I was raised Jewish, but am presently non-practicing. My question is, what are we taught
through the Torah about death and the hereafter? Do we believe that there is
life after death? If so, are the basic beliefs that good people go to heaven
and bad to "hell"?
I am married to a Christian and would like to explain our beliefs to him. His religion teaches them that only those who believe in Jesus Christ will go to heaven. What is your retort to that?
Thank you, J.G.
Mesora: You must first understand that Jesus was a false prophet. No Biblical standards for being the Messiah were met by him. (This is the precise reason they claim a “second coming”; his first – and truthfully only life – was a devastating failure.) The words of those who wrote the Christian Gospel, in no way represent G-d’s true Bible – the Torah. You may prove this to yourself by examining Maimonides’ words on what determines that someone is the Messiah. I mention Maimonides, as he was at the forefront of Judaism’s teachers. The world knows that G-d gave the Jews the Torah. This is a historical truth. Therefore, to arrive at G-d’s laws and verified principles, we consult only those who received, and meticulously adhere to G-d’s words - these are the Rabbis. Christians know this and attempt to defend their lies by suggesting Jesus came to “update” the Torah. But this is ludicrous: G-d knows the future, and gave a law with all needed for it to sustain itself, and with no need for change. G-d knows the future, and any “update,” indicates He did not know the future. Additionally, G-d instructs us in His Torah not to change the Torah at all. The Christians idea of an “update” is against all reason, as it denies G-d’s absolute knowledge. Think about it for yourself. There is no getting around this truth.
That being said, Christians are bereft of anything resembling G-d’s Torah given at Sinai. Their concoction that disbelief in Jesus results in an eternity in a fiery hell is simply another of their many means to convert Jews to Christianity. It’s a scare tactic. Their Crusades show how far from G-d’s peaceful Torah they are. If their ideas were sensible, why did they resort to murder of the innocent? Once we see their viciousness and lies, we need not try to disprove them on other areas, as their entire foundation has collapsed. We are assured that everything else they say is nonsense. Their fabrications cannot alter that which G-d said.
There is reward and punishment. This forms a basic tenet in Judaism. Judaism includes the conviction in the afterlife. Maimonides writes in his 13 Principles:
“Principle XI. That God gives reward to he who does the commandments of the Torah and punishes those that transgress its admonishes and warnings.
And the great reward is the life of the world to come and the punishment is the cutting off of the soul [in the world to come]. And we already said regarding this topic what these are. And the verse that attests to this principle is (Exodus 32) "And now if You would but forgive their sins - and if not erase me from this book that You have written." And God answered him "He who sinned against Me I will erase from my book." This is a proof that God knows the sinner and the fulfiller in order to give out reward to one and punishment to the other.”
As our death is a mere ‘physical’ event, our souls are untouched by such an event. One’s soul can continue to exist in a greater state, when not joined and limited by a body. This will be a state where man achieves his rewards for his good, and punishments for his crimes, unless G-d has given him either here on Earth. But as man’s body lies in the grave, a ‘hell’ makes no sense. And as all true ideas, all concepts relating to death and the afterlife must be reasonable. There is more to be learned on these topics, so I urge your research of the Jewish Orthodox Rabbis’ writings.