Not just another mashiach thread – looking for a source

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    I recall once hearing a saying something to the effect of, ‘Woe to thee that contemplates what came before and what comes after.’ The meaning was basically don’t spend too much time thinking about olam haba but focus on this world. But I’ve never been able to track down the exact quote or the source. It could’ve been a dvar Torah, a book, a cartoon, a prophetic dream, I really have no recollection of where I heard it. But I was hoping someone here might recognize it?


    Mishnah chagigah 2:1

    מה לפנים ומה לאחור does NOT mean one should not think about olam haba! See rashi and bartenura there; it means either what’s past the world to the west(lifnim meaning east) or before/after the creation of the world, what was before bereshis and what will be באחרית הימים , but in ways that do not bring one to yiras shomayim, just academic contemplation.

    It doesn’t say “woe to…” It says it’s better for such people not to have been born, since they are likely to fall into apikorsus.

    Conservative Judaism invented the idea that judaism is about this world. They minimize olam haba, and you probably heard this from one of them or someone who grew up conservative.

    Torah Judaism is very clear on what we’re here for – mishnaj avos 4:16, this world is merely a corridor to olam haba. We will experience the perfection we aquire in this world through Torah and mitzvos in olam haba; it is what we were created for – Hashem created the world to give us olam haba, through the torah. See mesilas yeshorim perek 1 for a more elabore description, where he says that no one logical can think that we were created for this world, as it has so much suffering…why would a merciful God create us mainly to suffer and then there’s this vague unknown thing callee olam haba that we don’t really know much about…..

    No. We know just what olam haba is; it is the closeness to Hashem that we merit, tzadikim yoshvim, the righteous sit and enjoy the splendor of Hashem’s schechina, the more righteous, the more reward.


    AviraDeArah – Amazing!!!! Thank you so so much, that’s been bothering me for years, possibly decades! And your interpretation is ringing a bell as well. I knew there was a part about not contemplating what came before creation but I wasn’t able to figure out how to word it. I just kept picturing a cartoon where the characters get sucked into a black hole and then the cartoonist is there creating things and it’s some metaphor which is why I wondered if it was actually from a cartoon. Now I think I just saw that cartoon the same week I heard this and combined them in my distant memory. I actually grew up mostly Reform so I’m not sure where I even picked up something from the mishnah but so glad to know now!


    The actual source for this is last week’s Parsha. (Perek 4, Passuk 32).

    שְׁאַל נָא לְיָמִים רִאשֹׁנִים אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ לְפָנֶיךָ, לְמִן הַיּוֹם אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אָדָם עַל הָאָרֶץ


    As of my last update in September 2021, I don’t have any records of an exact quote matching the one you described: “Woe to thee that contemplates what came before and what comes after.” It’s possible that the quote might be from a less well-known or obscure source, or it could be a paraphrased version of a more commonly known saying.

    The concept you mentioned, however, aligns with certain teachings in various religious and philosophical traditions. In Judaism, there is a focus on living a righteous and meaningful life in this world while also holding beliefs about the afterlife (Olam Haba). The idea is not to get overly preoccupied with the mysteries of the afterlife but to concentrate on fulfilling one’s purpose in the present world.

    It’s also possible that the saying is a more modern interpretation or creative expression of such concepts. The best course of action might be to consult with religious scholars, spiritual leaders, or experts in Jewish literature to see if they recognize the quote or can point you to similar teachings within Jewish texts and commentaries.


    Rambam Melachim 12:2

    Our Sages taught: “There will be no difference between the current age and the Messianic era except the emancipation from our subjugation to the gentile kingdoms.”

    The simple interpretation of the prophets’ words appear to imply that the war of Gog and Magog will take place at the beginning of the Messianic age. Before the war of Gog and Magog, a prophet will arise to inspire Israel to be upright and prepare their hearts, as Malachi 3:22 states: “Behold, I am sending you Elijah.”

    He will not come to declare the pure, impure, or to declare the impure, pure. He will not dispute the lineage of those presumed to be of proper pedigree, nor will he validate the pedigree of those whose lineage is presumed blemished. Rather, he will establish peace within the world as ibid. 3:24 continues: “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.”

    There are some Sages who say that Elijah’s coming will precede the coming of the Mashiach. All these and similar matters cannot be definitely known by man until they occur for these matters are undefined in the prophets’ words and even the wise men have no established tradition regarding these matters except their own interpretation of the verses. Therefore, there is a controversy among them regarding these matters.

    Regardless of the debate concerning these questions, neither the order of the occurrence of these events or their precise detail are among the fundamental principles of the faith. A person should not occupy himself with the Aggadot and homiletics concerning these and similar matters, nor should he consider them as essentials, for study of them will neither bring fear or love of God.

    Similarly, one should not try to determine the appointed time for Mashiach’s coming. Our Sages declared: “May the spirits of those who attempt to determine the time of Mashiach’s coming expire!” Rather, one should await and believe in the general conception of the matter as explained.


    I am not really sure why my post on this thread has not cleared moderation, but the source for this is in last weeks parsha.


    Thank you all for the replies!!!

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