In 2014, there are some pretty amazing technologies. Some, we have had for years now. The internet, for instance, has been around publically for nearly 20 years. It's amazing to think it's already been that long.
In that time period, students have been raised to look things up online. Everything is there, after all. Textbooks and masterpieces of literature. Peer reviewed science articles. The greatest paintings, sculptures, and architecture, all viewable for anyone with internet access.
So when I talk to people about religion and morals, I find it surprising when people are completely ignorant to what religious people think, in particular my own religion, Judiasm.
Is there not this whole slew of resources at your fingertips? Has this religion not been around now for almost 4 thousands years?
Back in the day, you had the excuse of living in a cave. Even cave's have wifi, internet, and streaming satellite television in 2014. How can one not possibly know about the currently oldest religion on Earth?
Perhaps, the problem is deeper.
I recently watched a debate between the recently deceased Christopher Hitchens, may he rest in peace, and Rabbi Smuley.
and there Hitchens too, failed to understand how Jews see the Afterlife. Why?
Because it's easier to debate against Heaven and Hell, a Xorastrian concept. It's the creation of a strawman so large, you could burn it and have a festival named after it. Judaism, as I have always been taught, doesn't claim to know the exact answer for what happens after Death. I may not agree with Hitchens says in some cases, but I recognize Hitchens was spot on when he supported, and continued to support, the Iraq war. He was well versed across a broad spectrum of political affairs, but not in Judaism. He swung and missed wildly here, and so do all the internet gurus.
So I think it's important to explain the Jewish concept of the Afterlife,
1. The Righteous go to Hashem,
You need your body, at least for the first 3 days. You cannot be cremated. You must be returned to the Earth, so your Soul can rise.
Such was at the heart of the reason behind burning the Jews by the Nazi's. To deny Jews that honor.
Jesus summed up the concept well, and I'm paraphrasing here for those who don't like to read scripture, the Rich man can get to Heaven, but it's like passing through the eye of the needle. Meaning, it's difficult, but even the Righteous Rich man can do it, with enough charity, prayer, and repentance.
What happens to the evil? Well, they just cease. Game over. No continues or bonus lives.
2. The Afterlife
The real Jewish after life is not so much what happens to the Soul persay, but what happens after his life. It's always been about the children, who live on. "In our children, we live on."
Jewish thought has always been about this concept. My father used to hang a picture above the exit to our stairs in our home, in Hebrew it read, "Ledor, Vador." Generation to Generation.
The words translated roughly are,
"To all generations we will declare Your greatness, and for all eternity
proclaim Your holiness. Your praise, O God, shall never depart from our
lips. Blessed are You, Adonai, the Holy God."
The interesting part of this is that they shall never depart our lips.
The other day, I was asked, how do we know your intentions are true?
I said, you teach these lessons to your children. You bind them to the four corners of your walls. You read the stories over and over again. You bookmark and dog ear the pages.
Only then, will you teach your children to be proud of who they are,
teach them a proper understanding of good and evil,
be ready to defend themselves and their loved ones,
so they will in turn, teach these same lessons to their children. And so on it will continue.
In that way, the next time around, it won't be so bad.
That is the Jewish Afterlife. Ledor, Vador.