What is “official” Jewish theory about heaven/hell? I’m not observant myself, and I’ve heard several theories. The most common that I’ve heard are:
- Heaven and Hell are the same place called Olam Haba. Being in the presence of God is perceived differently by individuals. Some, who follow the mitzvot to the best of their abilities, will have eternal happiness/pleasure. Others, who are generally good people but didn’t particularly do anything spiritual to get closer to God will have a generally good/okay experience. Bad people will have a torturous experience being in God’s presence.
- The second theory I’ve heard is that everybody goes to heaven and gets eternal happiness/pleasure but based on who you are, your soul goes through a cleansing process before God grants you entry into Olam Haba.
Am I getting this right?
””“Jewish Hell”“” is a place called Gehinom, which according to tradition was created in parallel with the Garden of Eden. It is were unrighteous souls go until they atone for their sins. However, there is a cap on how long you can spend in Gehinom (like 12 months iirc?). What happens after a soul is released from there is up in the air. Some say they will then ascend to Olam HaBa to delight in the presence of G-d, some say they spend eternity kinda just ghostin’ around, and some say that they just get poofed out of existence..
There’s also some traditions of reincarnation (gilgul neshamot), though it’s not in the Talmud or Torah. In Lurianic (as in Isaac Luria, the Ari, father of Lurianic Kabbalah) reincarnation the soul is reincarnated through as many gilgulim as it takes to complete the mitzvot. I’m not sure what happens to the soul after it’s released from this cycle though.
There seems to be some grey area in the texts about when terms like “Olam HaBa” and “Gan Eden” mean afterlife paradises or post-Mashiach paradises. Like sometimes when the rabbis talk about these places they clearly mean the world that Mashiach will bring to us here in this physical realm, but then other times they mean an afterlife, but then other times it’s not entirely clear.
My uncle was telling me about his friend who is a French Jew, and he says in France now the synagogues have removed signs indicating that they’re synagogues, and to get in you need to ring a bell and have someone open the door for you. So that’s where we’re at right now.
The International Center of Photography in New York and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday announced the joint creation of a digital database to facilitate access to photographer Roman Vishniac’s archive.
Vishniac was a Russian-born Jew who moved to Berlin in 1920. He documented the rise of Nazi power and its effect on Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe. He is one of the only known photographers working exclusively with Jews, and his collection is the largest known of Jewish life before the war. Most of his 9,000 negatives have never before been seen.
The museum and photography center are asking scholars and the public to help with identifying the people and places in the photos. And of course, this will help make a major and under-appreciated 19th-century photographer more widely known.
!שנה טובה ומתוקה
Shana tova u’m’tuka! A sweet new year.
May we all be inscribed for a good life and a good year, and may this coming year be a year of peace, learning, and joy.
A rich man once came to the Maggid of Koznitz for blessing. ‘What are you in the habit of eating?’ asked the Maggid.
The man replied: ‘I am modest in my demands. Bread and salt, a drink of water, I need no more.’
‘What are you thinking of! You must eat roast meat and drink mead, like all the rich.’ And the rabbi did not let him go until he had promised to change his ways.
Later, to his puzzled chasidim, the Maggid explained: ‘Not until he eats meat will he realize that the poor need bread. As long as he himself eats only bread, he will think the poor can live on stones.’
Hasidic, 18th Century
I think this piece can be commonly found in many siddurs for the Days of Awe, but looking at it during this morning’s service I put it in perspective of the denial I see around me; in that it’s fairly common for those of us with some degree of privilege to falsely humble ourselves in order to say, “look, if I did this, why can’t the less privileged person do the same?” This can be in reference to everything from dietary choices, to education, to overcoming illness. And it’s myopic because it fails to take into consideration every other factor that was in your favor that the other person didn’t have; eating bread like the poor did not make the man in the story poor, nor did it endow him with understanding of their struggles.
I posted this about a year ago and it’s gotten a few reblogs lately so I just remembered and like, I still think it’s true. I think the crux of charity and solidarity is the end result; what have you accomplished by eating only bread despite having access to better food? Did you help another person or your own ego? By the same token, sometimes it helps to lay off and actually see if something is useful before condemning it as feel-good liberal nonsense. The Maggid of Koznitz didn’t get followers by acting more radical-than-thou 24/7.