History of Afterlife in Different Religions Judaism Part 1

About the views on life after death and the afterlife and history of the beliefs in the Jewish religion.



The soul may have difficulty separating from the physical body at death and may experience a loss of identity. To prevent this from happening, Dumah (Silence), guardian angel of the dead, asks each soul for its Hebrew name. If the soul in life has learned a Torah verse that begins with its first initial and ends with the last letter of its name, it will remember its name in death, for the Torah is eternal.

The newly dead soul may be unable to silence all the sensory images and noise that cling to it from this world. Two angels stand at each end of the world and toss the soul back and forth to get rid of this earthly static. Otherwise, the lost soul would wander in the world of Tohu (Confusion and Emptiness), perhaps for hundreds of years.

After death the impure soul goes to Gehenna (Gehinnom). It is located beneath the land and the sea and has entrances in both places. It is immeasurably large, dark, and cold, but within it are rivers of fire. Here the soul is purged of all defilement that it has accumulated during its lifetime. Punishments may consist of being cast into fire and snow or being hanged from different limbs of the spirit body. The thoroughly wicked remain here in everlasting disgrace. The ordinary soul need stay no more than 12 months, during which time it can be helped by prayers and sacrifices made by the living. (It is an insult to recite prayers for more than 11 months, because it implies that the deceased would be required to serve the full term.) Gehenna is emptied on the Sabbath, and the souls are given a glimpse of the light of Paradise. Without this respite, they would be unable to endure the anguish of the other six days in Gehenna.

Now the soul is ready to enter Gan Eden (Paradise, or the Garden of Eden) where it will be bathed in a `River of Light to cleanse away all lingering earthly illusions. First it goes to the lower Gan Eden, the heaven of emotional fervor. It will revel in benign emotions extended toward God and other souls. Souls with interests in common form heavenly societies in which they serve God according to their area of specialization. Each group has its own leader, or rabbi, to help it progress in celestial attainments.

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