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Does Judaism believe in an afterlife?

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_Question:_ Does Judaism believe in an afterlife? From what I've read of the Torah it seems that there is no mention of life after death. Is this world all there is? _Answer:_ You have hit on one of the most powerful messages of Judaism: there may be many worlds, but this is the one that matters the most. As you wrote, the Torah doesn't mention life after death. Although it is spoken about in the later prophets, the afterlife is conspicuously absent from the Five Books of Moses. Having said that, there is certainly an indication that ultimate justice will be done someplace other than this world. A striking example is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel bring offerings to G-d; G-d likes Abel's offering but not Cain's; Cain is jealous and kills Abel. End of story. But wait! In one line the Torah says that G-d is happy with Abel, the next minute he is dead! And Cain, who G-d wasn't happy with, walks away! Is this the reward for doing good? The message is clear: this world is not always fair. But G-d will not remain indebted. Ultimate justice will come later. So why doesn't the Torah mention the next world? Why is it left to later prophets to describe it? Because the Torah is about this world, not the next. While other religions dangle exciting promises of what lies in store for the righteous in paradise, even giving vivid descriptions of who awaits you there and interesting facts about their biology, Judaism doesn't see this as a valid motive for doing good. G-d wants us to do good because it is good. There is another lifetime in which the righteous will be rewarded, and the wicked punished - we believe that, the prophets spoke about it. But that is G-d's business. We have to concern ourselves with this lifetime. Our mission is to do good, fight evil, and make this a safe and comfortable world - a place where both G-d and man can feel at home. Without belief in an afterlife, there is no justice. The Cains of this world can get away with murder. But by over-emphasizing the importance of the afterlife over this life, we run the risk of belittling the sanctity and preciousness of life itself. Judaism has a different approach: Better leave the next world to G-d; meanwhile let's work on this world. Starting with ourselves.

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1 Cary W = "There is life after death, heavenly realms and Heavenly Kingdom or City called the New Jerusalem, which is currently descending to Earth as we speak.  Though we should always keep in mind the eternal, while alive, we are to seek His Kingdom in our hearts here, and now, in this life."
2 James Oppenheimer = "I think this is the most joyful message of all scripture! God wants us to do what we ought to, not out of fear of God, not even out of obedience to God is His power and might, but because we love God so much that we desire to do God's will.This is so carefully lined out to us in the tiny, beautiful book of Jonah.God does get in Jonah's way when he goes the wrong way, but note that in the end, God performs wonders, both for Nineveh and for Jonah.He has said Nineveh is condemned -- but God changes his mind, and the evil he intended to do to Nineveh, that God did not do.And when Jonah is so hopelessly enraged with God that he literally would rather die than accept God's forgiveness of Nineveh or himself, God just quietly keeps on striving to reason with Jonah.It is clear here that God doesn't want Jonah's fear; God doesn't want Jonah's obedience because God is God; no, God wants Jonah to want it because Jonah desires to do God's will, purely because he loves God that much. Nothing else matters.  And God takes the time and patience to sit and reason with this poor clueless man. "
3 John Alan Shope = "Can we also add an Eastern dimension which stresses our oneness with God and all that is?If we are "one with God" as Jesus seems to have taught, then we are more than just individuals. Even if our particular individuality stops evolving at death, the individuality we have experienced thus far still exists somewhere in time, and the essence we share with God continues to be whatever it is beyond time.At death, perhaps my ego ceases to be, but my true and larger "self", which always was and always will be, still is."