by Reb Gutman Locks
Questions from Venezuela
Why is there disease, why do some die young, and why do the heathens prosper?
If Israel is Hashem's sons and daughters then I don't understand this; who are the heathen? Hashem made everyone, so isn't everyone his sons and daughters?
Will we ever get to see Hashem? Is it in this life or the next?
Do only the Jewish people get an afterlife, does the rest of mankind cease to exist after death?
Everything that comes, comes for a reason. Nothing just falls out of the sky by accident.
G-d wants man to have freewill. In order for there to be freewill there must be choices, i.e. good and evil. Man then chooses what he desires, and G-d then gives man the results (rewards or punishments) according to man's freely chosen deeds. This is why there is disease and early death, and why there is evil in this world. Had G-d not created the option of evil there would not be freewill. It is also why there are righteous people in the world…because they chose to be righteous.
The Torah also teaches that there is reincarnation.[i] This means that most of us were here in a previous, yet completely forgotten, lifetime. This also explains why each of us was born with certain talents, and with certain disadvantages.
As to why do evil people seem to prosper in this world, Hashem will sometimes allow an evil person to prosper in this world so he does not die with merit from the few good deeds that he did. The reward that he receives in this world pays him for his merit, so he will not deserve a reward for those deeds in the Next World.
All mankind are the children of G-d, but not all of His children behave like His children. The unique aspect of the Jew is that Jews have been given the extra job of spreading G-d's light in the world, and therefore have been given the extra tools that are available for the Jew in order to accomplish this task.
The Jewish mystics teach that the very purpose of man being in this world is to reveal G-d's Presence. This means that it is possible to see that G-d is actually here. The experience is the most rewarding moment possible in one's entire life…fulfillment, bliss, awe, glory… indefinable. But man cannot actually see G-d and live. The bliss would drive him or her into the Next World.
In the Next World the soul will experience as much of the Radiance of Hashem as that soul merits from its work while in this lower world. This is the real reward for doing good in this world. The more good deeds, the greater will be that soul's capacity to behold the holiness of the Creator.
The righteous gentile, the non Jew who keeps the Seven Commandments of Noah, also earns a share in the World to Come. And the extent of that soul's share will also be determined by that person's accomplishments while in this lower world.
As great as will be the reward for doing good in the Next World, that reward should not be the reason to live a righteous life. Living a righteous life also brings the greatest joy in this world. Living a righteous life means more than guarding your behavior. It also means helping others to live righteous lives.
[i] For instance: the bedtime prayer: "I hereby forgive anyone who harmed me…in this incarnation or in any other."