Project Genesis

Basics of Judaism

Heaven and Hell

Biblical Reference to the Afterlife

What specifically does the Torah say about the afterlife?

Thank you very much for your question. Interestingly, there are no explicit references to the afterlife in the Written Torah. Many commentaries offer various reasons why this is so. However, the Oral Torah, which has been handed down to us from Moses at Sinai, and interprets and explains the Written Torah to us, explains that many of the verses in the written Torah allude to the afterlife. There are a number of verses that can really not be interpreted in any other way, and are strong indications of an afterlife even according to the simple understanding of the Written Torah, as follows (this is only a partial listing):

1. Beraishis/ Genesis 3:10 “The voice of your brothers blood calls out to me from the ground.”

2. Beraishis 15:15 “And you will go back to your fathers in peace”, referring to Abraham’s death.

3. Beraishis 49:33 “And (Jacob) died and was gathered to his people.”

4. The numerous references throughout VaYikra/ Leviticus to Karres, the punishment of “the souls being cut off from their nation”, for example Vayikra 18:29.

5. Shmuel/ Samuel I (25:29) “and the soul of my master will be bound eternally with G-d”.

There are actually many places throughout the Prophets and Tehillim/ Psalms where the afterlife is referred to that are really too numerous to mention. The final chapter of Daniel actually is pretty much devoted to this topic.

I hope that this has been helpful,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

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