One of the issues that always bothered me and I had a difficult time understanding is how Rambam reconciles his idea of Olam Haba and the Mishna in the last Perek in Sanhedrin that says that all Jews partake in it except for a list of extreme transgressors. As I mentioned many times in different contexts, Rambam holds that Olam Haba is a state that is the natural result of apprehension which connects the person with eternity. If that were the case, how would a righteous and religious ignoramus ever be able to experience Olam Haba without intellectual perfection?
I am reading an article by Professor Alan Brill titled “Elements of Dialectic Theology in Rabbi Soloveitchik’s view of Torah Study” printed in the collection “Study and Knowledge in Jewish Thought” available http://www.amazon.com/Study-Knowledge-Jewish-Thought-Vol/dp/9653429094/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206691240&sr=8-2 . One of the Rav’s ZT”L talks referred to in the article, Torah and Humility, can be found at www.vbm-torah.org/archive/humility.htm and here is a segment that I think is illuminating to my question.
“How does the study of Torah unite man with God, the human being with his Maker? How can it bring together finitude and infinity, temporal transience and eternity? The Rambam develops the idea of "achdut hamaskil ve-hamuskal" (the unity of knower and known, the subject and the object of knowledge). This is not only found in the Moreh Nevuchim, but in the Yad Hachazaka as well (Hilkhot Yesodei Hatorah, and, by implication, in Hilkhot Teshuvah). The Sefer HaTanya writes about this doctrine of the Rambam "all the sages of the Kabbalah have agreed with him." I will not go into the philosophical explanation of this principle now, but we may immediately draw one conclusion. If the knower and the object known are merged into one, then two “knowers” whose minds are concentrated on the same object are also united. If a=c, and b=c, then a=b. People with common thoughts cannot long remain strangers, indifferent to each other. Wherever there is unity of thought, purpose and commitment, there is also personal unity. The Rambam (Commentary to Avot) concludes that the highest form of friendship is the unity of knowledge - "Chaver ledei'a." In a like manner, when man becomes completely absorbed in God's thought, in His revealed WORD, then he is indeed united with God, there is friendship between man and God. The Tanya writes, "When a man understands with his intellect, and comprehends and digests the infinite and inscrutable will of the Almighty, there is the most marvelous unity between God and man." The link between man and God is thought. God is the originator of thought - man embraces it. This is the great bond uniting man and God, finitude with infinity.
But now there is a dilemma. Knowledge, all knowledge, is essentially esoteric; it is not equally available to all. What about the dull people, the sluggish people, the intellectually slow; are they to be denied the companionship of God? Religion cannot be esoteric. The experience of God, to hear His whisper, is a basic elementary right of every human being. Without religion, there is no salvation, without faith there is no redemption, and everyone is entitled to salvation. But if the link between God and man is the intellectual Torah gesture, how can the experience of God's companionship be achieved by all?
There is another doctrine of unity - achdut ha-oheiv ve-ha-ahuv (the unity of the lover and the beloved). To love means to share an identity, one common destiny. Now if the lover and the beloved are united, then two persons who are in love with a third thing are also united. The love between a husband and wife is strengthened and deepened with the birth of a child. In fact, love in common is a stronger bond than thought in common; the link of hearts is stronger than that of minds. On the verse, "He shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh" (Breishit 2:24), Rashi explains that the "one flesh", the unity, is realized by the creation of a child. The love of the couple that originally was an erotic, selfish drive changes into a more spiritual, exalted love through a shared creation, a common goal. Unqualified love of a child unites the parents, brings them closer to each other. Their love becomes more truthful, more intimate and sincere. Two people, father and mother, are welded together into one, all their concerns and aspirations concentrated on a new center, which becomes the emotional bond linking both of them; indeed, it becomes the existential focus of their lives, about which everything revolves. Depressed by the absence of love from her husband, Leah responds to the birth of her first child by saying, "Now, my husband will love me." She hopes that a missing element in her relationship will be filled by the little baby.
God loves His word, crystallized in the Torah, as though it were His daughter. In Mishlei (the Book of Proverbs), the Torah is called the darling child with which God plays daily. "I shall be for Him a disciple, and I shall be an amusement every day, playing before Him all the time" (Mishlei 8:30). Man too can embrace Torah. Mishlei (2:3) calls Torah the mother of man - "Call understanding your mother" (Mishlei 2:3). We find the expression "baneha Shel Torah" (children of Torah) which does not refer only to scholars. The relationship between us and Torah is that between a child and his mother. We identify with Torah, we cherish her, we are committed to her, like a little child who identifies with his mother and cannot distinguish between his own identity and hers. In this way, a bond is created between God and man, not only between men who study, but also between all those who love Torah and feel awed by her.
The Bach explains that the Bracha we recite in the morning, "la'asok be-Divrei Torah" (to engage in the words of the Torah), is more embracing than "lilmod Torah" (to learn Torah). The Bracha, recited by all, including the great scholar, is not for the esoteric intellectual experience of Torah, but rather for the exoteric love of Torah and for the Kedusha that results. The entire Jewish community is a Torah community, and hence a holy one, including both the aristocrat of mind and spirit, and the simple anonymous individual. "Torah tziva lanu Moshe, morasha kehillat Yaakov." The Torah is the inheritance of the entire community of
This explanation fits well with the rest of the Mishna that enumerates those that do not have Olam Haba. They are those that deny the basic tenets of Torah. Rambam’s more comprehensive listing in Hilchot Teshuvah 3:6 is also composed of similar people who deny basic tenets and communal responsibility which is one of the intrinsic demands of Torah.
 , That is in the current editions of Mishna, Rambam placed it as the penultimate 10th Perek.