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Do Jews Believe in an Afterlife?

Do Jews Believe in an Afterlife?



There isn't anything after life, because life never ends. It just goes higher and higher. The soul is liberated from the body and returns closer to her source than ever before.

The Torah assumes this in its language many times -- describing Abraham's death, for example, as going to rest with his fathers and similar phrases. The Talmud discusses the experiences of several people who made the trip there and back. Classic Jewish works such as Maavor Yabok describe the process of entering the higher world of life as a reflection of the soul's experiences while within the body: If the soul has become entrenched in material pleasures, she experiences the pain of ripping herself away from them so that she can experience the infinitely higher pleasure of basking in G-dly light. If she is soiled and injured by acts that sundered her from her true self while below, then she must be cleansed and healed.

On the other hand, the good deeds and wisdom she has gained on her mission below serve as a protection for her journey upwards. You want a real good spacesuit to make this trip.

The Zohar tells us that if it were not for the intercession of the pure souls above, our world could not endure for even a moment. Each of our lives is strongly impacted by the work of our ancestors in that other world. Grandma's still watching over you.

Why should souls basking in divine light above be at all concerned about what's happening in your mundane life below? Because, there they feel the truth that is so easy to overlook while down here: that this lowly, material world is the center-stage of G-d's purpose in creating all that exists.

That is also why, at the final resolution, all souls will return to physical bodies in this world.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, 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.
Illustration by Chassidic artist Michoel Muchnik; click here to view or purchase Mr. Muchnik's art.
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Discussion (32)
March 2, 2015
Almost exactly what I believe...what else could life be for but self improvement?
July 23, 2014
Autopsy question
Way back when my father died, it was unexpected. The police pressured me to do an autopsy. At first I refused but was intimidated. I have heard this is somewhat common. They found just natural causes. I had a jewish burial, with a rabbi, and a jewish funeral home. However I always felt bad about this. My father was not very religious. How should I look back on this. I was very young and scared at the time. I do know these autopsys are forbidden. Yet when one is put in a position to prove that the death was natural causes. There were no marks or anything. This was just based on his age fifty six, and that when they called his doctor he said nothing was wrong.
Revere, ma
October 26, 2013
I have been sad these last few days. My sibling's soul went to be with G-d. I am very happy to know he will be happy and in a better place.
l. lehtinen
September 29, 2013
The Soul
If the soul truly exists and continues to exist in a non-corporeal form after death of the body, then such things as materialistic pleasures will not be of any import. Hence, why not enjoy as many of the pleasures of this physical life as our circumstances permit while we still can? To spend one's life in endless study, ritualism and denial of pleasure, in effect preparing for death, is tantamount to an obscenity of what G-d has given us. The only real concern should be whether in our own minds we have lived a productive, ethical and moral existence when the time comes for our brains to shut down and the concept of a personal identity becomes meaningless.
Larry Tedesco
Brisbane, Australia
August 23, 2013
Do Jews Believe in Afterlife
TZVI said all souls will return to fleshly bodies. Does he mean rebirth or reincarnation? It can't mean the old fleshly body, because some people in this world cremate their bodies out in the world.
Sandra Abernathy
April 27, 2013
God is you & you are god Think ! Athiest is not godless!
January 23, 2012
This has helped me alot with my homework!
London, ~England
August 18, 2011
This same G-d that gives and takes life, that created the world, and gave us the bible, this same perfect G-d says there is after life. I don't know about you, but for me, that is way more ten enough to convince me.
Montreal, Canada
August 18, 2011
How is it possible not to believe in G-d. How do you explain the creation of the world, the animals, the human beings, and every living creature. How do you explain that if the bee ceases to exist, we all die(this is a fact from science, not bible)

Simple question, if there really was a big bang, followed by evolution that occurred during millions of years. How is it that there is still life today? The bee would have had to be here before ALL living creatures to be able to produce pollen so our trees and plants could keep growing and give us oxygen, us and all animals.

Another question, if you were to take all the human body parts, give them to the best surgeon, doctor, or anyone and have him put them back together like a puzzle exactly like they are meant to be, why is it that this "person" is not living. What's the difference between this newly formed human and me? Something must be missing right? Indeed, the godly will of this human to be alive is missing.
Montreal, Canada
July 29, 2011
It makes me feel good to know that my deceased loved ones are in a better place and I sincerely believe that one day we will all be together again.
brooklyn, ny
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