How is it possible that a person could be punished by being paid off for a mitzvah in this world? This world is only temporary and the reward for a mitzvah is eternal?
He’s asking how it could be possible what we said tonight that a person can be paid off for his good deeds in this world. If Olam Habah is eternal reward how can this world ever be a substitute? And the answer is that it’s big punishment. It’s a terrible oinesh when Hashem takes the eternal reward of a mitzvah and He says, “Here’s a million dollars instead of that reward. I’ll have you win the lottery and I’ll pays you off in this world.” The worst thing that could happen to a man in this world is to be paid off in this world.
It’s a big oinesh because a mitzvah is deserving of a reward that is לעד ולנצח נצחים – happiness in the World to Come forever and ever. And therefore, when somebody is deserving of that great oinesh it’s called the nekama ha’gedolah,the great revenge. That’s what the Rambam calls it, the nekama ha’gedolah; to be paid off in this world is the most terrible thing. Just because of your question, that’s why it’s the worst punishment a man could ever get – because you’re exchanging the eternal reward of the Next World, for a bowl of lentils, or for a million dollar lottery ticket in this world.
TAPE # 880