כִּי אֺרֶךְ יָמִים וּשְׁנוֹת חַיִים וְשָׁלוֹם יוֹסִיפוּ לָךְ
Ki orech yamim u'shnos chaim ve'shalom yosifu luch
"For they add to you length of days and years of life and peace." (Mishlei 3:2)
The Passuk that precedes this one reads: "My Child, do not forget My Torah, and let your heart guard My commandments." So we see that the Torah and Mitzvos add on years of life and peace to our lives. During my time in Israel this concept bothered me; I just couldn't understand it. Why would we want to be on this earth longer? If this world, as the Ramchal puts it, is just a corridor to the next world, then why wouldn't we just wanna be in the next world already? Why shouldn't we want to just bask in Hashem's presence asap?! After talking to a lot of people and thinking it through it finally made sense to me. True our ultimate goal is to be with Hashem in Olam Habba, but once we get there, that's it! No more accomplishing, no more growing, no more working on bringing ourselves closer, no more gaining more of a portion. We want the closest seat we can possibly get to "home plate" in Olam Habba! Why settle for anything less?
There is a story told of the Vilna Gaon. He was sitting on his death bed, crying, while clutching his Tzitzis. His talmidim asked him for an explanation. He replied: "Only in this world can you do Hashem's Mitzvos and gain reward and closeness with Hashem. Tzitzis cost but a few pennies, and with them, I can get endless reward. But in Olam Habba I can't get a pair of Tzitzis for all the money in the world!!" The Gaon is driving home a shtark point- we should take advantage of every second we have to bring ourselves closer to the Borei Olam by doing His will. And if we do this, then we are rewarded with longer life, so we can gain even more. CHAP ARINE!!!
(Tzitzis picture courtesy of www.judaism.com)