Project Genesis

Basics of Judaism

Heaven and Hell

Animals and Immortality

Question: Do animals experience eternity at any level including animals that fulfilled their mission in this world?

Answer: There are essentially two categories that govern all of creation: the spiritual and the physical. Angels are entirely spiritual, animals are entirely physical. Angels by nature, i.e. not through their own efforts, experience eternity as they are not a part of the natural world. By contrast, animals do not experience eternity, as they are part of the natural world, which is transient. Both animals and angels are essentially hard-wired to do what they are programmed to do, and therefore there is no system of reward and punishment for them.

That is not to say that there have not been some remarkably “spiritual” animals. Donkeys, for some reason, keep appearing as holy creatures throughout the written and oral Torah. For example, the donkey upon which Abraham and Moses rode—which is said to be the selfsame donkey that will carry the Messiah, may he come speedily in our days. Also, Bilaam’s donkey, who communicated to Bilaam verbally. And certain prophecies, such as in Isaiah, describe a future new world order wherein former predators will co-exist peacefully with their prey. But that’s all it is—a new world order, not a change in the destiny of the animal world.

Human beings, however, are composites of the physical and the spiritual, and they are not hard-wired. They can exercise free will and choose to emphasize the physical or the spiritual in their lives. Choosing to invest in the spiritual enables a person to elevate even the physical aspects of him or herself, whereas choosing the physical can cause a person to lower him or herself physically and endanger his or her soul as well. Man is unique in creation in that he is part of the natural world, yet can attain immortality, i.e. eternal life, by striving to perfect him or herself through the integration of Torah.

All the Best,
Tanchum Burton

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