The afterlife in Judaism

The afterlife in Judaism

Religious people talk to us all the time about life after death, heaven and hell, that kind of stuff. The truth is that no one really knows what happens to us after we die. But what’s Judaism’s position on the matter? An afterlife is never mentioned in the Five books of Moses. But other verses in our Bible allude to the possibility of life after death. In the book of Samuel, King Saul asks a medium to bring back the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel and consult him about war with his enemies. Samuel doesn’t like that very much. In the first century, the idea of an afterlife becomes clearer. Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish Hellenistic philosopher who lived in Egypt around the time of Jesus, Saw the remaining of the soul after death as a main tenant of Jewish faith. During this time, the Garden of Eden was viewed not just as the physical place where Adam and Eve lived, but as a metaphysical space where the righteous go after death. Gehenom stopped being merely a valley in Jerusalem and became the place where the wicked are sent for eternal suffering. The Mishnah and the Talmud, our oldest legal codes, use different metaphors to describe the afterlife. This world is land and the next is sea, This world is night and the next is day This world is a corridor, while the next is a lounge. The list goes on and on… Our greatest philosophers, though, couldn’t agree on the afterlife. Saadya Gaon, a tenth century sage, saw the afterlife is a physical place where people arrive after the resurrection of the dead. People will have perfect bodies and everyone will be prophets. The world will be hot, but whereas the righteous will enjoy the heat, the sinners will suffer from it. But Moses Maimonides, who lived in the 12th century, saw the afterlife as an entirely spiritual place In his view, the afterlife for the righteous begins immediately after death, when their soul returns to its creator and clings to it. the souls of the wicked simply vanish, like the souls of animals. So, as you see, there are many different opinions of what happens after we die. But no one’s ever returned to tell us how it is. So I just don’t think about it much, and try to worship God in this world.

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