By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 6, 2009
Olam has a diverse set of meanings, including, world, existence, lifetime and eternity. As is often the case in Hebrew, the etymology of the word suggests the link between its different senses; olam comes from alam, a verb meaning to hide or conceal. The underlying theological idea is that whether in time or in space, the olam is that which conceals the presence of God in the world. Olam haba is the world to come. Considering the diverse and undetermined nature of Jewish teaching about olam haba, it is a remarkably common phrase.