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Do Jews believe in the Resurrection of the Dead?

By Yekusiel
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Resurrection of the Dead is not a non-Jewish idea, nor is it some apocryphal mystical “tradition.” It is an essential feature of Judaism.

Maimonides, one of the most famous codifiers of Jewish law, includes it in a list of thirteen beliefs that are absolutely fundamental to Judaism, such as the belief in G-d. These principles are recited every day after Shacharis, in the form of Ani Maamin. 

Belief in Resurrection of the Dead also features prominently in the central prayer of the Jewish service, the Amidah, a prayer that Jews repeat three times every weekday (four times on Shabbat and Holidays, and five times on Yom Kippur!)

What will the Resurrection of the Dead look like? Well, it’s easier to talk about what it will not look like: zombies in rags rising from their graves. 

What it will look like is a bit harder to explain. As the Talmud attests, “No eye has seen it.” (Sanhedrin 99a) It is something that will only happen in Olam Haba, the Next World. 

But it is by no means as fantastical a concept as it seems at first glance. In fact, something very much like it already exists, right here in this world. We just don’t call it “Resurrection of the Dead.” We call it Metamorphosis.

A butterfly is not simply a caterpillar that grew wings. Hidden within its chrysalis, most of the caterpillar’s body actually dissolves, then is “reconstituted” in the form of a butterfly. 

This butterfly is both completely different from what it once was, and — in a fundamental way — exactly the same. It is not merely that the decomposed sludge within the chrysalis is the “building material” of the butterfly that will emerge. Science has shown that butterflies actually “remember” their caterpillar days.

Similarly, a seed is, in some ways, “dead.” Bury it in the ground, and it will decompose. But this is not the end of the seed’s existence. It is merely a step in the process of its re-growth into a new plant. 

Just as a seed is buried in the earth in order to regenerate, our bodies are buried in the earth in order to be resurrected.

So, Resurrection of the Dead is by no means as fantastical a concept as it seems at first glance. In some way, it has already been built into creation.

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