Shimshon Pincus>