Rabbi Shmuley Boteach writes (Sept. 10): “Most Jewish sages understand the world to come as the way the world will be when it reaches a state of perfection …what we call the messianic era.”
This is mistaken. Rambam, Ramban, Ramchal and numerous other authorities explain clearly and unequivocally that the messianic era is separate and distinct from the eternal life of the world to come. That this is the accepted view of Jewish tradition is evident from the daily prayers: “that we merit to live and see and inherit goodness and blessing for the years of messianic times and for the world to come” – clear acknowledgement that these are two distinct periods.
Rabbi Boteach responds:
Whether the world to come is a paradise of souls in a disembodied state or the world as it will be when it achieves perfection in the messianic era is a famous dispute between Maimonides and Nachmanides. The latter, who in this matter is the mainstream opinion, is that the world to come is our world the way it will be, purged of war, disease, contention, and corruption, as Nachmanides explains at length in “Shaar Hagemul.” Anyone interested in finding out more about this scholarly clash between two of Judaism’s greatest titans should please consult my book on the matter, “The Wolf Shall Lie with the Lamb” (Aronson).