The World to Come
When the World to Come, or Olam Ha-Ba, arrives, each soul will be reunited with its body (that is, each human being will be resurrected), and humans will live in the World to Come for eternity. The Talmud and Midrash provide much of what we know of Olam Ha-Ba.
Although some have suggested that the wicked will not have a share in the World to Come, it is more widely held that all souls will be gathered together there. However, any particular soul's place, or its share in Olam Ha-Ba, is largely based on how it lived and the mitzvot it performed as a human being.
Do not confuse the World to Come with the Messianic Era. Although sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably, this is incorrect. The Messianic Era that accompanies the appearance of the Messiah takes place in This World, which precedes the World to Come.
Is there a timetable for when the Messianic Era and the World to Come will finally arrive? The answer is yes, but like most schedules, it doesn't always quite work out. The original plan was for the world to last 6,000 years, including 2,000 years of “void” before Abraham. The Messiah was slated to appear 2,000 years after Abraham and then there would be the 2,000 years of the Messianic Age. However, people have failed to adequately pave the way for the coming of the Messiah, so things are a bit off schedule. Today, we are well beyond the 2,000-year interval between Abraham and the Messiah.
While we cannot be certain when the Messiah will arrive and set things in motion for the World to Come, we can be sure about one thing — that all of us will die in this world (Olam Ha-Zeh). The rest of this chapter examines how Judaism treats death, as well as the customs of burial and mourning.
Can non-Jews enter the World to Come?
All humans will enter the Olam Ha-Ba. Furthermore, because one's position in Olam Ha-Ba is predicated upon righteousness and not just belief, the religion that any human being professed or followed is irrelevant. All the righteous, regardless of their religious beliefs or cultural backgrounds, share the World to Come.