Where To Next?

Question

Hi, I’m a Jewish teenager who just finished high school and plan to go to college after the summer. I went to Sunday school until bar mitzvah and stopped. But I still have a basic question that I never got answered: Where do we go when we die? Thanks.

, 4 months

Answers

  1. The very foundation of the Jewish religion is rooted in the concept of the “World-to-Come” and the resurrection of the dead. We believe that without these concepts it would have been virtually impossible for the Jewish People to have remained attached to God and His Torah throughout history.

    Judaism is a religion that teaches us to use this world as a means to enter into the next world – the World-to-Come. This fundamental belief in this present world allows us many expectations, and gives us a purpose in life. Our purpose is to build on our inherent spirituality and to try to draw closer to God in order to enhance God’s presence in this world.

    The Jewish concept of “hell”, which is called “gehinom” or purgatory, shares no resemblance to the non-Jewish concept of “hell”. Jewish traditional sources teach that gehinom is a place where souls are sent, but only if the soul is in need of some form of “spiritual correction”. A soul, depending on the extent of its need for correction, can spend up to a year in gehinom. However, the maximum time there is “only” twelve months, and there is no concept whatsoever of being in gehinom for an indefinite period of time, i.e. eternal damnation. Once a soul has been through its necessary process of correction, that soul is welcomed into the World-to-Come to join with all the other souls in the World-of-Truth.

    At some future, unknown time, Maimonides explains that these souls will be rejoined once more with a corrected and purified version of the physical body that was associated with it while being alive in our present world, and this future era is called “techiyat hameitim” – resurrection of the dead. However, Maimonides teaches that we should not dwell on the details of this process due to our limited ability to understand these matters. Rather, we should focus our lives on living in an ethical and righteous manner.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team