According to the Jewish faith, what happens to a person after death and how can a person live forever in heaven?
Dear Ron Ethridge:
The very foundation of the Jewish Religion is rooted in the concept of the World to Come and the Resurrection of the Dead. We believe that without these concepts it would have been nigh on impossible for the Jewish People to have remained attached to God and His Torah. Judaism is a religion that uses this world as a means to enter into the World to Come, because of this fundamental belief existence in this world allows us many expectations, and it gives us a purpose in life – to build on our inherent spirituality and to try and draw closer to God in order to enhance God’s presence in this world.
The Sages teach that the Creation of the world is based on Chesed, kindness. God’s loving-kindness was to bestow the greatest possible good upon His created beings. And the ultimate and greatest good is God Himself. Therefore, in order for mankind to try and emulate God in this world beings must be created with free-will. To interfere in free-will of beings contradicts the whole purpose of Creation. That is why it is the norm that the righteous suffer and the evil prosper.
The Jewish concept of hell, called Gehinom or purgatory, shares no resemblance to Christian hell. Jewish Traditional Sources teach that Gehinom is a place where Souls are sent – only if the Soul is in need of some form of spiritual correction. A Soul, depending on the need for correction, can spend up to a year in Gehinom. However, the maximum time is “only” twelve months, there is no concept whatsoever of being in Gehinom for an indefinite period of time, i.e. eternal damnation. Once a Soul has been through the necessary process of correction, the Soul is welcomed into the World to Come to join all the other Souls in the World of Truth.
Rabbi Reuven Lauffer (Note: Rabbi Lauffer is pictured above, right.)
What do you think about his answer? I’ll make a few comments on Friday (God willing).