If you ask your Rabbi what he thinks is his most frequently asked question by his flock, I’m sure it’s something like: “Rabbi, do we believe in heaven?” That’s got to be the winner.
Fine, Rabbi, so what’s the answer? Not easy. Sure, we believe in a world to co me. We believe in the healing powers of the Moshiach: Our loved ones will be resuscitated (????). Us, too, if we obeyed 48% of the mitzvot. (My figure – just an educated guess.) Yes, we believe in a world after this one. Interestingly enough, we predict a second existence (though no one has come back to map it out to us). Or as stated by the Bard of Avon who calls it the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns, we don’t believe in the other side of the Great Quietus – Hell.
Maybe, I’m thinking, when the Mossiach arrives and virtuous people like me leave this vale of tears, our heaven is self-defined. You like extra raisins in your Kugel? In heaven there are twelve raisins per square inch of kugel.
Then we come to a more serious matter. Since I attempt to scribble, every editor is your mother. “Teddy, this is beautiful.” The word “rejection” is banned. And “Teddy, why don’t we issue a version for March containing exclusively your Pesach story? No other columns.” That’s heaven.
And since technologically I tend to confuse my computer with my combination CD, radio, tape player (I still can’t hook it up to the printer), my heaven contains legions of cherubs who made only A’s in their Computer Science courses. As you work on your computer, over one shoulder stands a cherub with a Masters in Computer Science. He’s got a pocketful of color and black cartridges, which he feeds you as yours burn up in fifteen minutes. (Yes, even in heaven.) On your other side is another Computer Science consultant. He can fix in five minutes any problem you encounter. You don’t even have to beg like here on earth. He volunteers even before the problem is apparent to you. He can even hook up your sound system to the printer, if that’s necessary.
And best of all to intelligent, creative, imaginative wordsmiths like me, no computer systems are updated; which turns you, the user, into a slobbering idiot who tries to delete a single incorrect address book listing and deletes the entire book. (It’s possible, you know. I’ve done it.) Your angelic assistant can wave his hand and restore (and simultaneously update) five years of cherished addresses.
The Rambam, who believes in bodily resurrection, doesn’t mention this, but I’m sure he has faith in it.