Religion & Beliefs

See you in heaven

This article at Beliefnet is of interest to me.   Because I'm still trying to figure out the whole "Jews in heaven" thing. I mean, I grew up understanding that Jews didn't really believe in heaven and hell.  But this guy … Read More

By / November 7, 2006
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

This article at Beliefnet is of interest to me.   Because I'm still trying to figure out the whole "Jews in heaven" thing.

I mean, I grew up understanding that Jews didn't really believe in heaven and hell.  But this guy has all kinds of things to say on the matter:

Heaven is where the soul experiences the greatest possible pleasure – the feeling of closeness to God. Of course not all souls experience that to the same degree. It's like going to a symphony concert. Some tickets are front-row center; others are back in the bleachers. Where your seat is located is based on the merit of your good deeds – e.g. giving charity, caring for others, prayer.

A second factor in heaven is your understanding of the environment. Just like at the concert, a person can have great seats but no appreciation of what's going on. If a person spends their lifetime elevating the soul and becoming sensitive to spiritual realities (through Torah study), then that will translate into unimaginable pleasure in heaven. On the other hand, if life was all about pizza and football, well, that can get pretty boring for eternity.

The existence of the afterlife is not stated explicitly in the Torah itself, because as human beings we have to focus on our task in this world. Though awareness of an eternal reward can also be an effective motivator.

Eh, this guy… I dunno…. Perhaps more useful are the tidbits over at My Jewish Learning.  And of course, our friends at Wikipedia have oodles to say about Heaven in all religious cultures, anaccording to them:

One popular Jewish belief is that everyone goes to "hell" immediately after death to be purged d of their sins. After finishing its term in this place of punishment, the soul goes on to heaven to be rewarded for all the good deeds that the bearer of the soul committed during his or her lifetime.

Well that's no fun!

What about you?  What's your (however flawed) sense of the Jewish afterlife?  What did you come away from kindergarten believing?  And what do you think now?