First, let's ask, does an afterlife exist? I personally know it does because the guy who fills up my gas told me so. One night filling up gas, I looked tired. The attendant said I had no right to be more tired than him, after all, “Just yesterday I hit my head and was dead for a minute and fifteen seconds.” Now I was wide awake. I immediately asked, “Did you see the bright light?” He said yes. Then he said G‑d told him he could go towards it, or back to his body. He chose to go back. Meanwhile the paramedics were doing CPR. On the very last thrust the paramedics are required to do before they call it off, his eyes opened.

I got a lot more than gas that night. I got another eyewitness testimony of life after death. Thousands of such testimonies have been documented, all describing a lot of the same stuff. This means we can know the afterlife exists, just like we know Antarctica exists. Everyone who goes there comes back with a similar report. So fear not. Death is just a new kind of life.

What about hell, though? Who isn’t terrified at the notion of being in a fiery furnace for all eternity? Don’t fear this either. Souls without bodies cannot experience physical pain. But do fear hell. The real word for “hell,” Gehinom, means crying. People cry from pain there. But what kind of pain?

Once there was a man who saved up all his life for a trip to a distant island. Legend has it that on this island the sand is made of diamonds. He figures he’ll be rich beyond belief. He arrives and indeed diamonds are everywhere. He starts hoarding them by the barrel. The locals say, “Are you crazy?! Why do you want this sand? It’s just sand!” He ignores them. But, after living there a while, he adopts their ways. There, the most desirable commodity is pig fat, not diamonds. He goes into business and becomes the richest person on the island.

Years later, he arrives home in a huge boat. He proudly tells his wife how successful he was and what a fortune he brought. She just says, “What’s that smell?” Indeed, his boat full of rotten pig fat is smelling up the entire beach. In that moment, it hits him. He falls to the ground, bawling uncontrollably. She cries, “Did you bring back any diamonds at all?” He searches for hours and eventually finds a few small diamonds in his shoe, on which they live a modest life.

Yes. There is fire in hell. It’s the very things we did wrong. And hell is just a huge magnifying glass. A magnifying glass takes sunlight and makes it hot enough to burn. Hell magnifies our wrongdoings until our soul burns. The sins we do so causally here are different there. It’s a more G‑dly world. A more sensitive world. A more intense world. It’s like the pain and regret of that pig fat man, only many times worse. No poet can capture that level of pain in words. But it might be a tiny bit like having a movie made out of all your most regrettable thoughts and actions. Played in all theaters around the world. G‑d will be watching that movie. He sent you to this earth for 70 or 80 years to get diamonds. Now He can’t bear the stench. It must hurt like hell.1

But it also hurts good. Overwhelming experiences bring about what’s called catharsis. That’s the release you get after a good cry. Gehinom also brings relief and revival. And a new perspective you’ll later be thankful you got. See, G‑d isn’t rubbing it in your face. He’s scrubbing out ingrained dirt that you’ve had on your face too long to notice. It’s also temporary. Twelve months max,2 and only six days a week. You spend Shabbat in heaven, and then it's back to work.3 Always remember, Gehinom is a preparation, not a destination. We’re all going to paradise. Some just need some time to get dressed for the occasion.

That said, it’s my job to keep you out of there. So I’ll teach you how to invest in your afterlife, so there’s massive fortunes waiting, and no pig fat. First, you need the right mindset. Remember, all your thoughts and actions are recorded. Each one matters, and you’re on G‑d’s time. Your goal is to grab every moment you can to do whatever you think He’d want. The opportunities to do shiny, sparkling G‑dly deeds are plentiful as the sand. You just have to notice them and take action.

Second, understand the currency. Your money is worthless (unless you use it to do a mitzvah). The real diamonds are humility, self-sacrifice, kindness. Third, buy low and sell high. When something happens you don’t like, don’t curse G‑d for it. Bless G‑d for it. That’s how you profit. Because tiny inconveniences here wipe out loads of Gehinom, or give you a big promotion in paradise. Either way, it’s a gift. Say thanks. Fourth, know the biggest profits will come from the biggest sacrifices. Give charity until it hurts. Pray until you're exhausted. Study Torah when it makes no sense to you and you’re not in the mood. Do this daily, and you’ll be wealthy beyond words.

There’s an interesting story about the next world. If you could visit the very highest rung in heaven, a rank higher than even Moses and Moshiach, do you know who you’ll find? A very fat man. An ignoramus and glutton, who did nothing with his life. So why is he there, at the very highest level of the World to Come? You see, as a child, he saw his father burn at the stake for G‑d’s holy name. He noticed his father was frail and thin, so he burned quickly. He decided then that he would always eat as much as possible, so, he said, if he ever would have to burn for G‑d’s holy name, “I will burn and burn and burn. Boy, will I burn!” Every bite that he ate was for G‑d. In the world of truth, his very being is diamonds, and, boy, must he shine.

In the future, in the Messianic era, death and suffering will end.4 Heaven, with all the souls in it, will become part of this world. There will be literal heaven on earth. And you directly decide when it happens. Because when you start chasing G‑dliness instead of dollar signs, you become heavenly. When we all do it, the world becomes heavenly. Then the souls can move in and feel at home. We'll be reunited for an eternal paradise right where we are. Let’s do it today.