One of our dearest members of the “I Love Hebrew” fan page asked us to please explain the concept of the afterlife in Judaism. In this article we will try to shed some light on this topic.
The term that is used in Hebrew to describe the afterlife is “the next world – ha-olam ha-ba – הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא.” In the current world in which we live, many believe that we don’t receive any reward for our acts. For this reward, whether our acts are good or evil, we need to wait for judgment in next world. In that world our actions will be evaluated by God. God will decide if we are righteous -צדיקים – or evil –רשעים .
There are two common thoughts about this world to come: the first is that only the soul, immediately following the death of the body, will receive either reward or punishment from God, according to its behavior in this world. The second is that the body and the soul will come together in the resurrection of the dead -תְּחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים- and then they will be judged by God.
Clues about the nature of the afterlife can be found in the Hebrew Bible. Let’s see, for example, the text of Ecclesiastes:
“וְיָשֹׁב הֶעָפָר עַל-הָאָרֶץ כְּשֶׁהָיָה; וְהָרוּחַ תָּשׁוּב אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר נְתָנָהּ”
“Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”(Ecc. 12:7)
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