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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. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Illustration by Chassidic artist Michoel Muchnik; click here to view or purchase Mr. Muchnik's art.
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Discussion (36)
October 10, 2016
this is interesting
July 11, 2015
this is a very beautiful thought i am very sick and just stumbled here
Jeff Edmonds
June 17, 2015
I cannot die, that would be too bad
Either life has a purpose or it doesn't, but it is clear which one mankind prefers to believe in.
June 14, 2015
This is brilliant
It gives those who need the hope of an ultimate authority and an eternal life a place to hang there hat. Yet, it is a belief system that drives life's decision making as if we live in a natural world controlled by natural law. This may very well be the key to the ultimate success of the Jewish people.
Norman Elliott
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!