Life & Death

What is a soul? What happens after we die? Do Jews believe in heaven and hell? What is reincarnation? Why does Jewish law forbid cremation? What does the Kaddish prayer say about death?

I Have a Weird Fear of Death
Should I try not to fulfill my mission so I can live, or do good deeds and die?
How to Explain Death to Small Children
What happens when you die? Where do you go? Is it scary?
Sacrifice One Life to Save Many?
Ethics professors often frame this conundrum as a battle between “utilitarianism” and “deontology.” What does Torah say?
The Halachic Approach to Suicide
The prevalence of suicide in our society has been gradually rising. What is Judaism's perspective on this urgent and oft-times taboo topic.
Judaism and Abortion
The Jewish View of Abortion
The question of abortion is perhaps one of the most sensitive and charged topics in the political sphere.
Do Jews Believe in Heaven or Reincarnation (or Both)?
Some think reincarnation is like repeating a year at school: while some souls graduate to the next world, others are sent right back down to rectify things.
Missing Kaddish and Yahrzeit
I love my dad very much and I want to pay him the proper respect. Am I allowed to travel to the show if I know that I possibly won’t find a minyan there to say kaddish on his yahrtzeit?
What Do I Tell a Suicidal Friend in the Hospital?
The best antidote for depression is serving others.
Should I Buy a Burial Plot?
Many of my friends who are in their 70s are making arrangements for their Jewish burials, so that the burden won’t fall on their children. Is this appropriate?
My Mom Has Lost Her Will to Live
I know she would not kill herself, but she hasn't been taking care of her health . . .
Does Hell Exist?
Who isn’t terrified at the notion of being in a fiery furnace for all eternity?
Do Dogs Go to Heaven?
My dog recently died. He was my loyal companion for many years, even more loyal than some of my friends. I was wondering: what happens to animals after they die? Do they go to heaven?
Why Are the Mirrors Covered in a House of Mourning?
I have heard that the reason is that we are not supposed to adorn ourselves while in mourning, but I am looking for a deeper explanation.
What to Expect at a Jewish Funeral
The first-time visitor's guide to the levaya
Attending a funeral can be intimidating, whether this is your first time attending or you have been to many funerals. What do I do? What do I say?
I have been told it is generally not the done thing for pregnant women to go to a cemetery. On the other hand, I do want to be there to honor my friend's memory. What do you think?
Why Celebrate My Birthday?
My parents say that I was an "accident." Is there any meaning in celebrating the day that I wasn't really supposed to have been born on?
What Is a Soul (Neshamah)?
A soul is Divine energy, a little piece of G-d within you. Your inner identity, your raison d'être
What is the Jewish View on Martyrdom?
I know that there are religions in which it's a great thing to die for your faith, and doing so makes you a saint or gets you a ticket to paradise. What is the Jewish view? Is a person supposed to die for his beliefs?
How Do I Know that I have a Soul?
Do you have a body? Did you say yes? So now tell me: Who is this "me" that has this body?
How Do I Know What Is My Mission in Life? (I)
I've been told that each one of us has a specific, individual mission in life. How do I know what mine is?
How Do I Know What is my Mission in Life? (II)
Since the beginning of time a "piece of the world" has been waiting for a particular soul to purify and repair it; but how do we we know which piece is ours?
Why Don't I Know My Life Mission?
Why is it so hard to figure out how to accomplish our mission? Some people go through their entire lives just searching. Why is that?
Dealing With Difficulty
The sages of the Talmud taught us that “according to the camel is the load.”
Coping with Pain
I live with constant pain. How do I cope?
Do Autistic Children Have Special Souls?
I am the mother of two autistic children. I love them both dearly, but as any parent of children with special needs will tell you, raising them is challenging and can often be full of disappointment, hurt and frustration...
Why Does G-d Create Severely Handicapped Babies?
If life has a purpose, what is the purpose of such a short and sad life?
What is a Shalom Zachar?
What consolation can we offer the soul? What can we answer to its cry: Why did I have to come down here?!
Do Jews Believe in an Afterlife?
The Torah assumes this, the Talmud discusses the experiences of several people who made the trip there and back, and classic Jewish works describe the process. You want a real good spacesuit to make this trip
Am I Going to Burn in Hell?
I've committed a number of sins over the years; am I going to burn in Hell?
 Does Suicide Lead To Hell?
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?
Life After Death in the Bible?
Does Judaism believe in an afterlife? From what I’ve read of the Torah, it seems that there is no mention of life after death.
Remembrance as the Secret of Redemption
Healing the Pain of Loss Through Memory
"Remembrance" provides context to deal with the most painful of losses
What is the Jewish View on Cremation?
Six million of our people were denied proper burial, most of them cremated. Should we willfully continue that which our enemies began?
Why Do Mourners Recite Kaddish?
Many find it intriguing that the Kaddish makes no mention of the deceased. Kaddish speaks of G-d's greatness. What does this have to do with the one for whom I am saying Kaddish?
Who Are
How is comparing the loss of a loved one to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans two thousand years ago supposed to make me feel any better?
Can We Still Be In Touch?
I am almost embarrassed to say it, but I went to my grandmother's grave and begged her to come to my wedding. Did she hear me?
What's the Story with Reincarnation?
What's the story with reincarnation? Who is reincarnated, and why?
Haunted by Souls of the Past
I am a grandchild of Holocaust survivors but I feel haunted as if I went through it myself. I regularly see images of Auschwitz in dreams and flashes. I am sometimes even scared to tell people I am Jewish. Am I crazy?
The Death of a Friend
How do you respond to a part of you dying? You can resign to the inevitable and spend the rest of your years despondently awaiting full surrender. Or you can defy that taste of death by cherishing life even more...
Is There a Jewish Superstition Not to Go Barefoot?
My grandmother always told me not to walk around the house in just socks and no shoes. Is there anything to this or is it an old wives tale?
What Happens After Death?
Where do we go? What is heaven and hell? Do we ever get sent back for a second life? Is there any way to make contact with a departed loved one?
The Rabbi and the Suicidal Teenager
I am really struggling with a lot of things in life. Work, dating, you know the drill. Sometimes I get depressed about my shortcomings. I sometimes think I am just a big failure.
Reach Out: You May Even Save Someone From Suicide
I recently saw a video about a fellow who tried to commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
When Does the Soul Enter the Body?
Traditions vary from the moment of conception or 40 days thereafter, to various childhood milestones. They can be synthesized by understanding the nature of our two souls.
What Does HYD Stand For?
The abbreviation, often appearing after the names of those who have been murdered, stands for Hashem yikom damam—may G-d avenge their blood.