Saturday, June 15th 2024   |

Your World

By RABBI JOSEPH H.PROUSER

A beloved Talmudic blessing (Berachot 17a) states, Olamcha Tir’eh B’Chayecha – often inartfully (and far too literally) translated: “May you see your world in your lifetime.” Well… what exactly does THAT mean?!  Rashi theorizes: “May you benefit from all the good in the world in your lifetime.” Syntactically more sound; a tad grandiose.

Olam (especially with the possessive inflection: Olamcha/Olamo/Olamah – your/his/her “world”) is also used to mean “eternal reward” or “eternal life in the hereafter.” El Malei Rachamim (the memorial prayer) honors the departed She-halach l’Olamo (“who has gone to his/her eternal reward”). The Sages repeatedly invoke the principle that “there are those who earn their eternal reward (Olamo) over the course of many years and those who do so in but a single moment” (Avodah Zarah 10b, etc.).

I propose that this is precisely the force of “Olamcha” in the Rabbis’ blessing: “May you recognize your enduring impact, your eternal legacy… during your lifetime.” Before departing this world… may you be privileged to see for yourself how you will live on: how you have made a real, lasting difference. Perhaps through a work of art or scholarship; by shaping the character of students, children or grandchildren; through philanthropy; or as a spiritual exemplar or moral leader.

Olamcha Tir’eh B’Chayecha – Our worthiest actions – blessedly – outlive us.

Rabbi Joseph H. Prouser is the rabbi of Temple Emanuel of North Jersey and the editor of “Masorti: The New Journal of Conservative Judaism.

 

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