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Does Suicide Lead To Hell?

Does Suicide Lead To Hell?

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Question:

Is it true that if you commit suicide, you won't go to heaven? But if there is no Jewish hell, where will you go?

Answer:

I hope the reason you are asking about suicide has nothing whatsoever to do with your current state of mind or circumstances in real life. It's not a pleasant issue to be thinking about.

You write that there is no Jewish hell. Well, not exactly true. If you've ever overstuffed yourself at a Jewish simchah, the night after was certainly a form of Jewish hell. Aside from that, we find a place called Gehinom mentioned in the Bible and discussed at length in the Talmud and many classic Jewish works. Think of it as a sort of laundromat to clean up souls that have been soiled in their passage through this world. Once sparkling clean, they can continue up to their spiritual place from whence they originated, and even higher.

A soul that was involved in a serious crime, such as homicide, G‑d forbid, needs a heavy-duty wash to get back in shape. Suicide is considered just the same as any homicide—your life doesn't belong to you any more than anyone else's life belongs to you. All life belongs to the Giver of Life—and He doesn't appreciate life being destroyed wantonly.

Nevertheless, there are those who commit suicide out of extreme distress and emotional agony. Then it's left up to the Knower of All Souls (same one as the Giver of Life, a.k.a. G‑d) to know whether this person really had any free choice left in his soul. According to that knowledge will be the clean up afforded that soul.

We have a lot of answers, essays and audio classes on the Jewish understanding of hell listed here.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription.
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Discussion (19)
March 4, 2014
Choosing to return my neshama
Multiple Sclerosis brought me paralysis of all my limbs, lost eyesight, the loss of the ability to speak, my hearing became impaired, I was in need if a respirator and a pacemaker. I was 35 years old with two young children. If one can ignore the demands placed on all family members to care for me, if one can ignore the great expense, tension and pressure put upon my husband, if one could ignore being what some may refer to as alive when the reality is - I was basically gone, if one can ignore realizing that they are intellectually unimpaired but in every other way a goses...and if one can ignore the daily humiliating, embarrassing, dehumanizing "care" received from strangers and family alike....then perhaps suicide would never occur to them. I, on the other hand had endured enough. I wanted out and I planned the day.

Call it luck, coincidence, Hashem, providence - whatever, but three days before my appointed time to end it. I had what is not commonly expected...I happened to have experienced a spontaneous remission! In the course of ten minutes…most all physical issues resolved. On its own. No medicine. No therapy. ZIP.
Recovering just days before my planned suicide does not alter one bit my belief that if a soul wants to return the gift of life back to the one who gave the gift….I am merely elevating my soul.
L Kurs
nj
June 13, 2013
Suicide
I know there must be a hell/place destined for people like Hitler. He can't have the opportunity to go to a place for 12 months and suddenly repent, would he? there has to be a place maybe the christians are right at least they are believing that monsters like childmolester, serial killers, and others like it would be in a special place like that. what do you think? where is Hitler?
KT
california
October 4, 2011
suicide and the soul
I believe that since suicide can only destroy our physical being and not our soul, G-d's love for our soul remains unchanged no matter what. I am the last person,however, to encourage suicide in any way despite my previous comment. Having "been there" (suicidal) and not only survived but re-invented myself into a person I respect, I feel that the journey was and is worth the investment.
louise leon
long pond, PA
jewishpoconos.com
September 29, 2011
The title reminded me of the time when I thought of why people committed suicide. I felt my mind went into darkness when I tried to understand what they might have thought, and I felt the slight urge to kill myself and I stopped the whole thing.. I thought, and still do think, it was evil.
bing
indonesia
September 22, 2011
No hell or purgatory but rather hospital?
I read some words from an old man long ago who had insights himself after a NDE. He came to understand that the soul after living here on Earth collecting wounds and sorrows had to heal his soul after the transition to the spiritual realm.
For a time the soul must be given time to heal the emotional wounds she suffered in life and be free from emotional injuries. This before the soul can move on.
That sounds like the ideas of our old rabbis, don't you think? Thank you Rabbi Tzvi.
Jonathan Axelsson
Stockholm, Sweden
July 30, 2011
for jeffrey
I believe he's in the good hands now. Don't worry.:)
bing
indonesia
July 27, 2011
suicide
My dear nephew just committed suicide. He suffered from a genetic disorder and as a result, social skills and coping were real issues. Nonetheless, he did his best. Overwhelmed with an unsuccessful job search just out of college, he blamed himself, thought his life was falling apart and took his life. I pray that the Knower who is also the Knowledge, has judged him favorably and that HaShem has freed his n'shema from this condition and that he has a seat with the scholars and Tzdakkim. In this way, a soul finds peace and a wound that never heals in us all, may move us to love our fellow even more and hasten the coming of Moshiach.
Jeffrey Craig Perlman
miami, Fl, USA
December 23, 2010
Re: Masada suicide
Actually, the debate has been going on much longer among the rabbis themselves. King Saul committed suicide rather than allow himself to be captured by the Philistines. Did he do the right thing? You'll find opinions either way among our sages.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman (author)
December 22, 2010
Masada suicide
I was having a debate with a roommate about suicide and whether its permissible under extreme conditions, such as possible enslavement or torture/murder. Did the suicide at Masada violate Jewish law or is there some sort of leniency given the circumstances?
Danny
Tel-Aviv, Israel
August 1, 2010
answer for a prev. question
Well said. But I believe this answer is what you should have answered to "Am I going to burn in hell?"
Where and why is it written for a suicide not to be buried in a jewish cemetery? Though i do somewhat understand about the taking of a life, especially one's own.
Norm S.
Orl. , Fl
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