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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?

Sacrifice One Life to Save Many?
Ethics professors often frame this conundrum as a battle between “utilitarianism” and “deontology.” What does Torah say?
Suicide in Judaism
The prevalence of suicide in our society has been gradually rising. What is Judaism's perspective on this urgent and oft-times taboo topic.
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.”