Judaism Perspective of Life after Death
Judaism perspective of life after death holds that death of the earthly life is does not mark an end to human existence. However, Judaism is considered ambiguous when it comes to the issue of life after death. The soul’s immortality, the resurrection and world to come are prominent features in Judaism. Ambiguity comes in when it comes to the logistics of how these things will happen and how they are all related.
Basically, Judaism is mainly focused on the life on earth at the moment instead of the afterlife. It does not provide much dogma concerning afterlife. Thus, it leaves great room for development of personal opinion regarding life after death. An Orthodox Jew can believe that soul of a righteous person will go to a place that is similar to the heaven believed by Christians. They can also believe that righteous people are reincarnated via many lifetimes.
It is also possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the soul waits till when the messiah comes so that they can be resurrected. The same Jew can believe that demons torment souls of wicked persons or that these souls will simply be destroyed at death which will bring an end to their existence.
There are scholars who believe that life after death was a concept that was developed in the late history of Jews. Torah emphasizes concrete, immediate and physical punishments and rewards instead of abstract futures. However, there is evidence in Torah showing that life after death exists. There are several places where Torah indicates that there will be a reunion of the righteous with loved ones in the afterlife and the wicked will not be included in this reunion.
The righteous will enjoy life in Olam Ha Ba, which is a Hebrew term literally meaning the world to come. The righteous dead will be resurrected and rejoined with their loved ones and enjoy life in this world. The souls of the wicked persons will go to Gehenna where they will be punished for a limited time of twelve months after which they would be pure to move to the Gan Eden.
Gan Eden is a contrast of Gahenna. It is conceived as a place or paradise where individuals that led a righteous life went to. It is not clear whether Gan Eden is intended for the souls upon death or for the resurrected people when the Olam Ha Ba comes.
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