Exploring the Jewish Perspective on the Afterlife (Life after Death in Judaism)
Every major world religion has a well-developed set of beliefs about the afterlife. Our religious and spiritual views usually inform our thoughts about what happens to us after we die. Rabbi Melinda Bernstein joined us today to explain the Jewish perspective on death and the afterlife.
What Happens After Death in Judaism?
Within the Jewish tradition, death is just the end of one phase of the soul’s journey. Every act of kindness on Earth is to achieve peace in the afterlife. When the body dies, chariots and angels escort the soul to Heaven, where we reunite with our ancestors.
The soul is eternal, and it is always learning and growing. Through reincarnation, the soul lives many lives to take away lessons crucial for its growth. According to Rabbi Melinda Bernstein, the ultimate goal for the evolution of the soul is to “live the life of the Torah.”
What is Reincarnation?
Reincarnation is when a soul is reborn in another body. Sometimes, our soul didn’t evolve as it needed to in just one lifetime. This can cause turmoil within the soul; it returns to Earth to live another life. Hopefully, the lessons learned during this lifetime will bring peace to the soul.
What is the Torah?
The Torah is part of the religious text of Judaism. It is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, which are the commandments God dictated to Moses on Mount Sinai. Melinda Bernstein states that the Torah were “the instructions of life written thousands of years ago for those who needed structure.” In some cases, the word “Torah” is used more generally to describe all written and unwritten laws of Judaism.
Serving as a moral and spiritual guide, the Torah is the standard to which Jewish people try to live their lives. If a soul didn’t follow the Torah in a specific way, it might be reborn to another Earthly body. Through reincarnation, the soul will live another life to learn a more profound lesson according to God’s laws.
Life After Death Communication in Judaism
Judaism places great importance on life after death communication after a loved one passes. Surviving family members maintain constant contact with the dead through ritual and prayer, including a lengthy mourning period. Within the Jewish tradition, it is customary to honor the lives of loved ones and ancestors every day. This includes passing down traditions and honoring loved ones with altars.
Have Ideas on the Afterlife Changed Over Time?
While some rabbis might disagree on certain interpretations of the scripture, Melinda Bernstein states that the general views on the afterlife within Judaism have relatively stayed the same over time. The universal belief is that the soul is eternal, living multiple lifetimes as part of its evolution. Most importantly, God controls everything. If we live virtuous lives with kindness to ourselves and others, we will reach everlasting peace in the afterlife.
At the end of our interview, Rabbi Melinda Bernstein left us with a final word on the harmony one can find within Judaism: “Judaism is a beautiful language of love – a love affair with God and with life. And if people want to embrace it, they will find that what worked way back when can work now and could work in a beautiful way, and it’s all up to interpretation.”
Melinda Bernstein is an energy healer, an ordained rabbi, and a life coach in southeastern Florida. She is a Kundalini yoga teacher, and she provides services for others at all stages of life. Through in-person and phone/Skype sessions, she offers wedding and funeral services, spiritual guidance, and grief counseling. You can find more information on Rabbi Bernstein on her website.
What do you think of the Jewish perspective on the afterlife? What did you take away from our talk with Rabbi Bernstein? Did you learn anything you didn’t know before? Let’s have a conversation! Please remember to be respectful of everyone’s religious beliefs.