National Association of Chevra Kadisha



Does Judaism believe in life after death?

By Yekusiel
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The purpose of life — in fact, the entire purpose of creation —  is to prepare for an eternal life, a life that actually begins after death.

Jewish teachings, from Tanach to Talmud, from mysticism to the laws governing everyday life, are filled with references to and discussions of the afterlife.

What does the afterlife look like? First, let’s talk about what it doesn’t look like: angels with harps, and devils with pitchforks.

What actually happens is that at death, our soul separates from our body. Now freed from the constraints of physicality, the soul has clarity about everything it experienced while it was enclothed in our body: all our trials, all our travails, all our triumphs. The reason for everything that happened to us, the ramification of every choice we made, everything is now clear to our soul.

As it grasps this knowledge, our soul gets pleasure from all the good choices we made — and the opposite from our poor choices. 

In a very real way, our afterlife is something we are creating every day — in this life — with every action we take. Whether we will consider it “heavenly” or not depends entirely on us.

That’s it? The purpose of creation is to live as a soul? No, not at all.

At some future point, when the world is ready for it, these disembodied souls, with all their newly acquired clarity, will be reunited with their bodies, bodies which have been undergoing their own transformation.

That takes place during the Resurrection of the Dead. Yes, that’s also a Jewish concept — and a Frequently Asked Question of its own.


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