Religion & Beliefs

The Jews Can All Go to Hell

So I was researching Gehenna, and coming up dry.   Which led me to the obvious conclusion that Jewish sites just don’t like to talk about Hell, because they are all propagating this massive myth that Jews don’t believe in Hell.  … Read More

By / April 19, 2007
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So I was researching Gehenna, and coming up dry.   Which led me to the obvious conclusion that Jewish sites just don’t like to talk about Hell, because they are all propagating this massive myth that Jews don’t believe in Hell. 

But no.  I was just being dumb.   

Eventually I realized that I was looking up “Gehenna” and not “Gehinnom”.  And “Gehenna” (although commonly used) is in fact Yiddish, not Hebrew, and so not the term used on Jewish resource sites.  Once I woke up to that fact, I found a few sites that define Gehinnom for us.  But my best find was this—  Frum Teens: Anything you want to know about Judaism but have nobody to ask… (unrelated to this post… you should really really check these boards out!) 

The gist is that before going to heaven (which I still don’t fully grasp either):

The average person descends to a place of punishment and/or purification, generally referred to as Gehinnom … According to one mystical view, every sin we commit creates an angel of destruction (a demon), and after we die we are punished by the very demons that we created. Some views see Gehinnom as one of severe punishment, a bit like the Christian Hell of fire and brimstone. Other sources merely see it as a time when we can see the actions of our lives objectively, see the harm that we have done and the opportunities we missed, and experience remorse for our actions. The period of time in Gehinnom does not exceed 12 months…

So the myth is partially right.  Jews do believe in Hell, but they don’t believe that you’ll have to stay very long.  Your time in Hell can be a week, or a year, depending on how naughty you were in your life, how much purification you have to go through. I like this. Because I’m the kind of evil bitch who wants people to be punished. I’m mean like that.  My flawed understanding of Jews not really having an afterlife has always bugged me a bit. It seemed too vague and personal.  And though I’m not sure I can go with this heaven/hell idea full on (angels of destruction? Really?), I like knowing that my asshole ex-boyfriend is going to have to see how much he hurt me. But I also like that nobody has to suffer through eternal pain.  That kind of Christian hellfire always seemed too horrible and merciless.  Nothing should be unending. You can suffer through anything.  As long as there’s hope… a light at the end of the tunnel.